Today is Monday, October 10th and I still feel as though I have not awakened from a long dream. Any moment now, I expect to wake up drenched in sweat and drool from my pillow. My three pound dog, Bryah, sleeps next to me so I think some kisses to the face are also in order. “Did I really meet them?”, I wonder. As I write these words, I will do my best to convey the moment to the best of my star struck memory.
My birthday was July 4th and I was given the privilege of picking out anything I wanted – within reason. Months before, I’d purchased VIP Meet and Greet tickets to see KoRn in Dallas, Texas at their Return Of The Dreads tour. The concert was coming up at the first of August, but I was feeling greedy. An announcement had recently been made that KoRn was coming to Mississippi, not to one city, but two! You guessed it, I purchased tickets to both shows. Since I already had Meet and Greet tickets to the Dallas show, the Early Entry tickets would do fine for the shows in Mississippi. Little did I know, things would not go as planned.
A couple of months prior to the show in Dallas, I began working on a set of dreads to impress my rock star crush, Brian “Head” Welch. I’d never made them before so I spent some time on YouTube learning the best way to make them look realistic. Typical me was still finishing up the last few dreads two days before the concert. I also spent a great deal of time designing a t-shirt with Brian’s silhouette from the “Never Never” video on it. I chose an iron on method because my monogram lady could not get the SVG file to look the way I wanted on vinyl.
Return Of the Dreads
On Thursday, August 4th, I got up early and prepared for my journey to Dallas, Texas – a 6 hour drive. Along the way, I had to make a few stops and take care of some business because I am normally always at work. I’d fractured my foot and needed some meds from Walgreens but they were not open when I got there. I waited a while for them to open, then a little longer because there was only one person at the counter to assist me. She also had people at the drive through. After I got what I needed, I started out on my road trip.
When I stopped half way to Dallas to get some lunch, I checked my email for the 100th time in hopes of receiving information from VIP Nation letting me know what time I needed to check-in. At the last Meet and Greet that I had with Deftones, I was to be at the venue one hour early, so I just assumed that things would be the same. After a few phone calls and being placed on hold, I got the news that broke my heart into a million pieces. I was going to be late for the Meet and Greet by 20 minutes no matter how fast I drove. The next few miles up the road were completely silent other than my sniffling. I felt like an idiot.
While in Dallas, I picked up my VIP merchandise and headed into the venue to try and enjoy the show. As expected, KoRn killed it and I was happy none the less. I didn’t stay to see Rob Zombie because the heat was so bad. After that night, I devised a plan to try and combine the cost of my two Early Entry tickets in Mississippi to afford one Meet and Greet package to the Southaven show. VIP Nation said that they’d never done it before, but they agreed to make the transaction. I was so relieved that I was still able to meet KoRn!
Now it was time to start preparing for what I was going to wear. I ordered a couple of shirts and a pair of ripped skinny jeans from a website called AliExpress but did not realize that the site was from China! It took two freaking months to get my clothes! After all of that time, only one shirt fit. I decided to make the best of the situation and make do. Even though I spent so much time making dreads for the last show, I changed my mind about wearing them again. After much consideration, I decided to go for a modest, rocker, glam look. Yes, I realize that I thought way too much about it!
Only 3 days before the Mississippi show, VIP Nation finally sent me the information for check in and the itinerary. I needed to be in Southaven at the check-in table by 3:30 p.m. It would take me 3 hours to get there, but I was not taking any chances on being late again and planned to leave super early. I accounted for traffic, gas fill up, and lunch. I was determined that come hell or high water, I would not miss meeting my favorite band again.
The morning of Saturday, October 8, I got up early and began working on my hair style. For the first time in an eternity, everything went exactly as planned. Normally, I am crying after 2 hours of my hair just not cooperating when I have a special occasion to attend. I put on my outfit and successfully left the house without coffee, ketchup, or whatever random disastrous stain that would appear out of thin air. I decided to do my make-up once we got to Southaven so that it would look fresh and neat for the Meet and Greet.
At 1:50 p.m., I arrived in Southaven and took a turn around the venue to be familiar with where I needed to go. Afterwards, I parked in a Taco Bell parking lot and spent 45 minutes fixing my make-up to the best of my ability. If you can believe it, everything went smoothly without any tears. When I went inside to check the final look, I was pleased and confident. You already know that I had to get a burrito and some nacho cheese with chips! Yum! At 3:00, I headed over to the venue.
Checking in wasn’t too bad but the wait was excruciating! I took two of my prescribed anxiety meds just to get my breathing under control. After what felt like an eternity, the VIP group was lined up and ready to meet the members of KoRn. We were instructed to keep our phones in our pockets which was kind of a bummer because I’d asked my friend to record me meeting the guys. I tend to black out when I am super nervous so there was a chance that I wouldn’t remember what was said, plus I thought it would be cool to show my friends. The picture below was taken while waiting once inside the venue. I look calm but I was everything but.
The Meet and Greet
In walked Jonathan Davis, the lead singer of KoRn and rock god! He made his way down the line signing the posters that we were given by VIP Nation with KoRn’s Nocturnal Underground Tour doll on it. Jonathan kept his head down, concentrating on signing until he got to me. I held two posters and explained that I missed meeting him on the last tour then asked if he wouldn’t mind signing my Return Of The Dreads poster. He looked up at me as I explained and our eyes met. What he said after that, I couldn’t tell you. He could have told me that I just won a million dollars and I probably wouldn’t have reacted. To me, he is like seeing a mythical unicorn for the first time and I was completely star struck. I wanted to thank him for his sacrifices but instead I stood there like a statue.
The rest of the band members made their way in except Brian “Head” Welch. I wondered for a few moments if he was coming until my friend elbowed me, “There he is!” just as my heart fell straight into my stomach. “Oh…my…God. This is real”, I thought. My eyes started to tear up and all I could do was try to control it by fanning them with an envelope that I was holding. I’d written Brian a praise letter months ago that had been revised about 100 times. I wanted to stray away from any indication that I was some sort of creeper. As you can imagine, my hands were sweating so badly that the edges of the envelope were starting to curl.
The second member of KoRn to make it to me was Reggie “Fieldy” Arvizu. I must admit, I don’t like the guy. I read his book and have no respect for a man who has done the things that he has done to women, especially his own wife. In my opinion, he was bragging in the book. He may be saved now, but I can not get past it. He also has a crappy attitude. I’ve heard him saying things while in a press conference when he thought the mic was off that were not nice at all. When he got to my friend and I, he seemed so displeased with having to sign autographs. He told someone next to us that he was tired. When my friend said that he was excited to see him play, Reggie gave him a side ways smirk that was rude, if you ask me. He actually threw his dirty ear plugs at the barricade I was standing by during the show later on. Gross.
James “Munky” Shaffer and Ray Luzier were next in line to sign my posters. Ray was super nice and appreciative. He said that if it wasn’t for us, he wouldn’t be there. Munky signed my poster and jokingly said that it would be an extra charge to sign two as he looked up at me. He stopped for a moment and stared. “Your eye”, he said,”That looks so crazy!”. I stood there kind of embarrassed and I think he could tell. He said something to comfort me but I can’t remember exactly what it was. His sharpie went out before he could sign my second poster so he left to get another one. I really wanted to tell him that I follow him and his wife on Instagram and that I really admire their relationship but I froze up.
The moment had arrived and Brian “Head” Welch was making his way towards me. My friend did me no good by whispering, “Here he comes. He’s almost here.” Brian signed my poster as my friend said, “You are making her entire year, man”. I was a bit embarrassed but didn’t say anything. Luckily, I remembered the letter! When I handed it to him, I made sure that he knew that it was not a creepy love note. He began to tell me a story about a girl who was sending him messages saying that she could see the way he was looking at her from the stage. He said that he felt disturbed by it and didn’t know what she was talking about then he said that I looked completely normal as he continued down the line of fans.
“SHIT! I forgot to ask him about meeting after the concert”, I told my friend. I knew that Brian met with fans after the show because of a Texas fan that told me about her experience in Dallas. She told me that all I had to do was ask him. Imagine my disappointment when I learned that I missed that too! My friend and another guy standing near me said, “If you don’t go now, you’ll regret it!” as they pushed me to go over to Brian and ask. I politely stood next to him and tried not to take any time away from the other fans by waiting until he was done talking. He turned to me and asked, “Did I forget something?”. I whispered, “Are you meeting with people after the show?”. He said he was and called over to his friend, John, to get my phone number. He whispered back to me, “Do you need some prayers?” as I answered “Yes”. John let me know that he would be texting me the information I needed later on in the night.
Once the band was done signing autographs, they got up on a platform to take pictures with us. I kind of wish that we were all on the same level so that you could see how tall they are, but I understand that everyone needs to fit in the shot. A chair was sitting in front of the platform so that we could put our belongings on it instead of holding them in the picture. I thought, “Great, now I have to walk in front of them. How embarrassing. What if I trip on thin air and face plant?”. To make light of the situation, I asked my friend to check and see which of the members checked me out. He did, and I will not say what he reported back, but it was good. There was even a comment made, but the only thing I heard personally was Brian saying “See ya” as I scurried away in a panic.
My friend took our posters back to the car and we made our way to the front of the stage. Of course, I went straight to the left of the stage where Brian would be and half way to where Jonathan would be. The band Silver Snakes was doing their sound check at this point. I’d been chatting with guitarist Mike Woods via Facebook for a few days and said hello to him. He’s a brand new member of the band that learned the songs ONE day before he stepped on stage! Beforehand, he was a tech for Coheed and Cambria. I love to hear stories like his. They are so fascinating. This tour was the best thing that has ever happened to him, he told me.
The Show Begins
The opening bands Silver Snakes and Motionless In White put on a great show although I wish they would have taken it easy on the stage smoke. I could hardly see them or what was going on. I kept a close eye on Mike since I kinda knew him. He has fabulous hair and looked super cool in his leather jacket. Breaking Benjamin played next. I thought it was nice that lead singer and guitarist, Benjamin Burnley, allowed the other band members to take a turn on singing. The lead singer, Chris “Motionless” Cerulli, of Motionless In White also got on stage and performed a song with Breaking Benjamin. They were awesome enough to get my friend a little emotional.
Right before KoRn was to come on stage, I got a message from John, Brian’s friend, asking where I was. When I said, “At the front of the stage on the side where Brian would be”, he replied with, “Of course. :)” He brought over two wrist bands for my friend and I as the girls around us sighed. They were so shocked and upset that they weren’t getting the pink wrist band too. I told them how they could get one next time. Looking back on it, I probably could have asked John for a few more but I wasn’t thinking.
KoRn takes the Stage
A sheer curtain hung in front of the members of KoRn as they teased us with sporadic notes and drum beats. “The bitch”, Jonathan’s signature mic stand, was out in front of the curtain. Jonathan skipped over to the mic and began the lyrics to “Right Now” as the curtain fell revealing the other members. The moment was surreal. Jon looked like he was having a good time and had the biggest smile on his face. When he would get near me, I tried to make eye contact as I sang along with his lyrics. He is so awesome and really knows how to get the crowd pumped. He also announced that their first album was about to have it’s 22nd anniversary as the crowd roared.
There was a wonderful view of Brian from where I was standing. I don’t think he looked my way even once. He seemed preoccupied and went to the back of the stage a lot. Regardless, he looked so handsome banging his head as his dreads flailed around. I later learned that he was watching a FaceTime video of John’s son, one of nine children, in the ICU. John told me that he wasn’t Brian’s assistant, as I’d thought, they were just friends that met through a mutual friend. He was actually at the Dallas show the same night I was and agreed that the heat was unbearable.
John took a picture from the side of the stage and sent it to me while the concert was going on. I could see myself in the front row, off in la la land as I watched my favorite band make love to my eyes and my ears. They were everything I thought they would be and more. They also played two of their new songs, which I have completely worn out since they were released. I banged my head pretty heavily through a few of their songs and had the best time! They finished with two encore songs after the crowd cheered for more. Ray threw some drum sticks and autographed drum heads into the crowd. Munky threw out some guitar picks. Jonathan waved to us all with an appreciative smile. I don’t know where Fieldy was or what he was doing. Brian left the stage quickly, I assume to prepare to meet us.
After the Show with Brian “Head” Welch
My friend and I made our way to Section 102 of the Lander’s Center where the guys of KoRn took pictures with us originally. Only about 10 minutes or so went by before Brian came out to hang with us. As he told his story (see below) it was so cool to hear him speak as a normal guy with a great sense of humor. We all laughed as he mentioned his crazy spell after finding Jesus and how he was coming off a long drug binge. There were a couple of guys being douche canoes but Brian held his composure so well and took it like a champ – “turned the other cheek”, if you will. After giving his testimony, he prayed for us all – even the guys giving him grief.
A 9-year-old little girl was there that he made sure he loved on. When he gave her some of the picks from his pocket, her face lit up like a Christmas tree. He asked if KoRn was one of her favorite bands and what other bands she liked. Brian’s mouth dropped when she said “Slipknot” and “Rammstein”. Her dad said that it was her birthday and Brian asked us all to sing happy birthday to her. It was so sweet. I later noticed him digging in his pockets for picks and pulled out my letter. He looked right over at me and smiled. I’m sure I turned a nice shade of lobster red.
I waited patiently hoping that I could muster up the courage to speak once it was my turn to talk to Brian. I overheard him telling a fan that he takes meds daily for depression which is very relatable to me. Another fan standing next to me was a sweet girl that came to the concert alone so my friend and I kept her company. Brian spoke to her first and gave her a hug. I took a picture of them together as they cracked me up with the faces they were making. He asked if the two of us came together and we explained that we’d just met. He wasn’t as intimidating as I thought he would be at all. He talked a little about the guy that tried to make a scene and how normally things turn around for the better but he had a failed attempt at healing tonight.
It was my turn! Brian handed me two picks from his back pocket, looked me in the eyes, and stopped just as Munky did. He said that it looked like I had a diamond in my eye “you know how some people get them on their teeth”. I told him that it was a cataract and he asked if I could see out of it. I explained that I couldn’t and have never known what it is like to see out of two eyes. My friend told him that my depth perception is really off then asked if I wanted a picture of the two of us. I prefer a selfie because I have good front facing lights on my phone. I asked Brian not to laugh at the lighting but he did, of course, because they are ridiculous. He said that he thought they were cool and reminded him of something. I suggested maybe a star ship. We took the picture, he gave me a hug, then he thanked us for coming. Unfortunately, the picture turned out blurry but I didn’t realize it until he walked away.
Luckily, Brian came back close to where I was standing and I remembered to show him the tattoo I got in his honor (shown above). He pulled back the sides of his hair from his face and said, “Oh cool” as he pointed to his identical tattoo. He asked me if it hurt where I got it then showed me his palm tattoo and said that getting it tickled. When looking, I noticed that the sides of his hands were the only blank space I could see and jokingly asked him if there were any more. He told me that there was some blank space on his chest, arse, and legs then mentioned the tattoo he’d gotten of himself on his calf. I said, “It’s your album cover right? I saw the video of you getting it”. I felt silly for admitting that I knew about it.
As I asked him to retake the picture from earlier, I showed him that the home screen and lock screen on my phone (shown below) were of him. He said, “Oh, you are a real fan” kind of like he was surprised. We took one shot then another to make sure that I was happy. I asked him not to forget about my letter as he gave me a second hug and said his goodbyes. The man truly is special and I feel so blessed to have gotten a moment of his time although I said nothing that I’d been planning for months to say. Thank goodness for that letter because I knew I would freeze up! The night was one of many best nights of my life and easily one of the top 5!
The Morning After Surprise
We’d driven all the way back to Jackson after meeting Brian and didn’t get home until 3:00 a.m. On Sunday, I woke up at noon to check my phone. As I was scrolling through Instagram, I noticed Brian’s user name on one of my pictures. Surely there was no way! He thanked me for the letter that I wrote and said that he was honored to be an encouragement to me in any way. I let John know via text that I saw Brian’s comment and asked if he wouldn’t mind letting Brian know for me. He said that he would and that it would bring a smile to his face. It’s mega flattering that he would take the time to find me on Instagram to thank me! What a wonderful memory to share for years to come!