Saturday, 13 September 2014

What it meant to me will eventually be a memory...

Last night.

Holy hell.

I still can't process everything that happened.

Last night was my first show on the Carnivores Tour. My first time seeing Mars since the Australian shows (164 days ago, just quietly. Not that I'm counting.) My first time seeing Linkin Park -- or any band that isn't Mars, really. And wow. What a night.

The show was in Irvine, which is about an hour out of LA. We (Bec, Jessie, Kim, my Mum and I) road tripped it together in Bec's car. The trip seemed to last forever because of the traffic, but we had Mars to keep us company so it wasn't too bad.

We arrived at the venue early to drop Kim off for her Meet and Greet with Mars (Linkin Park have been doing Meet and Greets too). Bec, Jess, Mum and I didn't haven't a Meet and Greet last night, so we went over to the nearby shopping complex and killed some time. And I do mean killed. I swear time has never moved so slowly in my life!!

Once it was finally closing in on show time, we headed back to the venue. It was interesting to sit in the car and watch how many people were sporting Linkin Park tees and how many were wearing Mars tees. Linkin Park fans (LPU) had us (The Echelon) outnumbered by a fair margin, so I was a little concerned that the people around me wouldn't be jumping and going crazy like I wanted to. But I pushed that thought aside and we went inside the venue.

The first thing we saw when we got inside was the Adventures tent, so we decided to hang around there because we wanted to say hi to Reni. After a few minutes Dai came over, and we started freaking out like fools. "Oh my God. Is that Dai??? Is it?? Quick, check her instagram!" Hahahaha oh dear. By the time we realized it was in fact Dai, she had moved on. We were a little disappointed as she had tweeted us earlier in the day telling us to come and say hello at the show, and it felt like we had missed our opportunity. For those of you who don't know, Dai is the head of VyRT. VyRT is a social platform created by Jared and the good people at The Hive, which bands use to share content such as livestreams, group "skypes" and real-time chat with 'fans'. It is concentrated awesomeness.

We decided to hang around the Adventures tent for a little while longer to see if she came back, and sure enough, she did. This time Jessie called out to her so she came over to say hello. We showed her our Team Rayon bracelets* and she said "Oh I was looking for you!" and starting chatting to us. It was completely amazing. She was so friendly and sweet, and stayed talking to us for about 15 minutes until she got called away. Some highlights included her loving Jessie's tattoo, laughing about bringing out the Louisiana boy inside of Jared and Vegas secrets. Amazing. As she left we all quietly screamed inside but tried to look calm as she was still standing at the tent and would hear and see anything we did. Haha.

We were pretty much paralyzed with "OH MY GOD"-ness, so we stayed where we were. An Adventures rep (Lisa) came over and said hello to us, and started talking to us about Meet and Greets and trying to sell us an after show Meet and Greet. Let me tell you, she very nearly did. It scary how my mind works when it comes to Mars, haha. "Oh it's ONLY $250!" In what world is $250 an amount attached to "only"? Only on Mars. We didn't end up buying one given that we have Meet and Greets for the next five shows, but it was a true test of willpower.

After Lisa left, we noticed Emma standing in the Adventures tent. For those of you who don't know, Emma is Jared's "bigger and better brain," as he so often puts it. She started as his assistant years and years ago, but has since become his business partner (is that the way to describe it? I don't even know!) We wanted to go say hi to Emma, but she can be a little intimidating. Bec really wanted to give her a Team Rayon bracelet, so Jessie volunteered to be the one to do it. We all went over to the tent, and Jess gave her the bracelet. Emma took it, thanked us and said she loved it and appreciated it so much, and then put it on! I swear in that moment Bec died, given that she and Jess made those bracelets. Jess also gave one to Dai, who said that she already had the one she'd bought, but she took it and put it on anyway. Emma asked us about Meet and Greets as well, and also encouraged us to buy an after show package. It was NOT easy to say no! After we spoke for a few more minutes it was time to go inside, so she said she hoped we had fun at the show and we left. And died inside.

We went to get some water to help us calm down, and bumped into Reni. We spoke to her for a few minutes and told her we'd be seeing her properly at the coming shows. We then went back to the tent because I wanted to ask Emma a question about the upcoming shows. She was very sweet and helpful which made me slightly less intimated by her. Haha.

By the time we got inside, AFI were halfway through their set. I hadn't planned on missing them, but given the choice of meeting Dai and Emma or watching AFI, it isn't hard to guess what I would pick!

When AFI ended, the wait for Mars began. My heart was all fluttery and I tried to distract myself by fiddling with the settings on my camera. Then, after what felt like a lifetime, the lights dimmed (although it was an outdoors venue) and the old school chanting music from the A Beautiful Lie era began. My heart was pounding as I stared at the stage, waiting for the first glimpse of the owners of my heart. I swear my heart felt like it was going to leap out of my chest and run away with them when they finally appeared on stage.

They opened the show with Up In The Air, which was strange at first because at the Australian shows they closed with it. I had made the decision to try to take some good pictures this tour, but within seconds I was up on my feet and jumping like crazy. It's just impossible not to!! I did take a lot of pictures last night (over 700!) but a lot of them are super blurry. Oh well :3
The setlist was different to the LOVE LUST FAITH DREAMS tour, but only really in the order. Not that it matters. I could listen to them sing the same song over and over again and never get sick of it. In fact, that's pretty much all I do.

After Up In The Air came Search and Destroy, then This Is War and Conquistador. By the end of those three songs I had no voice left, but that didn't stop me from singing at the top of my lungs. I did my best to take some good pictures, but that man is like the energizer bunny. He is never in the same place for more than a second. That did give me quite a few awesome hair porn shots, though!

When they played Kings and Queens and City Of Angels, I cried. I'm not even ashamed to say that. It was even better because they had the short films playing on screens in the background, and watching those knowing that I had now visited many of those locations...There's no feeling on earth that can compare to that. None. During Kings and Queens he ran out into the crowd, which I love. Sometimes I worry about him doing that (after that incident that we will never speak of again) but this crowd was good and you could see he loved doing it.

Do or Die was up next, along with End Of All Days. He dedicated End of All Days to the dreamers, the believers, and to the people who want to do something special with their lives. I teared up again. I'm sure some of you may wonder how hearing something that I've heard him say so many times can still affect me so deeply, but I can't really explain it. His words hit me right in my core every single time. It's like when I hear the hawk at the beginning of Kings and Queens...It causes a physical reaction in me Every. Single. Time. It hits me and it hits me hard. It's the best feeling in the world.

Next up was the acoustic set, which he played fairly close to my seats (relatively speaking). He brought up a little girl to talk to -- who was adorable by the way -- and told a girl who was fondling his leg to get a therapist. Ha! He then sung The Kill, and I got my favourite pictures of the night. He is so damn amazing. I can't even describe it.

After The Kill he invited everyone to the signing, and after staying strong for hours, I caved and decided to buy the CD so I could go say hello to him in person. I know! I know! I'm weak! It's pretty funny really because Bec, Jess and I all agreed that we wouldn't do it because it was $40 to buy the CD and we all already have like a million copies of it, but we should have just accepted that we are powerless against him. We can't say no.
They closed the show with Closer To The Edge, which made me happy because it is my mum's favourite song. She calls it "the one with the drums."

After the show, we rushed to the merch stand to get our CDs. It was so stressful just standing there waiting because I'd heard that the guys had left the signing early the night before. I didn't want to miss it. We bought our CDs, joined the enormous line, and wrestled with the packaging on the CDs. Every time I open a CD now I can just hear Jared in my head: "It's like the worse experience ever. You can't get it opened, you chip your tooth, cut your finger and then the fucking thing breaks anyway!" So accurate, haha.

After an eternity, the line began to move, and move quickly. I felt sick and was breathing weirdly because I hadn't mentally prepared myself for seeing them in person until the Artifact screening and the Hollywood Bowl. Suddenly I was standing in front of Shannon. I put the CD on the table and he looked up briefly and said "thank you" as he signed it and slid it across to Tomo, who glanced up as he signed it but didn't say anything. Then I was standing in front of Jared, who looked up, said a very soft "hello", signed my CD, thanked me and smiled. Needless to say by the time I was out of that line, my hands were trembling. Sometimes I wonder if he's ever going to stop having that effect on me, and then I laugh because what a stupid question.

Once we all had our CDs signed, we went back to the merch store since it was virtually empty. I bought some merch and went to find my mum, who didn't want /another/ signed CD. What's wrong with her?? Haha. She and I went back inside for Linkin Park, and Bec and Jessie stayed outside. They actually gave their tickets away to two girls who didn't have tickets, which was a very sweet and generous thing to do.

When we got in for Linkin Park, I noticed a change in the atmosphere immediately. The venue was completely packed, for one -- which it hadn't been for Mars -- and almost everyone was on their feet. However. There were very few people jumping around and losing their minds. Even in the pit. The pit actually looked calmer for Linkin Park than it did for Mars! This is just what it looked like to me, of course, as I was in the seats and can't know for sure. But I had been afraid of being in the pit during LP, and based on what I saw, I'm not afraid anymore.
Linkin Park put on a great show, but, in my personal opinion, it's nothing on Mars. During the Mars shows the passion and and energy of the crowd is palpable. Even people who don't really like or know them can't resist standing up and jumping when Jared instructs them to do so. Of course this may have something to do with threats against their testicles**, but I can't be sure, haha. Chester is a wonderful front man, but watching him perform is exactly that: Watching him. There's very little crowd interaction, and for the most part he stays in one place as he sings. Compare that to Jared, who is like the energizer bunny after fifteen cups of Shannon's coffee. The pictures I took really highlight this difference: Almost every picture I took of Chester is clear and in focus, whereas 90 percent of my pictures of Jared are either a Jared-shaped blur or a flick of his hair. Not that I'm complaining!

I'll be honest and say I expected to be more moved by the Linkin Park set, given that they were like my Mars before I had Mars. Don't get me wrong: I had an amazing time screaming along to the soundtrack of my youth, and couldn't speak by the end of it. But I didn't feel it the way I feel Mars, you know? There was no physical reaction. No feeling that started deep in my core that burst out of me and made me want to fly. No tears, no being compelled to raise my hands and scream, shout and laugh uncontrollably because I was so insanely happy. It was just a nice experience. A good show.

One thing that did really strike me was how much I have changed. Linkin Park were my go-to band when I was at my darkest and twistiest because they made me feel like it was okay to feel that way. That it was okay to feel alone and upset and like you don't have a place in the world. What's interesting is that even though their lyrics expressed exactly how I felt inside, I didn't feel a sense of belonging with them or other LP fans. I didn't feel like, "Oh, these are my people." It was more like they gave me permission to 'feel my feelings' and a means of expressing those feelings. Contrast that to Mars, who are my go-to band in every situation imaginable, and who make me feel hopeful and inspired even when that seems impossible. In fact, I realized after the show that during "Somewhere I Belong" I had been clutching my triad necklace so tightly that it had imprinted into my palm.

Leaving the venue after the show, I found myself in a very reflective mood. I didn't set out to compare the two bands, but I couldn't help it. They are both incredible, for sure, but nothing could ever come close to Mars. Nothing. Every time I see Mars live, it affects me. Deeply. I could go to every show they ever do and it would never be enough. Ever. They fill me up in a way that I can't put into words. I actually think they've ruined other bands and concerts for me, because I'll always be searching for that feeling and will never be able to find it outside their shows. Sometimes I get a little worried that I might ruin them for myself by listening to them too much, but we're going on two years of listening to almost every song every single day, multiple times a day, and I only love them more. That's never going to change. I know that beyond a shadow of a doubt. As for Linkin Park, they'll always have a special place in my heart and I'll always enjoy their music, but I don't think they'll ever mean what they used to mean to me. That's not a bad thing; if anything it speaks to how far I've come in my life. I've clawed my way out of the permanent dark and twisty place (I still fall back into the temporary one sometimes) and I'm never, ever going back. What it meant to me will eventually be a memory...


And so it begins.

TITLE LYRICS: "In The End" by Linkin Park

*Follow @beccjay and @kick_ya_boots on Twitter for more information about Team Rayon and to help support AIDS research.

**Jared instructs people standing near people sitting down to "lift them up by their testicles," haha. Oh Jared.

For more posts about my adventures in The City Of Angels, click HERE.