That is a long title.
Earlier this year, as I sat in my office, I heard Cindy call out from the other room “MIKE! MIKE!”. It was the same tone she gets when there is a spider. I came running. What I didn’t expect was her to tell me about a concert coming up. She was as excited as I have seen her for any event and it was clear I was ordering tickets there and then. The show?
Bare Naked Ladies she saw many years ago and in her words (It was awesome), and The Gin Blossoms are considered by her to be a quintessential 90’s band. This was happening.
We ended up getting Gold Circle tickets, which were the portion of the field directly in front of the stage. Easily the most I have ever paid for a ticket in my life, but Cindy’s level of enthusiasm for the show left no doubt that this would be worth it. I purchased through Ticketmaster, so no paper tickets, but spoiler alert, we got paper tickets AT the show!
We decided to make a mini-vacation out of it and got a room at Hotel Indigo right across the street (literally) from Breese Stevens Field. Here is the view from our room. You can see one of the field entrances, and at the far right end one of the giant screens. Just out of view is the stage itself.
In a surprise turn, a few days before the show we got an e-mail alerting us to the Gold Circle Experience. We literally had no idea (though I probably should have) that the tickets we bought were anything but “good seats”. This e-mail was a mind blower. First of all were getting BNL swag, and then exclusive access to soundcheck, and then we got to take pictures with the band. Boom.
So at the appointed time we joined the line outside the stadium with the other Gold Circle folks where we were given our VIP passes. A first for me.
Then we were led to not only the security barrier in front of the stage, but actually beyond. We were IN the security area. The forbidden zone. There’s the crowd, there’s the stage.
It was a polite mid-west crowd and we took pictures and listened as the band ran through their equipment and then played 3 or 4 songs straight through. It was very cool, to say the least.
I’m always pleased to find band members being just “normal” people up close. They were joking with each other, talking to a few people in the crowd that they must have known and generally being super cool.
They played a couple songs from the new album and worked out an acapella ending to one that they would later play in the show. It was a nice way to see them play. Like a little club show.
Here is a quick little clip of them playing.
I have to say that I was even more stoked to see them after this than I even had been. What a cool experience.
Then they announced “we’ll see if we can’t find a hotter and sunnier place to take photos” and left the stage as we were escorted to the photo area.
Here’s us. Hot and sweaty but happy to be there. I jokingly said to Cindy we should do a Charlie’s Angels pose, but chickened out. Regret.
Then our swag was doled out.
Closeup of VIP pass.
Disposable camera. Still mint, probably forever.
BNL Ice cube tray. Interesting.
and signed band photo, suitable for framing.
Then we left the field and walked to a eatery right across the street. We were starving. As we were eating and rehydrating we saw Kevin wander down the street. He was probably hungry too. Then we headed back to the hotel to rest and primp for the actual show.
Yes, Art Paul was there on the corner.
When it was time for the show we headed back across the street and walked past layers of crowd to the Gold Circle. There were several layers of folks already standing and watching Toad The Wet Sprocket play the first set. I recognized a few classics and they still sounded good. We ran into some friends and dug the atmosphere and the music a bit, then decided it was time to investigate the drink situation. We had our own Gold Circle beer cart lady, so there was no crazy line and we got enormous Bud Light Seltzers (the first of several) and then got back to our spot and settled in for the show.
Toad had a short but hit filled set. I had seen them play at The Majestic many years ago. Good solid band.
Next up was Gin Blossoms. Now, I like Gin Blossoms when I hear them on the radio, but I wasn’t prepared for HOW much I dug it live. They were really really good and still sounded sharp. They have aged, haven’t we all, but they still rocked and I love it when the crowd sings along.
After the show I was curious what they had looked like back in the day and I found this clip from Farm Aid. The hair was definitely longer then, but it was on everyone in those days anyway.
I know I had a buzz by then, but I began wondering to myself why I didn’t have any Gin Blossoms records. Something I may need to mitigate soon. For the time being though I did come home with a tour shirt.
Their set was awesome. I think I may have mentioned that.
After the Gin Blossoms set, the guitar player Jesse came down into the crowd to watch Bare Naked Ladies with us. I have to say he was approached by a few fans, took a few selfies and gave a guitar pick to a young kid. Very cool. He was just another fan in the crowd then.
We did save him and basically the entire tour when a bee landed on his shoulder, then climbed him and ended up crawling into his mask. We alerted him and he got it out and it flew away, probably as scared as he was. “Thanks, I don’t have my Epi pen,” he said. We were all hero’s that day.
Then the moment arrived and Bare Naked Ladies hit the stage!
The sun was just going behind the edge of the stadium and things weren’t so harsh. Perfect for the show. Rain had been predicted later and the clouds began rolling in.
It was ON! You can see the sea of people behind us. It was a big turnout.
The band ripped through some hits and played songs from the new album too. It was amazing. They were funny too.
The music was fantastic and the band was killing it. I was loving it. I’m fairly certain it was this portion of the show where my wooing and shouting was responsible for my sore throat the next day. Completely worth it.
The music was great, and they definitely showed how they can play any tempo any style. They played some softer stuff but they also played “Roll Out” from the new album. Excellent song.
Here are a couple clips I managed to get when I remembered I had my phone.
“It’s All Been Done / Audience Rap”
Near the end of the show they did a medley of covers and Tyler came down to sing.
In the beginning of that clip you hear him talk about midges. They were EVERYWHERE all over the stage and around the lights.
Then as a final treat all the bands came out together and they did the Traveling Wilbury’s song “Handle Me With Care”. It was a really nice way to end the show.
“Handle Me With Care”
With that the show ended and we stood somewhat dazed by all the amazing music and then the Breese Stevens Field staff started urging us out. Rain was on it’s way and they wanted to get people out. So, we headed for the exit, stopped at the merch table for some shirts and vinyl, and then had taken about 20 steps towards the exit when the rain came, softly thankfully, but since we only had to cross the street to get to the hotel no biggie.
Art Paul got wet though.
We made it back to the hotel and dropped off our stuff, then headed out for some food. We were starving. That turned out to be a fail. Every bar and restaurant within walking distance was crammed. We eventually made do with chips and ice cream from the hotel gift shop.
The show was awesome.
Thanks Cindy for arranging for us to go!