|Good Groupie #tourstories|
Thursday afternoon, I started seeing the hashtag #tourstories pop up on my Twitter feed, and I was immediately hooked. (And amused when my brother, a die-hard Every Time I Die fan, told me it was started by ETID’s sound guy for bands he knows to share their stories of being ON tour. Oh, what a turn it took once girls like me got a hold of it…)
When I first thought of creating a music blog, my initial point was to chronicle my own stories of being on the road, following bands for a couple shows and whatever other musical antics I could get myself into.
Unfortunately, with a name like the Good Groupie…I don’t often find myself in situations that would help me live up to the “groupie” part and make for some really good tour stories. But I stick to the “good” part fairly well – as in I will buy your merch, I will sing along, I will come say hi after you play to tell you how great it was and then I will leave you the hell alone because you’ve talked to 1,000 other girls just like me while you’ve been on the road, and I know we all start to blur together after awhile.
Regardless, that doesn’t mean I don’t have stories. All of us who live in this crazy world-o-music have tour stories. It just means mine are not quite as rock-n-roll as say, Pamela des Barres’ tales. (Which I don’t mind, she can keep that one about sleeping with Mick Jagger…)
So I thought I’d share of of my best tour stories from the past 14+ years of going to shows: the story of my first time backstage and the event that, in my opinion, set me down this literal and figurative road of chasing the music, selling my soul to the road and living for live music.
Backstage with Hanson in 1998
It was 1998, I was 14 and was desperate to see my favorite band live for the first time. I put up some resistance when my friends went crazy for Hanson in 1997, and despite my echoing the “They look like girls!” chorus, I really did enjoy the music. (I’m convinced it was my obsession with the Beach Boys that drove me to Hanson – harmonies will get me every time.)
A month into the summer of 1997, I gave in and finally bought their album. And that was it. I became a walking, living, breathing definition of a teenybopper right down to the poster of Zac Hanson above my bed. Because that’s what teenage girls who love music do, right?
It was a painfully long wait to their first national tour the summer of 1998. As has become tradition in the last 13 years, Texas dates are usually some of the last to get announced, so while the rest of the country was finally enjoying Hanson live, I was sitting at home extremely upset they weren’t coming to Houston.
But one evening just before dinner, my two best friends called with the best news on the face of the earth: Hanson. At the Woodlands. September 27, 1998.
In the three weeks leading up to the concert, I obsessively thought about how amazing it would be if I could just meet them. I could tell them how much their music meant, how excited I was to be a part of whatever it was we were creating in our artist/fan relationship. I hoped, wished and prayed to whatever musical gods might be asking for this chance. Because that’s what teenage girls who love music do.
On the day of the show, I walked through the gates of the Woodlands Pavilion decked out in my Hanson T-shirt, “Hanson color” ribbons in my hair (red/green/blue/orange), and blue laces in my shoes (because Zac’s favorite color was blue). My three friends had agreed to dress the same…so when two of them showed up in normal street clothes, I was not happy. I knew I looked ridiculous, but as long as my friends all looked ridiculous too it was okay.
And just as I was about to get upset with them, Heather told me: her uncle who owned a tour bus company had pulled some strings for his niece and her three closest friends.
We had backstage passes.
I was stunned. Apparently the musical gods had heard me.
More screaming and squealing commenced.
The anticipation nearly killed me in the next 20 minutes as we waited outside the gate that led to the backstage area. But finally it was our turn, and I don’t think I will ever forget, as long as I live, the moment I turned the corner and saw Hanson standing 10 feet away from me. After a year of watching them on TV, reading about them in magazines and listening to their albums…it was completely surreal (and slightly terrifying) to see these three boys I’d idolized standing in front of me.
We walked forward. We said hi and shook their hands. I pretty much died when Zac squeezed the hell out of my hand as we shook, completely toying with me. (Something he does with us all to this day…) We were gathered by their father (yes, Papa Hanson – 8 million records sold, but their dad was co-managing the meet-n-greet backstage…) for photos and handed our cameras off to him. My friends and I somehow managed to make up the the entire back row, Hanson’s arms around us all as Papa Hanson took the snapshots. And when he had issues with one camera, Taylor impatiently informed him, like a teenage boy getting embarrassed by his father’s stories about him, that the lens needed to be opened…
|Girl with pigtails? That’d be me…
And to this day, AJGPhotoEtc. still hates that goth girl for blocking her in the photo.
And all I could think about was “Ohmigod, I’m standing next to Taylor Hanson, and his stomach is as hard as a rock!”
Photos done, we turned to leave. Up until this point, I’d really said nothing to any of them and suddenly, I panicked, worried that I was going to miss my opportunity. So as I turned to Taylor and he thanked me for coming to the show, I blurted out the first thing I could think of.
“You guys have the awesomest clothes.”
And instantly regretted it. Taylor laughed politely, smiled and thanked me, and in a desperate attempt to salvage myself, I tacted on:
“Where do you get them?”
I got a very generic “Oh, all kinds of places” response. I don’t think he was expecting this question either. I nodded and smiled at the answer, thanked him for playing in Houston, was herded back out and just like that it was all over.
When I got to the other side of the gate that led backstage, it all suddenly sank in: I’d just met my favorite band. The nervous energy turned into pure excitement. We relayed the entire story to out mothers, all four of whom had come to the concert with us. Girls around us caught wind of what we were saying and started stopping to hear our story. Two friends from school found us and when I exploded with the news and shared I had stood next to Taylor, one of the girls slapped my arm so hard I can still feel that sting, spun around on her heel and stormed off. (And didn’t talk to me much after that. Seriously.)
After I had that small taste of the touring life, I was a goner.
And, well…take a look around and you can probably figure out how the rest of the story turns out…