After the phenomenal concert in Indy on June 27, we knew we had to have another dose. And the Saturday venue fit our schedules. Left Indy at 9am (after staying up late to see Todd on Letterman). For some reason, I take the "One Long Year" CD liner notes and an ink pen with me (just in case I meet Todd [sure] and he's agreeable to an autograph). A steady diet of Lance's TR concert tapes sets the mood. Traffic moves, the surf talks, life is good.
Arrived Pittsburgh 4:30pm. Jeeez, look at all the people. Point State Park is wall-to-wall humanity. This Regatta is some big deal here (it was a glorious summer day). Traffic is backed up to the bridge and people are everywhere. We proceed (at a snail's pace) 4 or 5 intersections then take a random right, looking for someplace to park. Public parking garage 2 blocks ahead. We park. $3. Life is good.
Walk to the park. Takes forever to find and walk to the stage. Fences and restricted access everywhere. Local talent is performing. OH NO! The area and seats right in front of the stage are fenced off. Cops won't let us in without a special wristband. Crap! There is a huge area right in front of the stage, about 300-500 seats, additional standing room for twice that number of people, and maybe 50 people in there. We check out alternative viewing areas and they are less than ideal. We need some of those damn wrist bands.
We get the low down on the wristbands: The radio station that's sponsoring the Regatta gives them out to contest winners, regatta workers, VIPs, and to a limited number of fans (while supplies last). We find the radio station's tent at the Regatta. The bands are all gone. We plead our case. Long drive, big fans, make my summer. Nada. We work on these guys for maybe 10 minutes. They are very sympathetic but can't do anything. We thank them and back off. About 2 minutes later we try again: "Can you guys think of ANY way we can get up front?" The lady DJ has a soft spot for our pathetic begging. She starts to give us her wristband. A guy DJ stops her and pulls 2 bands out of his pocket. He was saving them for some friends but doesn't think they will show up. Aqua blue wristbands are placed upon us. "Don't tell anyone when you got these." It's 6:15. We are anointed. Life is good.
We go to one of the officially sanctioned party areas and drink beer (Toto, this sure doesn't look like Indiana). Lance is wearing his black Todd T-shirt with the grotesque portrait of Our Hero. We encounter a T-shirt twin and get acquainted. Discuss recent concerts and fanaticism. He wants the wristband low down. We tell. I tell him I'll try to slip him my band through the fence. It's 7:20. We go to the Port-O-Lets. No lines. Life is good.
We cruise through the gate to the exclusive, VIP, restricted area without a hitch (thought for sure they would throw our butts out anyway). Take seats in the 3rd row and watch the last few tunes by local group called B.E. Taylor or something. Really good. They play a couple Beatles tunes. Nice looking lady in a bikini top and shorts asks me to dance. Sure. Life is good.
We finish dancing and sit. Concert security and police come over and ask the lady and her friends to leave. They have no blue wristbands. Goodbye lady (the only saving grace is that she wasn't planning to stay for Todd anyway). We stay. We are Royalty. I guess I won't be passing my wrist band to Lance's T-shirt twin. The set ends, the roadies start setting up for Todd. It's 7:45. Life is good (for some).
The restricted area is still practically empty, but more than before (maybe 100-200 people). We see some fans with Todd T-shirts and move over by them. Chit chat. I wonder how they got in when so many of our brethren are pressed to the fences? Luck, like Lance and I? Radio connections? Band connections? Regatta volunteers? Sneak-ins like the lady? We discuss. We're all the above. We all agree: It would be much more fun if they let the fans get close. Hope they do once the concert starts. It's 8:21. Todd walks on to the stage. Life is good.
Todd enters singing "Your So Far Away." He's obviously miffed at the seating arrangements. He chastises the Royalty: "What do you have to do to sit down there?" I feel badly (once again) about my Royal bloodline. I yell to the crowd pressed to the chest-high chain-link fence "Join us! Civil disobedience! Jump the fence! They can't stop you all!" Nobody does it (I've never been an effective rabble rouser). About 40 of us in the first 3 rows are active/vocal fans and stand/dance/sing through the entire concert (OK, we all sat for the Ukulele song, but that was it.). Todd's music and lyrics transport me, transform me. Bliss. Utter bliss. Life is good.
I Hate My Frickin I.S.P. Couldn't I Just Tell You Love of the Common Man #1 Lowest Common Denominator Love In Action Fix Your Gaze On Me Hammer In My Heart Tiny Demons Bang On the Ukulele Daily Trapped Black and White There Goes My Inspiration Buffalo Grass One World
Yer Fast (And I Like It) Open My Eyes
Musically, the concert wasn't as good as the Indy concert. The band did not seem energized. Problems with the lighting interrupted the pace of the concert. Early on, the trio would pause between songs in the hope that the lights could be fixed. After 3 or 4 songs they gave up on that. Spotlights and stage lights blinked on and off, or went out for minutes at a time (at one point a roadie tried to light Todd with a flashlight!). When Todd stepped to the front of the stage to play his solos, he was just a silhouette (poetic justice for those of us up front). I think the seating arrangements/lack of fans up front (hey I tried) and the massive crowd milling around in the background may have contributed to a sense of detachment on the part of the trio. Or maybe Todd was just pissed off. I know I missed the crush of fans and the energy that generates. I was really geared up to hear the new tunes from OLY that Todd has been playing on tour but he didn't play Hit Me Like A Train or The Surf Talks. Yer Fast, the first encore, was the highlight of the show that ended as scheduled at 9:45 ("On with the laser show" said Todd).
Lance and I were on our way for a post-concert beer before hitting the road and were walking behind the stage when we saw Todd emerge. A couple other fans were hanging out back there and called out to Todd for an autograph. He came over and signed some guy's photos and posed for a photo with another fan and was very gracious and willing to chat. Lance reminded me about the CD liner notes I had brought and Todd signed them "To Jeff! TR 2000". Kasim appeared and also signed the liner notes. They hopped on "Chauffeur"-driven golf carts and slowly moved into a sea of Regatta revelers, nearly all of them oblivious to THE musical genius of our time. An autograph. Amazing. Life is good.
We had one beer, got directions, and started home--our blue wristbands still attached. As we approached the bridge over the Monongahela River, the Regatta fireworks started. Beautiful. Intense. Lance put in his concert tape, cranked it up, and those fireworks started. I had asked Todd if the rumor was true. Was this his last tour? He said "Probably" and looked away. OH NO! We better drive to Boardman this Friday. Life may not be so good much longer.