Tag Archives: House of Blues

Atlantic City – 2008: Prides gone out the window

On this date in 2008, I was in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It was my very first (and only) time there. In fact, I’d never really spent a lot of time in New Jersey, even though my father was born and raised there in a tiny town called Franklin. I’d been in New Jersey just once prior, for only a couple of hours – long enough to drive by the home where my dad was born, as well as the gravesite of my grandparents. For me, going to Atlantic City was exciting. I don’t even think I’d ever looked at photos from there, so I had no expectations. I kept picturing in my head the glitz, over-the-top glam, tripping the light fantastic of Las Vegas, with an ocean in the background.

Without being rude to those who love Atlantic City, it was very different from the picture I had in my head.

First of all, to be fair, we got to the hotel just hours before the show, and it was daylight. I suppose that yes, there were lights, but it was nothing like Las Vegas. I can’t really describe what was so different, maybe it’s just a little more down to earth? Seedy, even? I’m not really sure. In full disclosure, once you depart from the actual “Strip” in Vegas, there is plenty of seediness to be found. Turn down the wrong street, and you are liable to see plenty of after-effects from a little too much “sin” in the city! For that matter, look a little too closely at the Strip itself, and you’ll see plenty more than you may have bargained for. But somehow, that day in Atlantic City was bright enough to where I didn’t have to look to hard to find the grit. It was December, unseasonably warm (I am not kidding about that – it was warmer on that day in New Jersey than it was in many parts of Southern California!), and yet the crowds had gone away for the winter. I can remember eating lunch somewhere with Amanda and the restaurant was eerily quiet.

Even though we were short on time, I was excited about being there. We had a weekend membership and reservations to eat in the restaurant up in the Foundation Room – which was a splurge at the time. And of course, the reason for our visit? To see Duran Duran.

2008 was one of the toughest years of my life. Not only was I pregnant for part of the year (it was the roughest of my three, naturally), I gave birth three weeks early, which set off a string of events and mishaps that I still take medication to circumvent even today, and my dad died two weeks after my youngest was born. I suppose we could say the year was bittersweet, because I want to be fair to my youngest, but when I think back – I mostly remember the year as being horrific. My little one was the brightest spot. (and continues to be that way even though she drives me crazy sometimes!) So the trip I took to see shows in the east that year was welcome, even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the album they were touring.  That’s probably putting it lightly.  I remember that tour as the one where I was the most cynical, and very unfair to the band. I’d also had one hell of a horrible year.

When I share that I stood off to the side for the show at the House of Blues in Atlantic City, and that during the show I actually left the crowd to sit on a couch area in the back of the venue because I felt sick, and that I barely remember anything about being there other than John Taylor correcting me on the clapping rhythm for Red Carpet Massacre, I suppose that says something about me at the time. My head just wasn’t in the game. Or the show.  I don’t even remember much about the after party, other than Roger Taylor DJing while I danced on the small dance floor up in the Foundation Room. I didn’t even know until much later that the rest of the band was there as well, sitting behind some sort of roped off area. Where was Dom, you ask? (just pretend you’re asking!) I honestly don’t know. I don’t even have a clear memory of noticing him onstage at the House of Blues. THAT was how out of it I was at the time, and I think the entire year was like that for me. I think back on how much of a zombie I must have been, and its a miracle that my friends still speak to me.

I was only in Atlantic City for less than 24 hours, because we left early the next morning to make our way to Montclair for the final show on the tour.  I hope to make it back someday, maybe in the summer, so I can see the full-effect.

Oddly, that road trip in 2008 is also the time when Amanda and I decided to embark on the book writing process. I don’t know what that says…but it says something.

Whenever these days come around on my calendar, I think back on 2008. I am a lot different of a person now than I was then. I hate equating that year with so much unhappiness, but it is difficult because the grief was so overwhelming. I was so harsh, angry and judgmental as a fan, and even as a person – I don’t think I realized how much the grief affected me. Yet, I bonded much more closely with my youngest. It was the one thing keeping me afloat, I think.

As I sit here I’m also thinking that it was the first holiday season without my dad, too…and yes, I know that Simon is going through similar this year. I think about that a lot because I know that pain all too well. It is the club nobody wants to join, and I wouldn’t want it for anyone else. In some ways, I think it’s great that Simon is getting out there for shows during this season, because he probably needs to feel that love and affection we have for him. I get that and believe me, when I was really feeling that pain, I wished I’d reached out for more help. Hindsight is 20/20, I suppose.  In other ways,  I just feel for him, period. There’s absolutely no hiding from the reality and finality. I wish there were.

I always wondered if I was weird, that having so much grief was unusual, probably because when my dad’s parents (my grandparents) died, I don’t remember my dad saying much. I mean, he was sad at first, but after the funerals, he just stopped talking about them. He’d mention them occasionally, but I don’t remember him being sad. Maybe more with my grandma than my grandfather, but I was so young then (I was about nine).  I assumed that once you’re grown, you just come to expect that your parens will die someday and that’s OK. As my friends have also had parents pass on, including Simon, seeing how he reacted to his grief, along with my friends, made me see that it’s OK. I’m not so different to miss him, and I still do. Even nine years on.

As you can read, I can’t really separate the tour of 2008 from what was going on in my own life. I think that’s probably normal for most of us. The tours and things are sort of like the points of interest along the way in our lives. This blog post turned out to be something a lot different from the “short post” I had planned to write, so thanks for sticking with it until the end!

Were you at the Atlantic City show in 2008? Let me know!

-R

The Music is Still Between Us: Durandemonium 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On this date in 2013, Duranies descended upon the fine city of Chicago for Durandemonium.

Held at a small, efficient-yet-boutiquey hotel (that no longer exists under the same name or brand) in downtown Chicago, fans from as far as Canada and the UK came together to celebrate Duran Duran over the course of a weekend. Activities ranged from a first night out at Howl at the Moon, where Duranies were invited onstage for their own rendition of none other than “Hungry Like the Wolf” (If the whole “writing about fandom” thing doesn’t work out – there’s absolutely no future in singing onstage for me), to an author panel and a private screening of Diamond in the Mind in a local Chicago theatre. The celebration culminated with a themed-banquet and after party at what has to be one of the best named alternative-music neighborhood clubs in the country – Late Bar.

It wasn’t just the activities that made the weekend special. It is the friendships that were created. Amanda and I love getting notes from people who went to the convention and still talk about how much fun it was. That’s how Amanda and I feel about the convention we attended in New Orleans in 2003. The activities were great, but the times we remember most were the talking and laughing in small groups. If I could bottle that part of what it takes to make a convention successful, I’d carry it with me forever.

Amanda and I have been approached countless times since that weekend about doing another. In the past we’ve even started the planning, only to be railroaded by one thing or another and forced to put the idea aside. Money is always an issue. Conventions are not cheap. Even our convention in Chicago required several thousands of dollars up front, and as one might imagine – blogging does not pay those kinds of bills. Time is another sticky problem. Planning a convention can take hundreds of man-hours, which are not always readily available. We’ve considered doing an event at a club one evening, and then suggesting a hotel to stay at to make a weekend out of it, so it’s more of a get together than actual convention, but because the two of us live a few states apart, the logistics are a problem. We’re in Duran downtime now though, so perhaps it is time to give it all more consideration.  Personally I think it would be a blast to pick a city, meet up at a hotel, and do a Duranie slumber party!  There’s still our dream of paying the band to come and perform a private gig, too (Who does not dream of that? Right after I win the lottery – I’m on it!)

I’ve had the chance to not only attend, but plan two enjoyable, cathartic events as a fan. Three if you count that one time I flew to Chicago on a whim for a weekend so that I could go to March MaDDness (a one night fan get together) with Amanda in the Foundation Room at the House of Blues. I’ve marveled over this fan community before, but going to a fan event like a convention changed my entire life. I want nothing more than to recreate the same safe space for other fans. So many of us are judged by the t-shirts we wear, music we play and concerts we attend. For me, it was a relief to finally be in a place where I could just be myself with others who understood. That’s what I mean by “safe space”. We’re never all going to agree on the minutia, and we’re not all going to be best friends, or even friendly in some cases. We’re all different. Our fan community is complex. We each have our own favorite memories, band members, songs, albums, or tours. When it all boils down, the music is still between us. The music is the common thread that connects us as fans. I feel like we should celebrate that as often as possible.

-R

 

 

 

Anaheim House Of Blues in 2001 – were you there?

Today marks a kind of special day for me in Duran history. I almost forgot it…but thanks to the spreadsheet that Amanda has painstakingly amassed, I was properly reminded.

On this date in 2001, Duran Duran played at the Anaheim House of Blues. Just a normal date, on a normal day, right? Yes, except that at  this show, my fandom was reawakened.

In 2001, I was a young mom of two very little kids. My son Gavin was barely two, and Heather was four. At the time, Duran Duran was about the furthest thing from my mind. My days were spent doing laundry, trying to make sure my kids didn’t kill one another (you think I’m joking, but I assure you I am not).

At the time, Walt and I had annual passes to Disneyland and California Adventure, and we spent many a weekend taking the kids to the parks. On one of those weekends, we were strolling through Downtown Disney, and Walt happened to notice that the marquee for the House of Blues announced an upcoming show for Duran Duran. He asked if I wanted to go and I laughed. That’s right, I laughed. I hadn’t really listened to Duran Duran in years. I still had all of their albums, and fond memories, but I was in the throes of Mommyhood. I didn’t love Medazzaland, and admittedly, I hadn’t even bought Pop Trash.  Walt looked at me pretty insistently, saying I needed a night out (which meant getting a sitter, and that seemed like so much work!), so I told him to go ahead and get them. I really wasn’t excited, but I figured I might as well go.

Yes, telling this story makes me laugh…and kind of embarrasses me at the same time. It was like I was a completely different person back then!

I really was.

The night of the show arrived, and we got to Downtown Disney early enough to grab dinner. That’s right, I didn’t insist on getting there at 5am to grab a good spot. We walked by the line of people waiting to get in — it wasn’t very long — and Walt asked if I wanted to go wait. I said “No way, I want to eat dinner! I don’t need to be up front!!”

Insanity, I tell you.

We got dinner, went in about twenty minutes before the show started, and I decided I didn’t want to stand on the floor. I ended up being by the stairs in the back. Plenty close enough for me, because I wasn’t a huge fan. I’d given that up years before, right? Before long the show started and Simon, Nick and Warren took the stage.  I remember thinking to myself how, after all these years, I was finally in what I could consider to be the same room with Simon and Nick. Not the same arena, but the same breathing space. I was only a matter of feet from them. Yeah, Warren was there too, but I convinced myself that if I just ignored that part of the stage, it wouldn’t matter. (Sorry Warren fans. I was reliving the Fab Five as a Fab Twosome) John and Roger’s absence were noted, and I wondered wistfully what it would have been like with them there, but I didn’t dwell on those thoughts. I just lived and breathed the music that night.

I don’t remember much after that. I screamed, nearly cried and lost my mind.  Something happened during that show. Something deep, meaningful and visceral.  I remembered who I was before children, before getting married, before becoming whatever I was right then. I was reintroduced to the girl I once knew, and I really liked her.

That show was pivotal for me in so many ways. I can’t really talk about some of the things I’ve felt since then, or how that single show really woke me back up. I’m just thankful and filled with gratitude that I went. My life went from being pretty grey to complete Technicolor after that night. My husband didn’t realize what he’d done by insisting that I go with him to that show until it was far too late. I would imagine if he could, he’d go back and change that plan, in a lot of ways. On the other hand, that show saved me. I can’t even explain how or why—even for me, some things are just too private to blog about—but that show saved me.

I have a long, long way to go. But, I’ve reclaimed much along the way. I suppose in some way, I’m trusting the process (and what a process it is!). I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I am lucky. Yeah, I tease and joke about the band, and they drive me crazy at times—but I’m lucky I have this fandom.

I don’t know how many people think they grow out of something like this fandom, only to be reintroduced much later and jump back in with both feet. I did, and I’m not leaving. The Anaheim House of Blues on March 28, 2001 was a special night, I hope to never forget it.

-R

Today in Duran History – HOB Hollywood

On today’s date in the year 2000, Duran Duran played at the House of Blues in Hollywood, California.  This date was a part of the Pop Trash tour.

Incidentally, the House of Blues on Sunset – the very same one the band has played at – will be closed and torn down to make way for a hotel and condominiums. This property being one of many along the famous (or infamous, depending upon your point of view) “Sunset Strip” that have been closed down and scheduled to be demolished.  In the case of the House of Blues, however – they plan to find a new home elsewhere.

Here’s a video of “Hallucinating Elvis” for your video watching on this Labor Day Monday.

-R