Metal in a Church 7/2017

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Well…. I went to the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans with my roomie, Ryan, and a couple of other friends for a sludge metal show. Before agreeing to go, I was alerted that I probably would not like the bands. Since the ticket price was low and I had nothing else going on, I decided to go for the experience.

“Sat. July 22 | New Orleans metal monster Thou makes a triumphant return from his nationwide Friendship Tour, having hit 27 cities in the past month (and interrupting an assault at a gas station while filling up in Washington state). Cloud Rat, False, Moloch and Silver Godling open at 6 p.m. At First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans.”

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My first impression was that the idea of playing in a church seemed super neat. This is not your typical venue. Of course, there was no drinking allowed inside, so Ryan and his friends packed a few beers in a cooler. The atmosphere was that of the typical rockers in all black clothing. I tend to get in some good people watching at rock shows. I saw a few obvious band members walking around and talking to people. Other band members were very hard to pick out of the crowd.

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According to Ryan, the headlining band playing was quite popular so I was surprised to see a very small crowd. The lead singer of Thou, Bryan Funck, was selling merch at a table near the front door. Ryan saw Bryan outside and made a very positive comment  about being eager to watch them play. Once inside, Ryan decided to buy one of the band’s shirts. He was disappointed to only find one option available but got one anyway. He asked Bryan if he had a sharpie (for an autograph) and was turned away with the words, “I don’t really like to sign things”. Ryan really liked this band and I believe that he was upset that Bryan was not as nice as he’d hoped. This was Thou’s last show of the tour and I imagine they were tired.

The first band, Cloud Rat, was an interesting grindcore band. Their female lead vocalist, Madison, had some deep growls and screams that I can appreciate. Other than that, I just wasn’t into the band. No matter how much I tried to like this type of metal, it really isn’t my thing. The next band, Moloch sounded like a bunch of teenagers playing in their mom’s garage. I didn’t get it, at all. Doom/Sludge is very gloomy and sad, in my opinion. If I were on an elevator going straight to Hell, this type of music would be playing inside.

The only band that I got into at all was a black metal band called False. Admittedly, because of their gorgeous guitarist with long, black curly hair. He also had a nicely groomed, black beard. His guitar was one of the most metal looking guitars I’d seen in a long time and his playing was very impressive. I can appreciate the band’s talent, but I honestly did not like the music at all. It was way too crazy and all over the place, for my taste.

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Thou took the stage around 10:00 pm and I was not very impressed. The playing was good, but they all looked tired and not really into it. Ryan was, again, disappointed. Thou only played 5 songs and left. It was not a full hour set as a headliner should have done. They just didn’t seem interested in talking to people or being friendly, which is fine. Just note that I won’t be attending any more shows like this and am happy the tickets were only $15. I suppose that’s all I have to say about that…..

We drove all the way back to Jackson that night at made it home by 2:00 a.m. I slept until 1:00 p.m. the next day. Staying up that late took a lot out of me and I don’t think I’ll be making any more late night ventures into the unknown. Blah…

 

 

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BUSH “Meet and Greet”

Thursday, May 4, my best friend and I made the 6 hour trek to Dallas, Texas to see one of our childhood favorite bands, BUSH. I found out about the concert through the app SongKick. It alerts me when bands I like are coming near me, which is super nice! When I saw that BUSH was offering “Meet and Greet” tickets, there was no hesitation to sell my kidney and purchase the pass! Who wouldn’t want to meet the rock god himself, Gavin Rossdale? I don’t know many girls in the 90’s that weren’t drooling over Gavin and his signature curls.

The “Meet and Greet” pass was $200, which is about $25 more than I have paid in the past to meet one of my favorite rockers. Since it was Gavin, I didn’t mind the extra cost. The perks of the VIP pass included a picture with the band, a BUSH tote bag, an autographed tour poster, guitar picks, a commemorative VIP ticket, early entry check-in, and crowd-free merch shopping. This is pretty standard for a Meet and Greet package with the exception of the tote bag. I’ve never gotten one of those before.

As we arrived in Dallas, we checked in to our Air BnB room. The time was 4:00 p.m. and we needed to be at the venue by 4:15. I sloppily added in my hair extensions and popped on some lashes before rushing out the door. GPS stated that we were 18 minutes away and it was already 4:13! The last time I was in Dallas and wasn’t exactly on time for a Meet and Greet, I missed meeting Korn! I thought, “Great, not again!”. I floored it and ramped every bump in the road to make it to the venue. As I pulled up to Gas Monkey Live, I noticed the line outside. Shweeeewwwww!!! We made it!

After about an hour of waiting in the gusty wind, blowing my hair to shit, the VIP guests were allowed inside. The bathroom was quickly crowded with girls trying to fix their wind-blown hair and apply a last coat of lipstick before meeting Gavin. Fans lined up and were given instructions, as per usual – the “dos and don’ts”. I found myself anxiously pacing alone. The other fans in line seemed so calm. Was I the only person excited to meet BUSH?!IMG_0495

Gavin Rossdale and the other members of BUSH made their way to into where we all waited to take our picture with them. There seemed to be crickets chirping. “What the hell was wrong with these people? Why wasn’t anyone welcoming him better than this?”, I thought. It was embarrassing. In previous Meet and Greets I’ve been to, you’d hold the tour poster given to you and the band members would sign it. This gave you an opportunity to say something to the band. Bush did not do this, but it was totally fine. We waited in an assembly lined fashion where you walk up to the band, get a hug from each band member, then pose for the picture with the band name in the background.

I was almost to the end of the line of people so I waited about 45 minutes for my turn. I walked up, got my hugs, and quickly posed for the picture. The camera man didn’t really give me enough time to think about where to stand before he snapped the picture. Gavin was touching my shoulder and I was in a bit of panic mode. Originally, I had my hand around Gavin’s waist but I thought that it looked a little too “prom” photo so I took my arm out and faced the camera man – in full awkwadness. A second shot was taken then, it was time for me to exit. I turned to Gavin and said, “I think you are wonderful. Thank you so much for doing this for us.” He smiled and said, “You are welcome” in his endearing English accent. Good god, the man is handsome.

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On the way out, I grabbed merchandise that came with my VIP package and met my friend outside. The wind was kicking pretty hard so I didn’t have time to look at what was in the bag. I packed it in the trunk of my car and got in the passenger seat. The first order of business was to get that damn extension mess out of my scalp. I put my hair up in a natural messy bun and composed myself. My friend and I giggled at what just happened. I couldn’t wait to meet Gavin but was so happy that the anxiety of worrying if I would trip or say something ignorant was over!IMG_0496

Around 6:30 p.m., the VIP people were supposed to be allowed inside. We’d already been waiting forever, it seemed. The general public was allowed in at 7:00 so we needed to get inside for dibs on t-shirts sizes. At 6:50, the staff let the VIPs in. I was stopped by security and told I wasn’t allowed to bring in my camera. I’d called and verified that I could bring in a camera, twice! I saw others with cameras but I guess mine looked “professional” and wasn’t allowed. Needless to say, I was pissed. I had to go all the way back to the car and by the time I got back inside, I didn’t get to claim a spot by the barricade in front of the stage.

A couple of girls were spreading their arms out covering some of the area in front of the stage. I asked one of them if she could scoot over a little bit so that I could squeeze in. She said that she was “holding” the spot for her friend in the bathroom. They were surely covering a lot of space for one friend. I was pretty pissed off that they were being so selfish. We all paid top dollar to get a good spot and they were taking up too much room. A guy tried to get in between the two girls and they said something along the lines of “we’re not trying to be assholes, we are just trying to make sure our friend has a spot”. One of them looked over at me and said, “she thinks we are being assholes.”

In any other circumstance, I would have held my tongue. Today, was not the day. I was already pissed off that I couldn’t bring in my camera and now these bitches were testing me. I looked the girl straight in the eye and said loud and clear, “Yes, you are being an asshole. We all paid good money to be here and y’all are being selfish”. She repeated that she was saving a spot for her friend as I pointed out that they were taking up enough space for at least 6 people. All I could think was, “please don’t get me kicked out of here for fighting”. I moved away from them and calmed myself down.

A nice guy in a wheelchair moved in to the edge of the barricade and got a spot center stage. I decided to stand by him because I could see over him and get an awesome view of Gavin. There always seems to be someone at every show that is taller than me – blocking a good view. Actually, my view was better than the view of the 3 girls that refused to move over. HA!! Unfortunately, I only had my iPhone to take pictures with but I was willing to make do. I noticed other people around me preparing their cameras which irked me a little since I was made to put mine back in the car.

The first band up was ‘My Jerusalem’. I admit, I wasn’t impressed at all. The lead singer made some comment about not knowing that they were even playing the show until 10 the night before. He later thanked BUSH for inviting them. My impression was that the guy was a little arrogant. He should have been honored to open for BUSH! We all just kinda stood around waiting for them to get off stage instead of rocking to their music. The drummer was about the only one that I was impressed with.

FINALLY… at 9:00 p.m., BUSH made their way to the stage and opened with “Everything Zen”. I am going to attempt to describe accurately what was going on in my mind. Here was Gavin Rossdale standing in front of me, gorgoeus as ever, rocking with his guitar and I was blank. Yes, I was enjoying the music, but something was missing. It took a while to figure it out, but it was the vibe of the crowd that was lacking. Most shows that I have been to, especially in a smaller venue, have an indescribable vibe. It’s like an energy that connects us together like family that you can feel in the air. This night in particular, I didn’t feel it no matter how hard I tried.

Set List:

Zen

Peace-s

Chemicals

Greedy Fly

Sound of Winter

Mad Love

Nurse

Sky Turns Day Glo

The Only Way Out

People That We Love

Swallowed

Lost In You

Cables

Beat of Your Heart

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Machinehead

The One I Love

Glycerine

Comedown

To make matters worse, there were a couple of girls next to me that were high on ecstasy. It was very obvious because they were rubbing all over each other and grinding to basically nothing going on. They kept hitting me everytime they would throw up their hands. A few times, they tugged my shirt sleeve. My friend said that they kept stomping on his feet too. It really annoys me when someone can ruin a good thing with something like drugs. I wanted to say, “Couldn’t you have done that at home?”…but I didn’t. I just decided to leave early.

My friend and I watched about an hour’s worth of BUSH before we made our way to the merch booth. To my surprise, the sizes that we needed were available. We got two shirts and headed over to Gas Monkey Grill to get some food. Since we made it to the restaurant late, we didn’t get to choose from the larger menu. That was a bummer because we were excited about some of their appetizers. We instead picked a couple of juicy burgers and a beer. They did not disappoint! YUMMMM!!

Around 11 p.m., we made it back to the Air BnB room to get a shower and crash into bed. I was so happy to see a fan on the night stand because I have the hardest time sleeping without fan noise! To my delight, the bed was very comfortable. Within minutes, I dozed off into a blissful sleep. The next morning, we had a hearty breakfast at Denny’s and were back in Mississippi by 4:30 p.m.

Although the vibe wasn’t what I expected, I don’t regret going to the BUSH show. I am very, very happy that I got to meet Gavin Rossdale as well as getting to take a picture with him. I find that my money was well spent regardless of the circumstances. They put on a great show and were everything I imagined they would be. I only wonder if they felt the lack of good vibes too….?

That being said, I saw BUSH in New Orleans back in 2011 and they were phenomenal. Gavin also had his long, curly locks then. I can remember thinking that he had an aura around him. As the show progressed, his hair became soaked in sweat as did his white, sleeveless shirt. Let me tell you, that was probably one of the hottest men that I had even seen in person in my entire life. The vibe there was far different and I enjoyed it much more than the Dallas trip. Still….NO REGRETS!!

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Oh yeah…. AND THIS HAPPENED 5/5/17!

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Sonic Unrest Tour II

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My new roomie and I set off for Birmingham Alabama around 1 p.m. on Good Friday. The trip over wasn’t so bad and most definitely not as far as I am used to traveling for a good rock show. My buddy booked an AirBnB room for $35 in a very old house with about 3 floors. The host was quite nice but the place looked like something out of Silence of the Lambs. All we could do was giggle at the awkwardness until the Uber arrived. I’d never used Uber services before and neither had my roomie. We were both pleasantly surprised at the clean, nice vehicles and friendly drivers.

We made a stop at The Paramount barcade where we had some yummy “Hawaiian” hotdogs, “great balls of fire” cheese balls, and a couple beers. You know we had to battle each other on the arcade games. We have a history of battles within our hang out time that include Street Fighter, Ninja Turtles, Mortal Combat, and several other old school NES games. At the barcade, we chose Street Fighter 2, Terminator Salvation, and Skeeball.

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Our next stop was the Zydeco. I won’t sugar coat what I think of this venue. COMPLETE SHIT. The ceiling was low and it was about 1,000 degrees on the inside. The views that I got were of the back of heads in front of me. This place was a complete joke. The “stage” wasn’t high enough for us to see any of the band members and the sound was awful. I’ll NEVER attend another show at this venue. I can’t believe they consider this a venue at all. It was run down and nasty, in my opinion.

Enough ranting for now…. The bands were actually quite good from what I could tell. The opener was an instrumental band called Infinity Shred that I enjoyed immensely. They were super melodic and deep. The next band up was Norma Jean. I’d seen them before in my home state; however, I didn’t recognize a single band member. That was a little disappointing but they played a good show. The Contortionist was my roomie’s pick for the night and he seemed to really enjoy them. Periphery killed it! I’d heard some of their songs on Octane and have to say that they didn’t disappoint. I took some Snapchat video that wasn’t worth posting.

Other than the shitty venue, my roomie and I had a great time. I slept pretty hard in the AirBnB bed. I hadn’t been getting quality sleep because I hurt my back and was experiencing a lot of pain for the last 2 weeks. It was nice to get a good night’s rest. We came back home early the next morning and I binged on 13 Reasons Why the rest of the Easter weekend. 🙂

American Nightmare Tour

The American Nightmare Tour was at the Tabernacle in Atlanta Georgia – the same venue I saw Bring Me the Horizon for the first time last year. The place is spectacular for concerts. I prefer the balcony seating, which is “first come, first serve” unless it’s in the V.I.P section. Included in balcony seating are convenient bars, snacks, and bathrooms not to mention an awesome view. The sound quality is also fantastic in the beautifully painted former Baptist church over a century old.

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My friend and I planned to make it to Atlanta early this time in order to get a good standing spot. Of course, nothing went as planned. Tip: google walking maps suck! Parking in Atlanta also sucks! We were lost for 30 minutes trying to find The William Oliver building where we checked in to our second ever AirBnB room around 4 p.m. This AirBnB was a lot better than our first experience with the site. The room was in an apartment in a beautiful building not too far from the Tabernacle. We had no time to chat with the host so we dropped our bags in the room, got our key, then headed towards the venue.

If I’m not mistaken, we arrived at the venue around the same time last year and the line was already quite long – yet again. As we patiently waited, we listened to the fans surrounding us. It seemed as though we were a couple of the “older” fans in line. A few people passing the venue asked what was going on as the crowd of fans grew larger and larger. When the doors opened, we decided that a standing spot on the ground level wasn’t going to be ideal. Instead, we bolted upstairs for another balcony seat. Wouldn’t you know that we got the same seats as last year!

The first two bands up were Beartooth and Underoath. I must admit that I hadn’t heard much of either band but was pleasantly surprised at how good they were. These two bands made a lot more sense in the line up than the bands that played with Bring Me the Horizon last year. Both bands were quite good! Of course, I was only there for one band only!

When Bring Me the Horizon took the stage, the crowd went crazy. The screens on stage flashed small glimpses of each band member as they made their way to their spot. When Oli Sykes stepped on stage, the crowd screams were deafening. I too blew out my voice screaming like a maniac. The band has a wonderful stage presence and set. Confetti popped through the air as the smoke pyrotechnics blew. It was one hell of a site to see.

My friend and I were having a blast but could tell that Oli was struggling vocally. The crowd sang a lot of his lyrics as he took small breathing breaks. He must have been exhausted. We’d seen that he had another show the next night scheduled and worried about him. Last year, he was a lot more energetic and sang his heart out. Make no mistake that I had a bad time. They put on one hell of a show and I will most definitely go see them on the next tour! The videos speak for themselves but don’t do the band justice.

After the show, we headed back to the AirBnB room as my phone was dying. Since we rushed getting to the venue, we forgot to ask the host what floor and room number. Previously, he met us in the lobby when checking in. I have a very photographic memory so I knew around what area in the building the room was but not the exact floor. Our host wasn’t answering the phone and I started to panic. We ended up checking 7 floors and 7 doors for the right key and lock match. What a night! What a memory. 🙂

 

LifeLines Tour 2017

 

A friend and I drove 6 hours to see one of our favorite bands, Islander, in Dallas, Texas. I’d come across the tour while scrolling through my SongKick App which is synced with Spotify Premium. This is a handy app to have if you want to have the most up-to-date information on tours. You are also able to purchase tickets through the site and set a reminder for when they go on sale.

When arriving in Dallas, I contacted my AirBnB guy and checked into our room. This was my first time using the website so I was a bit apprehensive. The gentleman was very nice but I must admit that I felt very uncomfortable staying with someone I didn’t know. He also had the heat up way too high for my comfort level. Other than that, everything went fine. My friend and I were able to walk and get a burger at nearby Twisted Root Burgers, which was phenomenal! The tour venue was just around the corner as well.

Around 6:00 p.m., we arrived at the venue, Trees on Elm Street. There was a short line that extended near the tour buses and vans. We could see a few guys from different bands walking around, which was pretty neat. One of the tour buses was leaking urine so there was a foul stench in the air that we were downwind from. A couple of people behind us asked about my Texas Mutiny shirt so we struck up a good conversation about bands and upcoming tours.

The doors opened at 7:00 p.m. and we made our way inside. The venue was a lot smaller than I expected, but nice none-the-less. I spotted some chairs on a balcony upstairs and asked my friend to go up and see if there was any indication for “VIP members only”. There wasn’t so we snagged the last two chairs right against the railing! Bonus! It was the perfect view. There was also a bar and some lounge seating upstairs near us. I was impressed with the overall vibe of Trees.

Assuming We Survive was the first band up at 7:30. They weren’t really my type of music and didn’t really seem to fit in with the genre of bands in the tour, but I can appreciate their sound and energy. The lead singer of the band was very positive and touched on some issues with being alone and depressed. He promised that if anyone needed someone to talk to, he/she could message them and they would always respond. I thought that was very sweet of them to offer.

The time had come and my favorite guys from the band Islander took the stage! At first, the crowd looked on with wide eyes, not knowing what to think. They weren’t moving much either which was a little weird for me because I thought the band was doing a fantastic job. I am, however, bias. Front man Mikey Carvajal started his normal crowd surfing and the vibe took a new turn. People started moshing and banging their heads. I looked on stage at guitarist JR Bareis a couple of times and it’s a wonder that he doesn’t have serious neck issues. Bareis was banging pretty hard and still killing it on the guitar! At one point, Mikey climbed on to one of the lower balconies and jumped into the crowd. They gave a stellar performance and sounded fantastic while doing so.

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Mikey Carvajal of Islander announced that he would be over by the merch booth after they got done with their set. I waited a few minutes then made my way down to where he was. There were about 4 people who pushed in front of me while I stood there waiting for my turn. When I saw an opening, I said to Mikey, “Me next!”. He smiled and waved me over for a hug. He was drenched in sweat but oddly enough, it didn’t bother me. He didn’t smell, after all. He complimented me on my hair then we took 2 pictures.

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Since I’d been pushed out-of-the-way, I decided to take a moment to talk to Mikey. I told him that I’d seen on Facebook where the band had been robbed and that I was so sorry for them. He said something very positive and I could tell that he was in good spirits about the otherwise shitty situation. I also mentioned that I’d seen them with Korn and at Texas Mutiny and how they killed it each time. We talked about how the crowd wasn’t feeling them at first but he said it always takes a moment to warm them up. He was very nice and humble as I’d hoped. I thanked him for the picture and said my goodbyes.

The next band to take the stage was Wage War. This band was one that I was looking forward to because of how raw and heavy they are. I’d fallen in love with the song “The River” months ago and have been a fan ever since. I must say, they did not disappoint! They were as heavy and awesome as I’d hoped they would be live. The crowd was into them immediately. They will most definitely be a repeat concert for me.

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I Prevail finally took the stage at 10:00. By then, I was tired and my back was aching. My friend and I’d decided that we would watch at least 2 songs, then head back to our room. The band was so good that we stayed around for 5 songs, trust me – that’s great compared to how tired I was. I was also pleasantly surprised at their stage presence and crisp sound live. The crowd screamed every lyric and the vibe was surreal.

I’d heard a couple of fans that got VIP passes complain that they thought they would get more time with the guys from I Prevail and that they wished it wasn’t an assembly line type of deal. Obviously, they’d never gotten VIP passes before. It’s very common for the VIP Meet and Greet to be quick because they bands tend to have a lot to do in prep for their performance. I understand that and am still grateful for the chance that I get to meet such nice rockers.

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The LifeLines Tour gets 5 out of 5 stars from this rocker! I thoroughly enjoyed each band and had a great time.  Shout out to Mikey Carvajal for taking the time to take pictures with fans. Another shout out to JR Bareis for being polite when I said hello to him with a mouth full of pizza as I passed him by the 711 on the way back to our room. 🙂

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Texas Mutiny 2016

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Tickets

September 24, 2016 was the first annual Texas Mutiny Festival in Fort Worth Texas. The line-up caught my attention immediately! I purchased a set of VIP tickets ($159.50 each) that I thought were going to give me a better view of the stage but I was mistaken. Single tickets were $59.50 which will be my selection next year.

“Be a part of the exclusive Pabst 1844 VIP Lounge and enjoy shade, seating areas, premium bar and food for purchase and private restroom access! Those who select this option will also have access to VIP Parking and an exclusive festival entrance. VIP Access also include access to the Friday Night Campground Party. Must be 21 or older for adult beverage purchase. “

Cons of VIP Tickets

Let me break down what the VIP tickets were really about. The “VIP Lounge” was a tent far away from the stages. There were some places to sit or stand with your “premium bar food” which consisted of over priced hamburgers and hotdogs. The one beer selection of Pabst was also overpriced. Sure, there were nicer bathrooms in the VIP area, but I never used them. The VIP parking was okay, but for what I paid, I expected more. “Exclusive festival entrance” must have been something that I missed because we were in line with everyone else. We opted out of the “Friday Night Campground Party” because the bands playing were some that I had not heard of.

The Stages

The venue was outside in a grassy section next to the Texas Motor Speedway and consisted of 3 large stages. The stages were color coded with banners to assist us with the schedule posted on-line to follow. There were merch booths, food/drink stations, porta-potties, a locker tent, and a few shade tents set up. After each show, some of the bands directed us to the merch booth for a short meet and greet. Unfortunately, if you wanted to see the next band coming to the stage, you needed to keep your spot in the crowd. My friends and I did not make it to the merch booth…

The Heat

The heat was almost unbearable. I didn’t think that I would be uncovered for so much of the day so I did not wear sun shades or sunscreen. Lesson learned! The heat was short-lived though because around 4:00 p.m., a thunderstorm came through. Fans were asked to evacuate and go to gtheir vehicles until it was safe. My friends and I opted out of that option and took cover under the locker tent. Luckily, my friend read the weather report and packed some ponchos. I shared one with my bestie.

Let the Shows Begin

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The first band that my friends and I chose to see was Starset. Although I’d only heard one of their songs on Sirius XM, I was very pleased with how good the band was live. Their costumes were very neat that consisted of space-like helmets and backpacks over top of what looked like SWAT gear. Lead singer Dustin Bates had on a white button up shirt and a black tie which made him stand out. I enjoyed watching the band.

The scheduled set-up time between each band was very lengthy. Most of us walked around meanwhile. I heard Shaman’s Harvest from a distance and they sounded great. I recognized a song that I love called “Dragonfly”. The next band that I got close enough to enjoy was Avatar. There was a stage full of long-haired rockers slinging their beautiful locks in the wind. The band also had a very powerful sound and rocked it! They were dressed in costumes that resembled military uniforms from the 1800’s in the color red. It was a very nice touch.

We walked over to listen to Skindred for a moment but I was more interested in seeing Islander. I’d already seen Skindred twice in my hometown and have pictures with the band members. I went over to the Renegade Stage to get a good spot up front so that I could see members of Islander better. As they were setting up their equipment, the rain began to sprinkle. I said hello to a couple members from the band by calling their names and grabbing their attention. Lead guitarist JR Bareis , also from the band Love And Death, was very nice and waved back with a smile. Lead singer Mikey Carvajal looked over obviously confused and gave an uncomfortable wave.

Just as Islander was getting ready to start, the venue was evacuated. Once the rain subsided, my friends and I grabbed a better spot up front. We watched as thousands of people were trying to get back into the venue. While I was standing in front, one of the security guards went on about my hair. I’d made my own set of faux dreads that were over 22 inches long. He was in disbelief that my dreads were not human hair and suggested that I start a business making them. If he only knew how big of a pain in the ass they were to make, he’d understand why I didn’t think it was a good idea.

Islander took the stage and slayed! At one point, a girl hopped over my head and rushed the stage. Mikey told the security guards to let her stay then welcomed more fans up on stage. I was kicked in the head a few times as people climbed right over me. My friend, Lori, went up on stage and wanted me to come with her but I decided to take pictures instead. Lori looked like she was having a blast even though she didn’t know a lot of the words, she stood by the bassist and sang into the mic.  It was awesome.

Shortly after Islander got off stage, I went over to the beverage tent to get a water. The nice security guard that I spoke to earlier came up to me and asked if he could give me something. Of all the things that went through my mind that it could be, I never though he would hand me an autographed Islander set list! I was floored! I asked him if he was sure that he wanted to give it to me and he responded with “Of course, I could tell that you like them”. How awesome is THAT?!?

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If things hadn’t been awesome enough so far, I spotted JR Bareis standing by the beverage tent talking to some fan girls. I was hesitant at first, but I mustered up the courage to walk over and say hello. He was super nice and seemed grateful that I not only knew him from Islander, but his guitar skills in Love and Death as well. I mentioned the book that Brian Head Welch wrote with a section on how young JR was when he became a member of the band. JR said that he liked my dreads as I leaned over for him to touch them. I asked if I could touch his dreads too and they felt a lot softer than mine! He took a picture with me and returned to the back stage area.

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The band Smashing Satellites was the next band that I was eager to see. I’d previously looked up all of the bands that would be playing the festival so that I could get a good idea of which ones I wanted to see. The song “Waterfall” by Smashing Satellites came across my radar and I binged on it for a few days. When I posted about the song on Instagram, former My Darkest Days guitarist and front man to Smashing Satellites Sal Costa posted a comment “Much love to you – Sal” which made me more eager to see the band.

“Waterfall” was the last song that Smashing Satellites played as I sang along with every word. I walked over to the security guard that gave me Islander’s set list and asked if he could get me Smashing Satellites’ as well. He nodded although I don’t think he heard me. As the band was taking their equipment off stage, I walked over to collect the set list and was surprised by a personal greeting from Sal! There was also a film crew with him that got everything on tape. I must have been 13 shades of red. I couldn’t think of what to say or do! I told him that all I wanted was a set list and that this was so unexpected! The reason he came out to meet me instead was because they didn’t actually have a set list. He asked me if I wanted a picture and if I had a camera. I looked down at my phone like it was a rock that I didn’t know how to operate.  My brain finally connected and I got in a selfie. Sal hugged me and thanked me for coming to the show. I could feel sweat on his skin but I didn’t care. The moment was amazing!

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Side note: Sal copied the selfie I posted of us on Instagram and re-posted it to the band’s page with a caption saying that I was the fan of the day! AHHHH!

Hellyeah was playing right around the time that my body started to shut down. I sat along the fence line that was next to the stage and listened. There were so many photographers in the way that there was no sense in trying to look over them. From what I remember, they put on a great show. I was so tired.

Nothing More was another band that I was looking forward to seeing but after taking in the obvious vanity of lead singer Jonny Hawkins, I was quickly over it. Yeah, I get it, you have abs. Whoopty-do. After leaving Nothing More, we headed over to the stage where Twelve Foot Ninja was. They were already playing by the time we got there but I was amped none-the-less. They were killing it! They all had on black “ninja” pants and played in their black socks. There were a few songs that I recognized and sang along. Honestly, they were the most impressive band that I saw that day because of their unique sound and stage presence. I look forward to seeing them again!!

We saw a little bit of Mice and Men, which were awesome, before we went to the stage were Deftones were about to start. By this time, the schedule was way off. We had to wait until the current band finished playing on another stage before they would allow any other bands to start. Deftones killed it as I knew they would. A person doing sign language next to the stage was dancing along and having herself a good ole time. She was signing so hard that she got the attention of lead singer Chino Moreno. He walked over and bobbed with her. It was such a cute moment.

Grammy winning band Ghost was up next so we walked over to the Republic Stage. We waited for what seemed like an eternity before the band began their set. While waiting, some jerks behind me were dissing Deftones. I had on a Deftones t-shirt! They were also exchanging all kinds of incorrect information about Korn’s new up coming album. I wanted to turn around and correct them, but I refrained. Ghost looked AWESOME! If you know the band, you know their costumes. Their sound was so powerful and loud. I also noticed that they had a female bassist as she was very small with a very different build. I thought that was pretty cool.

Sadly, after watching Ghost, we decided to call it a night. We’d been standing for 11 hours! The overall experience was great but I will not be purchasing VIP passes again.

Nocturnal Underground Tour 2016

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.

Birthday Present

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.

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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!

Preparation

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.

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Check In

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.

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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.

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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.

V.I.P

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.

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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.

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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.

Finally

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.

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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!

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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!

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