Taki Pappas has got music in his blood. The current Director of Programming of Concerts & Comedy at Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) got his start by playing with and promoting his own band in the 90s. He had to figure out how to book shows, call radio stations to get them to play their songs and figure out how to market shows in a “pre-internet” age.

He wouldn’t tell us the name of his band (which he describes as “mildly successful”), but he did say that promoting it was “a decent base for fundamental hustling.”


His work with the band led to a job at PACE Touring in LA, where he was thrown straight into the fire by working on a huge George Strait tour. Taki told Amplify that there was a steep learning curve – he had to learn terminology and the ins and outs of working with computers, all of which was “was totally foreign to playing in a band in LA clubs.” However, seeing 20+ bands a week gave him an edge. 

“What I learned most from being in bands in LA was seeing a lot of bands that made it and so many more that didn’t,” he told Amplify. “[I created] this subconscious filter for what is good or not or will make it or not – that ephemeral ‘IT’ quality.” 

In his 20-year career, Taki has been across the country and back, worked on the first Ozzfest Tour, bore witness to the birth of Live Nation and even skipped out on a party with Britney Spears and N’Sync. Through all this, he’s maintained his big enthusiasm for live shows and music.  

“I do concerts for a living. The best part of that is when a crowd is really into it, the band is into it and you can feel the energy in the room and people get crazy,” said Taki. “We’ve got Duran Duran here in March and I was a huge Duran Duran fan as a kid. So that is pretty freaking great.”

Want to know more about Taki’s favorite shows? Keep on reading.

Rage Against the Machine at Club With No Name, 1991

I was a guitar tech for a local band (so I could get into shows) and they were opening for Rage Against the Machine. Unreal vibe, bass player got pierced on stage midway through the set (professionally), the energy in that room was like nothing I had experienced. Everyone was wild, felt like we would go out and riot in the streets. We didn’t, of course.

Coldplay at El Rey Theatre, August 2002

This was like a “secret” or “promotional” show by the band after “Rush of Blood to the Head” came out. They had blown up by this time, so an intimate show in a 500-cap room was awesome. It was a heavy industry hang – Drew Barrymore, Minnie Driver, etc. Overall a very LA hang.

Warrant at Gazzarri’s, June 1989

I had just graduated from high school. The first Warrant record had just gone ‘gold’ and they played a secret show at Gazzarri’s. Sam Kinison was the host of the night and there was an all-star jam at the end with Ratt and Whitesnake. I’m not saying the place was over-capacity, but a fire marshal wouldn’t have been happy. 

Mumford & Sons at University of Texas, March 2012

This was part of SXSW and I was at UT at the time. There had been a snag with the original venue so they had a week to find a new place to play. C3 and I worked out this lawn across from the football stadium by the LBJ Presidential Library. Put the show together, approvals, load in, stage, fence all that in less than a week. There were like 5,000+ people there – lovely night, great view of Austin, unbelievable vibe. 

The Cure in West Palm Beach, May 2001

The Cure is one of my top 5 favorite bands, and I had missed them in LA because I had just moved to Florida and did not want to miss them again that year. On the night of the show, we were at a party at Johnny Wright’s house in Orlando, which managed Britney and NSync, and the artists were all there. We ended up leaving early. We flew back to Fort Lauderdale at around 6pm, drove up to the amphitheater in West Palm Beach and got there just as The Cure was starting their set. Great show. In some ways, I can’t believe the bunch of us kids in the office totally left a day of grilling and playing volleyball with Britney Spears and NSync to go see The Cure. But yeah. It’s The Cure.