Monday, October 30, 2006

Switchfoot Fallout

I still can't talk coherently about the concert after four days. The best way I can express it is to say that I continue to have what some Switchfoot fans call a "concert hangover." I need to go to another concert, and today wouldn't be too soon.

During the concert I found myself thinking, who are these guys? This was a night well beyond all my expectations, and my expectations were pretty high.

I promised in my last post to tell you about the meet-and-greet. After the concert we waited around awhile at the venue. Eventually all those with passes were gathered into one area, and the rest of the fans were asked to leave.

My smile started to grow at this point, knowing we'd be meeting the guys who had just given us such an indescribable night.

I was talking to my daughter and happened to look up in time to see the drummer, Chad, and the keyboardist/guitarist, Jerome, coming towards us. They walked up to us and introduced themselves in such a humble manner, as though we wouldn't know who they were. Then they really made my day; they both mentioned that they had noticed my daughter during the concert. They pointed to the spot on the balcony where she had been standing. This was so much more than she expected.

But wait, it gets better. The next person we met was Jon, the lead singer. He also said words to the effect of "yeah, I remember you, you were standing right there" and pointed to where my daughter had been standing.

I think she's still floating. Three of the five band members noticed her during the concert.

Ultimately we met all five. They gave autographs and allowed pictures. Every one of them came across as the type of people anybody would love to have as friends.

Somebody asked me if I lost my ability to speak when I met them. Unfortunately, I didn't. Instead I was a babbling fool. Thankfully, they're probably used to people like that.

After we left the building I saw Jon walk out. He passed some people who had their backs to him, said "hi", and kept walking. The fans he had just passed turned to look, and you could see by their expressions what they were thinking.

Jon was grinning. He knew he'd just made somebody's night.

This blog is about people who make a difference. I want to once more thank Katherine from Foot Soldiers Headquarters for allowing the meet-and-greet. Thanks to her, a memorable night was made even more memorable.

As for Switchfoot, I think the best way to thank them will be to talk about some of their causes in future blogs.

There's one more thing I can do for them. I can try to make the lives of others better the way they made mine better.

Friday, October 27, 2006


This seems to be the year for meet-and-greets. On Monday I received word that we'd won a meet-and-greet for a Switchfoot concert in Minneapolis. We won the tickets through a contest sponsored by Artist Arena.

I want to publicly thank Katherine from Foot Soldiers Headquarters for allowing this honor.

I also want to thank Switchfoot for a memorable evening. I can't write much about it yet because I can't do justice in words to the incredible night we had.

What I can say, though, is that if you have the opportunity to see Switchfoot in concert, don't even think of missing it. I love their CDs (which is obvious, it's the only reason we'd drive that far for a concert) but their live performance put the CDs to shame.

My daughter is 14 and I'm ... well, I'm not considered young anymore, but both of us thought this was the best concert we'd ever been to. It's now 24 hours later and we're still in awe, still basking in the glow.

After the concert I found that these guys are incredibly down-to-earth. I'll write more about that later, too.

My words, when I find them, are going to be completely inadequate.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Evanescence: Proof That Venue Makes A Difference

We went to the Evanescence concert at the Rave in Milwaukee. Though Amy Lee proved she is an incredibly talented singer and the band did a great job, we would have had a better time at home listening to a CD. Even my daughter and niece, both teens who love this band, were disappointed and anxious to leave.

The Rave has three or four rooms. The one that Evanescence played in was huge. There is no seating there; you have to stand. I didn't think this would be a problem because we had been at an all-standing venue the week before to see Good Charlotte. I didn't realize that the Rave was substantially larger.

Security was so intent on preventing cameras from coming in that they checked purses and sometimes frisked people to make sure they weren't carrying one. Nevermind that cell phones are allowed, and that cell phones nowadays can be used to take pictures and video. More to the point, nevermind all the stuff they allowed to go on there.

While cameras are prohibited, underage drinking is not. They do check IDs, but the bar is at one end of the floor and once a patron has bought his beer, he can take it to all of his underage friends.

Forget, too, about the sign that says that the singer has requested no smoking, absolutely no exceptions. The room was foggy with smoke. Note a couple of things here; we were on the second floor, and both exits led to a stairwell. People were smoking and flicking the ashes on the wooden floor, a floor slippery with alcohol. Now I understand why you hear of places like this going up in flames.

It was not only a fire hazard, it was a hazard in other ways, too. My daughter was almost burned by a fan dancing in packed quarters while waving her cigarette. I'm sure other patrons weren't lucky enough to avoid the burning end of the cigarette.

My daughter and niece were offered illegal drugs there....but it sure was important to keep cameras out. The sexual activity made me feel like people were coming here because it was cheaper than a hotel room, despite the fact that there were kids there who were a lot younger than my daughter.

Our teens got as close as they could but still had difficulty seeing the band. If I had realized how bad things would get, we would've stayed together and probably left early.

My sister-in-law and I were standing way in the back, and even there we were constantly pushed. Every time I thought I could get into the music, somebody would bump into me. They obviously weren't trying to get closer; we were already way in the back. They were walking by us to get to the beer.

Contrast this to Station 4 in St. Paul, where we had seen Good Charlotte the previous weekend. Station 4 was small enough that you could stand in the back and still see the band well. It was more like being invited to a private concert. The non-smoking policy was enforced. There was a bar, but you had to show ID and remain in the bar; at least, I'm guessing they made patrons stay there because I saw no drinking on the main floor. The bar was in a clearly separated area.

Interestingly, they weren't threatened by cameras. We got some good pictures there.

I learned a lot from this. I'm checking the venue wherever I go. I don't mind if it's large as long as there are seats so I'm not pushed and shoved while trying to get into the music. If it's a standing venue like at Station 4, I'll make sure it's small. All other venues I'll avoid.

When my daughter goes on tour, she plans to stick to smaller venues, too. She was so impressed with Good Charlotte and the way they met with all their fans. You can't realistically do that at the larger places but you can at places like Station 4. She also realizes that she doesn't want her fans leaving as disappointed as she left the Evanescence concert.

This is an example of a way in which bad things can become positive. We now know a lot more about what we need when touring in the future. In addition, instead of omplaining to the Rave (which would've probably been ineffective) I wrote an email to Station 4.

If you're an Evanescence fan and can attend a concert at a decent location, I would encourage you to go. Amy Lee is exceptionally talented. What a shame that we were in the same room as someone of her caliber and couldn't enjoy it.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Good Charlotte Concert

In my last post I mentioned the Good Charlotte concert we would be attending on October 6. This is a group that constantly talks about the importance of their fans. On October 6 Good Charlotte proved that they mean what they say.

The evening started with a certain amount of frustration. The time and venue of the concert had changed, and nobody was able to tell us when the meet-and-greet was. Ultimately everybody just went to the venue a little early. After doors opened, we were told to stay in an area in the back of the venue. Around 6:00 we were taken to an alley where the meet and greet was held.

Security at the venue was trying to push everybody through as quickly as possible. There was another warm-up band playing, and they wanted us all back in the building before the band started. The good news, though, is they let me in with my daughter and niece. They didn't have to do that.

This is where I started to personally like the band members. I have been reading that some consider them a bit stuck-up. I've read that they only pretend to like their fans. If this is true, they do a pretty good job of acting.

When my niece and daughter went through, both wanted a picture. Despite security, band members obliged them. In fact, my daughter ended up getting a picture with two of them. Another fan got even got a hug after asking for one. The only people complaining was the venue security.

The concert itself was a lot of fun. They played a couple of new songs, but mostly familiar tunes. They like a lot of audience participation, and they got it.

I have to note here that the bass guitar and drumming were both exceptional. I commented to my daughter that the bass guitarist must have a background in electric guitar, and she confirmed he did. As far as the drummer goes, I haven't heard drumming that good for...well, I won't say how long. Let's just say it's been a long, long time.

This is not to say they weren't all great, because they were. It's just that usually the lead singer(s) and guitarists are the musicians of note. Drummers and bass players seem to be less noticeable. In this group, all of them worked well together, and all had their time to shine.

However, as good as the concert was, the best memories for my daughter and niece are of the meet and greet and after the concert. When the music was finished, fans left the building and stood in line outside, hoping for autographs. Band members came out one at a time for autographs and pictures. Billy took time to pose with everybody who asked him. Paul was willing to hug my niece and daughter when they asked. When those two wished him happy birthday, you could see he was surprised and pleased

For those who comment that Good Charlotte members just act like they like their fans because it's good business, they may be right. I'm not one of them and can't get in their heads. However, even if it is a calculated business decision, it certainly gives fans more than their money's worth.

As my daughter and niece continue in their musical careers, they saw a good example of how to treat others. They walked away saying that no matter how tired they are after a concert, they plan to emulate Good Charlotte. They will never forget how to treat their fans.