I woke up pretty late on Saturday morning, long after Dave, so he went out and got us bagels and Nesquik for breakfast. We lazed around for a couple of hours, and then it was time for him to go to work. I got dressed in jeans and a tank top, figuring that I would tough it out through the cold from the car to the concert and back again, but it turned out to be a beautiful, warm day. I cleaned out the car, changed out a bad headlight bulb, and waited for Matt to get out of work. Ira also met us at the house, and we headed down to the Junkyard to pick up Tom. He had been waiting for us only a few minutes, and it was only about three in the afternoon, but when Tom got in the car we found out he'd had a couple of shots of Jameson and reeked of alcohol. This contributed to some hilarious conversations on the way to Asbury Park, NJ, punctuated by Tommy telling us to "Stay left!"
We got down there in plenty of time, parked a couple of blocks away, and walked to the Convention Hall. When we were still pretty far away, some guys walked up behind us and asked if we had any extra tickets. Tom had been trying to get rid of the other ticket he bought all night and all morning, and was happy to sell it for face value. We walked to the entrance and saw a long line stretching down the boardwalk. Just as we got to the end, the doors opened, and we all filed in to get frisked, IDed, and wrist-banded. The entrance way was a large, wide room, with a bar in the center. There was a line of porto-potties, vendors selling t-shirts, and even an Ernie Ball station where you could test out some guitars. This room became our home base for the rest of the night, especially because we found out that smoking was allowed there. Our first stop was the bar, to begin catching up with Tommy. Ira had his usual vodka straight, and Matt started with beer. Tom offered me a drink in return for driving down, so I agreed to have whatever he was having: Jameson on the rocks. Complete with drinks, we hung around for about a half hour, and had run-in with a couple of girls from Sugar Hooker. We put our names in for a guitar-giveaway and were abused by their inflatable clubs for a while, then headed into the hall itself.
We ran straight upstairs to get some more drinks. On either side of the second floor, there were designated areas for alcohol with two bars. The others had shots, while I just picked up a beer. We pounded them quickly, then headed around to look at the merch for sale. I signed up where ever I could to win guitars, and Tommy got abused by the Sugar Hookers again. After a quick run downstairs to see who was playing, and it was a Japanese band that we didn't know, so back upstairs for some more beer. While hanging out in the Beer Garden, we devised a plan to ambush the Sugar Hookers for some retaliation. At this point, we know that one of the girls has her boyfriend there with her, but she's still flirting with the guys, so why not make it worse? We inflated our clubs, finished our beer, then headed around to look for them. We eventually found them downstairs, and the guys attacked. The looks the boyfriend was giving us could have killed the whole group.
At this point, I started getting text messages from my co-worker Garry, who was there with his friend Lina, and our friend Joey, who was there with friends we didn't know. We found Garry and Lina, but lost Matt. We were able to find Matt hanging out with Joey, but lost Garry again. Tommy, Ira, and I went back upstairs for another beer, and lost everyone else. While in the Beer Garden, we heard Bullet for My Valentine begin, and we ran back downstairs. I only watched a couple of songs, not being very into the band. After they finished, we went back out into the entrance way for a cigarette, and we were able to get everyone together, including finding Tommy's brother. Tommy gave me his wallet and phone to prep for the pit, and he, his brother, Ira, and I went down to the right front for Atreyu. We got right into the mix of it: Tommy and his bro holding their own in the pit, Ira and I pushing forward with the crowd. Ira and I were able to stay within a couple of feet apart, though not right next to each other. The crowd was pretty rough; I was getting pushed around hard, but everyone around me was at least nice. At one point, someone stepped on the bottom of my pant leg and pushed me away from them hard enough that I lost my sneaker. I let Ira and the rest of the people around me know it was missing, and people kept an eye out for it the rest of the time. I wasn't familiar with Atreyu going into the show; Matt had given me two of their cds, but I hadn't had time to listen to them beforehand. The crowd was really into their music, and they had so much energy that it was contagious. The band looked like they were working hard and having fun, and the music flowed in a way that I could predict where it was going and stay right with them. By the end of their set, I couldn't wait to get back in the car and throw in an Atreyu cd. Just before the last song, Ira found my shoe, and the guys around me cleared out a space so that I could get it back on. By then, I was just tired of being shoved, and beat a swift retreat to the entrance way for a cigarette. I found Tommy out there, and he explained that he had suffered an asthma attack in the pit, and had also been knocked over and re-sprained his ankle.
Once again, we gathered everyone up. Joey and Matt said that the left side of the stage was a little calmer during Atreyu, and they were headed back there. Ira, Tommy, and I ran back up for another beer, and I told Tommy that I would keep in company sitting down if he couldn't stand. While he drank his beer, Ira and I stood at the top of the stairs to watch Avenged Sevenfold get started. They were about two chords in when I realized that this wasn't going to happen. I asked Ira to wait there for Tommy, told Tommy that Ira was there, and ran downstairs. The person I was most interested in seeing was Zacky Vengeance, the lefty rhythm guitarist, being a former lefty myself. He was on the left side of the stage, where I knew Joey and Matt were, so I went over and found them. By the end of the first song, I couldn't stand outside anymore, and set my sights on the rail.
The crowd wasn't as harsh as during Atreyu, either because it was a different band or because it was the other side of the stage. When the third song started, I was only two people back from the rail, and had a great view of Zacky. I couldn't see most of the rest of the stage, though, because of some very tall guys that were surrounding me. I had my camera and planned to take pictures, but got so wrapped up in the music that I didn't remember to. By the end of that song, I had made it to the rail, and was basking in the wonder that is up-close-and-personal live music. I honestly couldn't tell you what they played, all songs I knew, though I vividly remember 'Seize the Day' because they had Johnny Christ open it.
At one point, the crowd-surfing got pretty out of control. There were so many people coming up to and over the rail that security couldn't keep up. Someone flew over my head and wasn't caught by anyone, and so crashed to the floor on the other side of the barrier. Unfortunately, he took my left arm along with him, and smashed it down onto the metal bar, just above my elbow. I'm still not exactly sure how my arm didn't break; I guess it was in just the right spot. I moaned a bit, but held my ground right through to the end.
Following the show, I beat a hasty retreat into the entrance hall to meet up with the boys. Joey and his friends had already left, as had Garry and Lina, but I found Tom, Matt, and Ira pretty quickly. We headed out into the cold, past the buses, and to our car. The long ride home was amusing, with Ira and Tommy calling requests into the local college radio station. As usual, we all had a blast together, and my favorite band was a sight to behold.