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Posts Tagged ‘Dreamers’

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.

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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.

Dreamers

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.

 

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Everyone knows at music concerts there’s going to be phones recording every moment.  They light up the audience, sprouting from every hand in the black mass.  They’ve become as much of the show as the band performing.  A couple weeks ago during the Saint Motel concert, lead singer A/J incorporated the devices when he asked the crowd to use their phone flashlights to light up the stage. The audience obliged and became part of the show.  In a stark contrast, four nights later at The Lumineers’ concert, the lead singer stopped in the middle of “Ho Hey” and asked everyone to put their phones down.  Several fans erupted in cheers with a smug “enjoy the moment” superiority.

If you’ve met me, read this blog, or attended a show where I’ve been in the crowd, I think you know on which side I fall.  My phone is a fixture at every concert I attend.  I now need a battery backup because I drain it in the few hours at the venue.  While there are articles galore on the need to put away the phone, live in the moment, and enjoy the experience without seeing it through a screen, I want to point out some positives in documenting the live concert experience.

1.)  Replaying a Feeling.

While some may never return to their pictures or videos, I review them all the time.   During the moment, I suck up every single second of the live music experience swirling around me and I never want it to end.  With my mind buzzing with excitement and vodka, little details can be missed or forgotten no matter how bad I want to capture everything.  (And for the judgy who are going to suggest I don’t drink at shows, I have done that with the same blurred results.)

Also, the concert high is like a drug for some of us.  Those weeks after when you’re coming down from a show are some of the hardest times.  There’s a real sense of loss.  The pictures offer a small piece of comfort.  They ignite little moments in memory, small flashes to replay a scene in my head, which gives some relief to the depression.

It was so hard to get a clear picture of Coast Modern's Coleman Trapp because he bounced around the entire show.

It was so hard to get a clear picture of Coast Modern’s Coleman Trapp because he bounced around the entire show. (swoon)

2.)  Sharing the Love.

During the concert, I send snaps to fans and friends all over the country that I’ve met through my concert travels.  It’s a small way to include them in the experience if the band can’t make it to their neck of the woods or if they can’t pony up the dollars to attend for themselves.  You’d be surprised how much people look forward to being part of the experience in the moment even it’s through the screen.  Hello, have you heard of Periscope?

After the show, I flood Twitter with highlights and overwhelm my personal Facebook with EVERY. SINGLE. PICTURE.  Yes, there was the Dreamers concert tour where I uploaded 533 pictures.  People now expect to see my picture barrage when I return from my trip.  I think my friends would be disappointed if I didn’t share my experience.

Sure, I have a gazillion pictures of Nelson, but I have a soft spot for hair action shots.

Sure, I have a gazillion pictures of Dreamers’ Nelson, but I have a soft spot for hair action shots.

3.)  Inspiring Others.

Here’s a regular conversation I have every time I come back from a show and share pictures:

  • Them: “You’re always going to cool shows.”
  • Me: “I love concerts.  It’s my passion.”
  • Them:  “Yeah.  I wish I did cool things.”
  • Me:  “Start today.”

As I cycle through the pictures and videos, I share my personal stories from the event.  Usually there’s something about how I made a fool out of myself, probably scared the band with my over-excitement, and loved every minute of living.  I believe this is what inspires others to take chances to follow their own dreams.  They hear being vulnerable can have amazing returns if you’re brave enough to try.  Most recently, people shared they could never go to some place by themselves when I explained I regularly travel alone to attend shows in other cities.  (Please note, I travel a minimum of 10 hours roundtrip for EVERY show.)  I scroll through pictures of the great people I met by overcoming that awkward feeling to turn strangers into friends.  Usually by the end, they’re smiling, nodding their head, and imaging themselves in the same situation.  I hope that little spark gets them to go live the life they dream of because they know I am.

Dreamers' Nick Wold makes picture taking always an experience. If you haven't before, you must get one with him.

Dreamers’ Nick Wold always makes picture-taking an experience. If you haven’t before, you must get one with him.

4.)  Supporting the Band.

As fans, we should really be doing our part to make sure our favorite artists can continue to make music.  I know no one likes to talk about it, but being a musician is a job.  It needs to have a monetary return for it to stay in business.  I say it every chance I get — fans support your bands with your money, your love, and your social media.  Sharing the concert experience perks interest in others who may not have given them a spin yet.  Being blown away by a fan’s view from a live performance can encourage someone else to buy the album, check out a show for themselves, and drop coin on merchandise.  These are the best ways to ensure the bands we love will continue to do the job they love.

Luke Atlas from Coast Modern has so many great facial expressions I wish I could insert a gallery just for this. Alas, I picked only one picture to capture all his amazing.

Who’s to say what is right in this ongoing debate, if you should or shouldn’t video your concert experience?  I will say I don’t appreciate it when people judge me for how I choose to enjoy my concert.  (BTW, if you’ve ever seen my videos or photos, you know it doesn’t stop me from dancing or watching the show over my phone while I snap pictures.)  I’ve heard more snide remarks than I can count.  The constant chant that I’m watching a screen instead of living in the moment is laughable to me because I think I’m doing the exact opposite.  I live it to the fullest at the show by talking to strangers and being part of the concert community.  I live it again when I recount the details to friends in stories about my amazing experience.  And I get to live it again when I share some of my favorite band experiences with you.  For me, there’s no better way to do it.

I mean, how many people will have a picture taken while Coast Modern is playing? Soon, you won't even be able to move one inch in the pit.

I mean, how many people will have a picture taken with Coast Modern while their playing? Soon, you won’t even be able to move one inch in the pit because there will be so many people crammed in there. And I want to believe Coleman’s expression in this pictures is one of super excitement and not “wtf?”

 

And look, they were champs and didn't fear me too much to avoid a posed picture.

And look, they were champs and didn’t fear me too much to avoid a posed picture. And yes, I picked the best picture of me instead of the best one of them. Coleman and Luke are stunning all the time. I am not. Did I mention how much I heart them? Oh, that’s another blog…

 

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In a few short days, Dreamers hits the road with the Arkells and Karma Killers for a month long national tour.  They will be winding around the country, rocking their new EP “You Are Here” and undoubtedly charming all of you along the way.  Lucky for me, my ladyfriends and I will be attending three shows at the tour’s close in April, which seems like forever away.

To help deal with my sadness in waiting for time to pass until April 6th, I want to do the next best thing and live through you.  What better way to celebrate the Dreamers’ tour than to have a contest?  I mean, we all know they’re prize enough, but I like sweetening deals.

Who doesn’t love a riveting game of Bingo?  Throw in a handsome musical trio and you’ve pretty much got the  most awesome game ever, right?  How do you play?   It’s easy, complete a bingo (with photographic evidence) and you’ll be entered to win a tasty prize package valued over $125.00.

You’ll win:

  • $10.00 iTunes gift card to buy their full length album coming in 2016
  • A little surprise I plan to pick up at the merch table.
  • One dozen Delish Mocha Brownies
  • One dozen Delish Bittersweet Chocolate Chip and Sea Salt cookies
  • One dozen Delish Custom Sugar cookies.  Your design choice (subject to copyright).  If you need some inspiration, check out this cuteness (and I’m not talking about the cookies):
cookies

This is my shameless way to post this picture again.  OMG…the adorableness is almost too much.

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You could “pick” another band for your custom cookies if you want.  (See what I did there.)  Or a different theme all together.

Now let’s talk about how you play.

  • Choose one of the bingo cards below with activities to complete during this Dreamers’ tour.
  • Photograph each activity square you complete and either post the collage to the Delish Facebook page or tweet me at sprunty2000.
  • Want to enter more than once?  Sure, complete a new bingo line.
  • Don’t worry if you can’t catch a show this go around, there are still activity boxes you can do to enter.
  • Feel free to work with partners, if you like.  There’s lots of goodies you’ll be able to split.
  • Contest closes April 10th at 6:00pm PST.  Winner will be randomly drawn from all the submissions.
  • Prize will only be shipped to a US address.

Here are the cards to choose from.  Feel free to switch any time if you find you’re having better success with a different card.  Even if you don’t fill a line, send in your attempt.  If no one fills a line, I’ll draw from all submissions.  Special award if anyone completes a full card for a blackout.

Don’t make it too hard.  Try to capture the best you can.   Here’s an example of what you would post from Bingo #3 (I probably could’ve done a black out because I take that many pictures at shows):

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Good luck, have fun, and give tons of love to Dreamers when you see them!

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In part 1 of this blog, I wrote about the supportive and loving fandom world.  The place where I travel around to see the bands I love, bask in their soul-charging music, and meet all the other people who feel the same way.  It’s a glorious thing when you find fan comradery.  The show’s magic washes over everyone in the room and the combined energy makes it a dream.

It’s not all sunshine, cupcakes, and love in Fanland.  There is a darkside.  It’s fueled by jealousy, entitlement, and disrespect.  It’s pretty ugly.  I’ve been fortunate since being embraced by the Airborne fan world to not have seen it since that one douchebag time at my numerous TATE shows.  I’m welcomed to the second or third row behind “The Fronts”(those die hards who lined up for hours to get barrier while I enjoyed lemon drops in my hotel room.)  When I decided to join the Dreamers/Arkells’ pit in Canada, I had no idea what I signed up for.

Part of my problem may have started with stereotyping all Canadians as nice.  I non-nonchalantly walked up to the left side while Dreamers set up their gear.  The crowd filled in behind me in a civilized manner and all was cool.  It was a close fit and people grooved to Dreamers’ energy how a pit should.  I snapped away, met my neighbors, and gushed about Dreamers when their set wrapped up.

“Do you know them?” the guy said.

“Well, kinda.  Not really.  I mean, like how fans know a band,” I said.

“Because you’re taking so many pictures,” he said.

“Oh, I want a good one,” I said.

“And you’re messaging them. A lot.”

Uh, thanks for reading my phone over my shoulder, Dude, and for pointing out my aggressive Snapchat Dreamers behavior.  Maybe I have a problem.  Isn’t that my business?  Geez, judge much?

“You can Snapchat them, too.  They’re really good about their social media.  Tweet them,” I said.

Guy pulled out his phone to start following on both sites.  Then agreed to pose with his girlfriend for my obligatory fan tweet.

pit people

And this was the last nice moment in the pit.  Shortly after this photo, a six foot tall guy did what someone always does at concerts.  He pretends he’s besties with someone by pointing at a fictional friend in the front row and squeezes by the people who waited hours for their coveted spot.  The lovely couple photoed above look super annoyed.  They made some comments to each other, but let it go.

They let it go until he tried to bring his buddy up.  That’s when this mild manner guy went ape shit.  He refused to let the friend in.  The two guys exchanged some heated words, but Crowding Friend ended up behind us.  Crowding Friend wasn’t quiet about his displeasure either. Six Foot Tall Crowder also made cracks about not being able to enjoy the concert with his friend.  Being solo, I decided to keep my mouth shut.  While the Arkells’ staff set up their gear to amaze, the fighting kept going.  I snapped and Facebooked about how shit was going to go down.

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I love that he clearly sees me taking the photo and pretty much looks like he wants me dead.

It didn’t get any better when the Arkells started.  The crowd surged forward as it normally does, but this took a different turn.  The girl pushed hard into Six Foot Tall guy and then he shoved her back.  Boyfriend jumped in and it was an all out push-fest.  The argument culminated in Six Foot Tall screaming “fuck you” in the girl’s face with his middle finger one inch from her nose.  That’s when I got the Hell out of there because What. The.  FUCK. people?

I think the whole thing even caught the attention of the Arkells’ bassist.  He looked down several times at the swaying crowd.  I’m not sure what you see from the stage or if you can catch when the vibe is going sideways.  All I know is he didn’t crack a single smile in the four thousand pictures I took.

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See the sideways look?  The fight is to my right.

That’s the other side of the fan coin.  The ones where it doesn’t matter what’s best for the group because everyone needs their own piece of the action.  They don’t care who they’re going to crush, insult, or actually hurt to get their experience.  I’m not down for that shit.  I’d rather enjoy cocktails in the back and not see the band’s facial expressions.  (I would also like to give a shout out to Dreamer’s bassist Nelson who did ask if I was okay after receiving my hundred Snaps from fight central.  See, I told you they are such nice peeps.)

I can tell you these darkside fans are few and far between.  For the most part, fans want to share their excitement, and the amazing experience the band wants to convey, because they respect the music.  It’s only a shame these others exist because they really jade the experience for the people where this may be their first concert attendance.

Why would I show this underbelly, this negative aspect of a world I love so much?  Highlight the douchebags who ruin it for everyone?  Because I hope the people who crowd to the front, shove other people, and scream fuck you in another fan’s face understand it can be so much better.  We can all get along and share something magical, like music intended.  Not the something ugly where everyone walks away only talking about fists and “fuck offs.”

 

 

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My Dreamers/Arkells concert bill in Canada hosted not one, but two awesome concert nights.  This is an interesting experience if you haven’t had the privilege to do consecutive shows.  Not only do the bands have to deliver something different for the possible repeat crowd, the fans also bring an entirely different feel.  This Dreamers/Arkells double shot gave the best example in regards to how fans can make or break an experience.

In full disclosure, I must admit I love fans.  The best compliment I ever received was from G-Man Superfan who said “Susan loves the fans more than the band” and it’s seriously true.  There’s something special about people who connect so deeply with a band they need to see them in the flesh.  Fans turn to songs for comfort, love, happiness, understanding, and sympathy, which are exactly the same things I do.  How could I not love them?  So when I get around fans, I have to know everything about them.  How long have they loved the band?  What’s their favorite song?  What brought them to the show?  How many shows have they seen?  What story goes with it? Can we be BFFs?

The Dreamers/Arkells show was no different.  When I attend alone I’m even more eager to find new people to chat up.  After entering the Commodore Ballroom, I found a table seated for four but I occupied it with one.  I usually start out pretty quiet.  Hard to believe, I know, but yes, it’s true.  After playing on my phone for a few minutes, I turned to the nice couple sitting at the table behind me and asked if they’d save my chair while I went to the bar.  The woman agreed and I took off.  I wasn’t ten feet away before I turned around and saw her shooing someone from my chair.  The first bar said they didn’t have any club soda and sent me to a second.  Again, the female chair-watcher was talking to someone different and waving them away from my single chair.  By the time I got back, three people sat at my table and one dude had his ass planted in my seat.  The nice woman, Canadian Anna, stood with a stressed look on her face.

“I tried to tell them it was your chair.  I’m sorry.  You can sit with us.” She pointed to her husband and introduced him as Canadian Kyle.  (Okay, maybe I added the Canadian.)

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“You did such a great job.  Please let me buy you both beers,” I said and  Canadian Anna could breathe again.  I went back to the bar, got them refills, and told them how much I appreciated her attempts.  Then I sat down at my original table only to make the seat-stealers uncomfortable.  When they tried to ignore me, I introduced myself.  When they still tried to ignore me, I introduced myself as the person whose seat they stole.  They offered it back.  I asked them to save my new chair until I came back.  And then I never returned.  (Yeah, sometimes I’m a dick like that.)

dreamers chair

Canadian Couple were much better company.  They were originally from Hamilton, the Arkells’ hometown, and moved to Vancouver.  They came to the concert to show some hometown pride.  They were fascinated by my solo road trip to see Dreamers.  They shotgunned questions:  Why I would do travel so far?  Why did I think they were so special?  Why did I come alone?  We even laughed about the fact every person I told I went on my solo trip asked how I got permission from Hubs.  (Can I tell you how much I hate that fucking question?)  I bought more rounds until Canadian Anna giggled about the American who roofied her.

“You remind me of my friend,” she said.

“I hope she’s cool,” I said.

“She has the best times.  Always a free spirit.  I love being around her.  You’re exactly like that.”

That’s the moment I fell deeply in love with Canadian Anna.

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Dreamers started to set up and I excused myself to move to the front.  After a few minutes, Canadian Anna sidled up next to me and said “I have to see them because you’re so excited about them.”  I insisted on her getting a picture with them.

dreamers-anna

Clearly Dreamers feels the love during this picture.

She smiled and danced next to me the entire set.  After Dreamers finished, she thanked me on the way back to our table.  I told her about their EP coming out and she said she would check it out.  Another Dreamers convert!

“I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention if we hadn’t met,” she said.

“It’s why I love meeting people at concerts.  So many new things to learn.  And now you can love Dreamers too,” I said.

At the table, Canadian Kyle waited with a vodka soda and agreed he liked Dreamers, too. I joked he was their first male fan.  (Just kidding, I know one other guy who likes the trio.)   The crowd filled in more and I turned to prep my spot for the Arkells.  A few feet in front of me, a woman in a wheel chair sat in the middle of the crowd with her eye-line hitting everyone’s asses.  I waited to see if anyone was going to do something about it.  She wouldn’t be able to see anything with the body wall between her and the stage.  Instead, others filled in around her and locked her in a body cocoon.  People, What. The. Fuck???  How did everyone think this was okay?  I pulled out my “Fun Police” badge and told Canadian Couple I’d be back.

I returned to the security guy who had blocked a lot of my Dreamers view to start my plan.  I felt he owed me for being the a visual cockblock.

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“Hey, there’s a lady in a wheelchair back there.  She can come up here, right?  To see the show?” I said.  He shrugged.  A clear sign he was on board.  I cut through the crowd back to the woman.

“Do you want to move to the front so you can see?” I said.  She smiled and then hesitated.

“No, that’s okay, I have three friends.”  She pointed to the people around her who could see the stage just fine.  I understood her hesitation.  I mean, who wants to enjoy a concert by themselves?  Besides me, of course.

“Bring ’em.”  The confidence in my voice must have made it sound like I had some kind of pull in this situation when I clearly did not.  About three steps in, I realized I never asked the people mashed against the front barrier.  This could turn ugly fast.  When I reached the front again, I confirmed with the security guy first.  I felt like this added some cred to my authority.  I turned to the front line crowd and picked the most viable option — three nice looking young guys.

“Hey, I have a friend who’s in a wheelchair who can’t see back there.  You don’t mind if she comes up here, right?”  (This “right” thing at the end is a solid way of adding I’m giving you a chance not to be a complete asshole.)  They mumbled to each other and didn’t look appalled so I waved her over.  She rolled at the stage’s edge and glowed in the blue light.

“Oh, and her friends are gonna join, too.  Have fun getting to know each other.”  And I darted off.  They could all stand around blaming that bitch who vanished.  I’m totally fine with that.

Canadian Couple were snuggled up on each other when I got back and it was time for me to get lost in the Arkells’ pit crowd.  I watched from the floor for a while before moving to the bar for another drink.  With the music playing, there wasn’t the opportunity to meet more people.  Lucky for me, Dreamers joined me at the bar for a bit.  Have I mentioned in the last twenty seconds how much I love them?  I tried to look for Canadian Couple to introduce them to Dreamers, but they were lost in the sea of people below.  Dreamers had to leave for the all band encore, but damn, that was cool.

The night started to wind down and I stood at the bar to close out my tab.  While my trusty bartender who remembered my drink all night tallied up the dreaded bill, the Arkells finished some final songs.  As soon as they left the stage, the woman in the wheelchair came up to me, beaming with a smile from ear to ear.

“Thank you so much.  It was the best night,” she said.  Her friends repeated the sentiment over her shoulder and appreciated the set up in the front row.

“I’m glad I could help.”  And I was.  Because that’s what fans should do for each other.  They should respect everyone’s experiences.  Listen to their stories.  Love their passion for the band.  We should support each other to ensure we all have the most amazing night to remember.  Because the one thing we all have in common is we love the music.  And that’s what really matters.

Part 2:  The other side of the fan coin.

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Last week I packed up my car and headed for the border.  I wasn’t running away to Mexican beaches and margaritas as one may expect during this rainy season.  Instead, I headed north.  Many people asked why I would take time off from work, leave my family, and drive solo to cold Canada at the beginning of February.  The answer is simple:  Dreamers.

Actually, it wasn’t that simple.  I bought the tickets three months ago while still coming down from my Dreamers’ Portland concert high in October.  One night in early November while I enjoyed Lemon-Drop-Saturday, Dreamers posted on Facebook they were going to open up for the Arkells in Canada.  I died.  It was kismit.  Only the year before, my Internet Stranger Best Friend of five years who lives in Canada, Tragic Spinster, recommended the Arkells for my radio show.  I messaged her immediately: “Your band and my band are getting together to make music babies.  We should meet for the first time.”  She said it might work.  So, I bought it, exactly ten minutes and three “do you think I shoulds?” to Hubs later.  The whole non-refundable trip.  Even before checking if I could get the time off of work.

I convinced myself Dreamers would announce more dates and drop into the US.  This would be the perfect time to fulfill my book research dream to follow a band on the road for a couple weeks to document the grind.  My original plan was to follow The Airborne Toxic Event along the east coast, but with their current hiatus and Hubs’ 2016 budget lecture, my plans needed alteration.  Instead, Dreamers along the west coast sounded like a better option.  Especially because the seven years of TATE love might be hard to separate myself from to allow for objective concert watching.  I begged for the time off, made a goal to complete 60K words on the manuscript draft before January 31, 2016, and prepped for my two week adventure.

Three big flaws in my plan — 1) Real life happened to Trag and she was out.  2) Dreamers didn’t add more dates immediately following Canada.  They picked up touring mid-February in Texas.  (Too far for me to drive.)  The two nights I already committed were going to be it.  3) Over the next three months, my Dreamers-love only grew stronger with new music dropping, my introduction into their Snap Chat world, and their unbelievable charm on social media by responding to my tom-foolery without blocking me.  My trip started to become more about seeing the band than research.  And that’s when things got complicated for me.

I’ll let you in on a secret in the fan world.  One that most refuse to talk about.  (I’ve re-written this blog a million times because even I struggle being this transparent about my feelings.  Don’t say I never give for you.)  It can be a weird place once you’ve had a “special snowflake” moment with a band.  You know, those feelz where your clear fan lines blurred when they made you feel more like a person than a commodity.  Through my Airborne travels, I’ve chatted with Mikel several times.  He’s nice enough.  I like him.  And I walked away knowing he never remembered one moment of it (unless you count cringing – have you ever read my Mikel experiences here, here, or here.)  When other TATE fans spoke about how they thought they were more than fans, my cynical response usually included it’s part of his job to be nice.  I chalked it up no one wanting to admit the lopsidedness in the fan/band relationship.  No one likes the rejection or feeling like they’re “just a fan.” (Written by These Stunning Ruins.)

As the Canada date drew closer, my anxiety increased.  Why did I worry about if Dreamers cared if I was there or not?  Who cares if they couldn’t pick me out of a line up?  Where the fuck was my cynicism when I needed it?  I’m an adult, for crissakes.  So, I kept my Canadian pilgrimage on the down low.  I told myself this was supposed to be about my writing work; more observing a concert versus attending one.  How could I be noting details if I spent all my time worrying if Dreamers would remember me enough to say hi?  I reminded myself they have a job to do by meeting new Vancouver people to grow a fan base.  No time for the Oregonian they already have in their back pocket.  All reasonable thoughts, but were these the real reason why I didn’t mention my tickets?  If I really wanted to be painfully honest with myself (and oh God, this is painful), didn’t it come down to the fact I was scared?

“Scared of what?” a non-fan might ask?  The last time I saw Dreamers live, the whole night was something crazy magical fun for me; a drug I crave to get me “higher and higher and higher.” (Shameless plug for their new song Drugs on the recently released EP “You Are Here.”) If I spent the months posting about traveling the 600 miles each way, I feared I would become an obligation.  Like they would have to pity me with nice because I tweet them to death and inundate them with baked goods.  Ugh, the last thing I would ever want.  Hiding seemed like a much better idea to avoid awkward or disappointment.

My plan was solid — drop off cookies (of course, there’s cookies, do you even know me by now?), get lost in the sold out crowd, send no Snaps, and post awesome pictures on Twitter later when driving away.  I asked a security guy to deliver the cookies.  “I don’t know if I can.  That’s not my job,” he said before disappearing behind the venue’s doors without the cookies.  Panic raced through me as I imagined having Dreamers come out to see who was trying to poison them with bakery treats.  This would send my concert Tourettes into hyper-drive where I’d spew disjointed thoughts to over-explain why I was trying to give them confections minus the hype.  Luckily, Security Guy came back, said it was all good, and took the package.

Even better was thirty minutes later when I saw tweets from Dreamers loving the cookies and wondering how they got there.  My heart swelled with their appreciation.  It’s one of the things I find so endearing about them.  They got the something special and I was home free to live in anonymity.  Seriously…look at these cute tweets?

nelson boob

As usual when I concert alone, I buddied up with other fans in the venue.  During our breaks in conversation, I scribbled notes about the venue’s atmosphere, how the bodies lined up against the weak gate barrier, and the pre-show buzz humming in the air.  I asked my Canadian Couple friends to save my seat as I ventured to the merchandise table to grab my concert t-shirt before the show started.  I tried to buy it on my way in, but the Arkells’ merch guy said he didn’t sell Dreamers’ stuff and I’d have to wait for their guy to come back.  When I returned, Sober (real name Plotkin) manned it just like he did in Portland.  He’d already walked past me once that night so I wasn’t worried about him recognizing me.

I wasn’t even to the table’s edge when he said, “You brought the cookies.” (Or something like that — drinking disclaimer.)  I was stunned in his recognition.  Sober told the other guy about the cookies I included for him.  He even appreciated the font choice. <Swoon>  He continued on about the set I sent previously based on crossword puzzles.  His genuine excitement in the cookie description is really where I could’ve kissed him.  It’s the whole reason why I love making cookies for people.  I tried to play it cool as I bought the shirt, where inside I geeked out.  I headed back to my table trying to convince myself nothing had changed from five minutes before.

But in that simple interaction, things had changed.  The vodka drip I’d been on all night didn’t hurt either.  I considered we’re both important parts to the fan/band equation regardless if it matters more to me than them.  It didn’t mean my presence wasn’t welcomed.  They appreciated the cookies.  Maybe it even made a “special snowflake” moment for them.  Hell, I only make them for a select few.

With my presence known, I watched Dreamers play from front row, sent Snaps like a fiend, and tweeted drink offers to them.  I did these things because it’s totally who I am.  To the core.   I stopped worrying about what I couldn’t control.  Instead I focused on what I love about concerts — the band’s energy, the music’s power, and the other fans’ excitement.  Canadian couple and I talked about how long they had been Arkell fans and I explained my reason for traveling so far for Dreamers — because they are nice.  They bought me vodka sodas and I bought them beers.  It was clearer than ever I only hurt myself by being scared.  If rejection stopped me from taking chances I would’ve missed out on meeting Canadian Couple when I asked to share a table.  I tell people on a daily basis that fear leads to bad decisions.  And there I was ready to make the worst one.

Sober fucked up my perfect plan in the most amazing way.  Dreamers did find me and made me feel appreciated for being there.  I snapped Nelson as he Snapchatted, watched Nick dance and talk with fans, and I wrote more notes for my manuscript.  There weren’t in depth conversations because the concert blared too loud.  Nor karaoke all night the way Portland had graced.  In fact, both nights ended abruptly when security kicked me out shortly after the show ended.  (I say shortly being a terrible judge of time when drinking.  Security guard on night #2 was quite mean about it, too.)  But what didn’t happen isn’t what defined my trip when I think back about the experience.

What did happen was Dreamers proved to me once again why I adore them so much.   They were gracious with their time (with me and other fans), continued to be pretty entertaining off stage, and rocked great shows both nights.  I would’ve kicked myself if I missed out on that opportunity.  The chance to interact with them as people.  Because that’s something special you don’t get with most bands.  It reminded me, even if you are “just a fan” in the Dreamers’ world, it’s a pretty damn cool place to be.

 

 

 

 

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