Tuesday, April 1, 2008

You're Once, Twice...

The week that began with Taste of Chaos-Asbury Park was packed full of activity and music.

That Monday was St. Patrick's Day, and Dave and I ended up at a Korean bar in Palisades Park, NJ, with a bunch of friends. The table was packed with mini kegs of Coors Light, platters of roasted chicken, and shots of soju. We all got pretty rowdy, and it ended up being a great time.

Wednesday was a typical night out. The indoor soccer season ended the week before, but the league was able to get some field time at the Teaneck Armory-Soccer Coliseum, so I headed down there for a quick pick-up game. I got home a little later than usual, and Matt was already at the house. I walked up stairs and found him sitting on my living room floor with one of my guitars, just playing away. I took a quick shower, and we headed down to the Junkyard to hang out with the Wednesday regulars and Lifespeed.

On Thursday, Dave, Matt, and I drove out to Farmindale, Long Island for the Unsigned Band Festival at the Crazy Donkey. A couple of months before, I had agreed to drive Ira to a show in exchange for a free ticket. He wanted to see Life of Agony, who I was not familiar with, but I'm always up for a show. There were three other bands playing that night at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, and the first one was called Dead Seven. These guys were obviously a local band, but they put on an energetic show, and the crowd really enjoyed them. Afterwards, we briefly met the lead singer, and eventually found them on Myspace. I had kept an eye out for any shows they would be playing, and when the bass player posted a bulletin about this Farmingdale show, I jumped on it. I payed $10 each for four tickets, thinking it would be a fun night out where we would get to see a bunch of different bands.

Ira was also supposed to be coming with us, but he backed out at the last minute. Dave and I picked up Matt from his job around 7 PM, and we drove nearly an hour and a half (and over $15 in tolls) out to Long Island. The Crazy Donkey is a cool place, with two bars set up at the back of the room, one a few steps up from the other. We found a high top table and settled in with some Sam Adams White Ale. The sound at this place was terrible, with all of the lead guitars turned up way to loud, and all of the lead vocals turned way down low. The crowd seemed to be mostly high school students in the beginning, but it got a little bit older as the night went on. There were plenty of people walking around to chat about and make fun of. We ended up seeing six different bands perform for about twenty minutes each, the second-to-last of which was Dead Seven. Matt and Dave felt that they were the best band of the night, with none of the teeny-bopper-pop-feel of the rest of the bands. Overall, it was a great time, and we headed home happy.

On that Friday, I went directly from work to a gluten-free show outside Philadelphia. My boss and I demonstrated and sold our products, then had a great dinner and headed home. I think I walked in the door and collapsed into bed around 1 AM.

Saturday, I was supposed to be going into New York to see Dead Seven play at another bar, but Joey suddenly had extra tickets to see Taste of Chaos in Albany, NY. In exchange for a free ticket, I agreed to drive everybody up to Albany and back, about a two hour and fifteen minute drive. I picked up Joey and Seong in New Milford, NJ, then drove up to Matt's house in Thiells, NY, to pick him up. We made it to Albany about a half hour after the doors to the Washington Street Armory opened, but there was a line all the way around the block. It was really cold and windy, so we went across the street to a bar for a couple of beers. This bar was right out of a scary movie, the kind where the record screeches to a halt when the out-of-place group walks in. The four o'clock patrons were toothless and plastered, and the bartender was lacking most of her hair. About thirty seconds into our beers, Garth Brooks' 'Friends In Low Places' started up, and we exchanged amused glances. We killed some time, and other people clearly attending the same concert wandered in. After a couple of beers each, we went back outside, only to see that the line was still stretching around the block. Figuring it was now or never, we wandered all the way down to the end, and began the cold shuffle up to the front doors.

Our first stop inside was the bathrooms, followed by the beer stand. Unlike Asbury Park, there were no designated areas for alcohol, but on the other hand the only smoking area was outside in the wind. I picked up an Avenged Sevenfold t-shirt, Matt spotted me for an Atreyu sweatshirt, and I stole a bunch of Taste of Chaos picks off of the Ernie Ball guitar area. We all split up for Bullet for My Valentine, as I pushed up to the left side of the stage for a closer look. BFMV once again didn't impress me, and I ended up wandering outside for a cigarette about halfway through their set. It turned out that Joey, Seong, and Matt had the same idea. After our experience in Asbury Park, we were all looking forward to Atreyu's set.

I pushed up to the front right side for Atreyu. The crowd was far less rough than the previous week, and it was easy to move around. Since I had been listening to Matt's Atreyu cds all week, I knew all of the songs and got even more into it, screaming along with the lyrics and rocking out with the people around me. Towards the end, a crowd surfer kicked me in the back of the head, and I learned what it means to see stars. At that point, I pushed out of the crowd and went outside, hoping the cold would make me feel better. After a few minutes, the throbbing subsided, and I went back in to look for the guys before Avenged Sevenfold started up. I found them at the right side of the stage, only a couple of feet from where I'd been all through Atreyu. They were settled in there to watch Synyster Gates, Joey's idol, but I wanted to be on the left in front of Zacky again. I left them there and pushed my way straight across to the other side, stopping to talk to a few different people, and even to smoke a cigarette with some guy standing dead center. Before the set even started, I was only two people back from the rail.

While Avenged Sevenfold put on a good show in Asbury Park, seeing the Albany show made it clear that the previous week was simply routine. There were jokes and silliness this time, and sound glitches that even caused them to restart a song. It's odd to admit that there was also a spiritual feeling for me this time: quiet and still, absorbing the music and visuals, surrounded by writhing, screaming teenagers. This time, I remembered to take pictures, though most of them came out extremely blurry. When the show ended, I stood my ground and hoped for some interaction, which was rewarded by a tossed pick that fell to the floor at my feet. I quickly covered it with my foot, not even knowing which band member it had come from. People were scouring the floor looking for mementos, but I just stayed in place and waited for them to give up and move away. Then I scooped up and pocketed my reward. I met the other guys on the way to the exit, and after we left the building, I showed Joey my find: one yellow, skull-printed pick from Zacky Vengeance. Unbelievably, he offered me one hundred dollars for the pick. Perhaps even more unbelievable, I said no.

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