My Religious Experience
Guess who I saw Friday night? I said GUESS….nope…..nuh uh….nope…who said that? Was it you? Well you, my friend are correct. I saw FITZ AND THE TANTRUMS!!!!!!! If you don’t know this already, FATT is my favorite band. I LOVE LOVE LOVE them. I don’t have the words to describe how amazing they are live but I’m going to give it a whirl. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…it’s a religious experience.
Casey (my very cool, cooky, skinny kid) and I got tickets to Vanderbilt University’s Rites of Spring Music Festival. This is a festival that they’ve put on since the mid 80’s. They have had some amazing acts at this festival. I was lucky enough to see The Red Hot Chili Peppers there in 1989. This was during their tube sock phase. If you don’t know about that, well….just watch this.
Inchyways, we got our tickets. We decided to get single day only because FATT and Mutemath were playing and we didn’t really give a crap about any of the bands on Saturday. So here’s a play by play.
Left the house totally excited. Gates were supposed to open at 5:30 so we left the house at 3:45. We wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to get there, find parking, a damn near impossibility on Vanderbilt’s campus without the proper decal or the inability to give a shit if your ride gets towed. Neither of which I have. So we drive to West End, found free parking about a hundred miles from the Alumni Lawn where the festival is held. We arrived at the gates somewhere around 4:30ish. I’m from the Bobby Long Fan school of If you want to be up front, do what you have to do to make sure you’re in line before anyone else. So guess who was there before anyone else? Yep…Casey and me and a handful of other people who showed up within 5 minutes of each other. We had to sit outside the gates for a while… no biggie. The weather was pleasant and Vanderbilt is a beautiful campus with plenty of benches. We were golden. Here’s where things get a little interesting.
What happened next is something that happens to me on occasion. I get lucky and innocents unsuspectingly wander across my path. So Casey and I are chilling on a bench and I look up and walking through the gate toward us was none other than Michael Fitzpatrick…AKA Fitz! I got that little bubble of excitement that you get when you have an unexpected encounter with someone of whom you are a fan. I felt pretty in control though since I’ve met the good people in this band several times. Normally at a meet and greet. First time was at an in store appearance in St. Louis. The next time was after their show at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville the night following the in store in St. Louis. That time I was also lucky enough to get to chill outside on the sidewalk for about 30 minutes chatting with the sax player, James King. Then there were a couple of more meet and greets and the most recent time before tonight was at their show here in Nashville at Cannery Ballroom back in October of last year.
That encounter was by far the most surreal encounter I’ve ever had with someone I was a fan of. Jeff and I were pulling up into the parking area and we stopped behind a dude who was paying for parking when we looked to our immediate right where their tour bus was parked and saw Fitz getting off the and walking in our direction. I rolled down the window and shouted “HEY” to Fitz where he promptly walked up and asked if we could give him a ride to a drugstore to get lotion. I said, “sure” so in he climbed into the Momma Van and off we went in search of a store where he could get lotion to get rid of his “white boy ash”. He was so chilled out and we talked about the tour and his laundry/packing issues. When we got to the store, he hopped out of the car and I went into total freak out/fangirl mode. I looked at Jeff and was like “What the fuck is going on?” I tried to call Tara, who wasn’t answering the phone. I also tried Krissy and Casey. None of which were answering! AARRRGGGHHHHH!!!! I NEED TO TELL SOMEONE!!!! So Jeff snapped me out of it by telling me Fitz was coming back out. I pulled myself together about the time he got back in the van and off we went back to the venue. Him still being chilled out and me acting like that kind of shit just happened to me everyday. When we got back, he jumped out and told us thanks for the lift. I was in somewhat of a “did that shit really happen?” daze. I parked the car and walked into the venue. People finally started calling me back and I got to relay my awesome story while Jeff was more concerned about Fitz’s safety, “Has he not ever heard of Stranger Danger”? And “Somebody’s going to take him” were uttered more than once.
So after experiencing that, I felt pretty confident that I could keep it cool when I looked up and saw him headed my way. I said “Hey Fitz! You good on lotion this trip?” I know. I’m an idiot. It just came out of my mouth. He appeared a little confused and said he was set. It took a second but then I think he realized who I was and gave me a more enthusiastic HI, asked how I’d been, walked up the path, picked up a red wire that was on the ground (he told me later that he’d dropped it earlier in the day), turned around and headed back our way. I asked if he minded taking a picture with me, he said of course not so Casey snapped a few. We chatted for a minute and back off he went. I tried not to go fangirl…I think I did okay. Another plus to getting to the venue way too early is that you might just run into the artist milling around picking up random shit off the ground.
<<<<<< ME AND FITZ!!! HE’S FUN!
Casey and I continued to sit there for a while and even though we could see the stage and hear everything that was going on, they still wouldn’t let us in because FATT was doing their sound check. More people had gathered and when they played “Don’t Gotta Work It Out” me, Casey and a girl who looked just like Darlene Conner from Rosanne all sang along word for word. I was feeling pretty good about that time. 5:30 came and went. The security people told us they were just waiting for the okay to let us in. This was about the time that some smug little 12-year-old security guy told Casey that she couldn’t bring in her camera that she had hanging around her neck. He said, “No professional photography equipment. Only disposable cameras are allowed in. You’ll need to take that back to the car unless you want us to keep it.” Um…what? My brain was warring with my mouth about what I wanted to say first. It was a toss-up between, “This is not a professional camera. It’s a Fujifilm FinePix S3280 from Wal-Mart,” and “I wish you WOULD try to keep this camera you little shit!” Needless to say, after much debate between me, Casey, the event staff and minimum wage wannabe Security Nazis, it was decided that yes you could bring in small “flat” digital cameras. Just nothing with detachable lenses. Again, It’s just a regular camera with a 24x zoom lens…that is permanent. I decided it was not worth the hassle of arguing with these morons so we decided to make the trek a hundred miles back to the car. There were people there but it was a pretty good size area so I felt confident that even with the trip to the car, we could still get up front with no problem. As we were leaving, one of the security guys, a dude that looked to be in his 30’s and seemed to be bored with the whole thing, stepped up to us and told us if we just walk off and then put the camera in my bag, to make sure I came through his line and he’d let us in with it. I told him thanks. So back up the path we went and around the building. I put the camera in my bag, chilled for a little while then decided it wasn’t that big of a deal. I didn’t want dude to get into trouble if for some reason things didn’t pan out when we went through the gate so we went on and took the camera back to the car.
15 minutes later, we went on through without any hassle…well except Casey had already opened her SmartWater and they made her throw it away because apparently they thought what she was standing there chugging may be Vodka or some other illicit substance. You’ll see the irony of that in just a minute.
There were people spread out on the lawn on blankets and in chairs but there was still plenty of space along the rail/fence/barrier in front of the stage. We claimed out spot and got comfy.
The first band, The Bleaker Street Blues Band came out. They were okay. A local rock/blues band that all appeared to be in their 50’s and 60’s. Fine with me. That just meant that I wasn’t the oldest one there anymore.
This is what I hate about these kinds of things. Surrounded on all sides by college students. What a cocky arrogant age that is. I should know. I have 3 kids that age. I looked around at all the girls in tiny dresses and cowboy boots and all the guys in their cargo shorts, Polo’s and Speery’s that were standing around thinking they were just all kinds of fucking awesome at a music festival with their beer in their hands. I shook my head and told Casey I had been going to shows before any of these children were even born. I know I’m kind of a bitch, but I don’t give a shit. I hate these rich kids. Anyway, Casey enjoyed a gourmet grilled cheese and we rocked out to the old dudes.
Next up was Gloriana. As a rule, I don’t listen to country music if I can help it. It’s hard to do that, living in Nashville, but I do the best I can. The band came out, and I couldn’t help but giggle at the gelled hair and the cowboy boots. Their only saving grace was a black drummer with dreadlocks. The only tune in my head was that Sesame Street song, “One of these things is not like the other”
They opened with Sweet Emotion. I looked to Casey in confusion and told her here all this time I thought that was an Aerosmith tune. They played for a while, the lead singer/guitar player commented that it smelled EXACTLY like April 20th on stage and he might have a contact high. See the irony in Casey’s water bottle exchange with the Nazi’s now? He was right though. I think every other person in the crowd was blazing up. Casey remarked that it smelled like a giant skunk’s asshole.This was also around the time that one of the Nazis came up to me from the other side of the barrier and told me there was no smoking and if I wanted to smoke, I could go out by the street. I gave him the “are you fucking serious? Do you not SMELL the weed or are you just too stupid to realize that the canopy of smoke hovering over the crowd did NOT in fact come out of a giant skunk’s asshole” look. I just shook my head and put it out. Anyway, they continued to play and the college girls continued to scream, sing along and dance with their PBR’s and Natty Lights held high above their heads. I was in hell. The band ended up doing a half way decent cover of Joe Walsh’s Rocky Mountain Way and a not so decent John Mellancamp cover of Small Town that morphed into Springsteen’s Born in the USA. Typical country band bullshit. The girl in the band would occasionally pick up her tambourine to play along. I made the observation that I would never pick up a tambourine much less try to play it with Noelle Skaggs (Vocalist/tambourine player extraordinaire of FATT) just backstage. This then turned into a game of “Noelle is the _______ of the Tambourine” between Casey and myself. Just fill in the blank with things like “The Beatles” or “Beethovan” or “Jesus”. We had fun for a solid 5 minutes of that. I’ll go on record and say they weren’t the worst country band I’ve ever seen, but that’s not really saying a lot.
By this time, the crowd was firmly pressing against us and there was some debate between two girls with Casey on whether there was enough room for them next to her because their friends were standing there. They thought they could either a.) talk their way into Casey backing up so they could take the spot in the front or b.) shove their way in. Obviously they don’t know my kid. She’s been going to shows in tiny clubs, huge music festivals and concerts in giant arena’s since she was 12. This kid doesn’t let anyone get her spot. Period. I almost feel bad for the girl who tried to wedge herself in next to Casey. My kid may be may little, but she’s mean and has razor-sharp elbows. I guarantee you that girl had three or four bruises on her arms and ribs the following morning.
The crew came out and started setting up equipment I recognized! Keyboards/organ…sax stand…drum kit. I was vibrating with anticipation!! Which is something considering this is the 6th time I’ve seen them live in less than a year and a half. FINALLY the The J’s came out! Jeremy Ruzumna on the keyboards, John Wicks on the drums, Joseph Karnes on the bass and my personal fave, James King on the sax and flute. They started with Don’t Gotta Work It Out” my favorite FATT song and out came Fitz and Noelle! They played all my favorites including an awesome cover of The Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams” and when I tell you the crowd was getting down, I mean we were GETTIN’ THE FUCK DOWN!!!!! Then guess what happened. I felt a rain drop, then another, then before you could say “aww hell naw” the sky opened up and it started raining pitchforks and Iraqi babies! And guess what happened then?!? We started GETTIN’ THE FUCK DOWN even harder! The band, not sure if they could continue the set, with the rain coming down like it was, played their biggest hit, Moneygrabber and we all went apeshit. Towards the end of this song, what I knew was going to happen, happened. Fitz tells everyone to get down. Literally. If you’re standing, he will call you out. I’ve seen him do it a bunch of times. Then the music started to build and up we all came, jumping, clapping with our hands in the air and screaming along with him and Noelle. It was as amazing as it’s ever been. Pouring rain, people crowd surfing, Casey throwing ‘bows to the chick next to her…like I said. RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE!
Then amongst some boos (of the most respectful kind), Fitz apologized for cutting the set short as the crew came on stage and hurriedly started moving equipment. Then a few minutes later the rain let up a bit and the crew came back, moved everything closer together towards the center of the stage and FATT came back out. They ended up playing a couple of more songs. It was a treat to hear two songs off their upcoming album but because I get lost in the moment, I didn’t remember to remember the titles or try to record them. When I’m caught up in a FATT show, everything else in the world disappears and the only thing I’m aware of is the music! As it should be.
Casey and I held our spots waiting for the last band of the night, Mutemath. They’re a really good band. Casey and I saw them back in Nov. of 2009. The rain had started up lightly again so the band seemed to be waiting a bit to come out. At this point, we were soaked to the bone, freezing and our adrenaline high was wearing off fast. Casey looked at me and said her right foot was on full “brick mode” which I assume meant it was numb. I would have liked to stayed to see Mutemath, but I knew there was no freakin way they were going to top FATT so we peaced out.
It was an amazing show and I couldn’t have had a better time. I was asked by a friend if it was a great show. I’ll be honest. They’ve all been great shows. I’ve seen them in a record store. I’ve seen them in tiny packed clubs. I’ve seen them in larger packed clubs. I seen them when it was so hot, you couldn’t breathe and you felt as if you may die from heat stroke. I’ve seen them when it was balmy and beautiful outside. Now I’ve seen them surrounded by obnoxious college students in a monsoon. And I cannot tell you what was the best show I’ve seen. They were all amazing. This band is full of energy and that energy is the same whether they are playing to 100 people or to thousands as the video below of them at Coachella will show. It’s the SAME AMAZING PERFORMANCE EVERY TIME!!! I just love this band and I cannot wait until the next time I get to see them play!