Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Part II

We entered the venue, made use of the washrooms (which I'm pretty sure were mostly occupied by people who were doing blow) and looked at the merch stands. I'd brought about about $60 in cash so I could pick up a poster, a t shirt, maybe some stickers and pins for the kids back home. But I soon realised that I brought enough money to purchase one and a half shirts, or 2/3's of a hoodie.

The cost of merch there was RIDICULOUS. I was so disgusted. Last year, when Tess and I attended the Mars Volta/System of a Down concert, shirts cost $20 and the cuts and designs were so cool. They had these wicked huge posters as well, and awesome sticker/button packs. Nothing cost more than $20. Here, the cheapest shirt was $40. There were hoodies for $80-$90. I was shocked and very dissapointed, but what did I really expect? I mean, the chili peppers are such a big name band, so I don't blame the band or anything. It still was sickly expensive though. The worst thing about the merch was there were people ACTUALLY BUYING THESE SHIRTS. Mind boggling.

So after checking out the merch, and being dissapointed, I remembered that we were actually supposed to somehow meet up with Marcy and Diondra at the show. I started to actually worry because we hadn't seen them and I kept forgetting to call them due to me being a tired fuck up, but all my fears were quickly put to rest the moment we stepped into the stadium and I heard two excited voices yelping "NAOMI!!!" There they were, in all their glory, the lovely Marcy and Diondra. With one less thing to worry about, releif washed over me like warm rain, so we proceeded to find our seats.

So the thing about this concert, is it was in a stadium, and we bought floor tickets, but they had seats on the floor. We were expected to reamian at our seats for the whole show. But at the time we arrived, hardly anyone was on the floor, and the Mars Volta were up in less then 30 minutes. So we went to the front to see their gear and whatnot, and then decided, well why not just stand here. I attempted to take pictures of their pedals and amps, but the only one that turned out was a photo of a random roadie, and also, this.

We settled in on a nice spot. We were just right of center, somewhere between Cedric's mic stand and Ikey's rhodes. Prime location. Pretty close to where I was standing when I saw them play last year, only this year would be better because there'd be no angry System of a Down fans yelling at random.

So we stood for a while. Standing, killing time during that awkward period between when the roadies are done tuning guitars, and the band comes out to play. That time when you start to get too excited to make small talk with those around you. When you get sick of bullshitting with the security guards, and trying to see what pedals the bass player has for his rig. Waiting for that moment when the lights go down and you start hearing the theme song from A Fistfull of Dollars playing over the PA. The epic moment when Ikey walks on, trailed by Juan, and Pablo. When in the back you can see the new drummer , Blake Flemming, takes his seat behind his little drum set. You can't quite see what Adrian and Marcel are doing because you're too fixated on Omar strapping into his guitar, and Cedric, gallantly walking to the mic stand. It's the stuff dreams are made of.

When they stepped onstage, the croud was yelling alot, I probably was too, I'm not quite sure. I just know that the excitement of the situation finally came to head, I recalled that I'd actually made that trip for a reason, a reason I'd somehow forgotten amidst all the driving and conversation and lack of sleep. I remembered.

They started their first song right off the bat. No talking, no bullshitting the croud. Strait to business (cause they were wearing business suits I assume). A split second into their first song I knew exactly what they were playing. I got excited and began slamming my foot into the ground (and I think Josh's foot) several of times. I was too busy thinking ROULETTE DARES ROULETTE DARES ROULETTE DARES to really worry about it. It was spectacular. For those who have Deloused, it's track 4. Listen to it RIGHT NOW.

I was glad they opened with a De-loused song. It made me happy. I sang along gleefully for the entire song. Especially during the second verse, when Cedric accidentally unplugged his mic and broke it. For most of the second verse there was nothing but me yelling the words at him as loud as humanly possible. I'm prett sure no one but me could hear it though. I could also see Juan so clearly. He was going mindblowingly berzerk on the bass. I can't even concieve playing anything that fast. It made me want to quit music, or get bass lessons with Juan Alderate de la Peña. Unfortunely for everyone, niether of those is likely to happen.

It was shortly after this that security became an issue. We were suddenly flanked by guards asking us for our tickets to see if we actually had front row seats. This seemed ridiculous considering NO ONE who actually had front row seats were remotely interested in the Mars Volta. So we were told to go to our seats. We started to shuffle towards the center of the stage and stayed there for a moment, putting a buffer of people between us and the approaching guard. For a breif moment I was right in the center, in line with the drum set, Cedric dancing manically, Omar convulsing all over his guitar. But the gaurds were approaching again, so we had to keep moving. Shuffling through people, trying to keep one eye on the band the entire time. We were quickly approaching the end of the aisle, and I began to worry that I'd lose my chance to be so close to them for the whole show.

The lights then went down. The first song had ended. When it came back up, they started strait into The Widow (track 2: Frances the Mute) I stopped in my tracks, transfixed on their performances again. The gaurds approaching from both sides, myself stuck in wanting to stay where I was standing forever, but knowing they'd soon remove me. But then a genius beamed down from heaven or where ever it is geniuses beam from, and grabbed my arm and told me to jump back a row of seats.

Actually, this genius beamed from Romania, and it was Josh. He pretty much saved my life and I am forever grateful. Because of his quick thinking we watched the entire show undisturbed from our new location right next to where the saxaphone and percussionist were located. It was fantastic because the front row almost entirely emptied out, so we had a great view and no one was pestering us.

The lights went down and they went into their third song, Tetragrammaton (track 2: Ampuchture) Now at the time of the concert, I hadn't had enough time to really get into the new album. I'd maybe listened to it three times all the way through, and always without paying much attention. The more I've gotten aquianted with it, the more I realise just how amazing their performance was. Between Adrian trading off between playing flute, tenor sax, soprano sax, bass clarinet, and percussion, to Cedric hitting notes so high I would faint in any attempt at singing them, to Pablo playing harmonised leads with omar, to the orginised randomness of their jams, it was all just spectacular.

After a lengthy jam the broke into Viscera Eyes (track 6: Amptuechture, or listen to it here!) This song was awesome, and since it was the first released single I knew it the best out of all the newer ones they played. Cedric just blew my mind with his vocals. Also, Pablo is a very good guitar player. He replaced Jeremy Michael Ward, the Mars Volta's late sound manipulator, but is also taking on rhythm guitar as well, and it sounded fantastic.

At long last, they came to their closing number, which also happened to be the longest song of the evening: Day of the Baphomets (track 7: Amputechture) I hadn't heard this song more than twice, but they pulled it off stunningly. After listening to it again at home, I just marvelled at how incredibly well they managed to stay together in parts with strange time signatures and the like. It was impressive, though sometimes the randomness was a bit much to take. I still found the entire set amazing. Also, Marcel had a bongo solo in this song that was amazing. He nailed it live, it was awesome to see.

So after they wrapped up and vacated the stage, we meandered to our seats. Way the hell back in row 30. I chatted it up with some hippy kid who was in awe after seeing the Mars Volta for the first time. Seemed like a nice guy. Then I sat quietly talking to Josh and fighting waves of tiredness. I was so sore by then. My back and my calf muscles were just tired and over taxed. A lot of stuff happened between the sets, but I can't remember much save for talking to that guy, and Marcy and Diondra running up to us and asking Josh to boot for them. I laughed, they got discouraged and left, and I forget what happened next.

One thing I distinctly recall is some radio announcer guy bullshitting on stage for a while. This topic will be brought up later. The other outstanding memory was the random cheering. One random asshole in the back of the stadium would whistle, and a few other douchebags would think the band was coming on stage, so they'd cheer, and before you know it the entire stadium of like 10 000 people are yelling at nothing!!! It sucked because I lost my ear plugs during the mars volta's set and had to fashion make shift ones out of gum rappers. It functioned well enough, because I maintained most of my hearing.

I don't remember too many details about the chili peppers set. I remember it was loud, they played really exceptionally well, they opened with Can't Stop, and closed with By the Way, and that John Frusciante stole the show. I would have recalled more, but nearly all of their performance Josh and I kept trying to squeeze our way through hundreds of sweaty frat boys and their creepy girlfriends, all sweating and humping and wreaking of cheap cologne that, to this day, and entire WEEK later, still hasn't washed off my hoodie.

Josh seemed confident we could meander our way to the front, and I really wanted to beleive him. I wanted to get a close look at John Frusciante. Oh, John Frusciante. How I adore that man. I don't even know why, other than he's an amazing musician and bears an uncanny resemblance to someone I can't quite put my finger on. Oh well. He absolutely stole the show. His harmonies were amazing, and he sang a song by himself, just him and his guitar, that was just lovely. Plus he solos like a mad man. He also recorded all the guitar tracks in the new Mars Volta album, so gotta give him props. He's amazing.

Anyway, so we had the difficult task ahead of us of trying to avade security, while slipping between creepy gross smelly people, and creepy frat boys who kept touching me and sticking knees in places where no knees should ever go. The way the floor was set up, is there were two sections of seats, seperated by a large aisle in the middle of the arena. That is where we wound up, along with about 400 other people who had the same goal in mind as we did. Now, as if we didn't have enough things working against us, there were a bunch of irritable angry middle aged security gaurds trying to push the croud back and make sure everyone stayed EXACTLY in their seats.

We tried a few approaches. We had before us the challenge of meandering the maze of sticky moshers, or confronting the small militia of security. Both presented their own challenges. At first, we tried going around the side, but right away we ran into some strong arms who demanded I show them my ticket. It happened to be conveniently located in my jacket pocket, which happened to be conveniently folded in a tight ball inside of my bag. Not wanting to pull it out I told him I couldn't grab it, so he grabbed my arm and shoved me back from whence we came. Upon re-arriving at our seats I was hassled by another guard to show him my ticket, so I had to unpack my bag and present it to him, so he'd piss off. This was to be a continuing trend. At that, we started planning again.

Now when I say planning I mean Josh tried to yell suggestions to me and I couldn't understand anything he was saying, so I'd sort of guess based on hand gestures and where ever he motioned his head while talking. This method of communication may have contributed to our inability to make too much gorund. We made it pretty close to the stage, before being smothered by moshers and pushed back by security.

The great thing about being smothered in that mosh pit was seeing all the strange awkward people excited to see The Red Hot Chili Peppers play. The majourity were awkward middled aged meen who seemed to stare a bit too intently at Anthony Kiedes swivelling hip movement. There were also lots of frat boy types, and scary bikers. The best though, were the groups of scantily clad horribly overweight young women who wore low cut shirts, and drew red peppers on their cleavage. It was the last thing I EVER EVER wanted to see. It was actually worse than the weird spandax costume Flea donned during their set, because as they walked, the peppers jiggled.

ANYWAY. We finally resolved that it was hopeless, and just decided to stand in the aisle, maybe three rows infront of our seats. Security had a fit. They checked my ticket like 20 times, and kept telling me to return to my seat, which was now occupied by a short asian girl who was standing on top of it to see the show. Security told them to move, which was shitty, I didn't care if they were at my seat, and I'm pretty sure Josh apologised to them for having to move. I can't remember what happened too well after that. I was getting pretty tired. We stood at our seats for the last bit of the concert, and eventually wound up sitting. The pain from driving and then walking all day without a break for sleep inbetween was taxing.

The only thing that really bothered me at the show, other than security, was the retarded light show they had. There was a giant screen behind the stage, and lights that went overtop of the audience. It was sort of like watching a music video, and not that much like being at a concert. During songs like "Californication" they played some cheesy cartoon sequence and it was pretty lame. The only thing I liked about it was when they would show close up shots of John Frusciante gently making sweet love to his stratocaster. And also, being able to get a good view of Flea's bass solo. He played a bass solo that was awesome. It sounded almost like a classical guitar kind of, it was strange and great.

So as the concert was about to wind down, Flea went into a little speech about how much they love The Mars Volta, and how inspiring they are to them, which I thought was pretty cool, and then they thanked the audience for being there and busted into their closing number, "By the Way". We figured it was their last song because that speech seemed like a closing type deal, so in the last chorus of the song, Josh and I headed outside so we could avoid the oncoming rush of people trying to board the sky trains after the concert. So we ran up the steps, felt pretty clever, got outside and then could hear music coming from inside again. So we went to the door, and a guard told us we weren't allowed back in. We offored our tickets, but he wasn't having any of it. We also realised that we were supposed to meet Di and Marcy after the show, so we wound up sitting and waiting through the entire encore. I didn't feel too dissapointed, I mean, I like the chili peppers enough, but I wasn't heart broken to miss another song of their's, I figured I'd seen the Mars Volta, I'd accomplished my given task.

It wasn't until the next that I found out that the encore was actually a big jam session with Omar, Flea, John Frusciante, and Chad something, the drummer from the chilis. I was sad to have missed it, but I was so tired at that point, and didn't have a good view of it anyway. BUT you can watch exerpts of it on here.

So we waited to find Di and Marcy, and were unable to locate them, so we walked around the venue, past a strange erray of buskers, and about 10 limos, and around where the loading bays were. A huge amount of semis were present, taking all the sound great from the stadium. It was funny, there were people ducking under hedges trying get back there. I hope they were successful.

So we gave up on looking, and took the skytrain home. It was sort of strange, the two people I was supposed to find the entire time were found only once that night, but the one person I'd previously never actually met in person--Derek--ran into us at least 6 times. It was just strange haha.

On the trainride back to Mike's I overheard some girl talking about the Mars Volta. Now if you read my previous blog on seeing them last year, you'll already know that I've had run ins with people on public transit after shows. This time it was a girl insisting that when the radio announcer said "give it up for the Mars Volta" everyone in the croud went "Boooo". I ignored her and tried to stay awake.

So we transferred trains at Commercial Drive and were pretty much on the home stretch. The seats on the trains were set up funny, there were two seats right beside eachother, where Josh and I sat, and on seat facing into the train, directly infront of our seats. That lone seat should have existed for one purpose and one purpose only: for us to rest our feet on because our legs were in horrible pain. But, apparently that wasn't so. These two girls got on the train at the same time as us, and one of them planted themself directly in that seat. Empty seats were rampant on that train, but she planted her ass RIGHT there. The two of them sat across from eachother, and found it neccecary to lean forward and whisper in eachother's ears constantly. They refused to talk. They just gossiped, craftily whispering whatever strange weird secrets shify girls on trains that take footrests seats and act like douchebags divulge while whispering on trains.

Being generally irritated by watching them make asses of themselves, and having nowhere comfortable to put my feet, I decided to make that girl as uncomfortable as possible. I kept standing up and rifling through pamphlets behind her head, and grabbing the pole that was attatched to her seat, but grabbing it right at face level. I don't know if she noticed though. But she did make a mistake. She stood up for a split second to listen to her friend whisper something more, and immediately me and Josh threw our feet on the chair, where they rightly belonged. She realised her error, and proceeded to sit down beside her friend and take trashy pictures of themselves with their phone.

So, at long last we arrived at our stop. Lougheed Center. FINALLY. I was about ready to die. There was a short walk to Mike's I seriously considered just not doing. Laying down in the middle of a busy street sounded a lot more appealing, but I made the trek......only to remember that Mike wasn't home, but at a friend's house. So we were locked out. Again. So we had to find a phone again, call him, and then wait for him to return home and bestow the gift of sleep upon us.

We wound up taking Josh's car this time, obviously. Walking is for tools. Especially when you haven't slept in 36 hours, and your legs refuse to bend properly. Of course, driving lead to another adventure. We went to get food, first opting for Tim Hortins, then deciding wait there's a Denny's! only to remember there's an Ihop nearby and I promised Zach Bowers I would eat a Ihop at least once in my life, but then Ihop was closed, so we went back to Denny's only to see it was Grand Central Station and we had no hope of being served withen the next three hours (we also ran into that girl from the train again there) and at long last decided on what was our first option, Tim Hortins. They messed up our order, we got to Mike's at around 1 am and feel asleep.

The next day we got up at 10 45, ate at Ihops, which was terrible, picked up Diondra and drove home.

Teh end.

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