Riding in Vans with Idiots – Last Ride In…

Today is September 4th, 2017. Labor day. We are officially more than halfway through the Green Day festivities and I’m rather sad to see it draw to a close so soon. I’ve made lots of new friends and memories to last a lifetime. And that’s only after one show! This really is starting to sound like a Green Day summer camp. The night of the 2nd we had a few late arrivals but fun and silliness was had by all. IMG-4033We made signs to help direct those who arrived late around to their sleeping arrangements. Sleep wasn’t really something that happened that night for most of us because we were all so excited for the show the following day. We got up early yesterday morning. Pretty much like an hour or two after IMG-4034everyone went to “sleep” we were “waking up” to start the first concert day of this trip. After a quick pit stop of crashing the local Starbucks we were on our way. The drive was a long one. We listened to a mix of like 500 different songs played for like 30-45 seconds each. About halfway through the drive we stopped at a rest area to fill up on gas and take a restroom break and to stretch our legs. There were a bunch of crows walking and hopping around. One of them only had one foot. So the awesome band name “Peg-legged Crow” came to fruition. That’s what a lot of the riding in the van was like. Sporadic wordsmithing. The opening band on this tour is Catfish and the Bottlemen. That band name is very unique. So much so that it begs to be fucked with. So for the nearly 3 hour long drive back to the apartment from the venue after the first show was spent just rambling the various alterations of “Catfish and the Bottlemen” that we were all coming up with. Most of them don’t make any sense… “Whack, whack and the wham!” “Soap dish and the jellyfish”, “Enchilada and the freight train”, just to name a few. We were delirious. The show was an interesting one for me. I’ve only seen Green Day in concert twice at this point, and both times I was in the pit. Last night in West Palm Beach I was watching the show from the lawn. I still had a great time. A lot of us were wearing pink bunny ears in homage to Green Day’s drunken bunny who comes out on stage to get the crowd all riled up to “Blitzkrieg Bop” by The Ramones before the band comes on. Even though I was on the lawn and nobody on stage would likely notice the ears, I kept them on for the entire show. About an hour before the show started the lawn started to fill up pretty quickly. There were also beach balls being tossed around. At one point one of the beach balls came flying and hit my bunny ears. It was clear that someone had been trying to play “whack a drunk bunny” for a while now. I thought it was hilarious. So when the ears got hit I held up my (very expensive) beer and took a swig. Normally I wouldn’t spend $13 on a beer – or even drink at a show – since I’m usually in the pit. However, shortly after I finished my beer, and Green Day took the stage, the guy who knocked my ears down came up to me with a fresh beer as a sort of olive branch. That’s the sort of community that Green Day attracts. In the morning we will be getting up early yet again to take the van on one last Green Day trip, this time to Tampa. But now it’s time for sleep.

 

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Riding in Vans with Idiots – ‘Twas The Night…

September 1st, 2017.

I’m probably not going to be sleeping much tonight. I feel like I’m a kid again going off to summer camp for a few days. But like, a Green Day summer camp. The best kind of summer camp. The idiots will be gathering together at the home base tomorrow and we will be renting the van. The vessel of our journey that will carry us to the shows in West Palm Beach and Tampa. We’ll have a cooler packed with snacks and water. PLENTY OF WATER. If you’ve ever been to a rock concert, in the pit, in summer, in Florida… you know that you must hydrate all day in line. It is required for your health, safety, and enjoyment of the evening’s festivities. I’ve made this mistake both times seeing Green Day now where I won’t really eat or drink anything while I wait all day in the sun for the show, go super hard during the show giving it my all – as the boys do for us every night – then nearly passing out after the show. This most recent experience in Duluth, GA this past March ended up with me projectile vomiting out the window after the show was over. Not doing that again. The first Green Day show I went to I was 19. The second show – the one in GA this past spring – I was 26. These two FL shows coming up I am now 27… and I’m not getting any younger. I need to hydrate like a madman. Life is better when you’re hydrated. Also food. I must have nutrients. It doesn’t have to be a 5 course dinner… but regular snacking throughout the day plus a decent, sustainable lunch should do the trick.

I am a little concerned about the weather forecasts but I dare not speak about it here or now so as not to… jinx it. Tonight the band is in Raleigh, NC and despite dangerous lightning and a ton of rain, they still are performing. As seen on the Green Day social media pages, Mike Dirnt and crew set up a giant slip-and-slide on the lawn section of the venue, with Mike being the first one to test out the inaugural slip and slide. This is very reminiscent of the Woodstock ’94 mudfest that took place during Green Day’s set way back when. I just hope nobody gets hurt and the band doesn’t get in trouble. I mean, Billie Joe did already try to smash a Subaru with his guitar on this tour so who the fuck knows what could happen? I’m super excited. I get to experience both the lawn and the pit during these two FL dates. The first one on Sunday, the 3rd in West Palm Beach I will be on the lawn with a few of the other idiots, while the rest are in the pit. Then for Tuesday, the 5th in Tampa I’m pretty sure we all have pit tickets. It’s a little ironic. I’ve never seen Green Day from anywhere other than the pit, nearly at the barricade if not on it completely. But at the venue in Tampa, I’ve only ever seen bands from the lawn there. So yeah, that’s kind of a twist. I’ve been having some really vivid dreams lately and a few of them have been about these shows. There’s something so magical about seeing your favorite band with a huge family of fans – or in this case “idiots.” It makes my hear swell to know that we will all be… having a blast together. Singing along to “Jesus of Suburbia” in line or hearing the band play various songs during soundcheck. I am so excited. I’m sure you’ve gathered this by now if you’ve been following the “Riding in Vans…” series of posts. Tomorrow starts something I’ll never forget. It’s going to be Awesome as Fuck!

Riding in Vans with Idiots – One Week!

Today is the 27th of August, 2017. In one week I, nay we will be in West Palm Beach, FL waiting in line all day long. For what? Well if you’re reading this blog you should know by now that it’s not a ‘for what?’ but rather a ‘for whom?’ and the answer to that is – of course – Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Green Day. The whole crazy crew of die hard Green Day fans – aka “idiots” – will load up into the rental van and make our way to the show bright and early. Those of us who were fortunate enough to get pit tickets for this show will want to get an amazing spot at the barricade no doubt. And the rest of us will be… scattered throughout the venue. It will still be a great start to an amazing couple of days with the idiot family. The ragtag bunch of us will be blasting the Green Day catalogue the entire ride from Orlando to the venue which is nearly 3 hours away. We will be arriving early and most likely will be hanging around after most of the crowd clears out to try and get a chance to see or meet any of the band members. As I write this I feel like one of the crazed fans of the days of “the British invasion” with The Beatles.

We will be returning to the homestead in the Orlando area late that night – or early the next day depending on if you’re a glass half full or half empty type of person. There is going to be a day of “rest” in between the show dates. But as the band Cage the Elephant claims: there “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked.” This is true because as tired as we indeed will be from having… the time of our lives the night before, I’m sure we will be hunting the band down by way of their social media posts. You see, on September the 5th they will be performing in Tampa. That’s one day between both coasts of Florida. And the band’s day off at that.

So once we’re back in Orlando we will be keeping our eyes peeled for the boys and co. until it’s time to… hitch a ride back in the van and on our way to Tampa for the second and final show in Florida for the Revolution Radio tour. As far as I know, we all have pit tickets for the Tampa show. I mean, to the best of my… knowledge anyway. I will post again when the urge strikes a little closer to the start of the trip. Who knows when the inspiration will strike? It may come with no… warning.

Riding in Vans with Idiots! – The Final Countdown

August 25th, 2017 12:43am

My hair is now green. I am ready. I have my tickets. The final countdown has begun. In just a week and a day will start the party, with the following day being the first of two shows. The headcount has been counted. Travel arrangements have been made. Cash for the van rental and gas has been set aside. Tomorrow the funding for food and merch will also be added to my budget. This is what I need. I am struggling so much with anxiety and depression lately. Especially at work. Everyday I feel like I can’t go on, like I have no other option but to throw in the towel. But with these shows coming up I know that I cannot do that. I must at least see my favorite band at least a couple more times. A Green Day show is my happiest of places. There is no drug or substance that can even compare to seeing my favorite band perform live.

I am slightly jealous of the Facebook friends of mine who are fortunate enough to travel the country to follow the band on this most epic of tours. Yet I am completely ecstatically happy for them at the same time. I have seen the band live two time now, and will have the chance to see them two more times at least. That’s 3 times in the span of 6 months! I am very fortunate indeed. I just wish the struggle with my mental health will balance out over time as I need to retain my income in order to continue to support and see my favorite band again in the future. I don’t know what’s in store for me in terms of my mental stability but I try to hold on to sanity one day at a time. The Green Day Slumber Party is just around the corner. I worry about the post-concert depression which is a very real thing.

I have bipolar disorder and so while my highs can be very high, the higher they are the lower the lows that follow. I must find a balance in the force as George Lucas would imply. I’ve had to take another semester off from school since I did not receive financial aid and cannot afford to pay out of pocket and wait for tuition reimbursement from my employer at this time. I’m borderline giving up on school altogether for right now. They always say it’s never too late to go back, right? However, that’s not what this blog is about. This is another entry into the Riding in Vans with Idiots! chronicle series and I intend to keep it on track with that as best as I can. I am super stoked to see “my boys” soon and the rest of my newly formed Green Day family. It is going to be an adventure I’ll remember for the rest of my life. And yes, we will have the time of our lives.

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.