The Run-around Concert: Charleston SC

To prevent backlash, I'm *not* revealing the name of the venue. Looking back, it's actually a little funny.

The Not-So-Merry Month Of May

The story behind this concert actually begins in May. Almost last minute, a North Charlston concert date was set for May 20th (my parents' anniversary). I was a bit sick at the time and almost couldn't make it, but we went. About a week prior to the concert, there were reports on amwa that Al wasn't feeling too well, so it wasn't that much of a surprise when we showed up at the venue to discover that the show had been cancelled. What *did* surprise us was several things: the parking guys who broke the news to us weren't all that nice about it & the venue had scheduled an extremely crowded sports game at it's arena for the very same night! Both Bermuda and Adam had emailed me informing me of the cancellation, however the emails entered my mailbox *after* we had already left for the concert :( Thanks again for your efforts guys!

Well, we turned right around and went home. Cuz we didn't spend the night, we didn't have to pay for our room. We went ahead and spent some time with relatives for the rest of the night before heading home. Immediately, we began calling the venue (who does their ticket sales thru ETA, a Ticketmaster outlet) about the concert's rescheduling. Over the next 5-6 weeks, we were told "oh we're not rescheduling, please give us your tickets back but you're not getting a refund", "we're rescheduling, it's the 20th of August", "who the hell said we were rescheduling?", and "keep your tickets from May 20th, they're still good for the rescheduled concert on August 20th." Crazy stuff.

Finally we got a definite answer when the rescheduling was posted on Weirdal.Com: August 20th. We called just to be darn sure & for once the venue didn't jerk us around.

Meantime, Diva emailed about 30 of us amwa regs saying that Bermuda's birthday was coming up and did we wanna do anything special? Eventually it was decided that we each get 1 or 2 drumsticks and do something creative with them. I volunteered to be the East Coast/ Last-Minute-People's Stick Person, since the on-time folks would be at the West Virginia concert on August 18th (Berm's actual birthday) and I was going to the August 20th one. Well, about a week and a half before August 20th, I started getting sticks in the mail. It was only as a personal favor that I got a backstage pass; believe me those things are impossible to get! More info: here. Anyway, I didn't wanna do mine at the last minute, but since my original idea didn't fly, I had no choice. I was still decorating the sticks and writing the card in the car while going to the concert! It's a curse I tell you! I'll *never* be rid of it! AAAAHHH! :)

Charleston At Last!: The Blame Game

I woke up at 1:30 pm (normal for me)- late as usual. Up until the time we left, I was still trying to think of what I was gonna do with my sticks. I had had a new idea in my head for a few days, but I was waiting just in case I thought of something else... Finally, I was able to put the idea into motion and almost ended up being late in leaving. Originally, Mom was to go to the concert with me (I'm still considered "too sick to drive" by the DMV) but she'd already been to the past 2 with me and there was a last minute emergency she needed to attend to, so Dad came with me. But the bad news was that Dad didn't know where the venue was and Mom's hastily-given directions were kinda slim. Plus the stupid map was lying to it took us a bit of agony while on the road to find out what exit we needed to take. Thankfully for the very-small-and-almost-impossible-to-catch-in-time signs, we made it in time. Got there about 6:43 and the concert was at 8. For this family, that's cutting it pretty close.

That's when the hassle with the venue part 2 came into play. I came in with my backpack and the box full of Drumstick presents and this security guard comes over and says "Do you have any ID or backstage pass cuz (if not) I can't let you in with that (the box)." I hadn't picked up my backstage passes (a personal favor; they were being held at the Will Call booth) cuz I didn't know where it was and we had *just* come in the door. The only way to resolve the situ was to give the guy both my real name and my Internet name (Rainbow Heron) and he went backstage to look for Jon. About 5 minutes later, Jon slipped out of one of the doors and they waved us over. Jon picked up the box & I was very briefly able to get out who the giver of one of the sticks was (since no card was attatched) before he had to go. He then asked me (in front of the same security guard who was watching the whole thing like a hawk) if I had gotten my passes yet. I said 'no' and Jon pointed me in the right direction. Remember this security guard guy.

So I go to the hole-in-the-wall *right* outside the door to pick up my passes. Now due to a prior snafu regarding business-related passes, I double-confirmed the passes with Jon (and again just now in front of the guard), he'd just let on that I indeed had a pass ( a pair of 'em actually- 1 for dad) waiting for me. I get to the kiosque and they look at me like I'm nucking futs! After 12 minutes, a talk with the same security guard guy and 2 different concert workers and yet again the name-dropping, they came. So we go in and take our seats and all is well, right? WRONG!!!

They lied to us again! When we originally got the tickets, they sent a map showing our exact spot for the tickets. Apparently someone goofed cuz our seats were 3 rows back from where we were originally told! Well at least the view was better- and we faired better than the group of 5 teenagers sitting directly behind us. The teens had gotten their tix back in May and held onto them (as did we) for the rescheduled concert. An usher comes in with 5 twenty-to-thirty somethings who have tix for the exact same seats!!!! They'd bought their tix online in June. Apparently the ticket people had resold the teens' seats (obviously they were not supposed to be resold). A security guard came in... the same guy- noticing a couple of patterns here?!...and told the teens with the original tix that they had to move!! They were relocated after the opening act.

The thirtysomethings who had taken their place were concerned for the teens and we all started a conversation about just what in tarnation was going on. Apparently ETA isn't from around here & I don't *just* mean South Carolina! They sell and handle tickets for South Carolina, they have an office in Chicago, they have a second office (supposedly with more knowledge than the Chicago one) in Columbus Ohio which the ETA office thinks is named Columbia South Carolina, and they ship the tickets from Arizona! They got similar if not worse runaround than we did! OK, say it with me now people: "STUUUUUUUUUUUUPPPPPPPPPPPPPPIIIIIIIIIIIIIDDDDDDDDDDD!" I'm beginning to see why Eddie Vedder hates Ticketmaster.

Charlston At Last!: The Main Event

After our seat relocation and before the teens' troubles, I spotted Adam Tyner and we chatted for awhile. As it turned out, this was to be the concert where I was talking to everybody (a first for me). It almost looked like there was gonna be no opening act, but alas there was. Some local guy named Rollin ?Joe? Wasn't too bad, but wasn't all that great either. But that's just me. He lasted about half and hour and then there was about a 15 minute break before the actual concert.

The couple sitting next to us (I never did get thier names) and I started talking about all the technical preparations we were seeing. From the way things were going, it looked like there was either some technical difficulties or the band had pulled in like only 2 hours earlier. But it was interesting and fun to watch all the goings-on. It's been 2 years since I was last helping prepare a stage for a performance so it was a little bittersweet I guess (I was also a little rusty in identifications but hey whuddya expect after 2 years of nothing and no eyeglasses?) :) Then out of nowhere, they turned on a smoke? machine that went smack! right dead center into the front row center of the audience! I got gassed by that stuff- I think I'm a wee bit allergic to something in that mix. I know I'm allergic to smoke, but isn't that kind of machine usually just water vapor? Smelled like watery dust. Anyway...

After getting gased 3 times, "Fun Zone" started up and and so did the concert. When Al first picked up his accordian for the polka, it almost seemed as if there was a sound problem cuz the mike started going a little strange (thank goodness it didn't do the gosh-awful scream) and he looked at it kinda funny. Anyway that was the only technical glitch for the rest of the night. The 'smoke' machines kept going off at regular intervals (I'm guessing 5 minutes) which made for a rather interesting effect onstage. Remember the red smoke columns on either side of the Wizard in the Wizard Of Oz? Well, that's what it looked like- but without the red. Weird (no pun intended). Becuase of where I was seated, I didn't get any scarves, boxers, Nirvana cup or even sung to but hey I had a blast! I was dancing in my seat the whole time & yes I *did* headbang on occaision. By headbang, I mean the safe way- not the kind that gives you a royal headache.

As for the 'concert checklist' lesse: Rubén got shot once during the OMM monologue and twice at the end of the song (Mongo provided the second shot), Al *did* lick the stand during Germs, they showed 2 bits of the Celebrity Deathmatch footage, no impromptu gags that I could see, no messups either. I think I've gone to too many Touring With Scissors concerts (my 4th to date) cuz I knew what was coming next... but then again it may have been good cuz not only did I have one of if not the best time dancing in my seat, but I got one heck of a nice surprise:

You know the 'snow' during The Night Santa Went Crazy? Well, I'd always gotten snowed on, but not like tonight!!! We didn't get snowed- we got a blizzard!!! And here I had *just* said to myself how much I miss the blizzards of Northern Virginia!! Cool! (again no pun intended- oh well what the heck: pun intended!)

Bit of personal background: I was born in Washington DC and lived within 30 gridlock minutes of downtown up until the time I was 7 1/2. We had snow every year and a blizzard almost every year. Now a LOT has happened to me over the years, especially since moving from Virginia to South Carolina, so blizzards are not only fun for me but they're a bit symbolic of some of the happiest years of my life. That dish-detergent snow that came down like mad on us during the concert was *the* closest thing to a real blizzard that I've had in the past 12 years! So in the middle of the concert I sorta tripped out back to Virginia. It was a WONDERFUL reminder! Yes, I know it was 100% UNintentional but still it was very nice!

Something else important: After the incident with the 'snow', and in conjunction with the fact that I've now been to 4 RWS concerts (a bit much for me personally). The familliararity (sp?) of it all made me feel very comfortable whilst at the concert. It was almost like I was at home listening to music and singing along with a few friends. That kind of feeling usually doesn't happen to me in public much less a concert. ...Come to think of it, why on Earth was I so darn sentimental tonight? :)

So after playing in the 'snow', singing in my lowest alto voice possible (so I'd actually *have* a voice once I got backstage) but still like crazy, dancing in my seat, doing my usual antics I do during a concert, and headbanging a bit- the concert was over! Time to say goodbie to fellow concertgoers and go backstage. Unlike other venues we'd been to, ther was no obvious 'stage door leading to the seating' that we could see, so we asked someone and before they could answer, the *same* security guard as before pointed it out. They waited like half a minute to gather the other pass-holders. Something very unusual here: there were only *4* people backstage! I guess it was partly because the band had to hit the road pretty darn fast for Savannah (or wherever-the-heck in Georgia they were off to). It was also very *short*; about 5 minutes if that.


We were lead backstage by a security guard...yes you know which one don't you?... and into a little backstage conference room. Lotsa table & chairs. And WATER! Just what the doctor ordered! Skip was there; the only other girl (or woman I should say) that was there was looking for him and they started talking as soon as she realized it was him (I had to point him out for her). Then Jon came out, luggage-bag-on-wheels in tow. They really *did* hafta leave in a jiffy! Jon was barely able to give a hug & get out a hello, thank you for the birthday gifts, nice to see you again, & did you enjoy the show before he had to split.

Then Al came in (just as briefly as Jon). Everything was pretty rapid-fire there too. He had to make a few phone calls before hitting the road. He too gave me a hug, then talked with the other 2 who where still talking to Skip before turning back to us. I said "Nice to see you finally made it (to Charlston)". He didn't quite understand & I explained that we were told that he cancelled at the last minute cuz he got sick. Big shocker: the venue was responsible for the cancellation as Al was told the concert back in May was off. He hadn't been even mildy feeling bad at all! Get the idea that this venue's got SERIOUS communication problems?!

Well, we barely had time to speak. We each (Dad & I) got our passes autographed and I finally was able to ask the technical question that had been on my mind for awhile. Why all the amps in front of Steve when everyone else's are well over 5 feet away from them? Answer: Steve didn't wanna use the earphones in order to hear his parts, thus the 3 or 4 amps. Hey, there's nothin' wrong with that! That's actually kinda cool cuz it sorta looks like each band member has his own little niche onstage. Cool. :)

That was it! Al & the guys had to go. Al, Jon, & Skip were the only ones who came to speak- no sign of anyone else and absolutely no time to take pictures. Jon has/had to open his presents elsewhere so sorry guys, no pix. So when Al left, we left. We passed Skip on our way out, still talking to the other 2 and tried to find our way out. The 'conference room' was directly behind the stage, sepereated only by a small hallway. We made it out fairly easily (although we didn't fully know which way was 'out'), made it to the car, and drove straight home. Blaring music the whole 2 hours home!