Friday, August 28, 2009

My Friends are Insane, Vol. 1

Insane, but awesome.

The background information.

So you think you like music, huh? Well, I happen to have a couple of friends who like music more than you do. More specifically, these hooligans like a semi-local band called the Avett Brothers. Innocently enough, my wife and I invited our friend Ginger to go to a concert with us several years ago to hear this band. They were from our area and one of the band members was in school at Winthrop during the same time I was there. Ginger came along to that concert and soon after, she was hooked.

Enter The Casey. I think I've been formally introduced to The Casey about 19 times. 10 of those introductions came from the same guy who kept forgetting that we'd met. The Casey left our little town for a while to live on the salty side of the state but when invited to join our odd little band of unlikely concert-goers, she accepted and her membership was quickly and unanimously approved.

Over the years we've expanded our group of miscreants (Molly, Sandy, Josh), but the dedication of Ginger and The Casey has really shamed all the rest of us. And last month they stepped up that dedication with an incredible music related journey.

After graduation The Casey moved out west chasing after the mountains and streams of Colorado. Ginger loves to travel and it's nothing for her to hop on a plane and leave the hungry citizens of our town to deal with their hunger in her absence (she co-owns a restaurant and catering business. leave a comment if you'd like contact information). So in a perfect storm type of scenario, the two of them found out the Avett Brothers were playing 4 concerts in 4 nights in The Casey's new state and they quickly made plans to tag along. This plan left the rest of us dumbfounded. And envious.

However, through the miracles of technology and with some TLC from Steve Jobs (iphone) and Al Gore (internet) I was able to experience the trip virtually and live vicariously through them for a week. Here's what happened:

Ginger began her 17 1/2 hour journey by driving to the airport and quickly making her way to a large building in Denver only to find The Casey being interrogated by some guys in uniforms. After shooing away the Moonies, they loaded up all their Avett related items and took to the highway for a long drive across the state. From the airport in Denver they drove almost non-stop to Telluride. Because of the shady work of the aforementioned Mr. Jobs and Mr. Gore, their electronic devices led them down a dirt road that gave them this view out their windshield:

This was the first time The Casey began to wonder what she had gotten herself into. But after only a few minor wild animal encounters and only one technical mauling, the dynamic duo arrived at their first musical destination.

At this point everything felt like a regular vacation. Our friends woke up refreshed in a new town feeling some excitement over their expectations. They woke up and prepared themselves for an eventful day.

Then they walked a bit and found some food to fortify them for their adventure.

After some exploring they boarded a gondola and made their way up a little hill.

By the way, that's Ginger with the movie star shades and The Casey with the cool hat. I probably should have introduced you earlier, sorry. Anyway, the view from my house (provided by Ginger's iphone) was amazing...

Like any truly dedicated fan would, they arrived early enough to scout out the best spots for enjoying the concert. These first two shows were free outdoor festival shows so they had no idea what type or size of crowd to expect. They secured a spot on the lawn at a reasonable distance with a blanket and then explored a little more. When they came back the spectators were filling in the space better and they realized that they could easily strong-arm their way right up to the front of the stage. And when I say "the front of the stage", I mean, right here:

That little fella never stood a chance. Moments later his view became the back of our friends' heads.

Of course the concert was amazing, especially from just a couple of feet away and the photos were streaming in...

Scott on banjo, Seth on guitar

Bob hiding behind the bass

They danced, they sang, they screamed, and at times you could hear the band too. But morning came too soon and with another day, there was another concert to attend and another city to find. Our ladies got an early start. The Casey hoped her coffee would help her navigate the dirt roads with a clear head.
And when the coffee didn't work, she began to question the sanity of all this. "Are we really doing this?" she asked. "CAN we really do this?" Overwhelmed by the lack of answers and the full schedule still looming, she briefly contemplated throwing herself in the river.

Ginger caught her in time and they were soon headed back out in search of....

Steamboat Springs was the next concert stop and as they made it to town, they saw a familiar site...the Brothers' tour bus. Knowing they were in the right spot, they did their best to gear up for another night of dancing, flailing, and singing at the top of their lungs. They were never embarrassed to sing. But first, The Casey again, ever so briefly contemplated the fragility of life.
Ginger was there again to lift her spirits and they were all smiles for the show that was about to begin.
But first, they needed to muscle their way back up to the front of the crowd. Thanks to Ginger's newly acquired taser, this was no problem whatsoever.
All along the way our ladies were having close encounters of the Avett kind. Maybe it was coincidence or maybe Carolinians just gravitate toward one another naturally, but day by day Ginger and The Casey seemed to be brushing shoulders with the band. During one of these early encounters some goofball guy standing beside them spoke to Seth Avett and offered him $20 for his vest. I'm not sure what that was about, but I'm pretty sure alcohol was involved. Seth declined and seemed offended that some random dude thought he was wearing a cheap vest. See, these are the kinds of first person stories we had streaming into our living room for 4 consecutive nights last week. And while I did not miss the crowd interactions nor the smells, I did miss out on the music.
And from what I heard, the music was really good. This second night was even better than the first and the energy seemed to be building. And it spread.

My favorite band member is above with his cello. I'm talking about Joe Kwon, not the giant goatee guy in the foreground. Ginger sent this photo for two reasons. First, she knows I love Joe and his energetic playing and second, because the giant goatee guy in the foreground looks very much like one of our other mutual friends. As it turns out, the giant goatee guy was one of an entire group of fans who had the same idea to attend all four shows in Colorado that week.
After another great show our heroes were up early the next morning to drive over to The Casey's new home in Boulder.
This was to be their first paid admission show and the reality of all this seemed to be settling in on the two of them. Ginger was thinking that there was no way they would be able to repeat their front row status for a third night. Their years of living on earth seemed to be catching up with them, along with two nights of savage dancing, and both of them were thinking that it wouldn't be so bad to sit down for this concert. After all, the last two nights were amazing and they'd remember them forever. There was no sense in getting all crazy and obsessive about it. Right?

Right. That is, until they arrived at the Boulder Theater and saw the familiar tour bus again.

And here's where we need to talk about stalking. I suppose if Ginger and The Casey decided to travel all around a particular state for four consecutive days following a regular citizen, the authorities would have to be involved in some unpleasant manner. But if they want to follow a band this way, the rules are different. It is somewhat normal to become interested in the members of a band or public group and if you just happen to be sitting across the street from a tour bus with a camera and one of the members of that band or group just happen to exit the bus and walk by, there's nothing wrong with that. With that in mind, I present one such photo for your enjoyment here in a view that I like to call Stalkervision:

That's Bob again

After having decided to take it easy and enjoy the night's concert from afar, Ginger and The Casey soon found themselves scratching, clawing, shoving and punching their way to the front. This was night 3 and they had made quite a name for themselves among the Avett-heads so most knew to step aside when they came bursting through. Hammering their way through the pit, they finally ended up right here:
That's Ginger resting up stage front for the show. And this was her view:
That's close. And while you'd think that on the 3rd night in a row the band might be getting tired, not to mention our traveling friends getting tired, the experience proved just the opposite was true. The Brothers were pumped up and Ginger and The Casey fed off the energy of the bodies in their path and the romping and stomping went on in full force.

The next morning was odd. In the comfort of The Casey's home the two of them could barely comprehend what they had experienced. There were moments where each was unsure of what town they were in. Had they really just seen 3 concerts in a row? Had Ginger really flown most of the way across the country for this experience?
Just as The Casey was about to contemplate the river one last time, she remembered that she had to work because she's a hard, hard worker everyday. Yes, The Casey has a job, contrary to the beliefs of some of her family members, and this was a day she had planned to work since she had shifted her schedule hastily around this music event. She decided that since Denver was only a few minutes away, she would work her shift and then after grabbing a bite to eat the two of them would again find their way to the tour bus and see one last great show.
This time they didn't bother with thinking about sitting down in the back of the concert hall. After Ginger spent her afternoon wandering about Boulder and practicing ninja moves she would use on the unfortunate pit dwellers, she picked The Casey up and they dashed to Denver.
They were running a little late this time and they were starting to worry that being tardy might endanger their chances at a front row spot. Squealing into town on two wheels they frantically searched for the venue when they ran right guessed it....the tour bus. With only seconds to react, The Casey points to a vacant parking spot and Ginger's reflexes slide the car into the spot - the spot right beside the tour bus. In one of those moments of realization where words fail, they simply got out and began to gather their belongings so they could rush over to get in line.
Back at my house the phone dings. The wife picks it up and begins reading out loud. She pauses until it dings again. She reads. Pause. She reads again. Soon we realize we are getting the up to the minute report on the latest Avett experience. When our heroes got out of the car suddenly Scott Avett appears around the corner of the bus and strikes up a conversation with them both. The Casey, perhaps strengthened by beverage, talks a little smack to Mr. Avett, pats him on the back and informs him that she's expecting him to "bring it" on this last night in Colorado.
After making the scene four nights in a row, Ginger and The Casey had earned a certain status with the local Avett-heads. But after witnessing the two having a casual conversation with one of the stars of the show, the Avett-heads began to bow to their new masters. Our friends were more or less ushered to the front of the already winding line and used no force as they walked right up to their usual place right up against the stage.
Still the day, the week even, seemed surreal. The music and dancing and singing left them euphoric. Hey look, there's Bob again.
He keeps the time. He also sang a few of his songs during this trip which is a rare and tasty treat. In a related note that will make no sense to anyone but Ginger and The Casey, they admitted that Bob is the most handsome and well dressed band member. The wife still adores Seth.
Maybe I should mention stalking one more time. I dont want to incriminate anyone so I'll try to be vague. Below is a photo of a port-o-john. There may or may not be an Avett in there. I'm just saying.
I'm kidding.
As far as you know.
Some final things:
The Casey apparently works in an old fashioned elephant saloon. I'm not sure if the patrons ride elephants or if the bar is actually for the elephants. It's more fun to not know for sure.
And these two photos I simply can not explain. But here's The Casey in a phone booth for some reason:
And just in case any of you out there are looking for new employees, The Casey is a recent graduate of a very respectable southern University. She has an Art History degree, she's very cool and I hear she likes music.

And that's Ginger trapped in the same phone booth. She's the best caterer around but she's not afraid to go soup nazi on you if you get a little too demanding. Seriously, wedding cakes, lunch specials, receptions, parties, whatever you got, she's got something tasty to go with it.
And finally, with my most sincere apologies to The Casey, Ginger slipped me a large sum of cash to post this photo of The Casey in mid-sushi-chomp:

1 comment:

Paula Gillman & Co said...

its exciting when fans follow their band like that!
nice photo documentation!