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!
Josh and I had driven down to Charlotte for The 2013 Carolina Rebellion. on Saturday, we didn’t get into the fairground until after 4, but I could see from the already sardine-ing crowd that if we waited any longer, we wouldn’t get a good spot for The Deftones, or Alice in Chains.. Josh wanted a beer. I left my phone at home.. I wouldn’t find Josh again until I found the car. I think the Deftones may have been the best show of any of the bands we saw- I really, really dig this band, and I’ve never seen a frontman have half as much genuine fun on stage as Chino. Pardon my French, but it really fucking rocked. their set list couldnt have been better: all of the good singles, and a couple from the newest album, which I thought they pulled off epically.
In the hour wait before Alice In Chains started, I met a guy from Lynhcburg, that informed me 10 Years is playing here in June, listened to a 50something year-old, wasted, guy talk about how much his legs hurt in the funniest possible ways, and laughed along as EVERYONE in the crowd made fun of Limp Bizcut/Fred Durst, who’s performance was being broadcasted onto our screen, without audio. AIC was really, really kickass too. I’d seen enough youtube videos and listened to their last album enough times to not be flabbergasted at how much William Duval (new singer) does sound like Lane Staley. Their set was really good- all the good singles (and the ones we’ve heard enough, and I’m sure they’ve played enough). My only complaint is that they didn’t play “Nutshell.” This may have been the the first show they played with Jerry Cantrell’s new haircut. Someone in the crowd had a sign, which they called out, that said “friends don’t let friends get haircuts JERRY!” for the last 2/3 of their performance the girl next to me was dead set on rubbing her boob on me, very aggressively. It was so good/bad that it was hard to focus on the band.. which was ALICE IN FUCKIN’ CHAINS! Thank you boob girl.
I sat at the car for almost ten minutes before Josh showed up.. With some girl, again. She ended up being super cool, and let us come party with her friends in their hotel room.
She had talked about meeting all these bands, and just generally seemed cooler than us, so when we opened the door of the hotel room to 6 or so rock-star looking dudes, it slightly intimidating to say the least. We kind of introduced ourselves, and this one dude walks up to me and says “hey, I’m Joe (or whatever his name was), you may have heard of me,” as he lifted his sleeves up and showed his tattoos. This was one of the most awkward, situations I’ve ever been put in… All I could say was “uh, no..” He looked disappointed, stood there for a few more, weird, seconds then walked away. In my mind I had just met some awesome dude in a touring band and introduced myself as uncool, Douche Mcgee.
I brought it up later and they told me they had no idea why he did that… He was just a local dude, not the vocalist of some band I’m too uncool to know about. They gave us alot of free booze, one guy kept sexually-assaulting everyone(?). And then at the end of the evening, one of the dudes let us crash at his parents'(out-of-town missionaries) super-nice townhouse- which was incredible because it rained all night, every hotel was booked, and we had nowhere to sleep but the car. They were all really cool people, and I’m sure we’ll meet again, and rock out.
It rained all day Sunday, so after picking up some boots and swim suits from an inner-city thriftshop (it was not inspired by the song. IT WASN’T!) we killed a couple hours at the Soulride park, which was just a couple miles away from the Speedway.
When we got into the crowd, just about an hour before Rise Against was supposed to start, a couple bands had already bailed- it was unclear if it was their decision or the event management’s. For the first two hours the crowd grew in size, and we all just watched the staff squeegee and leaf-blow the stage. No word was given that anything was canceled, but no gear was on stage. At one point, the siked-up crowd began chanting “squeegee man” at an enthusiastic stage-dryer. I could see the guitarist from Rise Against up in one of the VIP areas on the sides of the stage. As the hours wore on, the crowd became, collectively drunker. I’ve been to my share of rock shows, a couple strip clubs, and a good number of protests, but I’ve never seen more crowd surfing (to no band, remember), angry chants, or boobs in one place. It was the greatest disappointment ever. After 3 1/2 hours a man came on stage, announced that no bands would be playing, and was miraculously not killed by any of the incoming beer cans, rocks, food, shoes or other missiles that immediately followed. It was a sad ride home, but there were alot of hilarious, really drunk, very upset people.
The only way driving across Kansas could be worse is if I have to be really hungover. And I was. We drove all day, got terribly rerouted outside of Kansas City when we tried to avoid the tolls (in my experience, its always best to just bite the bullet and pay), and got a hotel outside of St. Louis.
The next day, Nate’s psycho mom stopped putting gas money into his account because she thought I (because i’m such a dirtbag, bum) needed to pay the rest. (long story, its complicated, i didnt owe Nate or his mother anything), so he was really pissed most of the day, which meant I had a pretty awesome time. its funny how that dynamic worked, He would be super pissed off, and I was just glad to be alive, glad to be on the road, glad to be somewhere exciting, glad to see the sky, despite having to pay for the gas, which I didnt have money for…
we, literally, made a wrong turn…
After going the wrong way past “The Gateway West,” and crossing the “mahteh mississipeh” we somehow got off of 70. And by we, i mean Nate. I forget the name of the route we ended up on, but it was about a 2 hour delay of driving Illinois back roads past farms, and the smallest little towns. I thoroughly enjoyed it…
if you’ve ever wondered how clouds are made…
widdle baby arch.. knock-off
It was in one of these small farmy towns that we stopped for food. I was really taken back by how friendly everyone was- probably half because of my mood, and half having lived in Vegas for 2 months. i bought chips, salsa, and bagels at this store. it was unlike any store i’ve seen, but also exactly what i would imagine in a store whose main customers drive in from miles away once a week or less, and buy in bulk. Sort of a Costco version of a convenience store along the Appalachian Trail. I thought it rocked, all the employees were super nice, but not overly nice in a cheesey way.
We drove through Indiana, and through Ohio to Columbus, where my good friend and mentor, Dav was waiting.
the bible belt buckle
As usual, we had a great, interesting,one-of-a-kind time with Dav. He gave us cigar cutters and a pipe as gifts and treated us to chinese take-out and great local beer (I think the company was just called Columbus). At one point, his 2 sons, wife, and 9-month-old baby are all asleep and he blasts Alice In Chains and Motorhead through half-broken speakers in a 2 bed-room apartment with many neighbors. It was fantastic.