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.
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!
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.