Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Building up the courage
I can't remember if I've told you guys about my obsession with the band, The 1975 or not. They are the only band I've heard in 20 years that have inspired me the way I was as a teen. I spent my entire high school career being known as 'the groupie' because by Senior year, I'd met about 30 bands of varying levels of success from KISS, Poison and David Lee Roth to lesser knowns like Pretty Boy Floyd, The London Quireboys and Kik Tracee. Basically if they used hairspray, I chased them. It was a term I was constantly having to clarify because the groupie culture of the 60's was basically these girls who provided for bands and sleeping with them being the ultimate goal. Even though I got myself into some situations that could've gone south on me pretty quick if I weren't as strong in my convictions, I never slept with any of them. More importantly, I definitely never did anything to security guards who always made lofty promises but rarely delivered to other girls who were desperate to meet bands. I got to see rock's underbelly far more times from a distance to know I never wanted to be a part of it in that way.
When the Mr met me, I was in the thick of this lifestyle, he knew it and was always fascinated with my stories and pictures. Before I met him, I was positive my chosen path was to be a music promoter or manager. But you know, things change. He went with me to two or three meetings...I think Slaughter, David Lee Roth and Faster Pussycat post grunge...so they were all coming out of their heydays. Since that time, we'd gone to a few concerts before they jacked up ticket prices to match car payments but security got pretty tight. Since meeting artists was more priority for me and tighter security was making it near impossible and he wasn't a big concert goer, I thought that part of my life was over.
I saw The 1975 added a date to Kent State University and I thought if I would ever have an opportunity to meet them that this would be it because with it being on a campus, they can't really block access off. I asked the Mr, who also likes the band's music, if he'd want to road trip. He agreed because he said this was the first band that brought back the "old me" he fell in love with and he wanted to support me. The problem was, I was having a serious internal struggle about doing this. The last time I did this with any regularity was 25 years ago. I knew I would be the "mom" looking woman now and given how much of a midlife crisis I am already going through adjusting to this stage in my life, would this be like a nail in my psyche coffin? I confided in a friend of all of the things running through my head. This is a competitive atmosphere to be in in the first place. Every girl thinks "her" guy in the band will lock eyes and fall in love or she will say something that will compel them to keep in touch. Don't laugh, this has happened in rare instances and I have kept in touch with a few rock stars with letters and phone calls. But now I'm married, these college girls are old enough to be our kids and if I heard "what's that creepy cougar lady doing here?" I probably would've gone into fetal position and wept until the Mr could scoop me into the car piece by shattered piece. My friend told me I spent enough of my time back in the day being vulnerable to girls like that and the fact that at my age I do like their music (and on my own too because it's not like we have kids to show us what's current) shows how "cool" I am. I tried to take heart and truly struggled with what to do.
You may wonder how I did hear about them since I don't really listen to radio much. The Mr and I were in Target on a grocery run. It was about this time last year and I was walking down an aisle close to the electronic section and Love Me came on at about this point and I stopped in my tracks and gasped. I ran to the screen to see this shirtless silhoutte of a man in leather pants that reminded me so much of Michael Hutchence from INXS and the drummer...my Lord, the drummer in that cobalt velvet suit and that guitar riff. I was taken back to all of my favorite bands of the new wave era which was the musical era I loved the most. (Even though I chased hair bands in the last part of the 80's and early 90's, that was purely lust driven. While I still love the memories of that time, I can only listen to a few Poison songs. I think Bret Michaels ruined Poison for me with his Rock of Love tv show. Gross. But I digress.) New wave has always been a timeless genre for me and I can listen to all of it without cringing in the least. So to see this larger than life, new to me, band that made my heart race and my eyes well was like some musical miracle I'd been praying for. We stayed until they named the band and then proceeded to look them up on the spot and I began my research upon arriving home.
See kids, back in the prehistoric days of patience, we didn't have every detail or thought from a rock/pop star available for consumption on YouTube. We had magazines, MTV videos or the occasional MTV interview because they sure weren't on mainstream tv. That was the only way we knew the personalities of the bands we loved. Bands had mystery then and then if you did what I did and would go to meet them, that was when you learned if your adoration was warranted or misplaced. My friends and I would often go see bands we weren't even over the top interested in just to add another virtual notch to the "I Met" belt. But a lot of those bands turned out to be some of the nicest guys and I was almost always glad I went. Then there were times that went sour. Like it turned out one of the guys in a band who had a major adult contemporary crossover hit in 1991 with one of their guitar ballads was a massive douchebag. If you looked up narcissist in the dictionary, this dude's picture would be front and center. (Even now from what I've read) The rest of the band was so nice but this guy refused to come out of the bus for pictures and made people sit between his legs on the bus stairs for a picture while he sat there with an annoyed look on his face. My friend desperately wanted one so I took it and after I did and started walking away, he said "hey, it's your turn." I looked him up and down, curled my nose in disgust and said "uh...no thanks" and walked away. The bassist thought that was so hilarious, he said "that was great! We need to hang out. Is there a place to get ice cream around here?" (odd reaction) and he and my friends went up the street for froyo. I was never able to get excited about their music again after that encounter. But you know what they say...never meet your heroes.
I have also had some perfectly lovely encounters. I went with that same friend to meet Winger, one of her favorite bands. I wasn't a big fan but you know, I'm always up for a time. Well, after a less than delightful encounter we witnessed with the lead singer in front of 30 people, the crowd was almost rioting. I won't go into the specific incident but he could've had a horriblu off night and might normally be a nice person but this night...he was not his best self. Sensing the crowd might flip the bus if something wasn't done soon, the rest of the band came out and you never met nicer guys. I don't know if they were atoning for what went down but it truly turned an angry mob situation into a celebration and the person who was dissed the most was showered with attention, swag and left a smiling girl. Reb Beach in particular was an amazing sweetheart and stayed outside with all of us for an hour joking, posing for pictures, signing everything in sight and just generally being a gracious host for a party he didn't plan on throwing. It made me really respect him as a person and I was glad to have gotten to see that side of him.
Nowadays, you have YouTube and the internet so it's no mistake to say you can consume every bit of information about your favorite bands. From reading or watching interviews so you can get a truer picture of their personalities to following their Instagrams and Snapchat accounts. If you're smart, you follow some fan pages and let them do all of the work for you because they love to add new pics, videos and anything else they can find to be the top fan page. Obviously things like band and even each musician's social media accounts can be carefully crafted because lets face it, we ALL shade our social media interactions to put our best foot forward. When there's a business on the line, musicians are no different. I was able to garner enough from the seemingly thousands of things I read and viewed over the past year to know what an experience trying to meet The 1975 may consist of. Adam and Ross are the quiet ones. Fan pics with them outside of a formal meet and greet setting are a little more rare. They don't talk much in interviews...particularly Adam. Someone once commented on a picture where he was distantly staring off into space during an interview that he looked like someone who joined the band by accident and is now captive and can't get out. It was hilariously accurate.
Every fan knows Matty and George are besties...Frick to his Frack, if you will. Matty (don't ever call him Matt) is beautifully unfiltered, complex, a self professed narcissist but with good intentions where fans are concerned... so he can be a bit of a walking contradiction that keeps you on your toes to figure him out. He's expressed his issues with depression, addiction and anxiety. After reading about several encounters that left him overwhelmed and feeling like the bad guy when he has to leave meeting fans, he feels emotionally drained. Since I too deal with anxiety and being overwhelmed, I knew that it would be important to read him first before attempting to approach or even yelling his name. The last thing I would want to do is burden him for attention with an already exhausting schedule. Then there's George. They call him the gentle giant for a reason. At 6'4", he can't hide easily but with Matty being the mouthpiece for the band, George is usually content to sit next to him adding anecdotes as needed, laughing at some absurd thing Matty has said, being goofy and just kind of being an adorable enigma you want to know a little more about. He produces much of their music and his ability to make ambient music and instrumentals that take me out of crappy life situations is what draws me to him...that and the way he laughs when he hears something ridiculous. (Also, I think it's really sweet that in their earlier days, he wore his girlfriends necklace when they were apart. I'm a romantic sucker, what can I say?) I basically knew that in person, he'd likely take his cues from Matty and just be grateful for what I may get. But at this point in my mounting self doubt and wondering if I even had any business to be doing such things anymore, getting through the encounter with girls half my age surrounding me was at the forefront of my mind. I don't mind admitting that I actually shed a few tears at the thought of even how the band may react to me. If one of them were to say something well-intentioned about someone my age being there and given I was heading into 'emotional week' as it was...this could all be a huge, embarrassing mistake waiting to happen. I didn't know if I had it in me.
Since this got way longer than I anticipated, I'll give your eyes a break. Come back tomorrow to see if I ended up chickening out and if I did go, did my self confidence take a hit.
Ever met any bands during their heyday?
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