Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Thing #8--Backstage at a big concert (& finally being completely covered in magical confetti)

On July 24th I, along with Derrick, my parents & my cousin Marissa, traveled to Holyoke, Massachusetts to see my brother’s band Fang Island open for the (duh duh duh!) Flaming Lips! Not only were we pumped to see Marc’s band again, but we were really excited to see the Lips. I’ve wanted to see them for a few years, especially once I learned what sorta shows they put on.

Leading up to the date only fueled the fire. Marc texted me a few pictures while out on the road, which only made me anticipate the coming show even more.

The day finally came, & holy crap was it hot. And humid. We arrived in Holyoke (side note: I also learned that Holyoke is apparently the birthplace of volleyball)It's hard to tell, but this sign proves the volleyball invention claim.

& went to grab a bite to eat. Turns out we had just missed a rainstorm. Once we got to the outdoor venue we found that the grass was majorly waterlogged & muddy. In spots it smelled uncannily like a farm. Unfortunately there were no cute animals to make a visual for the olfactory wonder. The extreme heat & humidity, paired with the fact that it had rained & the added bonus of everything being muddy made everyone sweaty. So, so, so sweaty. I have seriously never sweated so much in my life, particularly while standing still. It was disgusting. DISGUSTING!


We ended up meeting up with some friends there, & we all stood around & watched Fang Island play. They were awesome! It makes a big sister proud to see her brother up on stage, blowing everyone away with his drumming(dork). This was my third time seeing them, but my first time seeing them while in a group of people who largely had never heard of Fang Island, but who instantly loved them. Overhearing people talk about the band was great, & I *may* have told (or, you know, demanded) people to buy the album. Enjoy some pictures of Fang Island.

Despite the daylight, my pictures from Fang Island's set kinda suck. It was a no-camera venue, but I sneaked mine in & was trying not to draw the attention of the 3 dudes ten feet away who were taking other people's cameras away while the sun was still out. But there you have it! Here is a picture of the gigantic disco bawls that I need to have in my house someday:

Yay Fang Island! Dayum, why you sound so goood?

After their awesome set was done the roadies for the Lips came out to finish setting up the stage. One thing that I thought was cool & unusual was that the guys IN the Flaming Lips
also helped set up. For anyone that’s been to a major concert (ie everybody ever), you know how rare it is to even catch a glimpse of the band during the actual show. Hell, they were even walking around, interacting with fans from afar & watching Fang Island play from the side of the stage. Very cool, I thought. Wayne Coyne, the lead singer, came out at one point to a) tell us that he was going to try to go as far back as possible when he was in his space bubble, so to pack in , b) that they were going to be out a little later than planned because it might rain & people were still coming in & c) let us know that if there was more rain or a thunderstorm they might have to stop playing for a little, but that they would definitely come back onstage as long as no signs pointed to imminent death for them. Again, cool. It was clear that they are just sorta "normal" people & that they treated everyone else with respect. No “I’m famous, bow to me” crap, ya know?

Once they started to play I was in my happy place. All of the members were birthed out of a psychedelic naked hippie’s vagina & the band started to play an amazing song as Wayne Coyne edged to the crowd in his space bubble. Best ever!

We were essentially in the front row, most of the time. It was craziness. Loud awesome music, a guy in a hamster ball walking on the crowd, confetti, gigantic balloons, more confetti, people dancing in orange costumes, confetti guns, a guy in a bear suit, people in butterfly & catfish costumes, giant laser hands, disco balls…oh MAMA!
Enjoy the following:

On the left you can see the blur that is my brother, Marc.

One of my favorites of the night, Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips.

Wayne on the shoulders of a guy in a bear suit. In talking about it later with my Dad, I found out that he somehow thought I was in the bear suit. What?? :)

My brother was onstage during the show & we exchanged many looks & gestures (wholesome ones!). About halfway through the show I saw that my DAD was with him, what?? A few minutes passed & I saw that Marc's/our friend Sweaty was up there too. What the hell. This was about the point that I was motioning to Marc to take us up there & in true brotherly form he pretended to not know what I was saying. So, I had D text Marc, & minutes later Marc was motioning to me for us to meet him by the side of the stage. YES!!

So, Marissa, Derrick & I pushed our way through the crowd, leaving some of our friends (don't worry, they came onstage later). We met Marc by the side of the stage, who told me to get Mom & he then took us all backstage. Awesome! We followed him up the steep ramp to the stage & behind the backdrop. As we were walking you could peek out in spots & see the band playing & the crowd undulating.This shot is a complete & utter mess, but it is the first one I took as I set foot on stage, so it's here for sentimentality's sake.

Then we got to “our” spot, stage right, we joined the dancers, Sweaty, Dad & some of the dudes of Fang Island.

What an awesome vantage point! It was so fun to be backstage, having a big dorky fan moment with friends & family. We danced & sang along, got free water & sips of beer, got to check out all the guitars & we had an awesome view of both the band & the crowd. We got covered in confetti (I ruined my new shirt with the appetizing combination of copious amounts of sweat and orange confetti), showered with laser beams reflected in disco balls & got to witness one of the top three live shows of my life ten to fifteen feet from the band. Seriously off the hook, as Buster Bluth would say.Electrocution just waiting to happen.

My dreamland. I wish big moments in life were automatically showered with metric tons of confetti.

After the show we got to hang out backstage as we waited for my Dad to finishing talking to the drummer, for D & Marissa (it was the day before her 16th birthday!) to meet & talk to Wayne Coyne, for Marc to get his stuff together (he was coming home for two days in between shows) & while he got M & D’s stuff signed by both bands. We got to use the air conditioned (aka HEAVEN) trailers for relief & to visit the bathroom. We got to eat pretzels & watermelon while shooting the shit with old friends & new friends. It was really awesome (up to the point where the euphoria wore off & I was insanely full of pain & super sleepy & I got cranky…& then had to wait for what felt like 5 hours for Marc to be ready, hehe).
Wayne & Derrick.

Wayne & Marissa the birthday girl.

The aftermath.

Backstage story time, post watermelon!

But anyway. Being backstage for a show like the Flaming Lips was the best thing ever. We really got the best of both worlds; we got to be in the crowd for when he space bubbled his way over us & we were showered with confetti & got to hit giant balloons, & then we got to go onstage & watch the second half of the show…& still get covered in confetti. Thanks, Marc!! You’re fun & stuff :)

And thanks Dad, for being the best dad ever & biting the bullet for your son by riding home like this:(I'll remove it if you want.)

Unofficial new thing--While we were onstage I witnessed my first seizure--insanity! It happened quite quickly. I saw Marc’s bandmate carrying one of the dancers in orange (who are people who bought a ticket to the show & just get chosen to be onstage dancing the whole time) behind us. I honestly just sort of assumed she blacked out from a substance or fainted from being hot, especially in that polyester get-up she was wearing. As he passed me I noticed that she was seizing, & he was covering her eyes because there were strobe lights flashing. A bunch of people rushed to her aid while someone went to get the paramedics.

This actually happened just as the Lips were playing their last song, & when they finished some of the band members ran over to her to see what was happening. What I thought was really nice was that the lead singer went back onstage & told the crowd that one of the dancers had had a bad reaction to the strobe lights, & asked that everyone try to keep it down while she ‘recovers,” & that the band would be back in a few minutes for an encore when they knew that she was doing alright. How nice is that, & it worked! It was totally surreal, really, being in such a huge group of people that was honestly almost silent.

In talking to Mike, Marc’s bandmate, I found out that that was the third time in four shows that one of the dancers had a seizure & the second time that the person landed right in his arms. What luck, huh? Later, when D was in the trailer, he heard Wayne reassuringly & nicely talking to the girl (who was ok) & heard him say that seizures do happen at their shows from time to time but, oddly enough, he finds that they happen almost every night when they play in New England & Scotland. How weird is that?

So, all in all, I loved being onstage & backstage for a show like the Flaming Lips, & I love the chain of events that brought me there. To many more! And Marc, thanks again! Someday I'll be onstage while you play to thousands :)

Disclaimer: I wrote this ages ago & decided to finally slap it up on the blog to get the ball rolling again. Outdated, but whatever! Also, I had my old camera with me and it was difficult to take good pictures in the dark with strobe lights & the like, so I apologize for the mediocre photo quality. Plus, I was concentrating more on having an awesome time than awesome pictures. Deal with it!
Here is a video of Fang Island. I have more videos of Fang Island & the Flaming Lips that I'd like to post, so keep your eyes peeled!