A couple weeks ago, I went on a trip to the middle of the country to see my favorite band, AFI, play shows up and down the midwest. Some of my time there was spent writing my thoughts and daily activities down. This is the first half, the September half, of the tour diary. I'll be posting parts of it over the next few days before I leave again to write more in a couple weeks. Thanks for reading!
What Inspires You? A (Sort of) Tour Diary: Sept./Oct. 2013
On The Way I Saw Five Hours of Sleep, but Your Fire Makes it All Worth While: Day 2
It's Friday the 13th. Yesterday, if you were to ask me if I were superstitious, I would have come out neutral. Following today's events, I might have to rethink my answer. We left later than originally intended which set us back about 45 minutes. We stopped at a Denny's after about an hour of driving. This had to be the classiest Denny's in the country. A warm atmosphere with soft-spoken, but audible conversationalists...and slow service. Also the kind of place that seems like they could be butchering people in the back and serving them to their customers. "Yes, you could say there's a little bit of Ooter in all of us," I recollected. While we waited for our food, we could hear a pair talk about some lady that was found dead in a lake so nonchalantly, which didn't exactly ease my nerves. We ended up spending about another hour there which was longer than we had expected.
It wasn't until we were back on the road again that the real bad luck began to hit. It struck us late into the drive that we realized we forgot to take the time zone difference into account. There went another hour. Bad luck's laughter bellowed louder when a freeway closure forced us to come to a crawl. We lost another hour in traffic and having to take a detour. You do the math. Once we got back onto the freeway, things went a little more smoothly.
I had been the one doing most of the driving on nearly no sleep. Casey, Sarah, and Addie had a chance to nap during the drive. When I could feel myself losing energy and nodding off here and there, I asked Sarah to take over. I could count the minutes of sleep I'd had. Black Sails in the Sunset was playing through the stereo. I fell asleep during, "Exsanguination," and I woke up before "God Called in Sick Today" had finished. Maybe a half hour? Give or take a couple minutes. That short amount of sleep was enough rest to last a few more hours.
Sarah and I dropped Addie and Casey off in line at St. Andrew's Hall. It was about noon. The date kicked in again by having construction going on around the venue. Only the venue. What are the odds? That caused some frustration when it came to navigating the area. While the two waited in line, we headed towards Eastpointe to visit Sarah's mom. Yes, Sarah used to live in Michigan, but through a quirky turn of events, we fell in love and she moved to California. I don't think she'll even know just how much I love her and appreciate her gesture. After we had lunch, we went to visit her grandfather. In the short time we spent there, he managed to stir into my thoughts as we all sat and admired his woodwork. Amongst this room were a number of items he had built himself without much direction. Sarah's mom made a comment about her not having the ability to do such a thing. He immediately shot her words down and said she could. To paraphrase, he said, "you could do anything you set yourself to do," like something out of a dramatic episode of a sitcom. We've all heard those encouraging words from somewhere, but sitting there and seeing his fabulous work sets it apart from television drama. It's that encouragement and spirit that one needs every once in awhile. It's that same kind of spirit that I'm putting into this project, and it's that mentality that keeps people going.
We got ourselves to the venue at about 4pm. We went to the front of the line where the rest of our friends were sitting. It didn't take the death glares from others to know what they were thinking, but there was no intention of cutting the line. We despise it ourselves, so were weren't about to do it to others. We just wanted to spend time with our friends which now included the addition of Katie and Lia (who will appear more often now). The hugs were welcome with much sleep deprivation. I could feel myself running out of steam, but I was going to pull through.
Just before doors were about to open, Sarah and I headed to the end of the line. When we got inside, we found out that it didn't matter what time everyone got there because the venue had let the bar hoppers in first. The barricade was lined with drunken foolishness, but I didn't plan on being close anyway. I distanced myself from the gang and sat down on a stool on the balcony. The first band, Coming, went on and I'm sorry to say: I was too tired to watch their set. I began nodding off in the middle of it despite their loud volume. During Touche Amore, I made my way back downstairs. It's great to a see a band I used to watch in basements and living rooms get more attention. They've worked hard for it.
When AFI took the stage, I was left with no strength or energy. They opened with "Leaving Song Pt. 2," and I could feel myself getting weak and dizzy. However, I still sang every word. Although, being so out of it made it difficult to enjoy "Overexposure," which is a song I've been pining for. The crowd had the voice for the band but not the respect for their fellow fans. A rude awakening of how much a crowd can differ between states and ruin the experience for others. A group of nitwits throwing themselves into other people during songs like a cover of The Cure's, "Just Like Heaven," to people pushing and pinching to get someone to move so they can get a good picture of the band with their iphones is not good show etiquette. Don't get me started on the emotionless, mindless, crowd-surfers laying on people like some kind of martyrs. During "Days of the Phoenix," I made my attempt to lower the phones by crawling over the crowd. To no one's surprise, I didn't get far. After the show, Davey Havok proclaimed a bit of appreciation when he mentioned that he saw me and said he was going to come out with the mic, but I was too far. "I tried," was all I could say, haha.
He and Adam both seemed appreciative that we'd be going to more shows. They both just stared in awe. I can't help but wonder if they've ever felt the same dedication from their youth. We walked away like giddy 10 year olds on Christmas Day opening gifts. Talking to someone who has had such an impact on your life never loses its novelty. It never will. I was dead tired but following that moment, I could have done another 10 sets. To be honest though, I couldn't wait to get back to Sarah's mom's apartment and pass out. I don't even remember falling asleep when I laid down. I just remember waking up--eager to get ready for Riot Fest.
I Guess This is Growing Up: Day 3
It was some time in 1997 that my older brother introduced me to Blink 182. They were amongst the first bands I named as "a favorite." I can still remember coming home from my first day at a new school--excited to tell my brother about how the video for "Dammit" was playing on the TVs at a Target my mom and I had gone to. In 2000, I went to what would be the first of many punk shows in my life thanks to a birthday gift from him. He got me tickets to the Mark, Tom and Travis Show, which also consisted of Bad Religion (another important band in my life) and Fenix TX. Regrettably, I've missed all of Blink's tours since. However, they still have a place in my heart and always will. So, when I read that they were announced to be playing Riot Fest, I was ecstatic.
We didn't get to the festival until about a quarter after 6pm. We passed through the gates right as Flag were in the middle of "Nervous Breakdown." Unfortunately, I had no time to watch their performance. While the others stuck around for Blondie, I headed straight for the opposite end of the festival to get a good spot for The Lawrence Arms. The city street was packed with people from all over to catch the Chicago-native punk band. I managed to get close enough to see them perform. They were able to put on the same great act I remember from months ago. The audience was much more entertaining this time around. One fest attendee had on a green skin suit, while Brendan Kelly spotted two fans with horse-head masks on opposite sides of the crowd.
As I shuffled through the people, I came across Tim standing by the VIP area with Nick. Together we did sing-a-longs to "100 Resolutions" and "Are You There Margaret? It's Me God." By the set's end, Tim and I were making our way back to the stage Rancid would be playing on. On the way, we attempted to find the "Butter Stamos," which is where we would be meeting with the rest of our friends. If you don't know, Land-o-Lakes provided the festival with a block of butter for the use of sculpting a bust of John Stamos. Well, it wasn't as easy to find as we thought it was going to be. We must have spent half an hour looking. By the time we found him, Rancid had gone on stage. No one else was there. We tried communicating, but no one had phone service on the festival grounds.
I must admit, I've never been much of a Rancid fan, but they were another band that slipped into my adolescence. "Ruby Soho" was one of those songs I can remember hearing my brother and his friends listen to when I was 5 or 6. They put on a great show though--besides the unnecessary "encore." Once they had finished, Tim and I finally met up with everyone. They were all excited to catch Taking Back Sunday's set. I was just there to see, "Cute Without the 'E'," just like 90 percent of the rest of the people there. Bit by bit, others began to leave so they wouldn't miss a second of Blink 182. We didn't walk back until a song or two before TBS were done. We came to a halt when we could hear them playing, "Make Damn Sure." We formed a circle and just started dancing and having the time of our lives. Even some random people joined us.
We found our place for Blink. I was so excited...and so let down. Sure, the setlist didn't appeal to me very much being stacked mostly with Self-Titled and Neighborhoods tracks. Many of which I didn't even know. I know I can't expect a band to play songs they wrote 15+ years ago, but damn if I wasn't hopeful. They still squeezed in a couple favorites of mine like "Man Overboard" and "Josie." Those were the highlights for me though. The real Debbie of a downer though was their supposedly drunk sound engineer. I can't say for sure if it was him messing with the levels or just the setup going on the fritz, but I've heard stories of it happening at other Blink shows. Either way, it made for a real unenjoyable experience for everyone. It was easily the biggest disappointment all weekend. We still all had a killer time during "Dammit" though. After meeting back up at the "Butter Stamos" and made sure we were all together, we left the festival grounds. Both my body and my voice need a rest. Tomorrow is the final day of Riot Fest, and it's going to be a crazy one.
Come back for Days 4 and 5 soon!