I love it when a plan comes together.
San Antonio was pie. Joe, Lindsey, and I arrived in the late afternoon to the outdoor venue. I looked like a very big outdoor patio with the stage at one end of a sunken concrete floor. We waited in the paid ticket line for about and hour and watched as the "free ticket" line grew to twice our lines size. It was amusing to see Michael walking down the sidewalk dressed in the official red jumpsuit and carrying his skeleton costume on a hanger. Only one guy jumped out of line to greet him.Once inside, we quickly made our way to the rail. We were standing on Steven's side and directly in front of the stage right p.a. stack. This made for a VERY loud evening. We hadn't been there long when Kliph stepped up to the rail and we scurried over to say "hi" and give him the Hello Kitty purse Lindsey had promised him. He accepted her gift and seemed quite pleased to receive it. I snapped a few pictures with he and Lindsey and a funny one that had him with a slack jawed look on his face as he gazed into a glowing candy ring she had given him. Sveral other people stepped up to talk to him, so we reclaimed our space on the rail and settled in for the evening.Not long after that, Lindsey tracked down the "animal wrangler" and managed to get one of the very last passes to dance on stage with the band. She was beaming as she approached us. I was so excited for he. This has been her dream and it was coming true that night. She scurried off to go backstage while all four members came and went to the side of the stage to watch the Birds Of Avalon. I didn't think they were anything special, but I thinks that's gonna be true for most bands who have the unfortunate postion of being the opening band.As the opening music came through the speakers, the Santa's & Aliens began to file on stage. The Santa's had obviously been instructed to follow the wrangler and they did just that. They emptied on to the stage and proceeded to follow him all the way across the lip of the stage. The wrangler was quite startled as he turned around to see the 8 Santa's that they had followed him instead of stopping in the box taped out for them. Pretty funny. He corraled them back across the stage and into their proper holding pen. I was delighted to see that Lindsey and the rest of the aliens were positioned stage right, directly in front of me. From ther I was able to take plenty on pictures of her and she jumped about and did her best "sultry alien dance". I was so excited for her. Although I think the group around me thought I was a bit of a pervert for snapping so many pix of the girating ladies. And because this was the closest I'd ever been to the band, I took a TON of pictures. Unfortunately, the rather dark lighting only produced about 30 keepers.The ceiling had a number of low hanging steel girters and this kept Wayne from coming out in the "space bubble". Instead, he entered wearing the gigantic foam hands and then walked around the stage cocooning each band member along the way. Throughout the evening he complimented the crowd and expressed the fun he was having. To be honest, the crowd was kind of mellow but that didn't stop them from being attentive. I don't recall them being very chatty, but then again I was right in front of the speaker cabinets and that may have flavored my auditory perceptions.Speaking of audio perception, as the band tore into the opening Race For The Prize
, I noticed a siren in the mix that I hadn't noticed before. Turns out that the massive amount of smoke that Wayne was produciong from the fog machine had activated the fire alarm in the venue and it would go off at least two more times during the course of the evening. Always sharp as a tack, Wayne attributed the alarm to all those in the back of the house who were smoking the free Camel cigaretts that were being given away by the promoters. Quite amusing.The set list for the evening was very well played despite being the standard collection that has followed them across the country. Mountainside
had a nice introduction from Wayne in which he pointed out the age of one of the dancing aliens(She was 3 years old) and incorrectly stated that he was only 17 when he wrote it back in 1989(he would have been 27). In the encore slot, we got She Don't Use Jelly
. Not unheard of, but pretty unique.As Joe and I waited for Lindsey to come out from the backstage area, we were shuffled around by many security guards telling us where to stand. Finally, a guy named Jeff(who we later learned was the production manager) asked us to wait outside the gate and that she would be out shorty after he meeting with Wayne. We did so and it wasn't too long before she appeared with a shit-eating grin from ear to ear. She explained that she was fortunate enough to have a nice long chat with Wayne in which she discussed my fight with melanoma and the loss of her father from cancer. I don't know if it was discussed, but it's pretty common knowledge that both of Wayne's parents succomed to the disease. To my delight, she produced and hand signed poster for the evening on which Wayne had written an inspiring personal message. I was giddy. She then informed us that Wayne had agreed to meet with us in just a few minutes. Not long after we arrived at the back entrance, Jeff motioned for us to come back inside the venue and that Wayne would be out shortly. As promised, he came out greeting us with a smile, shook my hand, and gave me a hug. He looked weary from the heat, but took the time to speak to us individualy and allowed us to snap a few pictures. He was so sweet and gracious. I told him that during my struggle I had gained a great deal of hope from the band's music, to which he replied, "That's waht's it's all about." We followed him to the back exit where we said our goodbyes as he stuck around to say hello to a small group that remained. Wayne didn't have to take time out of his evening to make our concert experience even more enjoyable than it already was. But he did. I can't think of another band with their popularity that would do such a thing. As we walked back to the car I couldn't believe our dunb luck. When the three of us travel together, there seems to be an "X Factor" in play. Little did we know what was in store for us in Austin.
Austin(aka Hollywood, TX)
We arrived about 4 hours early to La Zona Rosa which put us back about sixty people back in line. I was happy about our position but concerned that only one line had formed with both "real" and Camel ticket holders mixed together. Everyone turned out to be pretty cool, except when they broke up the lines to distinguish which ticket you hand in your possession. Moving over to the "real" ticket line, we stood for about 45 minutes and it actually put us closer to the front. And to our surprise, Gretchen & Eddie were just picking up their tickets at Will Call as we arrived, insuring we would be together for the show. Just as the line began to move, some Austin jerk-off shoved his way in front of us with the excuse, "I let you guys get in front of me earlier." WTF? Eddie and I weren't about to swallow his shit, so we pushed he and his buddy back and made it in to the venue without a problem. We had no problem getting dead center, one person off the rail(about 10 ft. back). We took turns making ourselves "large" in order to save space for those in our group who needed to take a piss, buy merchandise, or get drinks. It wasn't long before the crowd filled in behind us when some drunk 20 year old girl pushed her way up to us and informed us she was gonna tell us how it would be. WTF? The second thing out of her mouth was, "How many concerts have you been to?", like she trumped us in some way. WTF? As Eddie & I brushed her aside, Joe took the time to calm the situation down and ended up flirting with her. Turns out she was only there to see the Birds Of Avalon and took off as soon as they left the stage. About 15 minutes before the opening band, another asshole pushed his way up to us and tried to stand in the spot we had been saving for Gretchen while she went to buy t-shirts. To our amazement the first question out of his mouth was, "How many concerts have you been to?" Uuuggghhh. Again, we pushed him aside and made sure he was as uncomfortable as we could. What is it about Austin residents that makes them think they can show up at 7:45 for an 8:00 show and get a front row position? Assholes aside, the evening was about to blossom into one of the most intensly personal concert experiences I've ever had. Not lang before the list came on, Santa came out and distributed our laser pointers. Oh, shit! The excitement began to build. Did I mention that the stage was teeny-tiny? Well it was. I thought San Antonio was small! We were shocked that they could actually get Santa's/Aliens on stage. They did, but there couldn't have been more than five on each side. They had the small video screen set up and we could only see about two thirds of it. It was right against Kliphs back. As Wayne walked on stage, the crowd went fucking berzerk. Both the crowd and sound were extemely loud all night. The energy was not wasted on the band. They came out firing on all pistons and I've never seen them be as intense and commited to what they we doing than I did that evening. Steven and Wayne kept making eyes at each other and were clearly having a ball. Both Steven and Wayne acknoledged Lindsey & I during the course of the show, with Wayne singing to us on more than a handful of occasions. But the moment that swept us off our feet was a personalized command performance of Taps>Superman
directly to us. It was heavy. VERY heavy. In more than 20 years of seeing concerts have I ever experienced such a heart wrenching moment. Knowing about my fight with cancer, Wayne sent every ounce of love and healing energy in our direction, moving me to tears. I know words can't do it justice, but I felt a love of forgivenance rain down on me filling my soul with more joy than I've ever experienced. I think I began to glow and it's possible my body was lifted off the ground. My god, it was beautiful. The Moonlight Mile
that closed out the evening was phenominal. Wayne was so focused on the task at had, he sang the lines "Let the airwaves flow. LET THOSE FUCKING AIRWAVES FLOW!" through clenched teeth. It was a big fat slice of Heaven. That's all. I've seen some fantastic Lips performances before, but this one had our names on it and I'm not sure that could ever be topped. But I hope someday it will. Thank you, Wayne. Thank you.
-As the smoke cleared following the chaos that was Mountainside
, Wayne said he had fallen down several times and even forgot where he was. In his best deadpan voice Steven replied, "Yes Wayne, I forgot where you was."
-Steven's father was in attendance.
-As we walking into the venue, Jeff(production manager) recognized us from San Antonio and said, "You're back again!" Shook his had then and after the performance and thanked him for being so cool to us. Very nice guy.
-All of us bought at least one piece of merchandise. I got a powder blue t-shirt with a Wayne drawn cartoon of the band.
-Beacause of it's size, there was no space bubble entrance. Wayne did the whole cocooning bit again.
-The lasers during Vein Of Stars
were fucking intense(as the pictures will reveal). At one point, there were so many lasers on Wayne he looked as if he was constructed of red lasers. He also held up the mirror like he did at Bonnaroo.
-Got a set list after the show(Steven's)
-Much horseplay between the band during their stage set up. Steven talking through his microphone to Kliph who was on his cell phone. "We're taking through the cell phone"
-Steven putting his hands together and bowing in our direction while mouthing, "Thank you".
-When ABBA's Dancing Queen
came on as the pre-show music, the whole crowd began to sing along with it. This was truly the ice-breaker of the evening and put the band in an even better mood than they already were. Wayne mentioned it following Race For The Pize