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#CoMoTripn: Los Angeles

Breaking through from the Orange County line into LA county means stopping in my old hood.  While I lived in Belmont Shore for eight years, my favorite spot was Seal Beach.  It’s quaint small town feel, beautiful view from the pier, and excellent sushi restaurant made it a must visit in my travels.

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I could’ve sat there all day. A major thing I miss about California.

With the sun finally out, I enjoyed soaking in the warmth and smelling the sea salt air while I walked up and down wood pier planks.  Everything looking so familiar and foreign at the same time.  I Snap Chatted the calming waves to my Oregon friends, who  were suffering through another fall storm, before heading to my favorite restaurant to have lunch by myself.

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Table for 1

There wasn’t much time to visit some of my other favorite places, such as the fine paper store or the small local shop on Second Street that sells the best gardenia scented candles, due to the looming traffic I knew would be waiting for me in Los Angeles.  By early afternoon I was back on the road heading to Santa Monica to meet up with another old friend.

When I visit LA, I have a pretty sweet deal.  My friend-since-birth happens to have a kickin’ guest house he lets me crash in.  I pulled up by 2:00pm and unloaded all my gear again.  A little shaky from heavy drinking and light sleeping, we caught up on old stories, high school peer updates and such.  He gave me the low down on what I might expect for traffic and how early I would need to leave.  He even dared mention walking a mile to take a train.  WTF?  Uh, no.  Uber it was.  To make up for the hour it was going to take to get to the venue, ritual had to start early and move a bit faster to leave some time to enjoy a cocktail with my friend in his oasis backyard.

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Drinking lemon drops out of a pint glass.  I’m that classy.

Uber picked me up around 5:30pm and we headed into the belly of the traffic beast.  The driver and I talked for a while until I realized I was going to have to keep up conversation for at least an hour.  That’s when I turned to my phone and started with the selfies  I think I might have asked him if that’s what everyone does in the back seat.  He reminded me I probably didn’t want to know what some people did in his backseat.  (Ewww, I’m sitting there.)

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And yes, I matched my hair to my outfit.  (Not really, but people ask that all the time.)

By the time I rolled up to the venue, there was already a line snaked along the building.  Once again, I was alone.  Not even Mother/Daughter would be there for reassurance.  I stopped at the bar first thing for my double vodka soda and about died when I paid $25.00 (without tip yet) for it.  People already lined the barrier by the time I got there.  The nice thing about being alone is I just asked for them to let me in to watch Coast Modern and they did.

After meeting a lovely couple who drank this awful blue thing, our crowd continued to grow steadily.  None had heard of Coast Modern, but were happy to follow them on socials and pose for my pictures.  Finally, there was one person who came for Coast Modern.  Our section cheered like I had found my long lost CoMo fan soulmate and we found out he was a friend of Coleman’s.  Our crowd drank, joked, and had a helluva good time like we had known each other for some time.

And you know what comes next, don’t you?  The show, of course.

I danced around in the thick crowd and pretty much sealed my hair fate.  Then there was the awkward moment when the nice woman from the blue drink couple slumped over the railing.  I offered to take her to the bathroom for her boyfriend, but he declined and left her over the barrier.  This was followed up by a guy telling me I was a “before and after” picture because I looked such a mess by the end.  Uh, thanks?  And my lovely barrier neighbors secured a set list for me to make it three in my collection.  So sweet!

As promised, after Coast Modern finished, I removed myself from the front.  In the back, I ran into Twitter Guy from the night before, chatted for a while with his friend, and watched people buy merchandise.

After the show, I funneled out with the rest of the crowd and waited for Uber to take me back to my friend’s house.  Sitting across the street, I spotted a taco truck the instant my ride pulled up and it reminded me I hadn’t eaten anything since my sushi lunch twelve hours before.  If you know anything about being highly intoxicated, this is the moment where you decide if you don’t get something to eat you will die.

It was at Wilshire Boulevard when I saw an open bar and demanded my Uber driver drop me off.  He tried to protest and explained he’s supposed to take me to the programmed destination.  I relieved him of all worry and had him drop me off on the corner.  There was instant sadness when the bar told me their kitchen closed fifteen minutes before I got there.  He did point me four blocks down to a twenty-four hour Jack in the Box.

As I stumbled down the street towards the red and white beacon, I started to question my life choices that led me to wander aimlessly on LA streets at 12:30am by myself and having no idea where to find my friend’s house. Snuggled inside, I ate curly fries and egg rolls (please remember I’m very intoxicated at this point, don’t judge) and watched a homeless man sing along with this radio.  The cashier chatted with him like they were old friends and I realized I was the intruder to their nightly routine. I uploaded some Coast Modern pics to social media and messaged my sleeping friends in Oregon about what a great time the LA show was before deciding I should  head towards the residential section about a half mile away to try to find my bed.  After a couple wrong turns, and trying to find familiar looking streets, I finally came to my friend’s residence.

He’d given me a key to my cottage in the back and I couldn’t wait to try to catch some much needed sleep.  When I came up to the half wall fence surrounding his property, I realized the gate was locked.  I went into a straight up panic imagining sleeping in his front walkway.  After pacing the length of his property, I committed to hiking up my dress, angling my heeled boots, and scaling the wall.  Yep, I did.  It was only when I had two feet planted firmly on the other side in their beautiful garden did I even consider the fact my key could possibly open the gate.  (Yep, it did.)  Lucky for me that learned lesson came before I faced the full size fence to the backyard.

By the time I crawled into bed I’m pretty sure it was around 2:00am but time is lost on nights like this.  The vodka and sleep deprivation make it difficult to tell which side of the day is up and how many hours have actually passed.  I was back up at 5:00am after three hard slept hours.  I dreaded the seven hour drive to San Francisco with only nine hours sleep over the previous four days.  A Zip Fizz shooter powered me up until I could track down a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf store on the road.  I repacked my suitcase, left my friend’s key, and started the long road to Northern California.

Next up: The Conclusion – San Francisco

 

#CoMoTripn: Santa Ana

It poured rain from San Diego to Cypress and I wondered if I left Oregon at all.  Where was all the sunshine and warmth I remembered from living in Long Beach for eight years?  Sticking to my road trip plan of driving fast to make record times, I ended up at my friend’s home by lunch.  This may have had something to do with the fact she promised to join me at my favorite old Mexican restaurant haunt from fifteen years ago.  (OMG, it was as good as I remembered.)

We did a little shopping, got caught up on recent life events, and headed back to her house for a little more quiet time visiting before my pre-concert ritual.  While I planned to Uber to the event, she agreed to drop me off before her plans even though it would have to be a little early.  A huge score.  With no planned familiar faces at this venue, the ritual brought the needed couple of cocktails before heading to the show.  It was a little surprising to find Disneyland turn-style gating in front of the doors.

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What were they expecting here?

The wait can be painful when alone.  Sometimes I start a conversation with the people next to me, but my neighbors were a “no-go” in this line.  I did see the cute mom/daughter couple at the very front dancing while Coast Modern sound-checked inside.  They waved hellos and kept company with the others who lined up hours before.

The inside of the venue was quite surprising.  Three step down layers led to the stage.  Once again, another gated barrier kept us concert-goers a few feet from the stage’s edge.  This is different from Portland’s smaller venues.  They let you right up close and photographers have to elbow it up with the rest of us.

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I shimmied into a second row position right behind Mother/Daughter.  They were front and center chatting away with the people they met in line.  They saved my place as I procured a vodka soda.  After the second double, I slid right into meeting everyone around.  My favorite was a delightful pair that I found out was a mother and son. (I spent a good five minutes telling the mother it was impossible because she looked so young.)  When I went to take their picture, an amazing thing happened.  A friend I met two years ago in line for The Airborne Toxic Event photobombed the picture.

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Literally the exact moment I found out my friend was able to make it!  And proof this woman did not look old enough to be that guy’s mom.

Needless to say, I flipped the fuck out.  We’d been talking for months since last reuniting at a Dreamers concert in April.  I’d been begging her to join me because she and her husband are such great fans.  They travel great lengths, appreciate the music, and even send care packages while the band tours.  (Who wouldn’t want them as fans?)  I knew they would love Coast Modern just as much as the other bands we share in common.  With them joining, the party really went into full swing.

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Yep, I chat up every person.

It wasn’t long before Coast Modern took the stage and I started my picture-palooza.

The craziest part was this guy next to me who insisted on texting the entire time.  Of course I had to know what was so fucking important you would text during a concert.  It wasn’t a problem to find out because he had his text font size at a giant 144pt or something so I read his screen as he talked about the show.  He was so lost in it, he didn’t even notice when I took our picture.

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Best text line is when he’s trying to describe what Coleman Trapp looks like.  Who texts this?  Take a picture!

After the show, my friends headed back to the merch table, as good fans do, and started to buy gear to support.  On my way back to the bar, the funniest thing happened.  A gentleman stopped me.

Him: “Are you Susan?”

Me: “Yeeahhh??”  (Waiting for it to register that I know him from somewhere even though I’m 800 miles from home.)

Him: “I know you from Twitter.”

Me: “Ooohhh?”

Him:  “I don’t mean for that to sound creepy.”

Funny thing, I then knew who it was.  We chatted for a bit, I tried to buy him a drink, and he introduced me to others he came with.  Once again I was reminded how incredible Twitter can be.  You meet the most amazing people.  And some people think social media is the devil. What do they know?

I took some random shots before my friends and I decided to skip Temper Trap and head to a bar to catch up.

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Scored my 2nd set list on the trip!

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My friend V looking adorable with Luke.

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Selfie with Coleman since Twitter friends were horrified I didn’t take any on night #1.

My darling couple friends drove us to a small, dark bar and we drank the night away madly. The thing about these friends are they are hella fun and don’t even flinch about keeping up with me.  We talked bands, sent snaps, and played in a giant photo booth. This might have been when the night went a little hazy.

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V and S are so good to me!

After hours catching up, they said they would take me back to my friend’s house.  When we walked in the parking lot, I confidently headed to their car and tried to get in the backseat.  Spoiler alert:  It wasn’t their car.  Worst part was the owners of the car were standing next to it and didn’t make a sound as I tried to get in.  Awkward!

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I guess they were chill with me breaking into their car.

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Lucky for me, S and V wrangled me back up and got me back to my place safe and sound.

I stumbled into my friend’s house sometime around 2 am, I think.  She was waiting up for me like the night owl she is.  I confirmed it was another amazing show and pulled myself up the stairs to try to get some sleep before traveling to Los Angeles the next day.

I think I clocked in another three hours of sleep before I was up and packing my bag for another round.  The eyes were a bit redder, I moved a tad slower, and I slammed two Zip Fizzes before leaving the driveway.  Only forty miles to the next show city, so many things to see on the way there, and I might have started to worry a bit if I could make it another three days.

Next up: Los Angeles.

#CoMoTripn: San Diego

For quite some time it’s been my dream vacation to follow a band around for a multi-show run.  There’s something fascinating in experiencing the same show night after night to appreciate the nuances between them.  How do the performers change bouncing from city to city?  Do the different crowds offer different vibes to what seems like a repeat performance?  How does my participation vary after seeing the same show a few times consecutively?

In October, I followed Coast Modern up California’s Interstate 5 for four shows starting in San Diego and ending in San Francisco.  My original plan was to document the trip as it happened.  What better way to get the touring feel than to bust out blogs in between shows.  Uh…here we are over a month later and I’m finally getting my shit together.  What happened you ask?  I got a taste of that touring life and it pretty much kicked my ass.  Between driving, getting settled into the new city, visiting with friends, completing the pre-concert ritual, and drinking heavily, there was little time left after enjoying the show.  Not a bad deal, right?  And after returning home, keying down, suffering through my post concert depression, and regular life duties, I’m finally ready to write about each city and my #CoMoTripn experience. (Yep, you can check out the hashtag on Twitter to see the details when I remembered to add the hashtag.)

San Diego took fourteen hours of drive time from my small Oregon town.  Don’t worry, I stopped overnight at my parents’ home in Bakersfield and had to explain twenty times why I was traveling 1800 miles for a band.  I also caught lunch with my sister in Orange County on my second day’s travel and tortured my teenage nephew with Snap Chat selfies. By the time I pulled into San Diego, I was exhausted and only had a couple hours before starting my concert ritual.  No time for sight-seeing, beach-walking, or sun-soaking.  Instead, I started my cocktail a little earlier than usual and enjoyed the calm.

Lucky for me, a lovely lady name Nerdeebirdee (who I met after battling it out on Dreamers TunesSpeak contest) agreed to meet up with me to catch her first Coast Modern show.  She picked me up, I gave her some cookies, and we headed over to the venue with a packed bakery box for Coast Modern.  As I’ve explained before, treat box delivery is not for the faint of heart.  You get to hold the ten pound box while you try to flag someone down or talk a security guard into taking it inside.  While in line, I had a minor meltdown when my electronic ticket didn’t work.  Panic took over as we were only a few minutes from doors opening.  Nerdeebirdee agreed to hold the box while I went to the box office to figure out what the hell?  (Can you feel the panic in my voice?  Lucky for me no one I know witnessed my increased hysteria and sliding my phone under the bulletproof glass to the chick to prove my ticket didn’t work.)  After a few frazzled moments, I had a ticket in hand.  When I got back in line the box was gone and we were ready for our security pat down.  Who knew San Diego was such a rough place?  I didn’t even know venues still did this.  And this rub was not shy.  Good thing they checked under my bra because who knows what I could’ve been carrying in it.  Spoiler alert: they’re boobs.  After getting all up in there, confiscating Nerdeebirdee’s Polaroid camera, we were finally able to head to the front for our barrier spot.

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Another picture where I have serious scary smile face and isn’t she so cute?

While I’d made great promises about not drinking at the San Diego show, it didn’t hold up.  Although this was the least intoxicated I’ve ever seen a show, I did need a little courage juice to meet so many new people.  I was fortunate to meet some Twitter friends.  The lovely mother/daughter team, 1975mom and Darby Days, were front row with sunflowers in hand for Coast Modern.

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Aren’t they so adorable?  I cropped my giant head out of this picture because it was ruining it.

I also chatted up everyone around me and helped encourage some new fans.  Here are some of the lovelies who agreed to follow the #CoMo gents on social media.

Don’t even think I would consider skipping over my gazillion show pictures.  It’s such a great time watching Coast Modern perform.  They even threw in a twist during Hollow Life where Luke and the bassist switch sides and instruments to finish the song.  When I can get a clear shot in between their constant movement, they’re stunning.  So expressive and engaged in the moment.  Complete fun to watch.  Don’t believe me?  Check it out:

After Coast Modern’s performance, I gave up my barrier spot for the die hard Temper Trap fans.  It’s a crime to have such a position if you don’t know every song.  The front should be shared with the people who adore the band the most.  So I bow out and head back to the merchandise table.  Once again, Coast Modern was gracious with their time between the sets.  They chatted with people, signed set lists, and posed for photos.  I checked back in with the ladies I met before the show.  Each told me how much they like the performance and meeting the band afterwards.  New fans committed.

After Temper Trap wrapped up, the venue had a weird line up thing to get to the merch table.  It snaked to the back wall with Temper Trap fans.  My lovely date Nerdeebirdee stuck around to get some pictures, pick up the merchandise I bought earlier in the night, and retrieve her camera.  Special shout out to Nerdeebirdee for being such a champ with my crazy all night!

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My first Polaroid picture and I even made her autograph it for me.

By 12:30am, I was back in my hotel and prepping for the next day’s travel.  It took me a good two hours to calm down before falling asleep.  As usual when I go to shows, the sleep was brief.  I was back up by at 5:30am to return messages confirming for everyone the first show was as spectacular as I knew it would be.

Next Up: Santa Ana.

A Book of Love

A few years ago I was fortunate to meet the ultimate Airborne Toxic Event fan, Glen Hoos.  He reached out and introduced me to the TATE fan community I’ve grown to adore.  I assumed this was due to my hilarious blog dedicated to documenting my experiences with the band and their concerts.  In actuality, he saw a single tweet where I chomped away on Mikel cookies.  Since then, we’ve met at shows in Seattle and San Francisco, he puts up with all my shenanigans where I embarrass him by telling everyone how famous he is, and fortunately we’ve been long distance friends ever since.

There aren’t many fans who actually “do” anything with their band love.  They may rock out to the song or tell a couple friends, but that’s where their initiative stops.  It certainly doesn’t manifest in starting up a successful blog with a regular posting schedule. <Cough, cough, it’s really tough to punch these out on a regular basis.> And most definitely it doesn’t end up writing a book about your favorite band’s history.

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Here we’ll take a look of the crazy fan who wrote a book about The Airborne Toxic Event.

Breaking Books:  Who is Glen…the man…the myth…the legend? Ha!

Glen Hoos:  Just a guy who’s in way over his head. Husband of one, father of fourteen. Oops, I mean, four. It just feels like fourteen sometimes. I’ve got two teenage daughters, a 12-year-old girl and a six-year-old whirling dervish of a son.

My wife and I engage in what we like to call “extreme parenting.” Our 12-year-old has Down syndrome, and has spent the past two years battling leukaemia. Our son, who we adopted four years ago, has a couple of rare genetic syndromes with big names, an intellectual disability and extreme hyperactivity. So basically, our family is an Event in and of itself.

My work life is spent raising money for the Down Syndrome Research Foundation. And on the side, I kind of like a band.

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BB: How long have you been an Airborne fan and what sparked your passion for them?

GH: I discovered The Airborne Toxic Event in the summer of 2008. A friend introduced me to “Sometime Around Midnight” after we arrived too late to catch their set at Pemberton Music Festival. I was instantly hooked and bought their first album. My appreciation for them steadily grew through the releases of All I Ever Wanted and All At Once.

But the night that changed everything was June 7, 2011. That was the eve of my first Airborne concert, viewed from the front row beneath Anna’s keyboard.

It was a revelation. Four nights earlier, I had seen U2, who had been my musical obsession for 20 years. In my list of top bands, there was U2, and then everybody else was fighting for second. I thought it would always be so. But as the final notes of TATE’s set faded away, I realized that for the first time since I was 15, I had a new favorite band.

BB:  How many concerts have you attended and how many miles have you traveled? What’s the farthest you’ve gone to see them?

GH:  18 shows, and around 9,000 miles of travel from my home base near Vancouver, Canada. (Wow, that sounds like a lot when I put it in writing!) I’ve been to San Francisco twice, Reno, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle and multiple locations here in BC. The furthest I’ve traveled to see them is Red Rocks (Denver), which was a bucket list venue for me.

My furthest show would have been Los Angeles, had life not rudely interrupted. I had tickets to their big homecoming show at the Greek in 2014, but my daughter’s cancer diagnosis hit like a ton of bricks two days before the gig. Needless to say, that put frivolous things like rock shows in their proper perspective really quickly. Still, the fact that I have yet to see them on their home turf is the biggest hole in my TATE fan resume.

BB: Any weird concert traditions you would like to share?

GH:  Don’t think I don’t know why you asked this, Susan!

For the benefit of the reader, my first live Susan experience was at an Airborne show in Seattle in 2013. We already “knew” each other online, and Susan spotted me in a bar, waiting to be let into the venue. She proceeded to offer me every drink on the menu (seriously people, this woman does not take “no thank you” for an answer). I was finally forced to explain to her that I don’t drink any liquids past mid-afternoon on a show day. After spending hours lining up for the perfect spot in the front row, I can’t risk needing a bathroom break once I get in there.

Unfortunately, the older I get, the earlier I have to cut myself off.

There, Susan, now the whole world knows. Are you happy?

BB:  Uh, yeah, seriously I am.  That’s the best story ever.

BB:  When did you start This Is Nowhere and why?

GH:  The short answer is because the band inspires me, and that leads me to try to write it all down.

Beyond that, my other great musical loves, U2 and Springsteen, we’re stoked in large part by the websites atU2.com and backstreets.com, respectively. Both sites are fan-operated, and yet both have an impressive level of professionalism and quality about them I really admired.

As TATE took over first place on my playlist, I would read those sites and think, “Man, if only there was something like this for Airborne.” And then one day it occurred to me: perhaps I could be the one to create it!

Over the subsequent three years, it has grown far beyond what I had envisioned. I just found that I really loved doing it, and I added one piece at a time until it became what it is today.

BB:  Being a fan is one thing, writing a biography is another. What made you want to write a book about them?

GH:  Some times one thing just leads to another…

I recently wrote a whole post on this, so if you want the long version, check that out here. The short version is, I had an idea to write a few articles looking back on key events in the band’s history. Before I started work on any of those, fellow Airborne fan and writer Julie Stoller offered up her treasure trove of TATE articles and interviews that she’d been archiving since the earliest days of their career. Her collection of material was all-encompassing, and it spurred me to sketch out a full history of the band.

It began as a blog series, to be published one chapter at a time, every two weeks for about a year and a half. I kept to that schedule religiously, and partway through I realized that by the end of it, I’d have written a book. So that’s what it became.

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BB:  What is your best TATE memory?

GH:  Through 18 shows, I’ve been utterly spoiled. There are more than I can name. But one moment will forever stand above them all.

To be very honest, I’m quite an insecure person. My paranoia can get the best of me, and at times, I’ve worried that Mikel and the band might disapprove of what I’m doing – whether it’s for being too intense of a fan, or writing something that doesn’t accurately represent them, or whatever.

Which is why the first night of the 2014 Fillmore residency meant so much to me. That night, they were to play their first record in its entirety… and that meant that, for the first time, I would see “This is Nowhere” performed live.

What went down is a bit of a blur. I remember Mikel walking over to my front row perch between he and Anna just before launching into the song, leaning down and shaking my hand. I remember him screwing up a line, glancing over at me and winking. And I remember him coming back over to shake my hand again at the end of the song, this time depositing a guitar pick in my clenched fist.

I have little recollection of the next song, “Midnight,” so stunned was I from what had just taken place. It felt like affirmation of all the time and effort I had poured into the website. He had noticed, and he appreciated it. Honestly, it meant the world.

I’d be lying if I said I don’t still wonder at times if they think I’m nuts, or worse. Maybe they’re horrified that I wrote a book about them.

But then I remember that moment at the Fillmore…

BB: Which member is dearest to your heart and why? Yes, I’m asking you to pick one.

GH:  Okay – honestly, I hate this question. Yes, because I love them all. They are all wonderful musicians and, more importantly, excellent people. But more because, for me, being a fan is more about appreciating and connecting with their work than hero worship. (And yeah, I know that the story above probably comes off as idolization, but it was really more about me just needing my insecurities settled.)

So, with that disclaimer aside and a gun to my head, I guess I’ll have to go with Mikel. At heart, I’m a lyric guy, and as much as I’m addicted to the music, it’s the words that get me every time. No matter what I’m going through in life – and I’ve had the full range of emotional experiences since getting hooked on Airborne – Mikel has a lyric for every moment. Through my daughter’s cancer ordeal, it’s been “The Thing About Dreams”: “Circumstance changes and life’s always calling your bluff. Enough is Enough.”

Plus, early on in the writing of the history of the band, I realized I was really writing Mikel’s story. Airborne is built on Mikel’s experiences and his desire to connect with people through his sharing of those experiences. Everything else in the band is ultimately in service of that objective. He succeeded in connecting with me, and that’s what it all comes down to.

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BB:  If you could create any fantasy TATE experience what would it be?

GH:  Okay, so, I’m super boring. Some fans may wish to join the band on stage to play or sing or dance; I’m quite happy in front of the stage, thank you very much. Others may dream of hitting the bar with them and partying it up, but that’s not really my scene, and then they’d just find out how lame and awkward I really am (though I suspect Anna already knows).

Truthfully, my dream is pretty close to what they did for some lucky fans last year in Philly – an intimate show for about 80 people, with one fan getting to choose the setlist. The winner generously shared his prize and let other fans help choose the songs. I don’t know if I could be as cool as him. I would kill to choose the setlist.

If you want me to jazz up my fantasy a bit, let’s say the show is at one of their old school venues in LA – perhaps the Satellite, formerly Spaceland, or the Echo, where they played their first show.  And maybe I could hit up El Gran Burrito with them before the gig. I can only embarrass myself so much in the course of a taco.

BB:  What’s been the hardest part being a TATE die hard fan?

GH:  For me the hardest parts relate to running the site and writing the book, rather than just being a fan, per se. Not that I’m more important than any other fan, of course; but I think that in becoming a self-appointed TATE reporter/historian, I’ve put myself in some awkward spots and created pressures for myself that go beyond the typical fan experience.

As a fan, I just really want to be a cheerleader. But in my writing, I try hard not to come off as too much of an overgrown fan boy. Going back to atU2 and Backstreets, that’s what I always admired about them. They are fans, yes, but they also report on things objectively, and ask tough questions, and occasionally take unpopular stances on things.

In the past few years, The Airborne Toxic Event has gone through some controversial stuff. I won’t rehearse it all here (it’s in the book!). Covering those events was really difficult.

As a fan, I had my opinions. As a “reporter,” I wanted to be objective and cover all sides. As someone who wants to do right by the band, I desired to present them in a good light. As a representative of the fans to some extent, I wanted to honor the viewpoints of others, even if I didn’t share them.

It was all terribly complicated and more than a little stressful. But no one put that burden on me; I put it on myself. It’s what I signed up for, even if I didn’t know it at the time.

I eventually realized I can’t please everyone; all I can do is seek out the facts to the best of my ability, and write from the heart.

I will say, the ups and downs of the past three years have made for great story. Every good book needs some conflict!

What has made it all worth it are the relationships I’ve built with my fellow fans, and the encouragement they’ve given me along the way. So many have told me that This Is Nowhere has strengthened their love for the band. I’m genuinely proud of that, and I hope the book will have the same effect on those who read it.

Once again, Glen Hoos amazes.  I am fortunate to know him not only as G-Man Superfan (his nickname on my blog) but also as a friend.  If you would like to get your own copy of Toxic History: The Story of The Airborne Toxic Event, you can purchase the hard copy here or the ebook here.

 

After a concert trip to Portland where I saw my favorite new band, Coast Modern, I came back with show highlights for the masses.  A common response I receive after hearing about excessive drinking, front row dancing, and photos with the gents is, “It must be so fun to go to concerts with you.”  I usually point these naive people towards Bestie or Ladyfriend so they can be warned.  Either friend usually chuckles it off and gives a flip warning about how it’s not all fun and games rollin’ with me to a rock show.

So, I thought why not pull back the curtain and walk everyone through my concert rituals.  And yes, there are rituals.  Show all the small details involved when you travel hundreds of miles to experience something dear to my heart.  For this case study, I’m using Coast Modern as my subject since I’m still swooning in #CoMo concert juju.  While I always promise an adventure on these trips, it comes with having to bring the heart of a lion to put up with pretty much twenty-four hours of non-stop action.

1.) The Road Trip Prep:

Even before we hit the road, there’s planning.  Lemon drops are pre-made, unhealthy snacks gathered, and a new wardrobe purchased.  Yep, I buy a new outfit for every single concert.  Do you know how many pictures I take?  There are so many it would be recognizable if you saw the same shirt twice.  Sometimes I might slip one back into the rotation, but years needed to have passed or there’s no photo documentation.  Once everything is prepped, we actually get on the road. Early.

2.) The Drive:

I’m always the driver.  Usually it’s a minimum of five hours to get to the closest venue.  The car ride is part of the excitement.  Those crappy snacks we usually don’t splurge on during regular healthy eating days are busted open in about ten minutes after pulling away from the curb.  Being a passenger in my car is not for the weak spirited.  In my car, you better bring your dancing and singing A-game. We crank up the tunes, open up the sun roof, and jam like no other car is watching, even though they all are.  There are car dance competitions and lip sync challenges posted to everyone in my Snap Chat world.  Which brings me to the next detail and it’s HUGE.

3.) Your Picture Will Be Taken:

No ifs, ands, or buts about this.  You will have your picture taken at every moment on the trip.  It’s one of the rules of being in Susan’s universe.  I photograph everything.  There’s something about capturing a moment in time, a memory.  I can’t pass it up.  It may be something sweet, or crass, even a little embarrassing, but it usually always makes me laugh.  If you hate your picture taken, you might want to decline if I ask you to do anything with me.  Don’t worry, all pictures you hate are quickly deleted.  We are friends, remember?

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Ladyfriend loves selfies.

4.) The Pre-Show:

It starts about four hours before doors open at the venue.  We chill it in our hotel room, pour a cocktail, and start the beauty prep.  Showers, hair, and make up application while blasting music and enjoying the ultimate girl time.  This is one of my favorite traditions in concerting.  Even alone, it’s a time I seriously enjoy.  There’s something meditative about this calm before the storm.

5.) Box Delivery:

Lately I’ve had packages for some of my favorite band peeps and Coast Modern was no different.  You did read about how much I love them, right?  I load up ten pounds in goods to haul over in the Uber, cart around the venue, and beg someone from security to deliver it to the band.  This is not an easy mission, I’ll tell you. In the Coast Modern delivery, it started with me asking one guy guarding the door.  He said he had to radio someone.  Then a woman came out.  She said she had to radio someone.  Before I knew it there were five guys with five walkie-talkies swarming around until one finally said he would deliver.

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Ladyfriend couldn’t believe how difficult a package delivery could be.

6.) Front Row Meet and Greet:

When the doors open, I go for the front.  At Coast Modern, I parked it right under the center mic stand.  Since I’m in position an hour before the show is to start, there’s plenty of time to make friends with everyone around me.  As per usual, I checked with the fifteen people around me to see if they were there for Coast Modern or Temper Trap.  Not surprisingly, the hadn’t heard of the opener.  And that’s when the real fun begins.  I take every moment to tell them why Coast Modern should be their next favorite band.  I brag about their funny tweets and hilarious Snap Chats.  I encourage people in the moment to get out their phone and follow them right away.  (Sometimes I even take their phone and do it for them.  Yeah, I get a little zealous.)

Also, everybody gets a nickname.  At this Coast Modern show, some names given were: Fronts (they were the first in line), Coda (he wrote computer code for a living), Brother (he came with his brother to the show), and Guy Who Came Alone (do I really need to explain it?)  Coda tried to give me his real name three times.  I won’t take it.  We’re never going to see each other again, but he will always remain Coda in my heart.

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These are “Fronts.” Cutest thing about them was the guy is wearing 3 shirts.  He wore the concert shirts they bought so she didn’t have to carry hers. So adorable!

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The middle guy bought this chick a Coast Modern shirt and they had just met at the merch booth.  I love these kind of stories!

7.) Gear Haul:

At the merch table, I load up.  Usually as I flutter around to chat up the other fans, my concert guest holds all the gear.  I think they do this because I will probably lose everything if left to my own devices.  The co-pilot position also helps keep me on track.  They help snag set lists, round up signatures, and take my pictures with the band in the most flattering angle.

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Luke Atlas performs a whole show and still looks amazing. I only have to watch it and look worked.

8.) Party Never Ends:

The show’s over, I’ve got selfies with the band, arms full of tee-shirts, and this is when everyone else heads back to their hotel to go to bed.  Not me.  In my mind, once you go to sleep all the magic from your concert night ends. It leads me to work very hard to keep the party going.  With the alcohol drowning rational thoughts and the venue emptying, Ladyfriend nicely guided me out the doors to call Uber.  Even in a last-ditch effort, I still made another attempt to have people join us for drinks.  After they graciously declined, Uber hauled us back to our hotel and we crashed.  (Note: by this time I’d been awake for 22 hours.)

9.) Early Wake Up Call:

A little known fact about me when I’ve been drinking alcohol…I don’t sleep.  I crash hard for about 2 hours, but then I’m up and wide awake.  My companion does not share the same affliction.  Usually I play on my phone for a few hours, uploading show pictures, texting other friends, and tweeting the shit out of the band with accolades. Then, still way earlier than my traveling friend wants, my stare bores a hole in their head and they wake up.  While they’re groggy and exhausted, I’m bright eyed and ready to do it all over again.  (In my multi-show trip in April to see Dreamers, over the course of 5 days I slept about 16 hours total.)

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This is just a great picture of Coleman Trapp so I’m putting it in.

Hopefully this gives you a little insight into how tough my friends are.  They know all this and still sign up to go to shows occasionally.  God bless them for their patience and courage. So if you like the same type of tunes and think you can hang with this kind action, shoot me a text, get a lot of rest ahead of time, and we’ll rock the next show together.

Here’s a video from the show because I adore Coast Modern.  Don’t tell me you watched this and didn’t fall madly in love.  It’s about impossible.  Also, please excuse the terrible filming — I’m having a damn good time.

 

How To Be a Great Fan

Months ago I wrote a blog about How To Support Your Band and I was pretty content after I did.  Maybe even a little smug. I felt pretty darn good about giving some solid tips on how to help out those hard working musicians in their quest to become the next big thing.  Since then I’ve wondered why some super-talented favorites (cough, cough Dreamers, Coast Modern) aren’t picking up traffic at a lightning pace like they deserve.  They’re creating solid music, pounding the pavement on tour, being adorable in fan pictures, and engaging regularly in the Twitterverse.  And while they’re picking up a steady following along the way, I worry the world is still missing out.

Sure, some of it is luck where Oprah picks them as her favorite thing.  Lightening in a bottle if they’re featured on a crazy video that goes viral.  Or maybe they scored a deal with the Devil? Obviously Twenty-One Pilots must have sold their souls to go from people saying “Twenty what?” to sold out stadiums seemingly overnight.  Since there really isn’t a way to quantify selling your soul, I’ve tried to look a little harder at what works towards a band’s success.  After considering the band’s efforts, I turned the microscope onto my brethren — Fans.  And when I did, I have to say I saw some apathy and selfishness.

Don’t get me wrong out there, Fans.  I love you.  I love you like no other kind of love in this world.  You have a passion so deep the darkest oceans can’t compare to your band commitment.  However, what do you do with this love?  Do you picket the streets with their new album release?  Cold call strangers to try out their latest single?  Stand outside the local mall and hawk digital downloads?  Nope, I didn’t think so.

That’s the thing.  As fans, we bask in our own love.  You may tell friends in passing they should give your new band a shot.  You might even put a sticker on your car and get a question or two at the gas station that you happily answer with over-information.  But we rarely step outside our comfort zone to really support the bands we adore.  Maybe we’re scared. What if they get so big they won’t love us back? Oh, dear fan, that’s a risk we all take.  And honestly, it will happen.  But our selfishness shouldn’t stop us from helping our favorite musician taste success.  (Hint, this is how more music gets made.)  Or maybe it’s because we feel too small to really make a difference.  We don’t have the same platform when we only have 72 Twitter followers.  (Hey if you’re on Twitter, congratulate yourself.  Bestie still can’t figure it out.)

You’d be surprised the difference you can make when you really put some work into it.  Don’t know where to start?  Here are some tips on how to help be a great fan to your band:

Tweet, Facebook, Instragram, YouTube, or Snapchat the shit out of their releases.

It doesn’t matter which social media platform you use, you’re reaching a wider audience.  Be creative.  Make up your own fan art to highlight.  Or if you lack creativity, share what the band’s putting out.  You may have an old acquaintance from high school who is constantly looking for their next favorite band.  They see your messages and give it a go.  Soon they’re telling their friends about it.  Do you see how amazingly influential you are already?

Get everyone you know, in every city, to see their show no matter what you have to do.

Okay, so some of your friends and family can be duds.  You hear their million excuses to why they don’t go out and know it doesn’t do any good to suggest they try something new.  Why not entice them to get out there?  I’ve been known to use a cookie delivery (with a treat for the carrier too) to get some people to shows in their area.  For support, they brought some friends of their own.  Four new bodies primed to be lifelong fans.  Not one yet has come back cursing my name.  In fact, most planned to check out the band again without prompting.

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How could you ever pass up the chance to see Nick Wold from Dreamers?

Buy all the merchandise you can stuff in your arms.

Who says you have to only buy a single shirt for yourself?  Your friends don’t have to attend the concert to be a walking billboard for the band.  Sometimes, a new item in their wardrobe encourages them to give the music a go.  They listen so when asked by a stranger about their cool shirt, they have a stronger answer than “Oh, I don’t know, I got the shirt from a friend.”

Remember folks, ticket and merchandise sales are some of the biggest money makers for the artists in this age.  The more coin you drop at their merch booth means more tunes your ears will enjoy in the future.

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BONUS:  Sometimes at the merch booth you get to see your faves like Luke Atlas from Coast Modern.

Tell every single radio station in the country how you love them.

Okay, so you’re broke and don’t want to sling any money when you can’t even afford to buy a large pizza for yourself. I get it.  Then let your fingers do the work by contacting your favorite radio stations to work them into the rotation.  With on-line streaming you can listen to any station in any state in this country.  Listener feedback is becoming a staple in creating station playlists.  The more you request, the better chance the station will pick them up.

Caveat: Don’t be a dick.  Don’t spam the station or tell them they’re stupid if they don’t love your band as much as you.  This will actually do your band a disservice and probably get you blocked.

Encourage friends to follow them on social media.

Yep, numbers matter.  The more followers on social media, the more seriously someone is taken.  People assume if fifty thousand other people like a band, they must be good.  If nothing else, media outlets will give them more credibility.  Encourage everyone you meet to like your band on the social platform of their choice.

If they’re the concert opener, talk to everyone in the place about them before they hit the stage.

I know this one takes some extrovert courage, but it pays off.  Most concert attendees don’t give too much attention to the opener even though every great band started there at one time. Instead, attendees check their phone, talk with friends, or get more drinks from the bar while they wait for the main attraction.  You get out there and pique their interest by telling everyone you came for the opener!  If you do, they may give your new favorite band a chance.  And that’s all you want.  Then your band needs to deliver, which you know they will because you love them.

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Look at all the lovely friends I made at the Coast Modern show. (Ignore the weird photography.)

I can hear some of you now, “But that’s a lot of work.”  Yes, it is.  But we’re talking about a band you love, right?  I ached for years as I watched how my favorites, The Airborne Toxic Event and The Limousines, worked relentlessly and baked a cookie or two.  But that was it.  And a band can only take working hard with minimal reward for so long.  Then they have to make decisions about whether the investment is worth the return.  Trust me when I say you don’t want your band to weigh out the pros and cons.

And before someone out there gets righteous — yes, I do these things.  If you doubt it, ask anyone I work with, see at a bar, or stand next to at a Dreamers or Coast Modern show.  I can tell you first hand there’s been a few new fans picked up here and there.  There are days where I think I’m not making much of a difference and other days I want to wallow in selfishness to keep them small.  Those are the days I crank up their songs, remember how they’re good people, and get off my ass to find them more fans.

This Album Does Not Exist

It’s finally here!  After a long wait and tons of work!  Release day for Dreamers!  Yes, all these exclamation marks are necessary.  I couldn’t be more excited (as well as the legions who love them) that their first full length album has been birthed into the world.

I was fortunate to see the gents Wednesday night for an in-store performance in Portland.  They stripped down a few songs into acoustic versions and WOWed  everyone, as they normally do with their live performance.  Come on with that Never Too Late to Dance.  Big heart emoji right there.  They were charming as ever as they signed posters, posed for pictures, and chatted with all the people who came out.

However, my 600 mile round trip had a second purpose.  I couldn’t let those nice guys have a huge celebration without cookies, could I?  What kind of fan do you think I am?  So without further adieu, I introduce the This Album Does Not Exist cookie.

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I joked they went out to find the hardest image ever for their cover because they wanted to make sure I had to work for it.

No visit could be complete with Dreamers if I didn’t get a selfie with each.  They’re always too kind to put up with my picture addiction.

Aren’t they just adorable?  Now, head out there to buy their album, see them in concert, and shower them with love.