Category Archives: touring

I Must Have Flowers in my Brain

I have no business going to Las Vegas in December.  I should not be going to that Duran Duran concert on December 30th.  Nope.  It is completely not logical.  The concert ticket was ridiculously expensive and the hotel room isn’t much better.  On top of that, the flight is going to cost me an arm and a leg from what I can tell.  The timing isn’t great either.  It is in the middle of winter break, a break that is super short again this year.  My to-do at home is a mile long as I get nothing done during the school year.  If all that wasn’t enough, I have been to plenty of shows.  Heck, a lot of you are probably thinking that I have been to way more shows than I should.

I could start listing all of the reasons that it “makes sense” to go, including that I don’t have to worry about work, that I get to see Rhonda and our other friends, and that going to a Duran show is a blast.  Work is a significant reason.  I could say that I deserve a lot of fun after working 10-12 hour days, at least 6 days a week since September 5th.  Besides work, I don’t have a lot of other responsibilities as I don’t have a family beyond the parents and nieces.  All of that is definitely true and they are all good reasons, but I admit that it isn’t the whole story.

When I think about what going on tour means, visions of groups and friends fill my head.  Memories of hanging out in bars or dancing in clubs with a whole bunch of people flood my consciousness.  While Rhonda and I definitely admit that our fan community (like all other fan communities) is not perfect.  I do not and will not like each and every fan and the same is true about me.  Competition too often gets in the way of genuine interaction and friendship but there is still something special with being on tour, at least for me.  It means being accepted.

Throughout my life, I have stood out from the crowd and not really in a good way.  I have been viewed as someone who is different.  Heck, many of you reading this probably recognize that, even through my writing.  I can come across as cold, calculating, closed off when I am just observing and thinking through things.  Many cannot relate to the way I analyze everything and write in a more serious way no matter the topic.  My passions, including politics, history, women’s studies, are not always easy to put up with.  I get all that.  I recognize that my life is different than a lot of other people our age.  I don’t have a husband.  I don’t have children.  A heck of a lot of time is spent on working and on politics.  Not everyone is into that.  I’m okay with that, but I also know that it is hard for people to relate to me.  As a kid, this really bothered me.  I was relieved when Duran Duran entered the world because it meant that I shared something that a lot of other people did.  Instead of being a total outsider, a part of me fit in.  The same is true now as an adult.  Being on tour means that I have a few days to fit in, to be accepted, to be a part of a group that I don’t get much in “real life”.

Speaking of my wacky personality characteristics, I’m sure it comes to no one that I tend to overthink everything.  I also put a lot of stuff on my shoulders as my responsibility and I feel guilty as heck when I take a break from those responsibilities.  Even Wenesday, when I was home sick (those presales often cause bad headaches, upset stomachs, etc.), I had checked into work before 10 am.  I was so worried about my classroom that I didn’t get much sleep the night before.  Thus, when something comes up that requires me to take a break from a responsibility or two, I struggle to go through with it.  I cannot tell you the number of times that I have gone back-and-forth with calling in sick when I’m actually sick.  I swear that my brain goes through every detail, every affect.  I envy those people who can just be decisive about things that affect their work lives.  I suck at it.  Funny enough, Duran is the one thing that pushes me out of this.  I don’t let myself think too much.  I just go with what I want within reason, of course.  The excitement overrides that voice of responsibility.  Maybe some of you think that is not a good reason to go, but, for me, I appreciate the break.  Of course, the break from thinking non-stop also happens on tour.  I don’t think too much then.  I just feel and react and live.

So, while I should not be going to Vegas for all the reasons I listed above, I am.  The desire to fit in, to have fun, and to take that mental break overrides the logic of not going.  Now…I gotta figure out a flight there and back.

-A

Good seats, white flags and the Daily Duranie Holiday Office Party

Sometimes, I can be so naive it ends up being a little embarrassing.  Yesterday morning, I participated in the pre-sale for The Cosmopolitan in Vegas. I knew going in that the show was probably going in high demand, but I felt that with the DDM VIP membership, I’d have half a chance at good seats.

Let me define “good seats” for you, because I suspect my definition might be different from yours. Basically, I want to be closer to the front, not necessarily front row probably within the first ten rows, and in the middle. I’ve sat on both sides before, and while they’re not terrible, I like the middle best. Chances are, this has something to do with Amanda’s favorite being John and mine being Dom. Middle is what suits us, as the compromise. Before each pre-sale, we call one another and decide on how far over we’re going to be wiling to go, and how far back we’re willing to sit.

This time, since purchasing VIP meant that I’d be giving up food for the next few weeks (joking), we felt that spending $400 a ticket on something like 8th row was too much. That doesn’t mean that one of you should feel terrible for doing so, its just OUR limit. Yours can be different and that’s fine. No judgment.

Our trouble began when we found out the password was “Simon”. I joke, but Amanda and I agreed the pre-sale would either go really well, or be a disaster, and if it was the latter, Simon cursed us.

Dammit!!

From the get-go, neither of us were getting the VIP packages to show up once the sale began. Then once they did show up, we quickly tried clicking on seats. We’d select the tickets only to be told they couldn’t process the transaction. Then we’d get bounced out of the pre-sale and would have to re-enter the password, only to see that the seats we’d just try to buy were still available. We did this for five or ten minutes, panicking the entire time. I decide to tweet Duran Duran and tell them that I think the system is broken.

This is where my naivety came in. First, I was dumb enough to believe that anyone at DDHQ or DDM actually cared. Yeah, I know I wrote all about how they care yesterday. That was before pre-sales and as I said yesterday – this part IS business. The truth of the matter is, it’s not their system. It’s Ticketmaster’s system. DDHQ couldn’t fix it even if they knew what was wrong. I know that.  I just thought they should know that no one seemed to be getting anything. Secondly, never once during all of this did I consider that perhaps it’s just bad luck on my end. I wasn’t meant to get tickets today. Some people get them, others don’t. This happens for every single resale.  I just thought something was really wrong, like a server issue. What was probably really “wrong” was that other people, whether bots, scalpers or real people with quicker computers or phones or whatever, were probably grabbing the tickets from me. I was stupid in thinking that once I selected the tickets, they were in my basket. Nope.

This happened over and over again for over a half-hour. Never mind that it continued to require me to type Simon’s name over and over and over again, which was also really stupid. I suppose those are all measures to stop bots and scalpers, but I doubt it.

Then suddenly, I had third row seats. I was able to get through to the next screen to begin the actual payment process, and then Ticketmaster decided I needed to log in. I was amused at first because I’d already logged in and even in the corner of the screen it said “Hi Rhonda”. Yep, that’s me, I thought. It’s STILL me, motherfucker!! 

(I curse like a sailor during pre-sales and today I was pretty damn tame until that moment. My mother would not be proud.)

So, I typed in my password.

Nope, Ticketmaster didn’t recognize that combination. OK, try it again. Type slower, Rhonda.

Nope, still doesn’t get it. I take a deep, cleansing breath. Ok, asshole hamster working behind the scenes….I am the same freaking person I was an hour ago when you let me log on. GIVE ME MY TICKETS!  Why do I even have to log in? Can’t I just be a guest??!

(Yes, the song “Be Our Guest” came into my head at that moment.  Get your head in the game, Rhonda, I thought firmly, trying to redirect myself from the ear worm. You have no time for Disney movies, you’re buying Duran Duran tickets!!) 

Amanda saves me at this point from throwing my laptop. She suggests I use her password. Surely that will work, I thought.  I type very, very, carefully.

Nope. I try mine again. Denied again. It now says I’m locked out of my account. Bye-bye tickets. My stomach begins to do flip-flops and I can feel myself suddenly get very tired and a cold, clammy feeling washes over me. I am worried that if I keep trying Amanda’s, she’ll be locked out as well, so I stop. I tell her to keep trying, and I set about requesting a new password from Ticketmaster. Oddly, they sent it to me right away, even though I’d been locked out. I reset my password, time ticking right by. I logged back on. Everything seemed normal, except there were no VIP package seats available whatsoever.

From then on, I pulled nothing that was VIP.  Keep in mind, we are now about 40 minutes into the pre-sale. The realization that I’m not going to be getting VIP seats to this gig begins to dawn. I tell Amanda I’m done, that I just won’t go, this is a sign from the universe, and that I’m too tired to go on.

I sometimes have a flair for the dramatic.

While all of this was happening, the other two people in our four person extravaganza struck gold. Literally, because they pulled two good seats in the third-row for themselves. Amanda and I were happy for them, but we were feeling pretty dejected at the same time. I mean, it sucks when things don’t go right. That’s not just me being a poor sport, it’s reality. It’s a bummer when you can’t get what you want. Ticketmaster and I are no longer friends, and I’m really not sure we ever were.

One of our friends sends a text, “Do you want us to keep looking for you?” I’m halfway tempted to say no, that I’m staying the hell home and that I hated Duran Duran, which is untrue on even the worst of days.  I didn’t really hate them. I hate the process. Trust the process,  my ass. (Sorry John.) I’m sick of this pre-sale nonsense. But I said none of that. Instead I said “Sure.” I figured they wouldn’t find anything or they’re just being kind, or that like us – they’d see tickets, select them, and be told they couldn’t complete the transaction at that time.

Meanwhile, Amanda and I continued to go through the motions of selecting, being denied, refreshing the “best available tickets”, entering the magic word (I have never typed Simon’s name so many times in a single day. Ever!), selecting different but still good seats, and being continuously denied. It was awful, and as Amanda cheerfully pointed out, “The very definition of insanity.”

I did not laugh or share her cheer. Instead, I groaned.

Our friends texted back saying they’d found a pair of tickets but they were way off to one side, and then another pair to the other side at the very edge of the stage. Nope. While we wanted to be at the show, neither of us felt comfortable paying $400 for tickets that were going to be staring at speakers or the wings of the stage. Picky? Probably so, but again – they’re our standards, they don’t have to be yours. I was just about to say goodbye to Amanda and head out to a piano lesson when I got another text about good seats in the sixth row, just to the right of middle by a few chairs. They were good, just back a pinch more than we’d agreed initially, but things change over the course of a pre-sale!

“Take them”, Amanda said. I could hear the white flag being raised in her voice. We were both pretty spent.

We’re going. We have good seats. We’re not complaining about our seats at all. The process though, kicked our asses.  While I’d heard about bots and scalpers buying up seats en mass before, I haven’t ever had this much of a problem getting VIP tickets in the past. It was a genuine mess for us this time.

Later on, someone pointed out to me that it was just bad luck, not operational issues.  They felt I shouldn’t have tweeted the band about it because it made me seem whiny. This person continued to say “It was your turn, and about time for you to have bad luck.”  The insinuation was made that Amanda get to do more than anyone else in this fan community and that they’re sick of seeing it. First of all, we don’t go to everything. We do what we can do. You do what you can do. But to go around wishing for one of us or the other to have bad luck is just mean.  I know that life isn’t always easy or peachy keen for either Amanda or me, but perception is everything. Point taken.

Sometimes pre-sales are really hard, and other times Duran Duran and/or the venue doesn’t use Ticketmaster as the agency and it all goes smoothly. We don’t expect to have good seats every single time. Overall though, Amanda and I aren’t going to be salty (my new favorite word, courtesy of my son) about this. We’re going to Vegas. We’re going to hang out over the holidays, exchange our gifts in person and drink at our own freaking Daily Duranie holiday office party, and everyone is going to be invited. What could be better than that?!

-R

 

 

The First World Problem of Front Row

So the pre-sale for Vegas is tomorrow. Amanda and I, along with our touring buddies, have a plan. The general plan is simple: get tickets.

Let’s be honest here, shall we? I mean, I’ve already admitted I’m an addict—so really, there’s no holding back now. Why bother? I’d love front row. Who wouldn’t? There isn’t much that is more intoxicating than being in front of the band and having them lock eyes with you. Unless of course you’re a straight guy, of course. Somehow, I don’t think it’s the same for them in that respect and hey, that’s cool. But truly, to be there, in the moment, with that electricity swirling about in spitting distance from the stage (yes, I said that), is something special.

Is it worth $500 or more, though?

(I winced as I typed that, just so you know.)

Here’s the thing – I know that some people will pay $500 or even more and not even blink. I have actually come close to paying it myself. Sometimes though, I have to wonder if I’m being stupid about the entire thing. It’s a lot of money. a LOT. Is it better to do one or two shows and have awesome seats, or is it better to do ten shows and sit back about ten rows? It’s the question I tangle with each and every time concerts are announced. Fifteen years ago, I would have bought ONE VIP ticket for the entire tour. The rest of the time, I would have sat wherever I could get tickets, and that likely meant back in the second or third sections away from the stage. Having seats in the 13th row would have been amazing!! But then in 2012, something miraculous happened. I ended up in the front row at a show. The first time, I was so in awe, I stood there, frozen to the rail. The second time, I let myself go completely and it was the best concert experience I’d ever had, until the next time it happened…and the next.

I’ve been in second and third row, too. The feeling is incredible. And addicting. Obviously. But its expensive. Not as cost prohibitive as the front, but the sticker shock is still painful. As much as I appreciate the intensity of the fan experience from front row,  there is a small part of my brain whispering furiously at me that I should have NEVER sat in that front row (or even second or third row) to begin with, because now that I’ve been up there, nothing else lives up!

#firstworldproblems , right? I know. I’m lucky to have even had the chance, don’t get me wrong. Some people in the world have no clean drinking water, and I’m here writing about feeling like I’ve got to have front row. It’s freaking annoying of me, and how dare I have the audacity to address such a trivial thing. Yep, all of that is 100% truth.

Guess what? Right now, you’re reading a daily blog about being a fan. I’m writing it, but you, my friend, are reading it. Welcome. Try the Kool-Aid, it’s great!

So the struggle is real for us, the Duran Duran addicts. I’m assuming there might be a few more than just me out there in the world, circling about. I don’t actually know what will happen tomorrow (isn’t there a song about that??), but I do know that I’ve already got a hotel room booked, and other plans made. Even if I were to end up with zero tickets in my cart – which is always a possibility – I’m still going to Vegas that weekend. I’ll be the seat warmer at the bar, and that might actually be more expensive for me than going to the show in the long run! (Actually, that’s the excuse I’m gonna use when my husband asks about the price of my tickets!!)

-R

 

 

 

 

 

My Name is Rhonda, and I am an addict.

 

My name is Rhonda, and I am an addict.

On Tuesday I ran across a rumor. You may have heard or seen it yourself, although I didn’t see many people talking about it. Apparently word was out that Duran had plans to play at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas on December 30th. Like many of you, I rolled my eyes. Sure they were coming all the way back here again this year, I thought. Definitely. Just as soon as they send me a personal invite.

I put down my phone and began my typical morning tasks: coffee, feeding my zoo, and getting myself to work in a timely manner. I begin thinking about this rumor more and more as I finish greeting students at our gate in the morning and walk back to my “office”(which is actually a library and I sit at a folding table…which is the OPPOSITE of glamorous).

They couldn’t possibly come back again, right? Even IF they are, there’s no way I’m going. After all, its New Years. I can’t see them playing one show. One show? That’s dumb! It’s so much hassle to bring equipment here… Nah, I can’t see it. And even IF this is true, there’s no way I’m mentioning this to Walt. He’s at his wit’s end with this stupid band as it is. 

I get on to attendance, clearing out old files, and setting up new students in my system. It is kind of slow day, the first I’ve really had this school year, which is weird.  I decide to send Amanda a text, because yes – I am an addict.

I hesitate to use the words “Duranie Alert” in my text because A. it’s just a rumor, no matter how solid my friend thinks it is,  and B. that’s like pulling the fire alarm when there’s not really a fire. It seems funny to watch everyone scramble at the time, but in the end, somebody is sitting in the principal’s office and the next time you really NEED to sound the alarm, maybe no one will respond. So, I just tell her what I know. I suspect she takes extra long to answer because she’s laughing at the very thought of this show seriously happening, (not at all because she’s actually trying to do her job or something, right??)  I know better than to think she’d actually believe such a thing. I mean, it’s ridiculous, right?

She sends back a text, saying that if it’s true, we should go.

Go? What do you mean, GO? It’s the freaking holidays, Amanda! Have you lost your mind?!? There’s no way. 

Then I think back to last November. She made plans to go to Maryland without me. It was painful, but there was no changing my husband’s mind or the lack of cash in my bank account then. This year isn’t a ton different, but if they were playing in Vegas, I might be able to just drive. I mean, it’s only four hours. What’s four hours? Nothing, when you’re an addict.

No. There’s no way. We’re paying for both kids to go to school. Money is always tight around the holidays. Besides, we don’t even know if they’re really playing!! 

So I do what any normal person might. I break the news to my husband over dinner. Poor guy is in the middle of chewing when I casually mention the ridiculous rumor of Duran Duran playing on the 30th, and quickly follow the comment with “But of course I’m not going to go. I mean, that’d be crazy. I have a husband. It’s the holidays. We spend New Year’s Eve together every year…even if we don’t go anywhere or do anything and it’s really boring…..” I trail off, waiting for a declaration of war, or stony silence, which in our house, is basically the same thing.

“Would you want to go spend that time with your friends and I could just figure on doing something else?”

I pinched myself under the table to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, but he was serious. I laugh it all off, because this has to be some sort of trick question. If I say “Yes”, I’m the world’s worst spouse (probably already true). If I say “No”, then I’m stuck at home for sure. I’m also half-wondering why he’s so eager to let me go and what it means by ” doing something else”, but I let that go. 

I answer by not answering. “Let’s wait and see if this is really even a thing. It’s probably not even happening.” I roll my eyes and laugh, probably a little too nervously, and a little too heartily now that I think about it. He looks down his glasses at me, which DRIVES ME NUTS. I try not to grimace, and smile back at him.

The next morning, which is Wednesday, I get up and am greeted by a text from Amanda.

I checked hotels last night—I should not have,  but they weren’t too bad.

The plane ticket will be expensive but I won’t worry about that.

Wait, we’re at plane tickets already? We don’t even know if this show is happening!!

I answer back saying something about checking hotel prices and how that’s going to be a fortune, and mention that I’m seeing other cryptic messages from Duranies. We agree to keep a look out, and we both get back to work.  I send out a random tweet. Why? Because I’m an addict.

“TMW you start planning in advance for the thing you said you weren’t going to do yesterday.”

People “like” the tweet, which makes me smile.

I assume these people don’t realize that I’m an addict. Then again, maybe they know.  It’s fine, I know I am, too. I’ve got it perfectly under control. Totally. 

Amanda and I text throughout the day because the more I’m seeing, the more convinced I am that something is happening. That same friend who broke the news has now called The Cosmopolitan and is told that they don’t book corporate shows during that week.  Also during the day, I’ve taken the time to contact our two travel buddies and shared the rumor about the show we have no idea will happen.

One of our friends lives in Vegas and is very skeptical this show is a “thing”. Even so, she’s going to check in with some friends she knows and see if they’ve heard anything. While all of this is going on, Amanda and I have texted back and forth hundreds, if not thousands of times. Oddly, very little cursing was done. Most of it was me explaining why I simply cannot go, and then proceeding to make plans to attend. All the while Amanda is saying that she’ll believe the rumor when she sees it from DDHQ. Then we make plans on when we’ll arrive and where we’ll stay, and whether or not we think our friends are going to join us and split the cost of the room.  We divide up our in-room alcohol Costco-run, and talk about to-go cups and lids that fit. Why?  Because that’s how we roll, my friends.

Fast forward to 6:32 pm my time on Thursday night. I am sitting in a parent meeting for my daughter’s choir group. They’re planning a VERY EXPENSIVE trip to San Francisco, and we parents are being given the budget. I am sitting, furiously punching numbers into my phone calculator app, hoping to make sense of how I’m going to pay for this crazy trip. My phone rings. Loudly. It’s Amanda…and what is her ringtone?

Oh you BET it’s Planet Earth. She almost never calls, and certainly not at 6:32 pm my time. I have to decline the call, because, well…parent meeting. I know exactly why she’s calling, because my friends, I am a Duranie. I silently shake my head slowly, and try to concentrate on instructions for how to register my child for this trip. My mind, however, is wandering in the direction of the UK. My phone buzzes. It’s Amanda, texting me. I take a deep breath, knowing exactly what she’s going to say.

It is official. That show is happening.

It has been awhile since I could send an official Duranie alert. 

At first, I close my eyes and think of all the things I’d like to say to the band if they were in front of me. Some of those things are not nice, and I admit that. I love them, I hate their planning. I love that they come here, I hate that I’m funding their retirement. I love their music, I hate that I’m addicted to their live show. Well, maybe not “hate”. Strongly dislike?  Disapprove? No… I hate that their shows cost me money. That’s it!  I open my eyes, and see that yes, the meeting is still going on. Am I actually absorbing ANY of this?? Probably not. 

I put my head down and write back, because now my mind has already boarded a plane headed for England (never mind that this is a Vegas show).

I am sitting in a parent meeting for a trip where I am going to have to spend thousands. Good lord.

Eww.

That isn’t okay. 

So of course that show is happening. 

Yep.

She sends me the email she just got, which was sent to anyone who bought VIP tickets for Las Vegas on the Paper Gods tour. Basically, the email was designed to give those of us who plunked down a wad of cash to see the band before a heads up –  we’re gonna have the opportunity to do it all again.  They don’t mention venue or cost, but the date was right, and it’s happening. I read the email, even though I’m still in that parent meeting. I take a deep cleansing breath and respond to Amanda.

I am going to cry.

Of course I didn’t. But I felt like it. Sometimes, it’s hard to be Duranie. I am weak. My willpower is just, well, it’s non-existent. I’m an addict. But I’ve got it totally under control.

The following day is Friday, and it is our normal Skype conference day. Amanda and I are working on a big project – our paper that we will present in March—and so we chat nearly once a week about real things. Not shows, not gossip, just our work. Well, mostly not anything but our work. Mostly.

By the end of the four-hour Skype session, we’d booked our hotel, checked flights, and even booked an extra day so that Amanda isn’t just flying here for two days. I mean, we can’t have that, right?  We talked about what we want to do while we’re in Vegas, who we hope to see….

All for a show that we do not currently have tickets for.

We also did some work.

On Sunday morning, I checked my email. Sure enough, there’s the email from DDM, letting me know all about the show, the pre-sale on Wednesday, and that I might need to consider selling body parts in order to attend, because yes, I’m an addict.

My friend tweets that he’s hearing tickets will be $250 as a base price. VIP Ultimate Front Row is $300 plus ticket price.  That means front row will be a spendy $550.  If he is right, and I have no reason to assume he’s wrong, that’s more than Hollywood Bowl. VIP Gold – rows 2-8, will cost $150 plus ticket price, so that’s a beautiful $400.

How about blood? At this point, I’m willing to donate perfectly good blood and/or kidneys. Anyone willing to buy a husband? I’ve got one!! I might start selling my jewelry collection on eBay, too.  I mean, why not?  Could I sell some of Walt’s tools…I mean, he hardly uses them. He might not even notice! 

I’m sitting here with a couple of questions in my head. One of which is how I’m going to afford this show. The other though is that if the band and Katy already said that the Paper Gods tour is over, does that mean we’re going to get a different set at this show??

I’m an addict. Who else would write 2046 words about a show announcement? I’ve totally got it under control, though.

-R

The Last of My Most Joyful Moments of Fandom

Last week, I started my list of the top ten most joyful moments of my fandom.  This week, I’m finishing the list.  If you are interested in reading the first five examples of pure happiness you can go here.  If you want to read Rhonda’s, you can go here.  Likewise, I appreciated those people who shared their happiest moments in this Duran Duran fandom of ours and welcome more!

Nights That Last Forever:
One of the things I like the best about our fandom is that we have plenty of opportunity to go out and have fun!  On occasions, this fun has lasted all night or almost all night.  Rhonda mentioned one of those nights in her list, which was the Saturday night of Durandemonium, the convention we organized with friends in October 2013.  Another night that comes to my mind is the night we saw Duran play a whole four songs at the Andre Agassi charity concert in Las Vegas in October 2005.  After the show, we ended up at a club literally enjoying vodka tonics and dancing all night long.  The fun ended with breakfast at like 6 am.  Perfect.

Nightclubbing:
Over the course of the years, Rhonda and I have spent quite a bit of time in nightclubs, specifically ones that have 80s nights.  Durandemonium included one of those at Chicago’s Late Bar.  Birmingham hosts an Only After Dark, an event to recreate the Rum Runner, both in style and in musical quality.  Even our summer included a trip to San Francisco’s Cat Club that had a Duran focus after the show.  Each and every time I find myself at a club like those I just feel happy.  I let the music overtake me and I dance without any concern in the world.

Concert interactions:
Who doesn’t attend a Duran show hoping to have an interaction or ten with a band member or more.  Over the course of my fandom “career”, I have been lucky enough to have a few.  I think back to the Sears Center show in Chicago in October 2006 when I would swear that John Taylor told us to keep singing in our like 8th row seats.  It also makes me think of all the time we have had the (mis)fortune of being victims of the White Lines spit moment from one Mr. Simon Le Bon.  Heck, the show in Paso Robles in July 2016 featured that and more as Simon came to the front of the stage, looking as if he would spit any second before swallowing the water he had in his mouth.  Good times.

Unified Crowds:
Rhonda mentioned the Glasgow show in December 2005 when the entire venue clapped in unison to the Man Who Stole a Leopard.  At that moment, I felt like I was only a tiny part of a much bigger and more important entity.  I felt like I was part of something super special then.  Other examples include every time I see the audience light up their cell phones during Save a Prayer or shout out “switch it off” in Planet Earth.  Those magical moments keep me going to concerts.

More to Come:
I have to admit that one thing I really love about our fandom is planning for future events.  Of course, every time we get to plan for a show or tour is special.  I love every moment of the planning or plotting as we call it from announcing that there is an official Duran alert to making decisions about what we can and should do, to deciding hotels, ticket plans, etc.  The flurry of exchanged messages make me excited for what is to come.  Here’s the thing.  Any Duran related event or happening brings the possibility of having another one of my most joyful fan moments.  Heck, even less than awesome events, are still great.  Those times of planning means that something amazing is just around the corner.  They are the promise of future fun.

As I finish up my top ten most joyful moments, I realize the best part. I have a whole future of moments waiting to happen.  I’m hoping that by the time this “ends” I have a whole series of magical moments that brought me joy.  I feel very lucky that way.

-A

Sometimes I’m caught in a landslide: Memories of Sears Centre 2006

I remember going to the Sears Center in 2006. It was the grand opening for the arena, and Duran Duran was playing. I arrived at Chicago’s Midway airport in the middle of a rainstorm. Traffic was horrendous. It took Amanda and I, along with my sister and another friend, what seemed like forever to make the trip from the airport to the Marriott nearby the arena that would serve as our hotel room for the night.

We were late getting to the hotel and even later to get ready. We had to grab dinner pretty quickly. If I remember right – we were rushing our poor waitress at the hotel’s restaurant to “please hurry, we have tickets to Duran Duran!” In our haste to get from the car into the venue, Amanda and I both left our cameras behind. At the time, we thought this was a travesty.

The show was outstanding. Amanda and I danced like crazy from our what – 9th row? – seats. The arena was beautiful, and the band was on fire. Just days prior, like perhaps two or less, the band had put out a statement announcing that Andy would no longer be working with the band. It was a tough time for all Duranies, regardless of where one sat on the issue. Questions swirled throughout the community, “Who would be the guitar player?”, “Could the band still go on?”, “Whose fault was it that Andy quit?”, “What would happen next?” The band seemed to answer many of them that night. It was a strong show, and this was not a band that was going to just lie down and die.

Amanda and I were enthusiastic, even through sadness as the Fab Five came to a resounding halt. Again. While our cameras were useless to us in our car, my memories of this show are so clear. It remains one of the best shows I’ve seen. Likely, this is because I didn’t view a single second of the show from a viewfinder or phone screen.

Along with my sister and another friend, Amanda and I truly plotted like crazy for this trip to happen. Originally we were just going to go to the Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, and had the entire trip planned.  My husband had even given me his blessing to go! Somewhere along the way, Duran Duran announced this show at the Sears Centre. Sure, I could have skipped the show and gone straight to New Orleans, but that is pretty much the same thing as telling an alcoholic they should skip the vodka and just drink the mixer.  (My apologies to the teetotalers and members of AA out there…but you get my point, don’t you?)

Emails flew fast and furious between the four of us in the weeks leading up to this date in Chicago. Tickets were secured for the Sears Centre even though rearranging my travel plans without more pain to my wallet seemed impossible. I begged, borrowed, and pleaded with my husband to just let the trip be my birthday gift (a regular tactic of mine). Finally, between the genius of my sister and Amanda, plans came together. As a result, there we were, sitting in traffic on the I-90, screaming at cars to let us pass because we were on our way to see Duran Duran. Good times.

The next day proved to be crazier than the day before in Chicago traffic, but that’s pretty much how traveling to see this crazy band goes. I only regret the shows I haven’t gone to, not the ones I spent following this insanity.

…And you all wonder why I continue to bring up vodka on this blog. Gee, I don’t know!?!

Good memories of the Sears Centre.

-R

Visuals matter: a kaleidoscope of light and color with Coldplay

I went to see Coldplay at the Rose Bowl on Friday. It might seem strange for me to write about that concert, but bear with me. In full-disclosure, Coldplay is not one of my favorite bands. My husband wanted to go to the concert, and given that I spend a lot of my own time (and his money….) on Duran Duran, I agreed.

First, I have to admit that I was pretty freaked out by going. I’m not going to use flowery language—that Las Vegas shooting scared me. I still have a little girl here at home, and both Walt and I were going to this concert. I went so far as to tell my mother-in-law that if something happened to us, to call my oldest right away and have her come.  In some ways, I felt stupid for saying that, but by the same token, none of those 58 people murdered a week ago probably thought twice about going to their festival.  During the two weeks prior to the show, I’d gotten no less than six separate emails from the Rose Bowl, first alerting me to the potential traffic and security measures already in place, and then after the Vegas shooting I received updates and more directions. So when Friday arrived, we left very early and anticipated something akin to airport security. While the line to go through security formed quickly and was lengthy, we had entertainment. A very large screen was set up with a security video playing so that we’d know what to expect and how to handle ourselves as we entered the venue. Once the line started moving, it was very quick and painless. Kudos to the Rose Bowl for that.

I should mention that I had never gone to a stadium show before, unless you count seeing The Beach Boys play following a USC football game a few times. I had no idea of what to expect. My preconceptions were simply that any band playing a stadium show would have to be able to do things BIG, and that most bands simply cannot afford those types of shows.

I don’t think I was wrong. Coldplay had a fairly large stage set-up with a long catwalk ending in a circular stage towards the middle of the field (surrounded by floor seats), and then another small stage in one corner of the field.  There were gigantic lights set up all around the field, and they had three video screens as well. Nothing about the show or its staging was small.

When we first walked in through the gates, were handed a wristband. Once seated, there were instructions onscreen as to how to wear the wristband along with instructions on downloading an app that would work with one of their songs. Walt and I were geeking out over the wristband and how it might work. Neither of us had been to a show that had the potential to be so interactive, so we were anxious for the show to begin.

I loved the colors and how they continued to change with every beat.

The lights went down, and our wristbands lit up! The overall visuals are difficult to describe, but imagine being teeny-tiny and standing on a branch in the middle of a Christmas tree filled with twinkling light, and then having mirrors all around you so that you feel like you’re a part of a kaleidoscope. The lights interacted with the music, changing color with the songs. It was like being a small part of a gigantic party, and that was only the beginning. There were fireworks, not just one time, but several times throughout the show. There was confetti, probably seven times – and I have to say, seeing the confetti shower in something the size of that stadium was unlike anything I’d ever seen. Oh, and then there were the pyrotechnics. Yes, fire!  And beach balls!  It was outrageous!

Loved the brightly colored beach balls (or balloons?)…it was the first time I could stand back and look at them without being worrying about being assaulted by one!

Everything felt huge. From the largest of visuals down to the smallest of details, everything made me feel as though I was one tiny chip of a colored tile in a kaleidoscope. The screens were high-definition, and although we were so far from the stage that I could barely see Chris Martin, if I looked at the screens I felt like I was right there. He was all over the stage, and I appreciated that the band, drum sets and all, actually moved to the circular stage out at the end of the catwalk AND to the other stage in the corner of the field. Talk about using all the room they were given – it was crazy. They had a way of making the largest audience I’d ever been a part of somehow feel intimate, and I probably only knew six or seven of the songs they played.

Then there were the hardcore fans in the front. The cameras were pointed their way many times throughout the show, and they weren’t just happy to be there, they were exuberant. While smiles are not hard to come by at a Duran show, this was different. It was like seeing myself amplified and illuminated by 10,000 watts. Not that there aren’t Duran Duran fans like that, but maybe I need to up my own game.

Visually, I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like it. The intensity of the interactivity made the show for me that night. The one word I would use to describe the concert? Happy. I needed happy. I came away feeling uplifted, light, and carefree. After the week I’d had, or the week that any one of us might have had, it was welcome respite. I’m still smiling, and it isn’t because I suddenly became a hard-core Coldplay fan.

I don’t think there’s necessarily a moral or message here. I just know that prior to this show, I’d always shied away from stadium shows. I don’t like crowds. I hate sitting far from the stage. I felt like maybe I’d be bored. I was none of those things, and I sat up in the stands, away from the floor,  far from the stage. In this case, I think the visuals for me were FAR better than those who sat on the floor or close to the stage because I was able to see the full effect of the wristbands working or the beach balls bouncing throughout the crowd, or the fireworks spraying like fountains of light far above the stadium. I’m not at all sorry I went.

I can’t even begin to think about how much this must have cost Coldplay, but if my experience is worth anything to the band – it must have paid off in spades. Definitely the most uplifting show I have been to in a while, particularly because I didn’t know every word to every song (or any song for that matter). Their set had plenty of quieter moments, but the visuals –  participating as part of a giant kaleidoscope of color and light kept the crowd going. Not an experience I will soon forget.

-R

Remember TOKiMONSTA? Here’s why she is a miracle.

I love the internet. I was set to write a simple blog about how two years ago, I was driving north on Interstate 5 in California, headed to Berkeley. Paper Gods was still new, the touring cycle had just begun, and I was freaking excited to be on the road. I knew what I was going to write, the words were readily available in my head, and then I opened my browser to get to Daily Duranie.

Lately, I’ve noticed Daily Duranie has been taking longer to load (on my laptop at home). This is not a site problem, it is a “my laptop is nearly eight years old now and that means it is a complete DINOSAUR” problem. Impatient as usual, I opened Tweetdeck to see if it load properly, which it did. I scanned my timeline and saw something that caught my eye, which led me to an article on Pitchfork about TOKiMONSTA.

For those who don’t recognize the name, TOKiMONSTA was the opening act who toured with Duran Duran last summer in the US. Her real name is Jennifer Lee. Amanda and I sat and watched her a few times at the shows we attended, and while her music is very different from Duran Duran, we liked it. I can remember one show where MNDR came out onstage and sang one of her songs, which I thought was really cool.  I didn’t mind sitting and listening when she came out on stage, and I can remember making a mental note to buy some of her music when I got home. I never did, mainly because life smacked me directly in the face once I got home last summer and I completely forgot about all else in the process. Sound familiar?

So what drove me to click on the Pitchfork article then? Well, it turns out that not long before she toured with Duran last year, Jennifer had brain surgery for a very rare brain disease called Moyamoya. After her surgery, she lost the abilities to walk and talk, and couldn’t even hear music (to her it sounded like noise). So the young woman I saw on stage last summer was a walking, talking, miracle of a DJ.

Somehow, reading the article made me think back on last summer a bit.

I remember how Amanda and I watched her last summer and agreed that she was very quiet. Her music was fine, but she just didn’t address the audience too much beyond that. Reading that article today reflected a completely different side to her sets that I didn’t know existed. Those shows were a triumph for her in every way, which in turn reminds me that we never know for sure what’s really going on backstage.  Amanda and I comment all the time that we fans tend to forget that John, Roger, Nick and Simon are human. They’re not circus animals, they’re people. Turns out, that sentiment might be widespread.

“I think people sometimes forget that artists are human. We all go through really terrible things and face hardships. Being able to play Coachella three months after having the surgery was very significant to me. If I can do something like this, anyone can.” – Jennifer Lee (TOKiMONSTA)

Lune Rouge, the soon-to-be-released third album by TOKiMONSTA, is filled with songs written after her recovery. It is one I am making a note to purchase.

-R

On This Date: The Evolution of my Fandom

For the last few years, I have created a Duran Duran related calendar for myself and Rhonda.  In our calendar, I have listed album release dates as well when singles came out.  I also have included dates that we have seen them in concert together.  On this date, October 1st, there are multiple entries on our calendar.  First, we saw Duran perform 4 songs at the Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Children event in Vegas in 2005.  Then, we saw the band perform at the Hollywood Bowl in 2015.  When I look back at those two events, I realize that there is much about my fandom that has changed and, yet, some things have remained consistent.

2005 featured the reunion album of Astronaut as well as the tour.  For me, personally, fandom really felt like a utopia.  Everyone seemed excited about the band and their future.  Message boards were busy with activity and everyone was either planning or sharing concert plans.  Any negatives between fans were easily pushed aside in my head.  By October, I had seen the band a bunch of times in concert both in spring and in the summer.  Yet, I didn’t hesitate when my friends suggested that we get together in Vegas.  Interestingly enough, that trip represented only the second time I had traveled by plane for something fandom related.  I have never flown in a plane to see Duran (or any band, for that matter) play before that.

That night in 2005, my friends and I attended a pre-show meet-up at a bar there at the MGM Grand where the concert was held.  I was one of many fans there who had traveled to see the band play.  The funny part is that Duran only performed 4 songs that night and we had seats way in the back.  Despite that, I still felt like I was on top of the world that night.  I screamed and sang those 4 songs with all the passion I could muster.  After that, I went and drink and danced my ass off until the clubs closed and breakfast was served.  I look back at that night as an eye-opening experience.  While it was beyond fun, I also saw some of the darker elements of our fan community night.  Some of those less-than-kind features I was a part of and others I just witnessed.  In many ways, that night marked the end of the utopia.

Then, of course, a lot has happened since that night, leading up to that Hollywood Bowl show.  Instead of attending a pre-show meet-up, I planned one.  In both nights, I met a bunch of people and the love for Duran was strong.  When I went to the Hollywood Bowl show, I knew that this could be one of the best nights ever like the Vegas one was, but I no longer denied the reality that fandom isn’t a utopia.  It still gives me the greatest amount of fun that I could ever hope for and it has provided me the opportunity to meet my best friend and other amazing people.  Most importantly, I have learned that my true happy place is being at a Duran Duran concert.  However, it isn’t perfect.  People are not always nice and nights do not always go as planned or cannot always be the most fun ever.

The Hollywood Bowl was a great show and I’m glad to have attended it.  Yet, it didn’t equal the fun of that Vegas show.  It couldn’t.  For the Vegas show, we had the time to go out and party without any care in the world.  For the Hollywood Bowl show, we had to start our drive up to Berkeley for the next show.  By 2015, a priority for us was going to as many shows as we could.  Maybe this is another sign of how my fandom has changed.  In 2005, I was more than content to see just 4 songs, way in the back of the arena.  By 2015, I wanted to get to as many shows as I could and I really wanted good seats.  Does that mean that 2005 was better?  In some ways, maybe, it was.  That said, 2015 was pretty sweet, too, but in different ways.  In 2005, it was all new and fun.  In 2015, I was involved in the fandom in a different way and was ready to do as many shows as I could.  I also had the opportunity to see amazing shows from really great seats.  That makes me pretty lucky!

I cannot regret the decisions that I have made in regards to either time period.  Both have led me to where I am today.  I have learned a lot and have had amazing experiences and a tremendous amount of fun.  What would be cool would be to go to another show on October 1st in 2025.  Then, I might be able to see how my fandom has evolved in 10 years and in 20 years.  I could get a real historical perspective.

-A

Before We Write the End: New Territory

Today, I am charting new territory. It is the first full day I’m here at home with only one child. I won’t lie, there have been various moments over the years that I’ve fantasized about how it would be with just one. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that it has been 19 years since I have only had one child, since my kids are so far apart in age. The first two are only 2 and a half years apart, but the youngest came along about nine years later. Yes, I’m aware that had we stopped at two, I’d be an empty nester right now. I’m so glad we didn’t. I’m not ready.

I recognize that this has nothing to do with Duran Duran as far as you’re concerned. The funny thing is that for me, it does. When we first began writing about Paper Gods, I was moving my oldest to college. I distinctly remember that the day we moved Heather to the dorms. It was a very hard day for me, I remember driving home alone, and crying in the car on the way. I knew my life as a mom would change after that, and it did. I’m still learning where the line is drawn, so to speak. It is very hard to be unceremoniously made redundant, which is kind of what happens when your children leave the nest. I will forever equate the release of Paper Gods with that moment in time.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to pack Gavin up for his move to UC Riverside, right as the Paper Gods tour has wound to a close. I half-paid attention to the band’s last dates in Japan, getting confused as to where they were and when.  Sunday morning arrived here, and I saw a tweet from Dom saying he was back home in London. The finality of it all hit me, particularly since yesterday was our move-in day. We packed up the bins that we’d used for Gavin’s things, and drove him out to his new home away from home.

His move was FAR easier than Heather’s. We were done with his room in less than an hour, and none of us felt like we were going to collapse from heat exhaustion. (props to the air conditioning in the dorms at UCR!)  Unlike my oldest, after he dutifully went to lunch with us and we came back to his room, he was ready for us to go. No tears, no anxiety. He hugged us all and sent us on our way, with no mention of how he wouldn’t see us again until November at the earliest. Gavin was never much for socializing, but not hearing movement upstairs from him is strange, and late November feels like a very long time from now.

We piled into the truck and headed for home. I thought about how weird it is that now I’ll probably always remember that the Paper Gods era ended with Gavin’s move to college. I also thought about how I really hoped I prepared my son for this new territory, and how once again, I’m also in uncharted land myself.

My house is quiet. I can’t hear Gavin in his bedroom. I don’t hear the clicks from his typing on the mechanical keyboard he loves so much. I don’t hear him talking on the professional microphone he uses for his video streams, and I don’t hear his chair banging into his desk. I also don’t see his dishes piled in my kitchen sink or his clothes waiting to be washed this morning. I have one child at home now, who is both looking forward to being the only child for a while, and missing her brother and sister. It’s all new territory for her, too.

The internet is quiet too. The band is probably readjusting back into whatever lives they lead when they’re not rockstars on stage. I don’t know when we’ll hear from them again, although there’s plenty of “real life” going on to fill my twitter timeline, that is for sure. Even so, there’s that feeling of uncertainty that comes with the end of the tour and album cycle. I know they’ve got some sort of idea of where they’re headed, but it will be months, if not years, before the fans have any sort of clue. It’s new territory for all of us.

-R