I'm trying something new this week. This most current feature post, is coming to you via three parts. I could never ask you to swallow the word count I am about to throw at you, all in one sitting, so I'm going to break it down. Literally. <--Like the real kind of literal:
I'll post Vol. 1 today, Vol 2 tomorrow and finally, Vol 3 on Wednesday.
I hope you enjoy these stories, which I collected while I was out trying to shake a funk. Life recently kicked me in the teeth and I'm trying all sorts of things in order to keep my head up. This, is the story of what happened when I tried music.
I promise it won't hurt, so stay with me. If you like what you read, come back tomorrow and we'll do this again.
We Slept Hard That Night - Vol. 1
You know when people tell you to let your freak flag fly?
Well, these last couple of weeks, I’ve been doing just that. I’ve been flying my flag hard and proud. Two weeks seems like an awfully long time to let it all hang out, because it is. To be honest, I’m exhausted from all this flag flying. I drank too much, hydrated too little and danced like a lunatic. It all started with a road trip to Los Angeles from the Bay Area, where I now reside.
I was on my way to L.A. for a show. I was going to see my favorite band perform at the Roxy. I was going, to get lost in some music for a while. You see, I’m one of those nerds that follows their favorite band around the country. I buy tickets months in advance, plan entire trips around their shows, and hype my husband up to the point that he’s excited to stand for their five-hour uber-concert.
…And stand we will; our feet will be firmly planted while beers are spilled on our boots and elbows are thrown into our ribs and faces. The best part is that we’ll have an exceptional time, every time. I count on that and I haven’t been let down yet. That’s saying a lot considering I’ve gone to so many shows that I’ve lost count.
I don’t do it as often anymore, but when I travel for these concerts, I try my darndest to blend in. I suppose I don’t want to stick out like some tragic American tourist. Additionally, I don’t always feel the need to advertise what band I’m going to see or where they’ll be playing. Mostly, this is due to having dated hipster-like individuals or thugs, who would “playfully” mock me upon learning of my musical obsession.
The taunting is expected, to a certain degree. You see, when you’re a 311 nerd (like me), you don’t just listen to some songs and go to some shows. You’re a bit consumed by the tunes and you experience a form of ecstasy when you jump around and dance it out with other like-minded individuals.
As a superfan, you always have time for a Three-Eleven road trip and you don’t mind standing in line (for hours at a time) to ensure a good spot near the stage. You’re also not surprised when people in the crowd start going nuts and slamming you about. You remember the early days, and instead of resenting, you revel in the physicality of the experience. You enjoy all of that when you’re a superfan and you get to do it alongside some of the nicest folks around. It’s almost always a good time with fellow fans because they’re generally not assholes. They know how to keep it positive and that makes the experience even more appealing.
Now that I’ve bared my soul, and you know just how much of a nerd I can actually be, I’ll get back to my most recent road trip. My friend Isabelle and I drove down to L.A. from the Bay Area on Thursday morning (06 MAR 2014) for a 311 show that night.
We had made this same trip last year, with our men. We turned that into a mini vacation, staying to see all the cliché sights the city had to offer. We even took one of those Hollywood bus tours. Ours was special though, the focus was on murder, death, and mayhem in the city of Angels. It was entertaining as hell.
All photos courtesy of my cell phone.
This year, Isabelle and I drove down solely for the show at the Roxy. We traveled alone because we had to make it quick. All of us (men included), were flying to New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA) the following Sunday. We were traveling to The Big Easy to attend that five-hour uber-concert I mentioned earlier.
That’s a lot of driving, flying, hoteling, and spending, just to see the same dudes play the same music in two different cities, I know. Nevertheless, It’s worth it because I always manage to find my reset button after attending one of these shows. Submerging myself in this music, recharges me in a way. It reminds me of a time when life didn't feel as fininte as it does now. Additionally, these guys actually continue to make good music. Some think 311’s sound never evolved an inch, others think it made a grand departure and has circled back. I don’t know who is right. The only thing I know, is that when I need to remember to live and dance--with a gin and tonic in my hand--I know where to go.
Lately, I’ve been pretty bummed due to the untimely death of my best buddy, the coolest Chihuahua that ever lived. McLeoud died suddenly and I’m still taking it pretty hard. Unfortunately, the heartbreak of his passing became something even more substantial and it was getting difficult to keep my head up. Being familiar with the healing properties of music, I was looking forward to these 311 concerts in L.A. and NOLA. I was hoping that the music would help me shake this funk that I’ve been carrying around since my little buddy died. The melancholy was growing heavier every day and I was getting tired, really tired.
I figured music could only improve things. "These shows would perk me back up for sure," I thought. I then told my husband, Christoph, about my expectations and expressed that I needed to feel something other than down. He listened and gently told me not to get my hopes up. He said I shouldn’t hype up these shows in my head because, as he put it, “What if they just end up disappointing you? I mean, what if the music just doesn't make you feel any better?” That was sobering to hear, but I didn’t actually feel as if I was building the shows up in my head. I was relying upon past experience, in order to project a logical outcome. In reality, I expected to have a good time at these 311 shows, because I’ve never had a bad time at one of their shows.
Despite what Christoph advised, I dug down deep for that exuberant version of myself, which existed 15 years ago. I summoned that kooky bitch back to the front line, hopped into my friend’s car and drove five hours to a concert. That crazy broad also road with us, as Isabelle and I, turned it around and drove five hours back home the very next day.
When Isabelle and I first got to L.A., we arrived early and had a couple of hours to kill before check-in at our hotel. Seeing as we’ve both been to the city before, we didn’t really have any touristy things planned. We didn’t have plans and we needed shampoo, so I looked up the nearest convenience store on my phone.
Fifteen minutes later, as I picked out shampoo and paid, it occurred to Isabelle that we’ve never been able to get a decent picture of the legendary Hollywood sign. With that in mind, we headed out to Griffith Observatory for selfies and such. We made our way across town and then, up and into the parking lot just outside the observatory. We walked around for a bit and got our pictures. With this finally out of our systems, we headed back to West Hollywood to check into our hotel.
One shower and two drinks later, we were in line at the Roxy. While standing there, I made accidental eye contact (through a set of glass doors) with someone in the building next to the club. I’m not sure if this person was famous, because I wasn’t really trying to look. It seems, however, that this dude was someone known. A minute or two later, he was ushered out of the building and helped into a big, black SUV, from which he then profusely thanked his handlers who’d just gotten him safely on his way.
The funny thing is, no one in line saw this guy except Isabelle and I. It appears he went unnoticed and all that hootin’ & hollerin’ was unnecessary. The guy could have strolled out of the building, walked down the steps and slid into his car, all on his own and not a soul would have noticed or cared. I thought it comical and indicative of the neighborhood in which I was standing. Regardless, I still love the fuck out of L.A. Los Angeles really is like a flashier version of Washington, D.C., power, politics and appearances at the center of everything.
Once we were let into the Roxy, I headed for my usual spot. There, I found some chicks standing where I usually do. I wondered just how early those ladies had gotten in line in order to obtain the better spot. With that thought, I moved in behind them and stood next to the soundboard guy instead.
The club is pretty small, so I was still right next to that stage. I stood and held our spots, while Isabelle walked over to the merch counter to buy a t-shirt. A few minutes later, she returned with a shirt and two drinks. After what seemed like forever, the lights dimmed and 311 roared into their set. They actually performed a lot of older stuff that I hadn’t heard in a while. They played the fuck out of each song. The crowd was into every note, so much so, that I eventually had to turn around to stare, in awe, at the their reaction to the band's music and energy.
When 311 rolled into “Fuck the Bullshit,” I began feeling the ripple effect of the people at the center of the floor. They began slamming into one another and knocked me forward into the sound equipment. After being shoved a few times, I snapped out of my musical stupor and spun around. I wasn’t angry, but I did want to see who else was getting sooo into this song—one of my favorites—that they simply could not contain themselves any further. It was the usual suspects. The drunkest, happiest, and most red-faced people in the crowd were getting down and I was enjoying watching them, just as much as I was enjoying 311’s performance.
The show was excellent and I know you’ll take that with a grain of salt because I’ve already outed myself as a nerdy 311 superfan. Notwithstanding, the crowd at the Roxy—myself included—lost their collective shit that night and it was a thing of beauty.
In re-reading that last bit, it occurs to me that this is beginning to sound a little like sycophantic babble, but hear me out. Music heals and it really doesn’t matter what kind. I’m certain of this because, I put music to the test in New Orleans and I wasn’t let down.