Sunday, July 8, 2012

Chapter Two: An Even More Excruciatingly Long, Extraordinarily Detailed Account Of Every Moment Of The New Greatest Day Of My Life AKA Hello Lifehouse (Again)!


Saturday, June 30, 2012: It is difficult for me to know where to begin or how to find the right words to describe such a perfect weekend. The excitement began around 8:30 on Friday night when my dad took me to O’hare to meet up with Sherri and Christy, who I was very excited and anxious to see. About an hour before that, we made plans for me to meet up with them and stay at the snazzy Holiday Inn the night before the show, which was a very pleasant and unexpected surprise! We decided we would go to the show together in the morning, so my friend Mel from Chicago, who I so graciously bought a ticket for, ended up not coming haha! After months of believing that Sherri and Christy were both 14, imagine my surprise when seeing them at the airport! After a few minutes of my dad acting like I was an 8 year old going off for my first slumber party, the three of us went to take the train down to the hotel. Though, I feel I should point out, no one had any idea which stop the hotel was at, so it is a good thing Chicagoans are so friendly! When we arrived at the hotel, the guy who checked us in asked what brought us to Chicago, to which we all responded by shuffling around awkwardly. Then Christy admitted that we all flew in for “The World’s Largest Block Party”, and the guy asked who we were seeing. We told him we were there to see Lifehouse, and he said he knew who they were. I asked if they were staying at the hotel and he told us we JUST missed them. Shucks! Every time we walked in or out, it seemed they had just been there moments before! We went upstairs and got settled, then after about an hour decided to go party out on the town! We walked around for a bit, before realizing that there was quite literally nothing within walking distance of the hotel except for the “World’s Largest Block Party”, which was 0.7 miles away. However, we did stop to take a scenic picture in front of the Sears Tower!
In front of the Sears Tower!
We ended up walking back to the hotel (where we just missed Lifehouse, AGAIN), taking a cab to the “Russian Division”, and going into some bar to get food. The bouncer asked for all three of our IDs, but I think he was just trying to make Sherri and Christy feel better about being in their 80s. It turned out that they did not want to serve us anything at ten minutes to midnight, so we walked outside (in the rain) to this little restaurant a few doors down called Five Faces. At this point, my fa├žade of watching what I was eating came to a screeching halt when I ordered delicious cheesy fries. Sherri and Christy ordered equally healthy items. This restaurant was so awesome, they even sold plates of 24 cheese cubes. The sign up in the restaurant told us that after trying Five Faces, they guaranteed that we would come back, and of this I have no doubt! We then went back to the hotel and just goofed around for a while before going to bed. I learned some awesome new things about my friends in that first night. First of all, Christy will actually do Zumba anywhere, including five star restaurants. And second of all, in Christy’s wise words, Sherri is a corn dog (and mozzarella stick and peanut butter kit kat) eating trucker mouthed bed hog. Also, apparently they think there is something funny about sleeping with a Blanky, just because it has tiny little holes in it. Whatever!

By the time I fell asleep, I think it was probably 3 AM, and my excited anxiety for the following day was continuing to build! I woke up around 9:30 the next morning. Christy was already downstairs working out, and Sherri, who claimed she would be wide awake by 5 AM, still seemed to be relaxing in bed! I spent some time getting ready for the day, and then waited around in the hotel for about six months while the old ladies finished getting ready to leave. By about 12:30 or so, we left to go meet up with Breann for lunch, which ended up happening a few hours later than we had expected. Only Christy was smart enough to actually eat breakfast! We ended up walking in the sweltering heat towards where the venue was located. By the time we got there, we realized that the entire area was open, and we could walk right up to the stage. There were a bunch of guys setting up, so Sherri, who is just painfully shy, went right up behind the stage and asked the guys if they knew when Lifehouse was doing soundcheck. Unfortunately, no one knew. After a few minutes, Breann came and met up with us! At this point I was starving, but we decided to stick around for a few minutes to see if we could find out more about soundcheck, and it is a lucky thing that we did! Shortly after, we saw Winnie up on stage and realized that meant that the boys would likely be showing up soon. After just a few more minutes, a van pulled up, and the guys came walking out! At this point, I totally started to lose it and get a little panicky and completely forgot I was hungry. Sherri, Christy, and Breann seemed totally composed while I, still being a mere child, was going completely nutty. Though maybe it had something to do with this being my second Lifehouse show, whereas they had all seen them over twenty times (jerks)! We decided that in order to appear (slightly more) normal, to walk back to the entrance and head up to the stage instead of gawking from backstage. When we walked up, Bryce was sitting at the end of the stage, where he was actually tweeting about soundcheck. He asked us if we were excited for the show later, which I think was a fairly redundant question, though we enthusiastically responded that we were! He talked to us for a couple of minutes, mostly about a Russian park in LA, and then said he had to get up on stage for soundcheck and that he’d see us at the show later. Jason then saw us from the stage, and smiled and waved at us!
Hanging out at soundcheck!
We got to watch them soundcheck parts of six songs, which was an absolutely incredible experience to me. What could be better than seeing your favorite band in the universe perform live, twice in one day?! It was crazy to actually get to see them play some songs with just the four of us sitting there and watching them. It was like having our own private mini concert, and it felt strange to be able to see them with no one else around, and knowing that the guys noticed each of us. They started soundcheck with their cover of Beast of Burden, which was absolutely hysterical to me (for reasons that shall remain a mystery)! They played the full song, and then played Broken, which excited me very much since it is one of my favorites. They also played that full song, minus the variation at the end that they usually do in live shows. Next they did Spin, but cut it a bit short. After that, they did the first part of Nerve Damage, and then played all of Falling In.
Booty shot of the band at soundcheck!
After that song, Jason got off the stage and went in back. A few seconds later, Sherri nudged me to tell me that he was coming over to us, at which point my heart was just about ready to pound right out of my chest! He came over and gave each of us a hug, initiated by him, which I thought was so sweet. Breann introduced herself to him, and then he responded by saying, “Hi, I’m Jason”. We all thought that was pretty hysterical. Yes, the four of us are sitting here at around 2 PM when you go on stage at 9 PM, in the 95˚ weather, sweating buckets, yet the obvious assumption would be that we have no idea what his name is. I guess it just shows how humble Jason can be. Even though it was only the four of us standing there, I loved that he actually came down to say hi to us, whereas a lot of artists would maybe just wave or not really pay attention. After saying hi, Jason walked over to the sound booth, and Bryce did soundcheck for part of Wrecking Ball. Once the soundcheck was over, we walked back over to Jason to ask him for a ton of favors haha! First we told him about the By Your Side fundraiser and asked him to sign the lyrics to the song. He seemed interested by the fundraiser and thought it was pretty cool that we were doing it! Christy was nice enough to give him a letter from a fan, and I also gave him Karla’s poem and asked him if he would mind speaking to her and wishing her a happy birthday if we called her. Of course, he had no problem doing that. We wanted to take a picture of him calling her, but he actually walked away to the other side of the sound booth so that we couldn’t see him, which I thought was really cute. Karla didn’t pick up her phone, but he left her a really sweet birthday message, which I think made all of our days! I then asked him to sign my copy of No Name Face, which is now my only signed Lifehouse album! I handed it to him like a Parkinson’s patient, at which point I think he decided it was time to run away. I asked if he would take a picture with us, but then after taking a picture with me he ended up walking away.
Me with Jason!
I quickly told him that if he wanted to throw Simon into the set list that night, it would be amazing. He said sure, he would play it, though I am pretty sure I already knew he was just saying that to be nice, which I ended up being right about haha. Of course, I forgot pretty much everything I actually wanted to say to Jason as soon as I was standing in front of him, but I was so happy we got a chance to talk to him for a little while! I think everyone else thought we had harassed him enough at that point so they didn’t ask him for pictures, though it is my belief that they were way too composed during the whole thing! As Breann so graciously pointed out, I think I scared him away before they had a chance to take a picture with him haha!

After Jason went back to the sound booth, we decided it was time to go get some lunch. We walked for a few minutes and decided to go to the first (and only) restaurant we found, called Al’s. They proclaimed to have the number one Italian beef sandwich in Chicago, which I am certain must be the case, along with all the other restaurants that have similar claims. I was too overheated and anxious to eat much at this point, so I just got a salad, which also ended up being the only thing I consumed for the entire day. The four of us ended up sitting around in the restaurant for about two and a half hours, which is how long it took for us to cool off and stop sweating. When we were sitting in the restaurant, Christy tried Karla again, and we realized that the voice on the answering machine was not her, so Christy left a very long winded message about a voice mail from a rock star, asking the girl to call her back. It turns out that we had misdialed and the voice mail was left for some random stranger, who for some (odd) reason did not return the phone call! I am still wondering what she must have thought about the weird voice mail on her answering machine haha! I ended up calling Karla from my phone after and got to speak to her for a minute and wish her a happy birthday, which made me really happy! The four of us ended up just sitting around and chatting and goofing around the whole time we were sitting in the restaurant, which was so much fun! I absolutely loved getting to just sit there and spend time together.
Hanging out at lunch!

The actual show started at 5:30, so around that time we decided to head back to the venue and stake out our spots. When we walked back into the venue, there weren’t all that many people there yet. I’m pretty sure most of the people already inside were there early for the free extra drink and weren’t all that interested in the music haha! We walked right up to the front, and even though there were a couple of people there already, Sherri, Breann, and I managed to find spots in the front row, and Christy stood right behind us. The first band to play was called No Love For Linus. They were pretty cool, and played for about 45 minutes or so. They were giving out some free EPs after the show, so I snatched one for myself! After they played, this band called Vintage Blue came on at 6:30, and they also played for about 45 minutes. They were really good, and had some interesting songs. At the end of their set, they did this weird song composed of a bunch of different songs, like Somebody That I Used To Know and Ice, Ice Baby, which was so cool! At the end of their set, they threw some Frisbees out into the crowd, one of which almost knocked my head off. Christy seemed to like that, since she ended up wearing one as a hat for a little while! After they finished, this guy named Brett Dennen played for just over an hour, starting at 7:30. I don’t even know exactly how best to describe him, other than saying he was undoubtedly the strangest performer I have ever seen, and probably should have washed his hair before the show haha! His set wasn’t too bad, but I probably would have enjoyed monkeys banging pans around on stage considering how happy I was that whole day! I think Breann enjoyed his set more than anyone though, based on the look of pure adoration on her face during his whole performance! After Brett’s set was over, I started to get super antsy again!
Pre-show anxiety!
Twenty minutes or so later, some Pastor came on stage to introduce Lifehouse! I started going nuts, as did everyone around me! The hooligans who were smoking all night long even put down their cigarettes for Lifehouse, THAT is how incredible they are! Of course, they started with Hello There, which was awesome as usual. A few days before the show I had tweeted Lifehouse asking if they were playing a 90 minute set, and they responded that they were, which was super exciting! I had only ever seen them play an hour long set, so I was so excited to see what they would add to the set list. The first nine songs were the same as the first time I saw them in Boston, which started to make me a little nervous! I was still so excited to hear some of the songs live again (a few even for the second time that day)! The first few songs were All In, Here Tomorrow Gone Today, Spin, Nerve Damage, You And Me, Whatever It Takes, Wrecking Ball, and Beast Of Burden.
Jason!
Spin is still one of my very favorite songs to hear live, which you can probably tell by watching the videos I took of the show haha! That is one of my favorite Lifehouse songs, and I just love how much energy they have when playing it, especially during the outro. During Nerve Damage, Jason came down to the audience, as usual. He walked past us and I wanted to give him another hug, but I was kind of rejected when he walked past me. He did give Sherri a “hello there, frail old lady” hand squeeze though, which was so very sweet of him! After the first nine songs, they started playing the intro to Wash, and I went absolutely crazy! I was totally ecstatic to hear a new song on the set that I had never heard live before, especially one that I love so much! It was incredible live, and I think they should definitely have it as part of their shorter sets too. After that, they played Hanging By A Moment, which is always amazing live. I got a really awesome picture of Bryce playing the song with his bow, which was very cool!
Bryce during Hanging By A Moment!
The next song was Take Me Away, which also made me go completely nuts. Take Me Away is also one of my very favorite Lifehouse songs and I was so happy they included it in the set. That was definitely one of my favorite songs of the night! Next they played Falling In and then First Time. I was hoping that Jason would come down to the crowd during First Time and put his stomach in my face again, like during the show in Boston! Unfortunately, he didn’t come off the stage this time, and that experience was not repeated…my only real regret of the night! The next song they played was Broken. Even though I was hearing it for the second time that day, it was still just absolutely incredible. That song will always be so special to me for being the one that made me fall in love with Lifehouse and feel the need to go and buy their albums. Jason hit a note during that song that just sent chills up and down my spine, and I am very glad I caught it on video! I will honestly never get tired of seeing them play that song and it will never stop having such a strong emotional impact on me. After Broken, the guys left the stage and of course everyone cheered for them to come back and play the encore. They came back on and did Halfway Gone, which is one of my lesser favorites but was still awesome! Then they finished with Everything. Ahhhhhh! Anyone who knows me knows how long I have been waiting to FINALLY hear that song live, and oh boy, it was just breathtaking. My camera was flashing that it had no battery left, and I was so happy I was able to actually capture it on video. That song is just unbelievable, especially when seeing it live and getting to witness the passion Jason puts into singing it. I was in total awe of the whole performance and the entire night in general, and I still am.
One of my favorite pictures I got of Jason!
The boys finished their set to a lot of very loud cheering, and you can actually spot all four of us in the video they took of the crowd, which was pretty cool! I just stood there for a minute, soaking it all in, feeling that total sense of contentment that happens only at the very best of moments. I then saw Winnie on the stage and called out to him to ask if he would pass me the set list. I was very excited to get a copy of it again! After the show, the four of us decided to stick around and see if we could meet the boys again, with another awesome fan and her husband that we met during the show, named Sandie. The security came up to us after just a few minutes and told us that we had to start clearing out of the venue. We decided to walk a few steps in order to appease them, and then sat down on the sidewalk to wait some more for the boys! After only a few more minutes, more of the security guards came up to us and made us leave, which was rather unfortunate. Some drunken girls on the street were being kind of loud and annoying, and I think the cops were trying to tell them to leave. Sherri went up to the police and told them that if the girls were harassing them, she could take care of it, which cracked me up. Did I mention how shy she is?? We then walked back to the lot where Breann parked her car, and she drove me, Sherri, and Christy the 0.7 miles back to the hotel, which was a huge relief considering how tired we all were! She had a pretty long drive back to her sister’s place in Indiana, so she left after dropping us off. The three of us then went back upstairs to wait for Mel, who picked me up after the show. She arrived after about a half hour, and I went downstairs so she could take me back home after a long and very exciting day.
Me with the setlist!
          I left the hotel with my heart so full of love and happiness over the whole day, but also with a tremendous ache that still hasn’t gone away. Everything about the day was so incredibly perfect. It was very different from Boston, and overall the experience felt so much more special to me. It wasn’t just about going to see Lifehouse this time, but about experiencing every moment of it with three amazing friends and people who I love so very much. It’s insane how much love and happiness Lifehouse has brought into my life, and when I really think about it, the most important part for me is the life long friendships I have made because of them. They are really so much more than just my favorite band, and for people who are not a part of it, trying to explain how they have affected my life and that of so many others is just impossible. I think only Jason could find the right words to express such a thing! Their music has the rare ability to transcend absolutely everything; distance, age, beliefs, personal issues. It is just all about love and hope and as Christy would say, being HUMAN. I know how cheesy this all sounds, but I also know that any Lifehouse fan knows exactly what I am talking about. There is really no other feeling in the world quite like seeing a Lifehouse show with close friends, and I am already aching for the next opportunity I will have to do it all again!
Me with some of my favorite people! :)