Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Be careful what you wish for cause you just might get it!

As I prepare for my 18th Counting Crows concert on April 28, 2012, I cannot help but think back to the summer of 2006...and cringe in horror!!  

My obsession with the Counting Crows began during the summer of 1994 when myself and several girls from Brigantine took a limo to Camden, NJ to see them play live with Jacob Dylan and The Wallflowers (5th Avenue Heartache).  It was the same summer that we spent our days and nights dancing to Mr. Jones and Rain King, while soaking up the sun and enjoying the simplicity of being kids.  
Counting Crows Concert #1: August, 1994

On a side note, if you have never seen Adam Duritz (the lead singer of the Counting Crows) sing live, you usually walk away either loving him or hating him.  I have heard multiple people (including my husband) say that Adam sounds like a whiny psych patient!  Well, for me, that August night, in the 16th year of my life, I could only think, "Adam gets me.  He speaks to me.  His lyrics were written for me and about me."

As he sang and I got lost in the endless phrases: "She is something all together different, never just an ordinary girl.", "The ghost in you, she don't fade.", "A long December and there's reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last.", and "The price of a memory is the memory of the sorrow it brings.", I could only dream about how and when I could see this band again, while wishing the night would never end!  With my adolescence worn proudly sewn onto my sleeve, and with the music running through my veins, I spent the next 12 years seeing the Counting Crows live wherever and whenever possible.

I saw Adam and company in Scotland and London, while studying abroad.  I traveled to the Allentown Fair and Baltimore's Inner Harbor.  I saw them at the TLA in Upper Darby and the Liacourus Center at Temple University.  My favorite show was also the smallest one; opening night at the Atlantic City House of Blues, summer 2004.  I have seen the Counting Crows play with John Mayer, Augustana, Wallflowers, Hootie and the Blowfish, Michale Franti, Notar, Gigalo Ants, and Bob Dylan.

In August of 2006, the Counting Crows came to the Borgata in Atlantic City.  This venue was significant for one reason, and one reason only, my parents work in the Entertainment Department at the Borgata.  My chance to meet Adam Duritz was closer than ever and I would not let this moment pass me by.  As my dad made phone calls and checked out the tour Security, I made a single hot pink poster that said, "Charlie for President".  Charlie Gillingham is the band's keyboardist, pianist and accordion player.  Charlie has been a steady member of the band since 1992 and, while he does not always attract the most attention, his ability to stick with Adam through his vocal contortions has always astonished me. 

When the 2006 concert began, my father introduced my brother, his then girlfriend and my husband to the Security Guard who would be working the back stage door.  We were instructed to meet this Guard after the concert, wait quietly at the door, not drawing attention to ourselves; the Guard was to then let us back stage.

Half way through the concert I could no longer resist...I waved my hot pink sign in the air as Adam belted out the cords to one of my very favorite ballads, Goodnight Elisabeth.  When the song ended, Adam said, "Hey you, with the pink sign, why would you want Charlie to have the worst job in the whole world?"  I was stunned, electricity ran through my whole this big arena Adam Duritz acknowledged me!!!  And then, before I could catch my breathe a beautiful amazon woman with long brown hair grabbed my hand and drug me to the very first row.  I learned later that this woman was Charlie's wife who was in town, visiting from LA, for the concert.  I spent the last hour of the concert hanging with the wives and special guests of the band and when the last encore came to a close, Charlie's wife told me that she would like me to be her guest backstage...of course I quickly found my party and brought them in with me as well.  The one stipulation we were given by the VIP party was NO PHOTOS and NO AUTOGRAPHS!

This was literally how close Charlie's wife brought me to stage!  Adam was sweating on me!

If the concert was a holy experience, back stage was heaven!  A beautiful and grungy-sheek crowd gathered around buckets of Heineken and veggie trays.  Charlie's wife introduced me to the other wives and when Charlie came out the three of us chatted for awhile.  In my nervous state I hardly realized that I had consumed a mixed drink, two Heineken's and a shot of something that the masses seemed to be consuming...I was definitely more intoxicated than I had time to realize!  

Before I knew what hit me, there he was, Adam Duritz in the flesh...I was in heaven with my own music Messiah...complete with dread locks (which I now know are extensions...who does that?)! 

I couldn't help myself, I saw the train wreck coming and I could not stop it...I ran to him, practically tripping over myself to get to him.  When I got within two feet I could see that he was speaking to a close group of family and friends, and yet, this did not deter me...I grabbed his arm, I professed my love, I told him that his music spoke to me.  Did Adam hug me?  Did Adam thank me?  Did Adam smile at me?  No, he stared, he just stared.  Actually, if we want to be exact, first he stared and then he turned his back and the group continued with their conversation as if I never even appeared in the first place.

Did I stop there?  Did I realize that he was rude and conceited and I should enjoy the party?  OF COURSE NOT!  I waited a total of five minutes and then busted up to Adam again, this time letting him know that if I gave birth to a male child, his name would be Adam, for good measure, I also threw in a rapid fire of questions about the characters named in his songs.  This time Adam was not so nice, he said, "Who the hell are you and how did you get in here?"  Fortunately, it was my husband who saved this one...he said, "Adam, she's just a huge fan.  You know, I don't even like your music but since she plays it over and over and over, I guess I have gotten to appreciate your lyrics."  Adam's response to Fred was far more friendly, he laughed, shook his hand and said, "Thanks man".

I was devastated,  the one man I had placed on a pedestal for twelve years was a complete and utter ass!  I could not listen to the Counting Crows anymore, I started to look online for clues about Adam's true personality.  What I found was that he is truly a jerk.  He was quoted in a Rolling Stone article as saying, "My fans think that they made my career, they didn't make me, I made myself.  I wrote the songs and I sing the songs.".  Additionally, as I mentioned above, I found out that his dread locks were fake, actual human hair extensions.  Could Adam be a fraud?  I had always imagined dreamed that if Adam Duritz and I were to meet he would immediately realize how cool I was and he might even want to bring me on his tour.  Not only did Adam Duritz not think I was cool or want to be my friend, he was disgusted by my presence.  Where did this leave me?  Could the Counting Crows still be my favorite band after this devastating discovery?

I waited two full years before attending my next Counting Crows concert in the Fall of 2008, again it was at the Borgata and this time it was the Traveling Circus and Medicine Show.  The concert was awful and I was left to question whether it was because the Counting Crows played the whole show with five other bands in tow, or if it was because I simply could not longer stomach Adam.  I went into work that following Monday and told my tale of woe to my colleague Dave, a long time musician who spent a few years touring with his own band.  Dave gave me the best advice which I will remember always, "Love the art, not the artist.  Appreciate the music for the music, not for the people who create it."  Those words resonated with me and before long I was back on the Counting Crows band wagon.

One of the worst live shows I ever saw!

This April, as we make our way back to the Borgata, and visit with my dad, who is now a Security Supervisor, I will make no moves towards that side/back stage door and I will certainly not bring a hot pink poster.  I will appreciate the art and the music.  I plan to get lost in the lyrics, the same way that I did eighteen years ago, when I was sixteen years old and first felt the power of live music.  I will appreciate Adam Duritz for the lyrics he has provided me with, however, I'll let he and his groupies have their own private party after the show because, "I belong in the service of the Queen, I belong, anywhere but in between." 

Meeting your heroes isn't always magic! Mk