I got to Oracle Arena a little before 5:30 and stood in the first line I saw, assuming it was the line to get in. The show was scheduled to start at 6:15, and I thought the doors would have opened already but not so much. The weather was crappy, and Jimmy Pop and Pogo were running late since they were driving. Rick joined me soon enough, however. Someone gave us free Monster booster shots.
Ten minutes later, I heard a security guy shouting some very disconcerting words, and I went closer to hear him more clearly and, uh, he had been saying what I thought he had been saying: we were in the wrong line. I called Rick over, and we walked to the South Entrance, which is where the GA line was. We found the South Entrance, which was where the GA line...started. So we walked all the way back to find the end of the line. I wonder what our place in line would have been if I had found the right line when I'd arrived. Ah well. They started letting us in pretty soon, and we downed our Monster drinks since no food or drink was allowed. It tasted like cough syrup. And Big Red. And something nasty. But I had never had one and wanted to see what it would do to me. I'm not sure whether I really felt any effects, but I certainly never got tired or sleepy, so it might have helped.
Umbrellas weren't allowed, which was totally lame on a rainy night, but I suppose they were afraid the Penguin was a big Muse fan. At least you could check them in for a dollar.
A man scanned our $74 tickets, and we were let inside, where we then received a wristband. We bypassed the concessions and merch table and entered the arena, where local band Scene of Action was playing. To my delight, there were hardly any people on the floor. Rick and I high-fived. There had seemed to be way more people in line, but we secured a spot only nine or ten rows of people from the stage. Rick estimated we were about 25 feet away. The problem was that Jimmy Pop (and his roommate) and Pogo (and her sister and co-workers) had not arrived, and there wouldn't be room for all of them eventually.
A bigger problem was that at about 6:24, nine minutes after the show was supposed to have started, Scene of Action finished their set. ...What? Surely their set was longer than one-and-a-half songs. This meant Metric was going to come on pretty damn soon. Come on, Jimmy Pop! Come on, Pogo! You can make it!
I was really excited for Metric, but it seems the sound technicians were not, since Emily was barely miked. The sound quality was not very good, and I don't think the band had as much energy as they had at BFD, which was maybe because they had a shitty slot.
I took a lot of pictures and won't be posting them all, so feel free to check out the gallery.
But since there were so few people around, I was able to get some decent shots of the band members.
They opened with "Gimme Sympathy," and Emily jumped around, as she does. Next was "Gold Guns Girls," which is one of my favorites off the new album, so that pleased me.
Emily really likes that dress. Observe:
Okay, that's not the same dress at all. But she clearly likes wearing silver.
When she brought out the tambourine, I hoped they were doing "Raw Sugar," but it was "Help I'm Alive."
Rick was unfamiliar with "Dead Disco," but I love it, and I love the expanded intro they give it live.
And that was it. Four songs. That was BULLSHIT. They played longer at BFD! I was really disappointed. I was also sad Jimmy Pop had completely missed them, since he was a big Metric fan.
I was calling and Rick was texting for updates, and somehow Jimmy managed to beat Pogo to Oracle. I had brought a book to read on BART, The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya, which had a very bright yellow-orange cover. I realized it would probably be very easy to see in a crowd, so I waved it in the air so he could find us. Well, Rick waved it, since he was taller. I waved my cell phone. It took a while, but Jimmy finally managed to make his way through the crowd to us with a twelve-dollar beer in his hand, just in time for Vampire Weekend.
Rick was actually most excited to see Vampire Weekend, having researched the non-Muse bands in preparation for the show. He thought they'd be good live, and he was right! They may not give a fuck about an Oxford comma, but they put on a good show. Not a show, so much, but they play their songs well live, which is the least you expect, really. They're solid musicians.
Because they are a buzz band, part of their appeal must come from their apparel.
The drummer was wearing a Warriors jersey even though he's not a Warriors fan.
They're so young! They were pretty adorable. The lead singer made the obligatory pot reference: "It smells great in here!" He actually seemed like he may be a nice guy and not a pretentious twat.
They played "A-Punk" and "Oxford Comma" and a bunch of songs I didn't know, but I liked them. They had a nice, mellow sound. I'm still not rushing out to get more songs, but I would probably like any I heard.
Pogo also fought her way through the crowd and met us during Vampire Weekend's set. Her sister and co-workers stayed back, which was for the best since it was easier for just one person to get through. It was nice of her to ditch them for us, though! She sees them all the time, after all.
Next up was 30 Seconds to Mars! They had "Carmina Burana" announce their entrance, which was kind of cliché and douchey, honestly.
If you are not familiar with the band, you may be familiar with the lead singer.
Hi, I'm Jared Leto. You may remember me from such television shows as My So-Called Life and such movies as Fight Club and Requiem for a Dream.
Now, however, he has become a rock star so he can point at things.
The highlight of the set was "The Kill (Bury Me)," when Jared stepped down into the audience and sang. It was pretty fun.
He was wearing these adorable rainbow mitten things!
GIGANTOR RICK IS SMELLING JARED LETO.
See, he's totally a rock star! Look at how he holds his guitar! He pretty much did all the typical rock star things like curse a lot and tell everyone to fucking crowdsurf like this guy and yeah were we fucking having a fucking good time and all that. But aside from the songs I knew and liked, they just sounded like noise and screaming, and I was not impressed. The songs weren't even melodic or catchy. After the musicianship of Vampire Weekend, it was a change.
Pogo and Jimmy were harsher. Pogo thought they sucked and she wanted to write a letter to tell them so, and she also no longer had a crush on Jared Leto. Jimmy thought they were an embarrassment.
So when the sound cut out halfway through the last song, "Kings and Queens," they were pleased. That was one of the few songs I liked, though, so I wanted to hear it! They thought he'd gone over time and had been cut off as if this were the Oscars and he was singing his acceptance speech. There was some deliberation in the dark for several minutes, which only served to send them further into overtime, if indeed that's what it was and it hadn't just been a malfunction. Rick commented on the irony of Not So Silent Night becoming...rather silent. Finally, Jared convinced them to let him finish—Pogo claimed he was crying, but I think she was exaggerating—and he started from the beginning.
And these are for tiggz:
After the set was over—dammit, why did Metric only get a measly four songs and these guys got to play five or six?—Jimmy informed us that his roommate had totaled his car somehow. He was okay, but he was currently walking to the stadium. "That's dedication," remarked Pogo. He found us in record time; I have no idea how. I guess he had fewer qualms about pushing his way through the crowd.
The music between sets was pretty good. A girl next to us said, "Is it bad that I'm enjoying the music between sets more than the sets?" Oh, 30 Seconds to Mars. I had such hopes for you.
A remix of "Kids" was playing, and I said, "I saw MGMT before they were cool."
Pogo asked if I had a shirt that said that. She enjoyed my current Threadless shirt (which read, "I listen to bands that don't even exist yet"), as did Jimmy. Who told us that a friend of his had sent him the link to the shirt and he had bought it...not realizing the link was for the woman's shirt. It still fit, though, and he wore it!
I was feeling hungry, having eaten a six-inch Subway sandwich four or five hours ago and downed a crazy energy drink afterward. I pulled out an Odwalla bar and broke off a couple pieces. Pogo marveled at my preparedness. I offered some to everyone, but they were good.
I was going to need all my faculties for the next set, though.
I had heard good things about AFI's live shows, so I was looking forward to them. They're from Oakland, so they were well loved. Davey Havok came out wearing a white suit, which sportcoat, which surprised me.
But then he took it off and he looked more like I expected him to.
Although he still looked more like a normal guy than I thought he would. And he sounded great! He has a very distinctive voice, so it was very cool to hear it live. He also had tons of energy, and because he wasn't burdened by an instrument, he was able to use the whole stage and raise his arms flamboyantly.
They played several songs I knew—"Girl's Not Grey," "The Leaving Song Pt. 2," "Miss Murder," "Silver and Cold," and, of course, "Medicate"—as well as some songs that sounded like some of the older stuff I got from kieyra.
The problem was that if there was one band on the ticket that played music conducive to moshing, it was AFI. And we were smack dab in mosh pit territory. Rick and I got separated from Jimmy and Pogo, and as we tried to avoid the mosh pit, staying on the sides, it followed us. Rick and I were separated and reunited multiple times. I couldn't focus on the concert half the time because I was focusing on not being knocked over. I kept getting knocked into people and apologizing, and I tried to keep my hands to my side to avoid any unintentional groping. I invoked Newton's Second Law of Motion over and over in attempts to hold my position.
It was very difficult to get pictures of AFI because I kept getting knocked around. There was one hindrance I had not considered, however.
Once when I had my camera up to take a picture...a crowdsurfer appeared above me. Now, in normal circumstances, I would have been mildly annoyed but also ready to lift the person up and have my first crowdsurfing experience. Except I had a camera in one hand. I couldn't really support this person. So I tried to put my camera away. The crowdsurfer was flailing.
And then my glasses got knocked off.
Immediately I tried to get my hand free, my hand with the camera, the camera that still had the lens out—
A second passed.
—it wouldn't fit in my goddamn pocket, I didn't even think to turn it off to retract the lens, just why wouldn't it fit in my pocket, get in my fucking pocket—
A second passed.
Jesus fuck, I wished I had my little keychain flashlight, I had nothing, I couldn't see a thing and my glasses were on the floor, my glasses were on the floor with hundreds of people trying to fill every inch of available space. "My glasses!" I exclaimed.
A second passed.
In that instant, my heart was racing more than it ever had, I think. I do not think I have ever felt such a feeling of sheer panic. If anything, I now know I don't have a heart condition because if I did I would be dead. My glasses were most likely crunched. They had fallen off my face and landed on hard ground, for one, and someone had to have stepped on them, but I had to find them, I had to stop anyone from possibly stepping on them. "MY GLASSES!!!" I yelled, snarled, shrieked, screamed, I don't even know, but it was something primal that did not give a living shit about anyone else on the planet, did not care for one second about being polite or what people thought of me. The person behind me when I turned around was a cute blonde girl, and I still yelled at her like she was the scum of the earth. I seriously think I would have just shot everyone. My rational mind was completely gone. I had paid $74 to see Muse, and I wasn't going to be able to see Muse.
A second passed.
I reached down below me and there they were. I picked them up and looked at them. They were intact, holy shit. I put them on and covered each eye to see if either lens was cracked or scratched or something. Nothing. They were perfectly fine. I couldn't fucking believe it. It was a goddamn miracle.
I breathed a sigh of relief, held out my hands as an apology for my outburst, and turned back around to enjoy the show.
I also enjoyed being squeezed in between several women. Shh.
I couldn't get good pictures of the other members of the band, but the music sounded great as well, and the whole band was very energetic and fun to watch. It was a great show. And while I was biased to like AFI more than 30 Seconds to Mars just because I liked more of their songs, Jimmy and Pogo both assumed they wouldn't like AFI at all but agreed that they were awesome.
AFI played a really long set, at least an hour. It had been quite the experience.
After the set, DJ Miles played "Bohemian Rhapsody," and the entire arena sang along because how can you not? We were amused that they were playing Queen before Muse. They also played Silversun Pickups right after Jimmy recommended them to Pogo. I told him I'd seen them live three times.
We pushed forward as much as we could. We had paid $74, and we were going to see Muse, goddammit.
We had all heard Muse was one of the best live acts in the world, and, to be honest, I expected more flying tigers and things on fire and stuff like that. But musically, they were fantastic.
I loved watching Matt play guitar. His fingers! They just danced around that thing. I also really enjoyed when he walked all around the stage while he was playing. I wished he had a lapel mic so he could do that all the time. His guitar had some weird light thing on the bottom, and I didn't know what it did.
There was not a lot of banter or talking; they just played their songs. Hell, the person who spoke the most was the drummer.
I didn't know every song they played since I don't have the new album, but I knew most of them, I think. And I feel like they were all even more awesome live, especially because of all the crowd energy. Thankfully, there was no moshing, but there was a lot of jumping up and down with our hands in the air.
It was sort of fun to try to guess what the next song would be since they would do weird little things between songs that could have been leading into a song or could have just been messing around. Rick had been excited to see the bassline for "Hysteria" played live, and he got his wish. The bass had been turned up for the last few bands, and I felt like the vibrations would shatter my bones at some point. I was singing along as best I could, but I was also parched and out of breath. "Time Is Running Out" was great, but I felt that "Starlight" didn't seem to work as well live. I couldn't hear the component parts on that one. "Supermassive Black Hole" kicked ass, however.
Also awesome was "New Born," which I hear is a concert staple. I'm not surprised, since it seemed like the audience knew it very well and was ready for it to rock out ninety seconds in.
"Uprising" was expected and awesome. They also did "Resistance" and "United States of Eurasia."
Rick was disappointed that he didn't do the Chopin at the end.
Matt sounds live like he sounds on the album! I always appreciate that.
And he rocks out!
You know who else rocks out?
I wasn't really sure what the message was. Israel ♥ Muse? Do they? Was there a vote?
One song that I wasn't sure I'd heard but was pretty great and got stuck in my head was "Plug In Baby"—which would be a very different song if it were "Plug in Baby," come to think of it. At the end, these giant white balloons came out of nowhere, and it was really fun, but I was also really scared because of The Prisoner.
Then the stage went dark. There was silence. Until.
The bassist began playing harmonica. An ominous, mournful tune. I had an idea where this was going, but I wasn't certain.
Rick checked the time. He had to get back to BART before they closed the gate. This was his last song. We had discussed his situation going in, and I had joked that as soon as he said that, the next song would be "Knights of Cydonia," which is six minutes long.
Guess what the next song was.
YOU AND I MUST FIGHT TO SURVIVE!
Hey, a double-bill. Muse and Elbow.
At the end of the song, smoke shot up in plumes from the front of the stage, and the cool water vapor blew over us. It was refreshing. Rick quickly departed for BART.
And then the lights came on. Wait, what? That was it? There was no encore? Were they serious? They hadn't even played as long as AFI! Dammit! It had been awesome, but I wanted more!
We slowly made our way out of the arena with the crowd and waited outside for Pogo's people to join us. Pogo introduced us to her sister and labmates. Pogo and her sister both complained of headaches upon exiting, so I pulled out some ibuprofen for them. Pogo once again complimented my preparedness.
As we passed the East Entrance, a woman handed us cards. I glanced at it. And freaked the fuck out.
Muse and Silversun Pickups, April 14, Cow Palace.
Holy shit, usually those cards they give out go right in the trash! Oh, we are so going.