Riding in Vans with Idiots! – The Prologue

March 10th, 2017. Orlando International Airport. 6:00am.

I checked in to my flight the previous morning. I was on my way to Atlanta, GA from Orlando, FL. I had never been to “Hotlanta” before. I also had never used frequent flyer miles – or in this case, Southwest Airlines’ Rapid Rewards points – to take a flight essentially for free. For less than $10 in fees I was in the air. The journey wasn’t long as I was originating from only one state away. This wasn’t just a trip to a new place for the sake of travel. No, my friends, this was a trip to a new place for the sake of seeing my favorite band of all time perform. Green Day. But let’s backtrack a bit…

It was in August of last year when the band first announced their newest album – Revolution Radio – for release that October, which of course included a tour to support it. At the time that the tour was announced there were no dates taking place anywhere in the state of Florida. The closest stop to me on the Spring 2017 leg of the tour was in Duluth, GA… just outside of Atlanta. So when tickets when on sale in January, I joined the official fan club – lovingly known as the Idiot Nation – and got a ticket for the Duluth show when it went on pre-sale. The travel arrangements were a bit unique as I do not have a driver’s license – or any driving experience at that point – so I was flying in but riding as a passenger back home. My roommate at the time was participating in her last day of an internship at a school to earn her bachelor’s degree in the education field. She wasn’t getting out of class until around 4 in the afternoon. If I would’ve ridden up with her I never would’ve made it to the show in time. So I would fly in and she would drive up after class and meet me after the show ended, then we would check into a hotel for a couple of nights before making the drive back home to Florida.

17159258_10211729291292677_619286861566436408_oI land at ATL, the main airport for Atlanta. I catch an Uber directly to the venue. My Uber driver was this really nice lady. The ride from the airport to the venue was about an hour so we had time to talk. I was telling her about my traveling from Florida to see my favorite band. When she asked who it was, I proudly proclaimed “Green Day.” Her voice and face then lit up as she was explaining that she used to love them back in the ’90s when she was in high school and going into college. This Uber ride was fate… it had to be. It was also my first time using the ride sharing service. After a few minutes of me telling her how this would be my second time seeing them since I first saw them back in Orlando in 2009, I started talking about the new album. She asked me if I had it on my iPhone, which of course I did. I told her that and without hesitation she holds up the auxiliary cable connected to her car’s stereo and asks “Can we aux it?” This confirmed that this particular “hitched ride” was fate. For the rest of the ride to the venue we blasted the album, getting almost all the way through it thanks to the Atlanta traffic.

I got to the venue a little after 8:00am. There was a handful of folks already in front of the Infinite Energy Center. One guy, presumably the first person to actually show up before the sun rose, was offering to number those who continued to arrive by way of numbering their hands with a sharpie marker. I believe I was in the low 20’s if I remember correctly. The venue security had earlier stopped by and informed those who were camped out that they would not allow anyone to line up before noon. We waited anyway. All rebellious and shit. Eventually as more and more “idiots” began to form a larger group of bodies in front of the venue, security came back around and enforced the policy. They said we were fine to wait about 20 feet away in the parking lot, but not on the actual premises of the venue itself. So, annoyed and disheartened, the fans did just that. Some went back to their cars to wait, while others – most of them – set up camp in the parking lot across the way.17200921_10211728738798865_1984352712697061822_n

I’m rather socially awkward and a bit shy in person, and I had no vehicle to return to since I was from out of town and took an Uber. I also hadn’t eaten anything all morning. So I decided to kill some time by walking across the street to a Panera Bread spot. I got my usual, half of a turkey bacon bravo sandwich and half a bowl of their delicious broccoli cheddar soup. Along with a cup of Mountain Dew, I devoured my meal and headed back to the parking lot of the venue. More fans had gathered. Before long it was noon. The security informed us of it being time that we can go ahead and form a line at the doors. We all followed instruction and safely crossed the street from the parking lot to the venue where we once were all camped out. By now there were far more fans to the point of the previous numbering system was out the window. However, when you’re in line all day for your favorite band with like-minded fans, you’re really just at a family reunion with people you’re meeting for the first time.

The doors didn’t open until 7:00pm, with the opener – Against Me! – taking the stage at 8:00pm for a 30 minute set that was packed to the brim with punk rock songs spanning their entire catalog. As frontwoman Laura Jane Grace promised the crowd before Against Me! began to play, they played “as much punk rock music in 30 minutes as humanly possible.” It was a perfect punk rock primer to get the Green Day crowd riled up for their punk rock idols. As with every Green Day show on their recent tours, thousands of fans sang along to Queen’s masterpiece “Bohemian Rhapsody”, then original punk rockers The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” along with the infamously drunk, and pink bunny who adorned the stage albeit staggeringly so to get the crowd one final push over the edge before we hear the theme to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly as the band took the stage.

The next two and a half hours were packed with 28 songs from Green Days eclectic catalog. Ranging from songs of their early underground days to hits from Revolution Radio and many songs in between. As always with a Green Day show – and how I always explain it to anyone who never has had the absolute pleasure of attending one – it is not a concert but a fucking party. Complete with some surprise fans-on-stage interactions that usually end in enthusiastically terrifying stage dives. That’s why I’m writing this series of blog posts. 17634657_10158562662945370_6797901248505085072_nAt this particular show strangers became friends, and fellow idiots became part of the ever-growing Green Day fan family. With the opening of their set, Green Day played their hit “Know Your Enemy” from their 2009 album, 21st Century Breakdown. During this song, frontman Billie Joe Armstrong began his hunt through the pit of fans going ape shit to find someone to come up on stage to help sing the song. A fellow Florida resident, Danielle, was chosen.17310133_10154791953768961_2356391777448799830_o Danielle and Billie shared the same moments of enthusiasm and laughter as the pyrotechnics synced with the beating of drummer Tré Cool’s drums went off. Upon nearing the final chords of the song Billie Joe instructed the crowd at the end of the catwalk to prepare for Danielle’s inevitable stage dive. She put on a brave face, was ready, set, and off she went with grace. The crowd obliged to Billie’s previous instruction and caught her with ease.

Later in the set came time that everyone with a pit ticket and any musical inclination, and… knowledge… of how Green Day concerts go anticipate for most of the night. Another fan-on-stage interaction. This time the lucky soul who went crazy enough, and – thanks to her bright blue hair – stood out from the rest of the crowd was Kade, a contributing writer over at the site Concert Hopper. This interaction wasn’t for a sing-a-long moment like Danielle’s (and earlier a young man who got to sing Green Day’s hit song Longview). No, this was to play guitar. Yes, that’s right. Billie Joe and crew actually pick a random folk out of the crowd to come up and jam to the Operation Ivy song “Knowledge”… which, for all intents and purposes, is a fairly simple three chord song. 17553734_10154538179389001_7388593812839674378_nEven if you haven’t picked up a guitar in years – or ever – Billie instructs the fan on where to place their fingers with the three basic power chords that repeat for the entirety of the song. Kade fucking rocked the shit out of that song.

 

Be sure to check out her pieces over at Concert Hopper as she is as good of a writer about music as she is a fucking rock star! Not only did she get to jam with Green Day, but she got to keep the guitar. 18121749_10154626292049001_6216391462370781300_oNot only did she get to keep the guitar, but it was signed by Billie, Mike, and Tré too! So you now may be asking yourself what the fuck is this a prologue to, exactly? Well now that I’ve gotten a bit of that concert experience out of the way, I would like to introduce to you the main focus of the rest of the “Riding in Vans with Idiots” series of posts that will be happening over the next few weeks. Billie Joe once said something along the lines of September somehow always ends up being a bad month for a lot of people. 2017 is a completely different story, folks. This September, next month for those keeping track, will be one hell of a Green Day party. Danielle of “Know Your Enemy” fame has organized a get together of sorts where a few of us from the show will be crashing at her place for the week of September 2nd – 6th. We are calling it a “Green Day Slumber Party.” Green Day is actually coming to Florida for the second leg of their North American summer tour in support of Revolution Radio and they are actually hitting both coasts. The first show takes place at the (newly named) Coral Sky Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach, FL on September 3rd. The second show is at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa, FL on September 5th. The plan is to rent a 15-passenger van and follow the band from the home base in Orlando to both coasts to see both shows. I’ve already got my tickets purchased. Unfortunately I’ll be on the lawn for the first show, but I’m sure I’ll still have the time of my life… pun intended. Then for Tampa I was able to afford a pit ticket. There will be more posts in this series as the days draw nearer and of course reviews of each show and the shenanigans (also pun intended) that will undoubtedly take place between them. Stay tuned for more “Riding in Vans with Idiots!”

 

 

Daddy’s Little Psycho, and Mommy’s Little Soldier

Bang Bang” is the most recent release by Oakland punks, and my favorite band, Green Day. It is the first single off of the highly anticipated upcoming album Revolution Radiogd_rvg which is set to be released on October 7th of this year. The album, which follows 2012’s trio ¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tré!, is said to be a mix of political and personal views and expression. “Bang Bang” has been released early this morning and is available to stream on Spotify. Shortly after the song’s release the official Green Day Facebook page posted a lyric video for the track which I’ve included below. The song is sung from the perspective of a mass shooter and is quite poignant with the tragic events that have plagued 2016. I am really looking forward to the album come October. I will be pre-ordering it online later tonight. I’m getting the red vinyl, which also includes a digital download of Revolution Radio. Rolling Stone also put out an interview with Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong about the new track and its album. You can read it here. I’ve listened to the song twice now and it’s already stuck in my head. That’s surely a good sign of what we can expect off of this new album. Enjoy!

Bird’s Eyes

The days were long, the nights were longer.
What we endured it made us stronger.
From motel rooms we often pondered.
If better days would bring us laughter.

And then time came for my wings to spread.
It made you sad and stay in your bed.
It was a time that filled you with dread.
You made it through based off what you said.

And then we came together again.
With our wings clipped it looked like the end.
But it was just the beginning.

There was some tension between rooms.
Cats and birds will do what they do.
Through it all I still loved you.

Fly up high and soar thought the sky.
Everything is small with bird’s eyes.
See the world at peace and no cries.
Birds are free, they don’t tell lies.

Build your nest with twigs and tinder.
Weather storms, you are a winner.
Creative souls, we let things linger.
This bird’s song needs a backup singer.

And then we came together again.
With our wings clipped it looked like the end.
But it was just the beginning.

There was some tension between rooms.
Cats and birds will do what they do.
Through it all I still loved you.

Such A Cost

Once upon a time,
there was a boy who lived a lie.
His poker face had run dry.
With tears of dust whenever he cried.

And all was lost.
At such a cost.

He loved you so, you had to know.
He wanted to be better for you.
Your love had given him new life.
Your words cut him like a sharpened knife.

And all was lost.
At such a cost.

When boy met girl they fell in love,
and that way it stayed ’til push came to shove.
He broke your heart, destroyed your mind.
In your soul he hopes forgiveness you’ll find.

And all was lost.
At such a cost.

He loved you so, you had to know.
He wanted to be better for you.
Your love had given him new life.
Your words cut him like a sharpened knife.

And all was lost.
At such a cost.

Spark of Madness

There’s something special about classical music. It always makes me want to be in a Barnes & Noble with a decent book in hand. Sipping a cafe mocha.

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Me when I finally get a math problem right

Mozart especially makes me feel this. Beethoven, however, is probably my favorite of them all. Something about the Moonlight Sonata is just so haunting and beautiful. Like seeing your grandmother finally at peace. It is soothing and unsettling at the same time. And for something to be created such a long time ago before so many advancements. It’s mind-blowing. Like really I’m at a loss for words.

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“I can’t hear you, Helen!”

It’s such beautiful music too. I feel like the most brilliant people are also the most insane. I this theory goes for the great composers too. How could one human mind possibly hear this all and compose it. How could one person dream this up and bring it into the world alone? They are given a spark of madness. This madness is genius. And some handle the genius better than others. Some create sonnets and symphonies while the others make beautiful works of priceless art and are missing an ear. It’s pretty intriguing the connection between mental illness and creative genius. There’s a real connection there, I’m not just crazy! Seriously though, it’s pretty damn interesting.

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#SquadGoals

Classical music makes me think of Bohemian Rhapsody from Queen. How the hell did Freddy Mercury come up with that in his head? Like there are movements and everything just like a classical piece. For that matter Paranoid Android from Radiohead is the same. It’s amazing how music can transcend so many years. I mean really at the heart or more appropriately the skeletal structure of it music is just applied math. Math is the universal language. Music is my dialect of choice. It’s the best way I can understand and use math. I can feel it. I can’t do it. Ragtime piano is another genre of music that comes to mind when speaking genius. Scott Joplin is one of my musical heroes. Maple Leaf Rag is one of my favorite pieces of music. I’ve got quite an eclectic taste. But one trend remains true throughout… a spark of madness. That genius though. Maybe it’s the meaning of life in mathematical code over the course of centuries. For as long as we’ve been able to record things. From cave paintings and on. We’re expressive because we’re living the meaning of life. We’re serving the purpose. And art is our way of manifesting the “meaning” of life. That kind of makes sense, right?

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I think the acid just kicked in

For those about to rock!

I need to get out to see more shows. And by shows I mean concerts. I haven’t been to a real decent concert in quite some time. I can still remember my first concert back when I was 10. It was 2000 and my late older brother James took my other older brother Sam and I to see Ween live. For those of you who may not be familiar with Ween, I can’t even begin to describe them. I think if I were to try to I would do the band a great disservice. I think the best way to introduce someone to Ween is to just let them experience it for themselves. So without further ado, I give you Ween:

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The Boognish sees all

Needless to say their live concert was an experience I’ll always remember. So much fun and still so rock ‘n’ roll. It was at the Hard Rock Live in CityWalk, part of the Universal Studios Orlando Resort. It was my first and currently only time at the venue. I’ve been to countless shows at House of Blues Orlando, but only the Ween gig at Hard Rock. Over the years since my first concert experience I’ve attended a couple handfuls of shows. Both professional productions as well as local battle of the bands.

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Only been there once

My brother Sam was actually in a band that won a battle of the bands. Lake Alfred, FL’s very own Left Hand Down. Those were some good times. I remember riding to Tampa and back in the back of the pickup truck. It was windy as hell but exciting. It was like a mini tour. I think the band could have gone far and even make it big. But like many good things the band indeed came to an end. The broke up like all the greats do. I’ve always wanted to start my own band. I’ve messed around in Fruity Loops Studio a lot in the past. It’s a music production suite that is pretty fun once you figure out your way around the interface. I never mastered mastering tracks. But I had some interesting beats and chord progressions. It was fun.

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I FUCKING MET ELVIS COSTELLO!

I guess the last good concert I went to was about a year ago. I saw Elvis Costello and Larkin Poe. I actually had the pleasure of meeting both Elvis and the sisters of Larkin Poe. It was a show I’ll never forget.
I was in fact wearing the concert t-shirt the other day. I love that thing. I also have a t-shirt from the previous show I went to. It was the Cheech & Chong show with War. It was hilarious.Two of my idols, who like many of the greats were broken up for a while, together again on stage.

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Be my friend or GTFO

And the energy and music of War was fantastic. “Why Can’t We Be Friends” was the closer and it was perfect for the night. This was during Tommy Chong’s time on Dancing with the Stars so we got to see a little bit of his dancing skills with partner Peta Murgatroyd.

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Nice background color 😉

As any of you who may follow the show might be aware, Tommy did not win the mirror ball trophy that season.

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“Eat shit, Will Smith!”

Instead it went to Fresh Prince of Bel Air star Alfonso Ribeiro and his partner Whitney Carson.

 

So I think my new goal for 2016 is to go to more shows. I love concerts, I love music, I love artists. It just makes sense. I need more culture in my life. I think I should go to more museums too. My bank offers a free museum visit on the first Friday of each month. It’s pretty neat. I have yet to take advantage of it. In due time. Rock on, readers, rock on.

\m/ >< \m/

 

 

It’s in the room now

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“Are you wearing my perfume?”

Larkin Poe is one hell of a force to be reckoned with from Atlanta, GA. Sisters Megan and Rebecca Lovell create a powerhouse of a sound with their enchanting vocals and swinging rock guitars. Megan on her signature lap steel slide and vocals, and Rebecca on her iconic Fender Jazzmaster  – not unlike that of frequent tour mate Elvis Costello – and lead vocals. The sonic trip they put you into is one that you can only get in the south. These girls are quite the incredibly talented. “We all want the big sparks…” and that’s what you get with Larkin Poe. They electrify any room they are in.

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Available on iTunes!

You will not be able to stop yourself from moving to the music. Transcending into a shared experience that is unlike any other. The girls released their full-length debut album, KIN, after multiple EP releases. And KIN is just as impressive as their previous work. From the opening track, “Jailbreak” to real grooving songs like “Jesse”, “Sugar High”, and the protest of “Don’t”, this album is perfect for anyone.

Larkin Poe have recently been busy in LA recording in the studio on their highly-anticipated follow up album RESKINNED. I, for one, cannot wait for that to come out. If you happen to be living in any of these cities (scroll down to the tour section), I HIGHLY recommend you go to the show. It will be one you remember for a lifetime. I had the chance to see them back on St. Patrick’s Day 2015, when they were supporting Elvis Costello. Seriously one of the best night’s of my life. Not only did I get to meet Elvis, who by the way is a very generous and kind man. But I got to meet Larkin Poe as well. The girls are also very very kind and spent quite a bit of time ensuring each of the fans got a chance for a picture and autograph. My autographed vinyl copy of KIN is one of my most prized possessions. They really are one of the most rocking new acts that are sure to take over the world in no time. Be sure to check them out!