Thursday, August 16, 2012

Yes, Those Smashing Pumpkins!

It was me, the Irish, the Author, and Roller Girl, who ended up at the concert. All of us bought tickets, we took the train up together, and I found us a cheap hotel room not too far from the venue. We also brought the dog, who was happy to hang out in the room.

We hit the Sonic festival early because I wanted to go to the merch tent; however, I was sadly disappointed as the merch they had was really abysmal, which put me in a bad mood. However we did look around and finally gave up and went into the auditorium where the Pumpkins were going to play.

“Okay,” I explained to the gang, “We are going to sit on the stage, and we are going to be there until the Pumpkins come on. We can take it in shifts, but this is happening.”

Everyone was basically in agreement, which was awesome. I had never stage squatted with a crowd before, so I was excited for the experience. We had stopped by the Jack Daniels tent before getting all holed up on stage, but I was too excited about anything related to Billy Corgan to be thinking too much about the potential for booze.

We danced along a bit to Yellow Monsters, an outrageously powerful Korean punk band in the vein of Green Day who absolutely tore up the stage and most of my expectations.

“They were not half bad,” remarked the Irish.

“Indeed they were not.”

When Yellow Monsters ended we were able to push up on the stage and managed to get to about center stage. That was when I noticed that we were surrounded by teenage Korean girls. Seriously. They were packed around us. Being that we are all English teachers we started chatting up the girls standing around us and asking questions to them about the band that was up next.

“I don’t think you will like them very much,” said the girl next to me with a pretty strong New Zealand accent, clearly having studied abroad some years.

She was not wrong. It wasn’t just that the music was bad. It was that the lead singer had so much cocky attitude, like he just didn’t care that all these screaming teenagers were her to see him. His disinterest was infectious and we ended up being four very disinterested waygooks before it was over.

Fortunately it didn’t last too long, and before long we were waiting the next hour while the next band queued up. During this time we all took shifts guarding our spot, which was not dead center stage, while taking quick runs to the bathroom. We had been stage squatting for about three hours, and the next three would be without end as this was the Pumpkin hour, or at least, it was fast approaching.

I had taken a quick listen to the next band, and wasn’t overly impressed but I could sit through anything for an hour and half of Billy Corgan. The band coming up was Gym Class Heroes. The crowd really filled out then, with quite a good-sized throng behind us by the start of the set.

When they started to perform, I realized this was not going to be a painful wait sort of thing, Gym Class Heros was an absolutely awesome act. I recognized a lot of the tunes from regular radio play and as the sort of background music you hear in shops and don’t think about. The lead singer brought a wonderful power to the stage, bouncing around, engaging the audience, encouraging us to love the music and our friends and the strangers we were there with. His presence was awe inspiring. He knew how to work the crowd and we loved it.

The Irish was most definitely infected by it, and since this was basically his first rock concert, I was happy to watch him enjoy it. Perhaps a bit too enthusiastically as when the Lead from GCH jumped down off the stage, we were all reaching over the bar to touch him, like a rock/rap God, and it was the Irish who made contact. The Lead reached out and grabbed his arm for an embrace and practically pulled the Irish over the bar. The Irish not being one to give up in a fight held on…and that was when the bouncers started to rush us. Right before they descended the embrace was mutually released, and the Irish turned to me, smiling ear to ear and shaking his hands in the air.

It was that kind of show.

It ended with none of us getting roughed up by security and as the stage cleared the four of us sat down to wait for the final act. I passed around some nut bars I had brought with me, as I figured we were going to need it, and we waited some more. At this point we got accosted by a bunch of foreigners who literally stepped over the Koreans in front of us and tried to push us out of the way for the barrier. None of us were having it and we also made it clear to the Koreans, in Korean, that these idiots were not with us.

This hour of waiting passed quickly and we were up and hanging over the rail when the lights went dark.

And my heart fluttered.

They walked onto stage and picked up their instruments. Billy Corgan lookked every bit like a man in his forties, but he still commanded the sort of respect you would expect from a professional. The long-legged and very attractive bass guitarist in her perfect hair and red lipstick was also a happy bit of eye candy.

Then they started to play.

Within seconds we all recognized the opening bars of "Zero."

That was when I lost my mind. To be standing in front of the Smashing Pumpkins, with Billy Corgan so close to me (I’m almost positive at one point during the set his sweat was brushed into my face), was like a culmination of every moment of waiting that I had every experienced. I was transcendent. As "Zero" became "Bullet with Butterfly Wings," and "Bullet" became "1979," and "1979" became "Today," there I was, jumping, screaming dancing and shaking so hard.

I burst my ankle.

It was worth it.

Somehow we managed to limp out around midnight and tried to unwind in a chicken shack, but really, how do you comedown from something like that?

And the next day we were going to see Tears for Fears and New Order. This was the best rock festival EVER!

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