Friday, May 28, 2010

Home again Home Again to May Showers and flowers.. Pt. 3

As May 11 quickly turned into May 12, and I departed from the Needtobreathe concert, stopping briefly for something to eat at Wendy's, and arrived home about 1 a.m. I recall thinking that it was late, and how I had hoped for some extra rest, but had I been at work, I would not have quite been home. I did the best I could to get a few things ready for Saturday, and for work the next day and then crashed, but it wasn't too early.

Somewhere between Wednesday and Thursday, I worked a few extra hours, because I'm a little crazy that way. They were offering overtime the next week, and for some crazy reason I was thinking it started with the announcement, even though I knew better. I just didn't think it through. I worked about 3 hours extra and it ended up being only for credit. (I figured I might be able to use it for the U2 show that is now postponed until next year. LOL) I was tired by Friday night, and again hoping for an earlier bedtime and some rest. As it turned out, I made it to bed early -- early Saturday morning about 4 a.m. I was ready to just get up, load up and go. The plan was for 10 a.m. The reality was 11:30 a.m. with a pit stop at Smith's for a few items and gasoline. I figured I'd be to Vegas about 7 p.m. if things went really well.

As it turned out, I made it to Vegas pretty close to 7, perhaps a little after. I was right on track finding the correct freeway exit, but was surprised when the exit opened up into a wall of traffic, blinding sunlight directly in my face, and two right lanes that went to Las Vegas Blvds aka the Strip (which I had hoped to avoid altogether.) I finally ended up in Mandalay Bay's parking lot, calling my husband to look up Terrible Herbst's phone number (where I had a room waiting), calling the hotel, getting directions an heading out once again. I finally made it to the hotel and checked into my room a little after 8:30 p.m.

I had planned to go swimming, but it didn't happen. Instead, I went to the Comfort Inn to see if April was there without any success. (As it turned out, April decided not to go after all.) Then I walked over to the concert venue (taking photos along the way) and checked it out and asked a few questions.

Kenny Chesney was playing and I seriously considered buying a ticket, then decided maybe not or that I should think about it. It was just as well, as the sign outside said Saturday's show was sold out anyway. I could hear the concert from the ticketing area pretty well. Just after I left "The Joint" at the Hard Rock Hotel, I talked to a guy about the Kenny Chesney concert and he told me that if Kenny is sober he plays a 2 hour show, and if he's been drinking he plays 4 hours. I found out the next night from security, that he'd had a bit to drink and finished at 1 a.m. I took more photos, walked back and forth between my hotel, CVS drug store where I purchased a few needed items I didn't bring with me, and the Hard Rock Hotel.

I decided to walk over to the strip, which was a pretty good hike and almost got there before I changed my mind. It seems after 10 the lights aren't quite the same and it just didn't seem worth the walk since I just wanted photos. It was kind of eerily quiet for the most part and I was getting a tad nervous.

Finally, I went back to the hotel and had a prime rib sandwich at the Cafe upstairs.
(photo of wall at the cafe):
Then I found my hotel room again, showered and watched a really cute movie (whatever it happened to be called I cannot say.) Tomorrow was the big day - Paramore, Relient K and Fun's final show of their tour. I figured that I didn't have to be at The Joint too early since they didn't allow line ups until 3 p.m., but I also figured that I'd check it out before too late just in case. Still, I didn't set any alarms. The bed was really comfy, the room temp was comfortable - not too hot, not too cold. Sleep came easily.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Home again Home Again to May Showers and flowers.. Pt. 2

Tuesday, May 11 I was able to take another day off work to see Needtobreathe with Seabird and Stephen Kellog and the Sixers. I had to watch Avalyn in the morning, and the plan was to leave as soon as Ed returned from work. I had a feeling I would still be at the venue plenty early. Ed decided to come home an hour early, and I still left later than planned, but as I suspected, I was there in plenty of time.
I decided to take my SLR along and see if I could get a pass to use it along with my point and shoot.
When I arrived at the venue, the bus was already there, and parked practically at the entrance. I guessed it would be hard to miss people going in and out being that close. I took a photo of the sign near the door and had a bit of a chuckle of the welcome mat in front of the bus door. Then I took a couple of snapshots of the mat as well.

I saw Bear, et al go in and out a few times and kinda waved at them. At one point I asked about a photo pass and was told who I should talk to, but several people sort of matched the description, so I didn't say anything right away. Then I saw Alex. He was the merch guy and I knew him from other events where (strangely enough) he was the merch guy. It was good to see him again. We chatted a very little bit, and he said he'd see about getting me a photo pass, and he was true to his word.

So, I just spent the rest of the time waiting, watching, and killing time until a few other people finally showed up. Most of the people for this show came very last minute, so there wasn't much of a line to start with, but once it was close to door times the line grew quickly. Finally the doors opened, and I showed my ticket and walked up to the stage to wait for the show. I guess I was supposed to mention the VIP packet there and didn't (a mistake on my part) and was just thinking it was evident by the ticket. I should have checked my e-mail closer.

While I was waiting I got a little bit acquainted with one of the ladies next to me, and found out that both of us had been at the Paramore concert the day before. Small world, huh? I also talked to a few others around me and made sure it would be okay to leave and come back because I thought there would be a meet/greet for VIP package people between sets.

Seabird's set was first. This was my third time to see Seabird, and I've loved it
all three times. They are an amazing band and Aaron has an incredible voice. Their music is very strong on the keyboards, and I love that as well. At the end of their set I went to the merch table and bought a tee shirt and two stickers. At least I thought I did. I had them anyway. I asked about the meet and greet and there wasn't anything happening, so I thought maybe it was after the next artist and went back to the stage area.

Stephen Kellog's set was a lot of fun. He also has a great voice, and a wonderful sense of humor. In addition to his own songs he did a funny compilation of tunes from different decades. I decided that I would definitely pick up his cd afterwards.

As his set ended, I headed back over to the merch table again and picked up a copy of Stephen Kellog's cd and asked about the meet and greet. I was told there wasn't going to be one, and then when I mentioned something Alex asked if I was given anything at the door. I said, "no" and he said he'd take care of it. So I ended up heading back for the stage again and Needtobreathe's set.

Needtobreathe was completely amazing! It was my third time seeing them and I have been totally impressed each time. The vocals are outstanding, great lyrics, good music and an energetic stage presence. I loved every single song!! My favorite Needtobreathe song is called "Washed By the Water" and I could see on the set list that it was part of the encore. When it was time for the encore, Bear said that he decided to change things a little, and I admit I was a little concerned they weren't going to play it. Instead, the change included performing one of the other songs in an acoustic set along with it. The harmonies were absolutely stunning and it was one of those moments where the music just seems to just grip your entire being. It was sad when it had to finally end. As they started to clear the stage, I asked for a copy of the set list and it was given to me. Then I asked for a copy for the gal next to me, and she was able to get one as well.

After the show, I went back to the merch table again and waited. I bought a Needtobreathe Tour tee shirt and talked to people for a bit. Finally the guys all came out and did a meet & greet of sorts. I talked to Seth about music a little bit, and had a photo taken with them all. They also autographed the set list for me.

Then I put my camera case down at the bar area and reorganized a bit. Then one of the gals came over and asked about me paying for my Seabird merch. I thought I had. I know I took my card out to give to the gal, and I knew I had a receipt for something. I could only find a receipt for Stephen Kellog, so maybe I hadn't paid? Anyway, something happened in the confusion, so I just said she should charge it and we could work it out if it went through twice. It only cleared once, so it must not have gone through. The only thing I recall for certain was that I got the card out twice. What happened after that is a mystery to me. LOL I am glad it was caught, though. When I buy merch, I usually like most of what I buy, but the real point is to support the bands I love!!!! So, I still feel kind of badly about that, and if by some miracle Aaron sees this, I cannot apologize enough for the confusion!!!! (I'll probably keep apologizing until doomsday!)

After that was all settled, I headed for my car and the drive home, with many good memories.

Wednesday would come too soon. Back to the real world once again, at least until Saturday when I was to head for Las Vegas.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Home again Home Again to May Showers and flowers.. Pt. 1

It's been a very busy week indeed. I have an immense capacity to keep busy. Now, mind you, that doesn't mean I have to accomplish a lot, but I do keep busy. May has been busier than usual. For one thing I had tickets to three concerts in a weeks time, while working, watching my granddaughter and trying to at least keep some clean dishes and clothes on hand. I haven't juggled them all terribly well, but I've survived.

On May 10, I had the day off work to see Paramore, Relient K & Fun at the E-Center. The plan was to head down really early as my ticket was for general admission on the floor. I also had a photo pass. It's always a huge challenge to try and make the photo pass and floor spot jive at the same time. Photo passes are normally geared towards people who are with the media and on the guest list. In other words, they don't have a paid ticket. Consequently, it's not top priority and getting the guest/photo list before the doors open is always a bit stressful for me. I'm sure by the time it arrives, the venue considers me a major pest. Still, I had hoped to get to shoot my three songs behind the barricade, and return to my already secured spot on the floor. For that, it requires the timing to work out and those around me to know me well enough by the time the doors open to accomodate me (that part is easy as it's normal for me anyway. I enjoy that part of the process.) :)

I didn't arrive quite as early as planned, but I did manage to make it to the venue by 9 a.m. IT was raining out and I didn't see anyone around, so I just waited in the car for a bit. Then I saw someone get in line, so I took my place behind them. As it turned out it was a couple from Southern California that had come to the No Doubt, Paramore, Sounds concert earlier in the year. It was funny that this couple was first in line and I was second in line. Last time it was the other way around. It was nice to see familiar faces. It was a little while before any one else showed up, but by 11 there was somewhat of a line started. At one point this guy started asking me a lot of questions about tickets and the bands. He was bragging about his connections and then mentioned they might be releasing front row seats: about 40 of them. I mentioned that the front row was not on the floor since the floor was general admission. I'm not sure he was getting it at first. Then he said there might be a few of those as well. He hung around by the ticket office with a gal I figured was probably his wife for a while before leaving. It was an odd conversation.

I met some really great people waiting for the show, and had a pretty good time. Lauralee came later in the day and the funniest thing was that the gal behind me in line was waiting for her as well. She said she was waiting for a friend and somehow we ended up figuring out we were both waiting for the same person. LOL At one point during the day, I was able to leave and use the restroom at Cracker Barrel, so I bought a salad to take back with me. While I was waiting for my order, I noticed some Scripture Tea that was decaf, so I bought a box of teabags. (I have yet to try them out.) I forgot to get a fork and as it turned out I remembered having a box of utensils in my car and grabbed a fork. No one could believe that I had a fork in my car. LOL

It was a long wait, but not an unpleasant one. We chatted, listened to sound check from outside the venue, went on food runs and killed time as best as we could. A few times we saw guys on bikes and speculated on who they were. The first time it was likely Paramore guys. Later in the day, we again saw bikers out and figured it was either Paramore or possibly RK as I thought I saw Braxton hats on some of the riders. LOL Lauralee and I went over to Costa Vida to use the restrooms and get some food. I had to make two trips, though, as the first time I left my purse in the car. For some reason the folks at Costa Vida preferred to be paid. Who knew? So, Diana and Tuyen walked over with me and I made myself a somewhat low-fat salad that turned out rather well. I may try it again sometime soon. Tuyen and Diana bought a dessert. Then we went back across the street to the venue.

Finally it was getting close to door times, so I just stressed about the whole photo thing. Fortunately, the list arrived before door times and I had the biggest smile (to cite a Paramore song?) I was finally able to relax.

Once the doors opened I made my way to the stage and landed at the barricade to the left (in front of Jon Schneck - or where Jon would be once Relient K hit the stage.)
Everyone around me promised to do the best they could to hold my space while I took photos, and they were all true to their promise.

The venue staff was very helpful, and I really did appreciate it. One of the security guys let me keep my camera gear next to a speaker on the floor when not using it, although he wasn't too sure at first. I did tell him that I understood he couldn't be responsible and once he saw things were okay, he let it stay there. The venue also had a gal assigned to photographers and media and she introduced herself and explained everything. That so rarely happens at shows I've been to, so it was a blessing.

Fun finally hit the stage and I was behind the barricade. I didn't see any other photographers. I tried my best to get a few decent shots of Fun, but Nate (lead singer) not only moves a lot, he spent a lot of time on a speaker in front that had hardly any lighting. I did get a few decent pictures, although not as sharp as I prefer, and a couple of really good shots of Jack. Too soon, the first three songs had passed, and I headed back for the floor. I had a momentary panic when asked about my ticket until I realized I had a wristband. Phew!!! I think the actual ticket was in the camera bag. LOL

Fun's set went by way too fast, and as usual, they lived up to their name. My favorite song of theirs is called "All the Pretty Girls" and of course, they played it. Nate, did his very best to get the crowd going and ready for the bands that followed, and he succeeded quite well. He was fun, funny, energetic, and the guy can sing. The rest of the band was "fun" as well.

Relient K was up next, and I waited for a few minutes into the stage setup and headed out to take my place behind the barricade again. I was very nervous and excited. There was one other photographer, who introduced himself. I don't think I saw him until Relient K's set. My memory is fuzzy on that one. He was really nice. We talked about our camera's a bit. Relient K took the stage and started to play and I started taking photos. I got some really good captures, although I was having a difficult time getting a sharp pic on any of them. The lighting on Thiessen was a bit odd, Schneck was mostly in the dark and I just struggled through it and hoped something turned out. After the first three songs ended, I made my way through the gauntlet back to my "spot". Some guy tried to stop me (I thought he was with the venue at first but afterward figured out he probably wasn't as he made some comment about his daughter.) I just said I was told I could go back up there if I "could" and mentioned this and everyone let me back in. I tried not to be too intrusive about it, and hope I was somewhat successful.

I really, really enjoyed the rest of Relient K's set. They played a lot of favorites and mostly their "harder" songs, so it was very fast paced. I loved hearing Sahara live, and Candlelight. :) And of course, my usual complaint applied -- it just seemed too short, of course! MOst of the people around me enjoyed their set as well.

After Relient K's set, one could definitely sense the anticipation of Paramore fans growing. I wondered if I should just stay put or take my chances behind the barricade. I decided to take my chances. As it turns out, I was able to get the best shots of the night during Paramore's set. This time around there were 4 photographers behind the barricade, and I chatted with them all. One of the guys worked for the Salt Lake Tribune, and I knew one of his co-workers. Then there was another gal, Erica (sp) there who knew who I was. She was nice, easygoing person and I enjoyed meeting her and talking. :)

Finally, the show started and the crowd and the crowd erupted into screams and applause that had to have been heard outside the venue walls. There was an intro and Hayley pretty much hit the stage running and stopped very little through the concert. She seemed to be having a lot of fun and she was taking us along for the ride. I finished out my three songs from behind the barricade, and headed back to the other side for the last time. I took my time as I didn't want to interrupt anyone enjoying Paramore, but someone would notice me waiting and wave me back on through. I thought that was pretty awesome.

Paramore played a pretty long set, and then left the stage once again to raucous applause. There was a gal who was shorter than I am (a rarity) standing just behind me with a piercing scream. I thought for sure I'd be deaf when I left the building. She was having fun though and I can't fault her. I just plugged my ears.
After what always seems a long wait, Hayley and company came back to the stage. For Misery Business, she had one of the fan club gals come up on stage and sing with her. I remembered her from the line outside. In fact, she did a fantastic job of it and seemed to be having a great time! I was pretty excited for her. I managed to get a few photos with my point and shoot. Fortunately the lighting was decent.

Then the show ended for real. I had hoped to snag a set list, but Taylor pulled it up and handed it directly to one of the gals next to me. Earlier in the show he walked all across the stage and handed her a guitar pic. I'm sure she left on cloud 9. She was kind enough to let me take a photo of the list. I can't say I wasn't disappointed, but I really thought she and her friends were super nice, so I was very happy for her!!

I slowly made my way back towards the merch tables and I started receiving text messages about the show. Then I received a message telling me that some of the RK guys were at the merch table. I managed to finally make my way over and John Warne and Ethan Luck were there. I talked to John a long while about all sorts of things, but when I was talking about my plans to see them in Vegas, hotels came up, and I mentioned that I read reviews and stay away if anyone mentions bugs. So we ended up discussing bedbugs and roaches. LOL I did talk to Ethan a little and had photos taken with them both. I was able to get Tuyen in a pic with John, and we tried to get Diana in the photo. Usually she declines, but John actually talked her into it (or was it Ethan, I was pretty tired by then.) It was pretty cool.

Then we all left and I began the long drive home. I had plans the next day as well to see Needtobreathe, Seabird and Stephen Kellog and the Sixers. I had a Fan Club VIP package, so I was pretty excited.

(Stay tuned for Part 2)