Ten years ago today, Rhonda and I were on tour. In fact, we were in New Jersey, having seen the band play first at the Foxwoods Casino and Resort in Connecticut then in Atlantic City and Montclair. It was an interesting tour and not at all what I was expecting. This tour, of course, was part of Red Carpet Massacre era. It felt to me that there was a major transition both within the fandom and for Rhonda and I. If that was not enough, I feel like I learned some very important lessons during this little tour.
2008, of course, was no longer the time of the reunion. Some of the fans from the 1980s who just wanted to see the Fab Five one more time had been there and done that. They were long gone. Others who believed that they were going to be there for the long haul found themselves questioning so much about the band and the fandom. RCM felt very different for them. Too different for a lot of fans. Others held on through this tour and slowly peeled away, a year or two later. Of course, there were fans like us. We continued to wave the fan flag through this transition from reunion with Andy to the new normal without him. While it was happening, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. Would I walk away like I saw others do? On top of that, I even found myself questioning friends and friendships.
This tour was different from the last time we had seen Duran, which was the summer of 2007 for the fan show. For that concert, there were three of us but by 2008, there were only two. Our friend walked away. I have to admit that I was still feeling sad by that and, honestly, a bit confused. I didn’t understand why she walked away. Sadly, this friendship has only grown more distant since then. When we do talk, it is awkward and uncomfortable. So, during this tour in 2008, I worried that Rhonda would be next. After all, she had her youngest during that year. Will family pull her away? Like our other friend, I wouldn’t be mad or upset, just sad at the loss.
So, in the midst of all this friendship turmoil, fandom shifts and transition for the band, we went on tour. I expected a return to what I had grown used to and a ton of fun. While I did have a blast, I also found myself learning some really important lessons that, now, I’m grateful for.
Lesson One: Attitude is Everything
As Rhonda and I went into our first show, I think we had a sense of uncertainty. After all, the fan show in 2007 wasn’t great and RCM did not live up to our expectations. Yet, we didn’t utter those concerns. It was almost like saying something would reinforce our anxiety. Maybe, though, we would have been better off to process the possible show results beforehand. I wonder if, then, we would have sat down in a better frame of mind. Of course, we had some additional drama with a former friend who made some hurtful statements. The result? Our attitudes sucked at that first show. The band hadn’t even played a note and we thought it was terrible.
Was the show awful? Honestly, I don’t know. Our seats were far to the right, which did kinda suck. The crowd lacked some energy or was that just our lack of energy? It is hard to say. Soon enough, we started to express our disgust at everything, including the setlist, performances, the service of the venue, the crowd, etc. Seriously, if anyone heard us, they would have thought the show was a complete dumpster fire. Looking back, though, did we make the show terrible? Was it our attitude? I didn’t know until the third show.
Lesson Two: Don’t Be Afraid to Show What You Want
The next night and show took place at the House of Blues in Atlantic City. My friends and I wanted to make it special so we got a membership to the Foundation Room where we also ate a fabulous meal ahead of time. While I loved the dinner, when we checked in, we discovered that our membership would get us early access to the venue. For a general admission show, this means that you would have a chance to be near the front. Did this idea interest me? Okay. That is a bit of an understatement. I was jumping up and down. On the inside. So…I didn’t say anything. I didn’t do anything. I continued to hang with my friends.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I loved spending quality time with them. Absolutely. That said, it felt like we threw away an opportunity to see the show from a great vantage point. But something stopped me. Was I worried what my friends would think if I wanted to go? Would they judge me or make it seem like I cared more about the band than them? (For the record, that wasn’t the case. I wanted to see an awesome show WITH my friends.) All of the above? As I realized that I wanted this but didn’t say anything made me hate myself. What was wrong with me? Was I five? Still in high school? Wouldn’t my friends understand? They were fans, too. But I said nothing but felt terrible about a missed opportunity and that I let others control me.
Thank Goodness for Three
Good things come in threes, right? By the time the third show rolled around, I was annoyed enough about how the first two shows went that I knew that something had to change. Somehow, Rhonda was on the same page or at least went with me in my desire to get a better show. We decided that we would try to get to the venue for the third show at a decent hour to get a good space for this general admission show. While I’m not sure we got there as early as we would have liked, it definitely felt better as soon as we staked our spot. Soon enough, I started listening to those fans around us. There were a couple of guys a row or two ahead of us who were so excited that they could barely contain themselves. Instantly, I found myself smiling. Yes, that is what this is all about, I thought.
Needless to say, Rhonda and I had a much better time at that show than the first two. I learned to embrace what I want and also to go into any experience with a positive attitude. It matters. So often, we talk about fandom from a purely joyous point of view. Other times, we discuss what the band is doing in very serious tones as we had the chance to save the world. Even when Rhonda and I discuss fandom, it is usually through the lens of an academic, from a sociological point of view. Yes, we have turned the mirror on ourselves, but still it fits in with the larger scope of social sciences, usually. This time, at this moment, fandom has taught me about myself and how to be a better person. For that, I will always be grateful to this little East Coast Tour of 2008.