Man Your Battle Stations: One Crazy Night With The Best Fans On The Fence

Hello Apollo…where shall I begin?

At around 2:45 PM, Saturday, Mary, Joe and I hopped in to my mom’s GMC Acadia, with Mary at wheel. We drove for somehwere between two and a half and three hours, and arrived at The Showboat Atlantic City Hotel and Casino. We checked in to our hotel room, I changed clothes (a gesture later deemed almost completely futile), had a glass of wine and we walked across the casino floor to the House of Blues music hall and stood in line.

We were in line for Coheed and Cambria, who, as I’ve said several times, are my favorite band. My sister and Joe give Coheed an enormous amount of credit for their relationship. Their love of the band was one of the things that they bonded over when they first met when they were 18. It’s immensely adorable to watch them get geared up for a show.

Actually, it’s just immensely adorable to watch them…

This show was extra special for all of us, because the opener for the show was The Dear Hunter, another one of Mary’s favorite bands.

Well, they were the second opener. The doors opened at 8 and we made out way to the pit. The first opener, a band called 3 quickly won over the crowd when they went on at 8:45. By 10:30, when Dear Hunter finished, we were all psyched for everything to start, Mike had joined us, and I had had two Miller Lites and peed three times. Then the show started.

There’s an old Irish saying, sometimes attributed to William Butler Yeats, “There are no strangers here, only friends we haven’t met yet.” I feel that way at most concerts but it comes through even more with cultish bands like Coheed. Coheed fans are so deeply passionate about this music. We pushed and pulled in the pit and after three songs I was soaked through with sweat and completely out of breath. However, 3 songs in the pit is a personal best for me, and moshing has never been something that I loved anyway. (Moshing is made much more pleasant by the presence of my six foot five ex defensive lineman brother making sure that no one roughs me up too bad.) I was determined to break out of my comfort zone on this one though and I did just that.

Mike made it a few more songs, but in the end he and I wound up hanging out by the bar, dancing, singing along and me drinking more Miller Lite. (He’d been in the casino, so already had a decent buzz going.) We made friends, danced with them, sang along with them, and we all walked out at 12:30 AM this morning, saying it was the best Coheed show we’d ever been to.

This isn’t a small claim to make. I’ve been to 4 Coheed shows, this was Mary’s eighth, Joe’s seventh, and Mike’s fifth or sixth. Mike also saw them open for Brand New when they were just starting out.

Mike has a lot of emo kid street cred for a preppy jock.

Mary was even at the legendary 10th Anniversary Neverender show. We’ve seen line up changes, (the departure of epic drummer Chris Pennie, now replaced with the lower key but extremely talented Josh Eppard. And last time Joe, Mary and I saw them bassist Mic Todd had just been arrested for armed robbery. He’s not in the band anymore.) We’ve loved all of those shows, but this one was simply impossible to explain. The energy of the room was unstoppable, Claudio was in rare form. I love seeing people enjoy what they’re doing, particularly when what they’re doing is something immensely cool, like playing in a rock band or being a professional athlete. And  last night, Claudio was having fun. He was wailing on both his guitar and vocally, telling goofy stories and laughing.

We spent the rest of the night, drinking gambling and laughing. We didn’t get to bed until 5:30 AM.

I love my family. I love this band. I love that when we found out this was happening it was a complete no brainer for us. This was going to happen. We were going to go. We were going to have an amazing time. And we did.

The Afterman Part 1: Ascension comes out on October 9. You’ll be hearing more about Coheed and Cambria from me in the mean time as bits and pieces leak out.

10 Days!

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When I’m Out In The Street

I’m kind of in full on concert mode these days and it’s pretty great. Last night I went to see Bruce Springsteen at Met-Life Stadium.

I’ve seen Springsteen many times. This is in fact the third time this year I’ve seen The Boss live. (We go at least once every time he’s in the area.) If you haven’t seen a Springsteen concert, or you’re “not a fan,” I suggest going. You will be a fan by the time the show is over. You may even be a fan by the time the first song is over. I’ve seen this happen. (April, Madison Square Garden, my sister Mary’s boyfriend, Joe.)

This show I was down in the general admission floor with Michael, Mary, Joe, Katherine and Mike’s friend Jeff. We also ran in to a guy I hadn’t seen since middle school and we all hung out dancing, drinking, laughing and having an amazing time.

Bruce Springsteen is kind of like the Giants, in that it was just always tied up in my family history. My parents met and fell in love while he was starting to break out in the mid seventies, their early marriage, (before the 3 of us kids came in and made their lives so much brighter and more wonderful) was in the early to mid 80’s, when The River and Born in The USA ruled the world. This is music that is deep inside of me.

It was one of the stranger Springsteen concerts that I’ve ever attended. The set list was a bizarre amalgam of new songs (“Wrecking Ball” the title track of his most recent album is like the greatest explanation of how Jersey people think of themselves.) covers, and obscure album tracks.(Anytime he plays “Lost in The Flood” and “Bobby Jean,” you know you’re probably not going to hear “Thunder Road” is what I’m saying.) “Rosalita,” which is usually played last, was played around 10 PM.

I had an amazing time, I really did. It was a strange mix though.

A Heart Don’t Forget Something Like That

I’ve been listening to country music for about seven years. Longer than that if you count Shania Twain (I don’t count Shania Twain). It all started when my brother came home from college in Washington DC, talking about Tim McGraw.

“Who?”

“Tim McGraw. You know him, Reen, he’s married to Faith Hill.” I stared at him dumbfounded. But then, when he would drive me places, we would listen to Tim McGraw. And wow did I like this music.

He also looks like this. And that is appealing to 16 year old girls, for some reason.

It didn’t take long after that for some of my other friends to come out of the woodwork, talking about how much they loved country music. It was like this weird secret that none of us ever talked about, but we all had in common. It’s hard when you live in the suburbs of New York, where there’s no country music radio station (and this is pre Pandora, Spotify and even I-Pods were new and only a few of my friends had them…), and where every teenager is trying to more of a sophisticated New Yorker than anything else, to embrace this kind of music, and to find new stuff was even harder.

My friends and I used to trade mix CD’s (remember Mix CDs?) of country music with our favorite stuff on them. Mine were always loaded down with Tim and Faith, had some Toby Keith (my friend Cha and I started drinking whisky because of Toby Keith…though we hate admitting that) and the occasional Dolly Parton or Kenny Rogers track.

Then one day a friend handed me a CD that started with a song called, “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.” I looked at the listing, Kenny Chesney? How had I not heard of this guy? So I went home, went on Limewire (remember Limewire?) and downloaded a whole bunch of Kenny Chesney. I loved how clear it was that yes, he was straight country, but he also seemed to be the clear successor to Jimmy Buffet

“No shoes, no shirt, no problem!”

I’ve been hooked ever since. I was lucky enough to go to college in a place that did have a country station, and met other people who were in to this music.

Last night I went to The Brothers of The Sun tour concert. It’s a dual tour headlined by Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney. I had an incredible time. I was with my immediate family and my cousin Billy, as well as Juli and Kate.

Also, I owe Juli and Kate and apology for not introducing them earlier. Because seriously, they should have been friends for years!