Tuesday, May 29, 2018

I Was VIP At A Music Festival And You Were Not

This past weekend I was briefly in the lap of luxury while attending the Boston Calling music festival, and it was sweet. This was all made possible by friend and Medford’s finest, Trace who got his paws on a pair of VIP tickets for Saturday, and I took full advantage of this golden opportunity to do learn about the lifestyles of the rich and the famous, as Good Charlotte always claimed to know about. How did Trace get the VIP tickets? I wouldn’t worry too much about that. It’s a long story involving Drew Carey, a dead moose and a Swiss army knife and you wouldn’t want to hear it so we’ll just skip ahead.

I’ve been to my fair share of music festivals: Gov Ball (once), Riotfest (twice (Hi Andrew!)) and Boston Calling (thrice) but this was my first time ever gaining access beyond the barriers, where the beers were a little colder, the bathrooms a little cleaner, and the crowds a little less…crowded. Last year I swore off ever going to Boston Calling after the mud filled disaster with me ruining a pair of perfectly nice Vans, and the fact that Mumford and Sons were a headliner. Seriously, I hadn’t had a pair of shoes ruined like that since my friend Wade’s bachelor party and SOMEONE WHO WILL REMAIN NAMELESS puked in my Sperry’s as I was in the shower. It was a hell of a bachelor party, and I know what you’re thinking: Jim in Sperry’s? I know, right? They were comfy though and I can’t knock Sperry’s for doing their thing. Anyways, the mud and lackluster lineup, along with the absolutely bonkers amount of lines and piss-poor cell signal led to more stress than I had hoped for on a relaxing weekend. Also I finally realized I was old and my body can’t handle drinking copious amounts of Miller Lite and my lower back not being able to handle standing on uneven ground for such a long period of time. I believe I even told my friends who I were with that they only way I would go back is if ABBA reunited, I got free tickets, or if they were VIP. Amazingly, all three things happened, it’s just a shame I didn’t specify ABBA reuniting for the actual Boston Calling event, but what’re you gonna do?
Queens of the Stone Age didn't kick anyone

I got the text Friday about possibly wanting to tag along, and I said oh hell yeah why not? Free and VIP are both things that sound nice, and I kept my unfortunate Boston Calling memories repressed for the time being. Things got off to a questionable start immediately as we were able to go through the VIP express entrance way. While this was great, there was also no one else in the general admission lines to get in, so this was kind of a moot point. It really saved us zero time being VIP, and I was starting to have my doubts about how great VIP was. This soon changed.

The actual VIP area was basically off to the side of the stage, so the wealthy and lovely could get up super close to see bands that they love or act like they know. Within the VIP area were bathrooms that were furnished bathroom trailers (brailers? Bathlers? Need to work on this) instead of the usual porta-potties. This was a fantastic perk of the VIP. Probably my favorite, as I did not have to wait in line for the men’s room whatsoever, and we had full sinks and decorative wallpaper. The part that I was most disappointed in was the VIP bars, because for some reason there was still like 30 volunteers (bless them) working the bar, and it became excruciatingly awkward as Trace and I made our walk over to them to order our $8 miller lite tall boys. There were so many of them working and so few customers to have that they were all staring at us hoping that we would choose them to buy our beers and tip a buck to. I felt guilty each time I went up there. I can honestly say I’ve never felt more awkward buying beers at any point in my life. I felt terrible for the other 19 bartenders I wasn’t buying from that it just became depressing for me. Thank god The Cure wasn’t playing or anything. In addition, there was a VIP Customer Support desk. 

As you can see from the picture, it was very reminiscent of Lucy’s “Psychiatric Help 5 cents” booth from Peanuts. Basically you could get some suntan lotion, wet-naps, and hopefully moral support at this booth. 

While I did not see a single fellow VIP-er take advantage of this perk, I am still kicking myself that I didn’t send Trace over there after a lot of beers to ask for one single wet-nap, or a fortune to be told. Oh, to have a time machine, you guys.

After checking out a band with two (2!) drummers, Thee Oh Sees, we decided to do some exploring with the other general admission peasants and see what other perks were out there so Trace and I could laugh at the people that couldn’t get in where we could. I was finally getting revenge for….I don’t know I’m sure there was some party or something I was mad about not getting invited to at some point. Anyways, we stumbled into some bizarre lounge area sponsored by IKEA, which was just as Swedish and weird as you would imagine something hosted by IKEA would be. Our brief time there was spent with our jaws on the ground in confusion as we watched people peddling $4 veggie dogs, and watching people hang on a bunch of hammocks that looked like they were suspended in the middle of a Jenga game that was half-way done. I haven’t seen A Clockwork Orange but this IKEA lounge seemed like it could be someone’s living room in that movie, with the awful DJ included.
this was the most normal area, assembly required.
After surviving that, we stumbled on in, sorry, gracefully were allowed in after flashing our VIP bracelets to some other lounge that had an arcade, chairs, and complimentary coffee. That’s right, complimentary coffee. For a second there I couldn’t tell if this was just the name of a tricky coffee roaster, but it turns out it actually was free coffee, so that was great.
kind of confusing

What was not great was losing a best of 3 series of Fooseball in heartbreaking fashion, and that fucking whack-a-mole wasn’t working. Boston Calling lost points as a whole for whack-a-mole not working. Maybe it just wasn’t plugged in, but I was VIP, I wasn’t going to stoop down and check for that.

The bands were perfectly fine. In the early portion, we saw Royal Blood who was very good. Highlights included one of the better drum solos I’ve ever seen, and more importantly, the very same drummer put a huge dent via chugging into the bottle of Patron he had, which just the sight of made want to run to one of the trailer bathrooms. This was one of the few times that it sucked being VIP, as a group of teenybopper frat and sorority gals who were pretending it was East Coast Coachella (the worst!) started annoying us. I kept wishing on them to be tossed into a mosh pit at some point, but the lineup wasn’t in my favor in that regard. We saw Manchester Orchestra sing their angsty hearts out, Mount Kimbie play their weird keyboard solos and spacey folk rock (full disclaimer, I had no idea who they were either. We just wanted to check out the Blue stage), and St. Vincent give a performance that was exactly what I imagined at St. Vincent performance to be like, maybe with more robots than expected. Oh also we saw like 10 minutes of Brockhampton, who I had never heard of, and was extremely confused when this boyband of like 10 people ran out on stage in bullet proof vests. If I weren’t in VIP I would’ve been worried that we were getting raided or something. That was weird and now Brockhampton is in some trouble so they can go screw.

This was all a prelude to the double whammy of Queens of the Stone Age dripping their coolness over those nerdy fields of Harvard, and Jack White showing that he’s still very, very good at guitar to close things out. Both were great, however I was a bit dismayed when a fellow VIP brat was screaming the lyrics to The White Stripes’ ‘The Hardest Button to Button’, which is my personal favorite song. I don’t want to knock the poor gal for being pumped up like she got a prom date at the last second, but I could’ve done without singing the wrong verses at the wrong time. Get it together. This is VIP. In between QOTSA and Jack White, I came across a gentleman who had on the single greatest shirt of the festival. I was feeling spiffy in my own right, as I dusted off my cheetah print button up and Sonic Youth shirt, but I soon learned that I was playing second fiddle to this dude in the Celine Dion shirt that would make Iron Maiden jealous. 

maybe my favorite photo of all time

That’s right, a death metal-like tribute to Celine Dion, Canada’s greatest export, and her iceberg smash of a hit ‘My Heart Will Go On’. As a proud band tshirt aficionado, this man is my hero for wearing it, and I have made it my life goal to make it to his age and keep youngsters on notice with my tshirt game at music festivals. I don’t know your name, so let’s go with Bart, but way to go Bart. Way to go.

As the evening came to an end, I found myself ordering festival ramen which sucked, listening to Seven Nation Army, and pondering how there are so many Bill Murray Toon Squad jerseys from Space Jam and how it’s a shame I have yet to see a Monstars jersey at a festival, when it hit me just how truly blessed I was. 
here's Trace patiently waiting for me as I patiently wait for my crappy ramen

I had broken the barrier and invaded VIP at a music festival, surrounded by mostly older people there to see Jack White and had established bank accounts to spend the extra, like 60 bucks it took to do so. This is the kind of life I want to strive for. While it was nice to hobnob with the first class of the Boston Music Festival Scene, I really left it as a changed man spiritually. Now that I know how VIP’s live, I want to become a VIP everywhere I go, therefore I solemnly swear to become a VIP, or to somehow rely on Trace to get his hands on more VIP passes to things. Maybe this blog will be a stepping stone into the VIP life, but I’m guessing it will just be easier having friends in high places.

VIP, man. I can get used to it.

Except for fucking whack-a-mole being broken.