Weeks ago I had a flash of intuition. The Grammys were coming up. Arcade Fire would be there. They are playing Coachella in April, and though I love Arcade Fire with all my heart, I don’t love them enough to stand in the middle of the desert all day. Because of weird Coachella rules, they probably wouldn’t be playing any LA shows any time soon. Then it occurred to me. They were going to play a secret, small pre-Grammy show. I just KNEW it. I asked a friend of mine to ask her friend who is friends with one of the band members to confirm my suspicions, but it didn't work out. I knew they were going to play some sort of small show and I was going to go.
I began to research. What were possible venues? Where were possible holes in venue schedules? I looked at the LA Weekly, trying to decipher some sort of code just like John Nash in A Beautiful Mind.
Then I got a call from my husband while I was driving to work. “Arcade Fire is putting on a secret LA show!”
“I knew it! Where? When? See! I TOLD YOU! How do you know? Tell me everything!” I hid my cellphone underneath my hair in case a cop was on the lookout for drivers on the phone. This was an emergency.
Apparently, the band’s manager had started asking around about potential venues on twitter and the story had been picked up by a few online blogs. Great. This meant that now I had to join stupid twitter.
I’d been contemplating a twitter account for awhile, first to follow Conan, and then I’d basically decided to join when Howard Stern started tweeting, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. I went home after work and immediately started following Arcade Fire, their tour manager, and of course Howard and Conan.
I spent the next few days doing a little research, learning who the promoter was, what venues they usually use, and what stores sell their tickets.
Whenever I talk about Arcade Fire, I end up talking about Springsteen. I spent many a night waiting on line for exclusive Springsteen tickets, and many times it was a battle of psychological warfare. There were never official announcements. No twitter posts. No announcements on websites- just the assumption that great tickets would be released the day of the show. Just other fans waiting it out all night. Security would come along and tell us to leave--no tickets this time! Managers would say the same thing-- go home! But we waited it out, and always got rewarded. I ended up thinking that the ones who went home, who believed the managers and security officers, were the ones who didn’t want to be there in the first place. They were just looking for an excuse to go back to their beds.
So when “clues” were finally released the night before the show, it was obvious that a camp out would be necessary. I had just finished a two hour night hike in Griffith Park when I got back to my car, checked my phone, and saw all the twitter updates- three photos, each with a zip code. I had already known from my detective work which were the likely sale locations, so I wasn’t surprised. But now everyone knew for sure. Shit, I thought. Shit. I’m gonna have to call out of work. I’m gonna have to get some blankets together, my picnic chairs, and sleep on the floor.
I’ll admit, I wavered. I am 30 years old. Am I too old for this? Do I really want to spend the next twelve hours on a sidewalk? I knew, though, that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be going to the show. And I NEEDED to go. I LOVE seeing them live in just the same way I love seeing Springsteen live. It makes me happy to BE alive. Win said, “You don’t know how good for the spirit it is for us to play for you here.” Or something like that. But it’s how I feel too. This is AMAZING for my spirit. I get into serious funks sometimes. Funks about my life, my confidence, my career, my decisions. An Arcade Fire show is a guaranteed electro shock to my brain. A full year of therapy in one night. An instant recharge to my soul. Their lives shows are high voltage motivation and inspiration.
So, Mark and I had a big dinner, packed up, and left. We decided to go to the El Rey Theater, even though Origami Records is closer. I feared that Origami would be flooded with hipsters of the worst kind, and also, it seems like there are roaches on that stretch of street.
There were about 30 people in front of us when we got there. We spread out a blanket, set up our chairs and hunkered down. Soon, the Greek life at UCLA came and we were flanked by them. But they were all very nice, lovely kids. They talked to us a bunch and were incredibly friendly. I ended up feeling grateful that we were surrounded by them and not by assholes wearing giant plastic glasses who think they are super cool.
I graded papers and it started to get cold. I sort of half slept for a couple hours, then really fell asleep for another three. I huddled next to Mark for warmth and remember just a few snippets of conversation from the people around us:
“I LIKE Aracde Fire, but I wouldn’t say I LOVE them.”
“I need to make Valentine’s Day baskets for all the frat houses.”
“Now I know what it’s like to be homeless- COLD!”
“Now I know what it’s like to be in Iraq.”
No comment there.
Some dude had a full blown cot- others had tents. I think one of the guys in the tent was Jesse St. James from Vocal Adrenaline in GLEE. Good for him for sticking it out all night. If it was him, he is way hotter in person.
I woke up looking up at the palm trees on Wilshire Blvd. with a big smile on my face.
|This is Mark, all comfy and cozy on the sidewalk.|
My freezing cold feet turned into sweaty burning feet. Every so often I walked around the block to stand in the shade. At some point, a very fancy old lady who looked like some long lost Hollywood starlet, with perfectly sculpted white hair and red shoes that matched her red cane said, “What the heck are you all doin here? Whaddya waiting around for Rod Stewart or something?”
The time came to finally buy the tickets, and buy the tickets we did. We immediately took a ride down to LACMA to hit up the lunchtime food trucks. We headed home on full tummies and took a much needed nap.
Few hours later we pulled up to the Ukrainian Culture Center on Melrose, a gently falling apart beauty of a building, no frills and just perfect for the occasion.
There were free sodas, waters and cotton candy, courtesy of the band. No alcohol. All ages
Something about the delirium of not enough sleep, excitement, and all the work put into getting these tickets put me in a dream like state where I didn’t know exactly what was going on. Everything was blue. Wonderful music was playing, then Arcade Fire came on stage. It was surreal.
Just as a small aside, I think LCD screens should be banned from concerts. Guess what? I have NO INTEREST in watching your LCD screen as you film every fucking second of the show. I came to see THE BAND perform, not to LOOK AT YOUR STUPID FUCKING IPHONE. PUT. IT. AWAY. Is it really that impossible to just experience something as it is happening?
It was my favorite show of theirs so far. It was perfect. It was better than I ever could have hoped. I felt like I was fifteen again, ecstatic that I was seeing my favorite band play. Towards the end, it felt like the audience and I were this one, big surging thing. Some of them were cool LA people that just wanted to be able to say they got into the show. But some of them were like me. Here to see their favorite band play. Here because there was nowhere else on earth, right then and there, that we would rather be.