Everytime I’ve gone to any kind of rock concert/show, all I’ve wanted to do is be close to the stage, survive pits and much larger crowd-surfers, rock out, and then brag about on the internet. My friend/mentor/ex-bandmate/ex-roommate, Dav, wants little of that. On our way into the Crew Stadium parking lot, he declared that we were going to get into where the buses are, and meet the bands- like it wasn’t an option.. or impossible.
let me just point at too, that when we got into Columbus the night before, Dav hadn’t bought a ticket, which were sold out, and which Josh and I both paid $90 for 2 weeks before. When we woke up Sunday morning, he had bought a ticket and a parking pass for $60 from one of his neighbors. I’m assuming he beat them up too.
The parking pass got us pretty close to the front gate. We could see the screens on the smaller stage, and hear the music pretty well. For about an hour and a half we sat around the car, blasted music, and admired the passing scantily-clad young women. As soon as we got in I made bee-line for the Schecter tent to grab some stickers, which I’d missed out on at the Carolina Rebellion. However, as soon as Dav got there he all but tossed me behind the table and started mouthing off to the guy working there about how we were in this band, and all I’ve ever played were schecters, which is true, but not that meaningful. It was kind of the only time I’ve ever felt cool talking about playing guitar, and the tech guys were totally awesome. They let me take a ton of stickers, which I lost…
We made it to the side of the stage, in the stands with 45 minutes until Bush started. Dav tried to work an angle with the younger security guys(which I immediately (drunkenly?) thought was going to work, then with any vendor, or cleaning person he could find. Bush played a really good show- obviously alot of their older stuff, and sounded great.
Around the time that they were finishing up, Dav had gotten a stadium employee to kind of sneak us down to the lower level which was like behind-the-scenes lots of people running around, bringing food up to the snack bars, moving pallets, carrying boxes of merchandise in and out of trailers. Oh yeah! We were completely wasted…
Before anyone could ask us why we were there, as we obviously did not fit in, I targeted a couple of younger, teenage dudes, one of which was wearing skate shoes. I rushed over to him and asked about the local indoor parks, they humored us and we walked with them through corridors of 18-wheeler trailers, but as soon as we were out of ear-shot I blurted “hey look I really am interested in the skate stuff here, and that sucks that they closed whatever park, but the real reason we’re back here is to get back stage. Can you guys help us?”
I wonder if they told anyone about us… Whatever directions they gave us had escaped my inebriated mind as we walked back into the mayhem of scurrying employees. I was in the lead and made a dart left, away from the next higher level security gate. We walked away from them for a few stride, passing a couple of dudes pulling a trash dumpster thing. Dav easily coerced them into letting us- 3 out-of-place, staggering, not-uniformed weirdos- have it, probably by saying something to the effect of “hey yeah Jerry said for you guys to just pass it on to us, we’ll take it from here. thanks guys.”
We walked straight through the security gate, no questions asked.
We must have missed Alice In Chains walking through the backstage to get on stage by a matter of seconds. From here I have very little memory other than snapshots. We would get shuffled from one side of the backstage to the other by the big-time security guys , with a bunch of other people that had passes. I don’t know if they were just people with VIP passes or people associated with the band or event, but there were kind of alot of people just getting shuffled back and fourth. After a couple of these, with dumpster thing in tow, I went into complete Pizza Hut work mode, grabbing trash bags out of cans, like I’ve done a million times. Dav later said he was astounded with how confident I was with it, even going literally onto the edge of what would be considered the stage to grab trash. Not the most glorious thing to do, but did I mention AIC was playing 30 feet in front of us to a crowd of thousands?
There was one instant, where there was no one between me and the band, that my brain just screamed “RUN!!!” but thankfully, for my bones, and feelings (I can’t imagine jerry Cantrell being siked that a drunk loony is running him) I obviously didn’t. Perhaps one more swig of cheap rum…
I don’t know if it was our lack of passes, uniforms, Dav’s lack of shoes (he’d lost his flip flops somewhere?), my backwards “we be jammin'” shirt, or our overall bumbling drunkenness, but about the time that I was going back to replace the bags and had completely dropped and unrolled the trash bags across the floor, I realized that my compadres were being CARRIED away by very large, angry security guys. Fortunately I was the least noticeable one, but opted to just follow them out, as discovery was imminent.
The crazy semi-illegal activities should end there, but they don’t… We couldn’t get back into the stadium. We tried every entrance, every security guy behind every gate in the fence, everyone we could just yell at. Josh, who had already missed seeing his favorite band once, just opted to go buy a scalped ticket, which he got for $9- one tenth of what we’d paid in advance. We could’ve done the same, but I didn’t have any cash, and Dav is insane. Even in getting back in, he was determined to go meet the bands. We climbed over the fence and were almost immediately caught and thrown back out.
not seeing Soundgarden just wasn’t an option (thanks alcohol)”
For our next attempt, we walked pretty far around the gate, through the Lowe’s parking lot and into the only area that we couldn’t see anyone guarding anything. We also met a hipsterish dude reading a book, just listening to the music from outside- Charlie if you ever read this, I think you rock. Dav shimmied under the fence and army crawled across a drainage field, to the next fence, which he somehow fit under. I looked at Charlie and said “well it was nice to meet you. Damn… I didn’t mean to get these pants dirty.” and crawled under the fence. Hiding between cars, Dav whispered ” OK when we get up, just act like we own these cars, and we’re just gonna walk right in…” The first security guy we came to was a little apprehensive, which we both fed off- energetically questioning if he’d seen our ride, “an older red Jeep Cherokee,” go by. He just seemed happy to see us leave, but the next security guy quickly saw through our ruse, and just as we could see the way to get back in too. He said they’d seen us sneak in (which was demeaning because it took so long, and we were so Navy SEAL about it) and that we should jump back over before the police came.
Walking back to the parking lot, we decided to try the main entrance one more time- not seeing Soundgarden just wasn’t an option (thanks alcohol). They had already started playing when I told the staff guy, for the third time, that we’d left not knowing we couldn’t get back in and that I had my ticket, ID, and the credit card i bought it with. He finally budged and said to give it to him, but it wasn’t there. “It was there earlier, which one of my 10 pockets did I stuff it in?” “Dav, I gave it to you right?” The employee laughed me off, but we were determined, and still, somehow kinda drunk. Also, I realized I didn’t have my camera either, which had pictures of… ALICE IN CHAINS AND STUFF!!!
Getting back in is kind of a quick blur to me. I think the security guys took a couple of out-goers tickets, gave them to us, and threw us in. I think at that point, we were such a nuisance to them that that was just easier.
We walked along the right of the crowd and the rail, and ended up getting pretty close to the front, along the right side. We rocked out, righteously, to one of the greatest bands of all time. It was better than I could’ve asked for, and such an epic ending to an incredible day.
But wait, there’s more: After the show I went back to the place where we crawled under the fence and found my camera, then after feeling very, very watched, I jumped the fence and recovered my ID and debit card in the tall grass. Great Success!