Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Stone Fever


Alright guys, here is another amazing rock and roll tale about how I kind of met the Rolling Stones today. Please, take some time out of your day to read this.

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Preface: About 38 years ago my mother, Judy, and her sister, my aunt Geri, were hot catholic school girls gone 70s rock. They saw all the big names -- Hendrix, The Who, Elton John, Janis, Zeppelin, Santana, Rolling Stones, etc. It was easy, they lived in South Florida and I guess it was a hotspot for big rock and roll festivals.

One time Aunt Geri was working at one of these Woodstock-ish festivals, the main band was the Rolling Stones. Her job was at the hotel where the bands stayed at -- responsible for knocking on musician doors and informing them about when they played. Charlie Watts, the drummer of The Rolling Stones, apparently had been flirting with my Aunt Geri all day. I don't know exactly what was going on, but I do know when the time came for The Stones to play, Aunt Geri was there to let them know their helicopter was ready.

The weather was bad, rainy, stormy, muddy -- not a place for babes to walk around in according to Cahrlie Watts. Especially babes like Aunt Geri. So, figuring there was room for one more lady in the chopper, Charlie Watts from The Rolling Stones swept her off her feet, carried Aunt Geri to the helicopter, sat her down on his lap, and she rode with the entire band in a helicopter to the concert.

(Aunt Geri never tells anyone this story because now she likes to live the humble Christian life -- I heard it from my mom. In fact, I once brought it up at Aunt Geri's daughter's wedding. Just straight up asked her, in front of her three kids, if the story was true. Basically, her kids' mouths drop and they flip out (they're all big classic rock fans, too). The 26-year-old daughter didn't even know.)

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Yesterday afternoon I was cooking up a mean chicken curry dish. I've become obsessed with curry, guys, really I can never get enough. But that's not the point of the story. See? I'm having a hard time writing this I’m so excited still. Haha, ok...

So I'm in the kitchen doing my thing and Roxanne, a law student on my floor from L.A., comes in. I asked her what she was up to today.

Not much, she said, not much.

Me neither, I said, me neither.

Then Roxanne mentioned that she's been throwing around the idea of going to the sold out Rolling Stones concert tonight at Amstel Arena, just to listen outside and drink some beers...

Now I am a big time life long Rolling Stones fan. But I've never been to their shows because a) they're expensive as hell, and b) they're in giant arenas which I never like because I think it's impersonal, the sound is never great, and there’s too many people in one place. Still, my mom has always told me that I have to see them once in my life -- you know, because she's seen them, like, 30 times.

I felt that this could be the closest I could get to a Stones concert, so I decided to join her. Scottish, a girl named Diane from Scotland so I call her Scottish, came along. The concert began at 7, but my work meeting didn't get out until 8. I biked as hard as I could back home -- we grabbed beers, towels, jackets, and headed for the metro.

I started to get super excited. Like little a girl going to see New Kids On The Block excited. But wait, I wouldn't even be able to see the Stones because scalpers would sell tickets for hundreds of euros. Right? Anyway, Scottish was also freaking out, so together we belted out songs and played air guitar as we slammed our beers and waited for the 54 metro.

Scottish and I also decided to take a time out from air guitar to say a little prayer that we could maybe, somehow, manage to get in the concert. She crossed her chest for the Big Guy and said amen; I held up my beer for the Big Guy and said amen. Roxanne hoped that the luck my Aunt Geri had was hereditary...

The Stones concert Scottish and I were performing carried on to the metro, where a fat old Englishman joined in from the other side of the train car.

"Yeah! No satis-FACTion! Duh Duh, da na naaah, na na nah!" Englishman sang, fists in the air and grin on his face.

Scottish and I turned around and hollered back, "Duh Duh, da na naaah, na na nah!"

He took this as an invite and sat beside us. The three of us finished our Satisfaction cover and I asked the man what's up. He was going to the concert, but running late as well, because apparently his son bailed on him. He explained why this came to be, but his accent was so thick Roxanne and I couldn't understand him, only Scottish could. But I knew where this UK-chatter conversation was going: he had an extra ticket, for the ground floor.

Yep, he pulled that baby out of his wallet and I just stared at it. We all did. We all were Charlie staring at a golden ticket to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. He wanted face value for it, a whopping 117 euros. Roxanne had no money, Scottish had around 20, I looked in my wallet and saw 70.

"I'll give you seventy for it, that's all I have, look," I said and showed him my wallet. "Englishman, I've never seen this band. This might be my only chance. If you give this ticket to me I will be the happiest person in the world right now."

Englishman looked in my wallet, looked at the desperation on my face and decided to do the right thing. I hugged that man like a long lost brother.

We had one ticket, we needed two more.

The outside of the arena was abandoned, only mounds of trash remained from the thousands of people who were now inside. The Stones hadn't come on yet, we had about five minutes. I made signs for all of us and we set out looking for potential ticket sellers. I didn't really know how to do this, and we needed things to work out fast. So with one finger raised in the air I just started yelling, "One ticket! We need one ticket!"

On the metro escalator a woman turns to me and says, very nonchalantly, she has an extra ticket. I asked how much, she said 12 euros.

"..........what?"

"I said twelve euros."

"Twelve?"

"Yes, twelve."

"Twelve euros?”

“Right.”

“Twelve euros for a Rolling Stones ticket?" Her friends start laughing.

"OHHH! No, I thought you meant for the movie theater that’s nearby!"

Wtf?

Anyway, our search moved to the outside of the arena. Soon we found one; another ground floor ticket. He was selling it for face value, we said 70. He said no. We said we got this one for 70. He thought about it, and then said ok. Two was easy, and it gave us hope for a final find.

We had two, we needed one more.

Then people who were stuck without tickets began to notice what was going on, and started to follow us. Seriously. Around ten of them. I told Scottish we were being followed, she said to start running. So we did. And they ran after us!.... They ran after us!

So here we were, Scottish, Roxanne and I, being chased by a bunch of fans who wanted our luck and we're screaming for one ticket while running with fingers in the air! The music starts, and I can faintly hear Jumping Jack Flash being played. As SOON as the music travels to our ears a man stops us in our tracks. I don't even know where he came from; he just popped out from a pillar somewhere. He had one ticket, we said 70 but he hesitated. He saw all the people following us, yet still took pity on us girls and gave us the ticket.

VICTORY! Holy crap we were going! This was the point where Scottish and I lost it. Roxanne took the third one and had seating while the two of us ran, skipped, hooted and hollered all the way to the ground floor. I was in shock. Complete, flippin, shock.

This arena fits just over 51,000 people. At a sold out show the crowd looked unbelievable. And there we were, in the thick of one massive room where 51,000+ people stood together with the Rolling Stones. I was in awe.

The set list:

Jumpin' Jack Flash

It's Only Rock 'n' Roll

Oh No, Not You Again

Bitch

Sway

As Tears Go By

Streets Of Love

Tumbling Dice

Night Time Is The Right Time

Slipping Away

Before They Make Me Run

B Stage

Miss You

Rough Justice

Get Off Of My Cloud

Honky Tonk Women

Sympathy For The Devil (one of my top three favorites)

Start Me Up

Brown Sugar

Encore:

You Can't Always Get What You Want (another one of my top three favorites)

Satisfaction

They had elaborate costumes -- Mick had a crazy top hat at one point. Scottish and I drank lots of beer from the guy with a mini Heineken keg on his back. The stage could detach in the middle and move up to the thick of the ground floor with the band on it, which was amazing. The lights and effects were well-equipped with fireworks and explosions. A giant screen with close-up shots of the band was of course the backdrop. Saxophonist Bobby Keys was there jamming. I sent text messages to friends from England. I called my mom and held up the phone during Get Off Of My Cloud.

Scottish and I rocked out harder than anyone had anytime before. We jumped on each others shoulders to get brief better views. I jumped, twirled, dipped, bounced, knee bent, sang, clapped, shouted, whistled, kicked, air guitar-ed, air drummed, air everything-ed, worked a sweat, drank lots of beer, did cheers to everyone around me, did cheers to Scottish, did cheers to The Stones about twenty times... really just an all around freak out that I never knew was in me.

Before I knew it the show was over. I didn't even see it coming. I was expecting another encore, I think because I didn't even notice the first one even happened.

Even when the original members put their arms around each other and bowed in unison -- I still expected more.

Even when the lights turned on and people began to walk away -- I was the one yelling, "One more song! One more song!"

"It's over, ok?" said people as they passed me.

"No! Come on! Stay! If we all stay together they'll have to play more!" Ok, that sounded logical to me at the time, but now I realize now I wasn't making sense.

Scottish and I left, arms around each other's shoulders, including a random couple I thought would like to join us. I don't remember why, but they stayed and hung out.

Even when Scottish and I belted out the song "Roxanne" while we were waiting for Roxanne these people hung out.

Even when we went to get more beer from a stand and I, not looking at who was around me, accidentally rammed my backpack into an old lady... almost knocking her over... they hung out. (I know I know it's really really bad to knock over old people!)

We missed the last metro back to Amsterdam central. Actually, we got on it, then got off because someone told us it was the wrong one, when it really wasn't. Scottish and I didn't care. Our minds were still stuck in the concert.

Even when we had no idea how to get back and we were sitting under the metro confused and clueless, I couldn't stop imitating Mick Jagger's strut and dance moves.

Even when the random couple left us and we rode in a taxi from I don't even know where, I still air guitared to whatever songs I remembered them playing.

We got back, I passed out and awoke this morning without a voice. No tour guiding for me today. Instead I went for a long bike ride and tried to work off my hangover.

BUT IT DOESN'T STOP THERE! GET THIS:

As I biked along the Amstel River, I took a different route back home and wound up at the Amstel Hotel. The Amstel Hotel is the posh place where all the celebrities like to stay at. Well, I didn't know this at the time, so when I passed by a group of people standing outside the front entrance I got curious. I asked someone what was up, and he said The Rolling Stones were coming out of the hotel at any time.

Little did I know he had been saying this since his morning arrival. It still sounded interesting, so I stick around. Hell, my mind was still intoxicated with rock from the night before, I was useless today. So I stood there with about 30 groupies, or maybe just overly-obsessed fans. Most of them were over 40 years old. Some were families, some had brought their dogs. One woman was in her 50s with old, dry hair that reached her knees. Another man had an acoustic and played the set list from last night. His voice was so horrible, it sounded like a horse was being attacked by some crazy pissed off alien. Haha, no it was really really bad though. And sometimes I would just watch him and laugh, and try to cover my ears.

Every time a taxi would roll up to the entrance, the overly-obsessed fans would panic with excitement. I had never seen people's ears perk, backs tighten and eyes widen, simultaneously, before. Many would position themselves for picture taking by holding giant cameras close to their noses with two hands. It was weird to watch. And funny. The whole emotion of fandom amazes me.

And then it happened, again and again. I stood there for one hour and saw The Stones walk out of the hotel, wave, sign a few autographs, take a few pictures with the fans, and walk into the taxi. But not all at once, and no, not Mick Jagger or Keith Richards. First there was bassist Darryl Jones. Second was saxophonist Bobby Keys. With those two guys I sat back and watched as the fans toppled over themselves to get to the musicians.

Then came out drummer Charlie Watts. Charlie was cool, a favorite among the fans because he was more personal. He hung out for a while, and I hung out in the back, standing on a tree stump so I could see what was going on. I said, under my breath, "You took my Aunt Geri for a helicopter ride!" Everyone around me took it completely the wrong way. Still, Charlie Watts looked up at the little girl on the tree stump as she smiled. And he smiled back.

Finally there was Ron Wood, one of the guitarists. Ron Wood was just recently released from rehab, so a lot of the fans were curious about how he was feeling. He moved quickly, and wasn't willing to spend a lot of time talking to these fans. I wouldn't want to myself. Frankly, the guy with the brutal horse voice was killing me. On top of it feeling just strange and awkward to stand in front of a hotel for an hour just to get a glimpse of these guys.

I knew I wasn't going to be there much longer -- Ron Wood was as much rock star as I was going to see. With that in mind, I said screw it and leaped back on to my tree stump.

Now if you had one chance to say something short and sweet to The Rolling Stones, what would you say? You're awesome? You suck? You're old, please stop? You're old, keep going? Peace? I love you? Or would you just let out a shrill scream? I didn't know what to do. So being the cheesy music lover I am, I said the first thing that came to mind.

"Hey, Ron Wood."

His head lifts and he looks at me.

"Thanks for rock and roll. I...love it."

Ron Wood smiles, laughs a bit, nods in approval and walks to his taxi. He gets inside, the taxi leaves, the fans are surprised with the whole moment, and I walk to my bike. I hop on the seat, bike away, smile and wait until I'm away from the hotel and overly-obsessed fans and then scream,

"WAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!"

Someone pinch me,

Audrey "If you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need" Sykes

If you want to see pictures from my life out here in Europe, you can check them out at

www.flickr.com/photos/AudAdventures


1 comment:

Heather Fried said...

Hey girl,

Sounds like you lead an adventurous life-lucky! I've only recently gained an appreciation for the Stones, they kick ass!

Are you going to school out there in A'dam?