Saturday, October 13, 2012

Western Finland!!

I had a visitor to the blog from Finland! Awesome! I am sure the Nightwish post brought them here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Bug's dream has come true...Nightwish came to town.

I acknowledge that I have influenced much of Mollie's musical taste. But Nightwish is a band I did not introduce her to. Mollie discovered them on her own. They are truly her favorite band on the face of the planet! We purchased our tickets back in April and she awaited October 10 with crazy anticipation. Remember folks, the Bug won $100 in a singing competition and that prize money purchased her VIP Meet & Greet ticket. The day had finally arrived. 

I picked Mollie up at school at 3:50 PM. We immediately headed downtown to Emo's on East Riverside. The plan was to arrive early, grab a bite to eat and then go to the venue. When we arrived, the line was already forming. We skipped the food stop and immediately headed for the line. We walked through the parking lot, past two unmarked tour busses. After a few minutes in line, Mollie mentioned how hungry she was. I told her she could probably manage without eating until after the show. Once things got rolling and the adrenaline was pumping, she would forget the hunger. Then she said, "But if only I could do something about this need to pee..."

We were standing in a long line outside that was now curving around the south side of Emo's. We were parked on the north side of Emo's in a parking lot shared with a Mexican restaurant. I told Mollie to walk over there and use the bathroom. Once she was out of my sight, I began to get nervous because this is a wicked part of town. And I just sent my 16 year old daughter, unattended, walking through a parking lot to find a bathroom. I decided to call her and talk to her as she walked. She did not answer her phone. I knew she would have to walk past the tour busses again and across the parking lot. I could only hope that several people had arrived and were standing around in case she was accosted. I called her phone again and on the third ring Mollie picked up, yelling, "Mom! Mom!! I just met Tuomas! I hugged him! I saw Marco and Jukka too!!"

Turns out, as Mollie passed the busses, she saw movement behind the bus. She looked and it was Tuomas Holopainen. She said, "Oh my God! You're Tuomas!" He said, "Yes. I am." She pardoned herself and told him she was a little starstruck. He humbly told her "Don't be." She went on to tell him that she realized this was kind of awkward but since Anette's abrupt departure from the band and the fact that they were going to be in need of a permanent vocalist, would he be interested in taking her demo CD tonight for consideration? He thanked her but declined, saying he just did not want to focus on that for at least, a couple of years. Mollie accepted this news and then repeated, "Oh my God..." She looked up and around the corner came Marco and Jukka! Mollie looked at Marco and said "Holy Shit!!" Tuomas laughed and said to Marco, "Guess what, my name is Oh my God and you're Holy Shit!"  Mollie said they all laughed.  

When Mollie finally returned to the line, she excitedly exclaimed, "Pretty much the best bathroom break EVER!!!!" Her pulse was racing. This was the beginning of an epic night. An older man was in line ahead of us. He was wearing a Nightwish shirt and a big camera around his neck. He began talking to a bald man who was obviously security. The bald guy had a Nightwish Tag and the old man grabbed at it. The bald guy told him, "Please don't touch that. Please don't touch me. Dude! Let me go." Then he got on a radio and called for assistance saying there was a crazy 80 year old guy out here trying to molest him. Mollie and I were laughing and said something sarcastic to him about how he can't defend himself against an old man?? He handed Mollie an All Access pass and said she could have it if she agreed to go punch the guy. I grabbed the pass and said, "She agrees!" We had a fun conversation with the couple in front of us, and the couple behind us and the bald security guy, who turned out to be John, one of the two Nightwish Managers! Turns out, I had previously exchanged e-mails with John, so when I realized who he was, I introduced myself. He was really very cool to us and when he learned Mollie was my daughter, he asked "You two are together?" I nodded and then he handed me another All Access pass! (Neither Mollie or I ever punched the old man... although he kinda did deserve it...)

We stood in line for about another half hour before they finally opened the doors to the venue and VIP guests were allowed in. We lined up neatly and awaited the band. A roadie announced that the line would need to move swiftly and that we could not go behind the band members. (Okay, secretly, I told Mollie to ignore the bouncer and go behind Marco if she wanted to. All the bouncer could do is tell her no and redirect her...)  A table was set up with six chairs and a stack of posters. We were in the front third of the line. The band entered to cheers and applause. Seated at the table, from left to right were: Tuomas, Jukka, Floor Jansen, Emppu, Marco and Troy. When it was finally our turn to approach the band, Mollie went to Tuomas and said, "Hey! Remember me?" He said, "Yes! The Oh my God, girl." He signed two posters and two of Mollie's CD's, which he then passed to Jukka. I took a picture of Mollie and Tuomas. It is sadly, a tad bit blurry.
When Jukka stood up to take a picture with Mollie, I had figured out the camera phone a little better and snapped an awesome picture. And there is something I must say about Jukka. He has this total bad boy look, but behind his eyes I saw kindness and warmth. He listened intently each time Mollie or I spoke. In this regard, he stood out more than the others. He was drinking in each person's excitement.
We moved down the table to Floor and I said, "Hello. This is my daughter Mollie, she is a vocalist like you." She smiled and talked to Mollie just a little bit but I don't remember the conversation. Before she signed Mollie's CD's, Floor humbly asked, "Am I allowed to sign these?"  OMG OF COURSE!!!!!  Floor stood for a picture with Mollie..... these are two absolutely beautiful girls, in my humble opinion...
We moved on to meet Emppu. He did not say much and we did not really know what to say to him. I've heard he is still learning the English language. We obviously know the man's talent but he doesn't do many interviews and we really don't know much about him personally. Even if we did, we were moving along in such a rush, what could we have discussed??  But he took a picture with Mollie.

When we approached Marco, Mollie said, "I know we are not supposed to go behind the table...but can I please?? I really want to touch your beard." In the coolest Finnish accent, Marco said, "Of course darlin'! Come on over here!" I snapped three BAD ASS pictures of Mollie with her hands all in Marco's beard and his hair. This was the moment Mollie had been waiting for:


This last picture with Marco, you can see that his hair is caught in her bracelet (on the right) and pulled it. And just look at my darling girl's precious grin....
We snapped a picture with Troy, the horn blower and our Meet & Greet was officially done.
Then I remembered I wanted to show Marco my Bass clef butterfly tattoo. So I lifted my sleeve and said "Marco, I want to show you my tattoo." In that darling thick Finnish accent he said, "Oh! Iss a buttahfly." I pointed out the bass clefs, both he and Troy looked closely at it and Troy said it was really cool. Then I asked Marco if he would sign my tattoo and he said, "Of course darlin'!"

We then moved on to secure our place in front of the stage. We wanted to be right in front of Marco and Tuomas. Mollie kept our spot and I ran our autographed items and the t-shirt Mollie purchased, out to the car. Near us in the audience were the two couples we befriended outside. It was great. They were such nice people and the one girl was visiting Texas from Canada! Also near us was a skinny Hispanic boy who drove down from Dallas for the concert. We were telling them the story about Mollie's bracelet getting caught in Marco's hair, when she looked at her bracelet and screamed "Oh my God mom! Look! His hair!!" Sure enough, a strand of Marco's hair was still in her bracelet. She took it out and secured it in between her phone and her phone case. Then we told everyone around us about how her dream had just actually came true. She had dreamed earlier in the week that she was talking to Marco and touching his beard when clumps of hair started falling out of it. She stood there, still talking to Marco in her dream and stroking the long pieces of beard hair she had collected. And now, in real life, she had a strand of his hair in her bracelet!

Before the crowd got too thick, Mollie grabbed her demo CD and went to find John, the Nightwish Manager. She asked him if he would take her demo CD to the band. He looked at it and said, "Is it pornography? Because if it's not pornography, then I am not interested in it." She tried to tell him again that it was her demo CD but he turned away and started talking to someone else. Mollie took the hint and came back with her CD in hand and her spirit still in tact! She tried and that was good enough for her.

We were right in front of the stage, but not standing against the railing. We were behind the bodies pressed up against the railing. At first I was disappointed... but it proved to be the best place for me and Mollie to be. Before the end of the concert, we caught four guitar picks. The girls in front of us, pressed up against the railing got nothing. Every pick we managed to grab, would bounce off hands and land at our feet. I simply would bend down and pick them up.

Kamelot took the stage 30 minutes late! My feet were killing me and my knee was on fire! At 40, I'm afraid I'm losing my rock edge. I was beginning to feel ill from the lack of food, the body heat and everyone being crammed in together. The woman next to me was very nice but had bad breath and it was beginning to make my stomach turn. Finally Kamelot came on stage and things got better. The show was good but we know absolutely nothing about Kamelot and did not know their songs, so we could not sing along. Their background vocalist was incredible! She was beautiful and her voice was awesome. Then guest touring vocalist, Elize Ryd came on stage dressed in a corset & leather boots and did this wicked death growl. It was very cool.  She was captivating. We caught a pick, but Mollie had made a deal with the guy next to her that if we caught a Kamelot pick, we would give it to him. And if he caught a Nightwish pick, he would give it to us. So Mollie immediately handed the pick off to the guy. There were several folks around us who came to see Kamelot. That went beyond our understanding since clearly, we were there to see Nightwish.

After Kamelot's set, it was another 30 minutes of waiting before Nightwish took the stage. I just stood back and watched Mollie. She was jumping up and down and was so unbelievably excited. She was singing as loud as she could and screaming to Marco.
About four songs in, I caught Emppu's pick!
At that moment, the skinny kid from Dallas slid in front of me, next to Mollie. I didn't mind. He was a very big fan of Nightwish and would turn out to be an outstanding concert companion to Mollie. This was after all, Mollie's band and Mollie's night.

I was standing behind the skinny kid, whose name is Juan, and a short blonde woman was standing behind Mollie. Mollie was jumping up and down and thrashing her hair about and the woman was laughing and dodging Mollie's hair. There was a Hispanic man and his wife next to the blonde woman. The hispanic guy looked familiar to me and I caught him glancing my way a few times. I think we went to school together but I never talked to him about that. At a rare quiet point between songs, with my face in between Mollie and Juan, I screamed "MARCO!!!!!!!" He smiled at us, and Mollie said, "That's my crazy mother!"
Then Tuomas disappeared for a few moments behind a wall and came out with his infamous hat.
Mollie screamed, "Tuomas! I love your hat!" He smiled, nodded to her and then tipped his hat!!!!

Now check this out! See that bottle of red wine under the keyboard? Tuomas is known to enjoy "a good red wine". I wish I could have read the label but I couldn't make out the name. The thought had crossed my mind to arrive at the Meet & Greet with a bottle of red from a local Texas vineyard, but I knew better. The concert took place at Emo's. A bar. I could not legally bring a bottle of wine inside. And I had no idea that we would end up with All Access passes... oh well.  Next tour...

At some point during the show, a man in a blue shirt managed to push his way through the crowd and was now trying to push in front of Mollie. I told him to leave. He had a very thick accent but I couldn't place it. It was certainly European. But I did not like how he was pushing against my daughter and I yelled at him to get away from my kid. He was trying to reason with me and I got pissed! With as evil a glare as I could muster, I raised my voice at him, "Step the hell away from my kid!"  He said, "Wait, would you listen to me for just a minute?" I shot back, "NO!!! I came to listen to Nightwish, get the fuck outta here!" The people around us were starting to back up. Finally the Hispanic guy yelled "Hey! Get outta here man! If you wanted to be in front, you shoulda got here early!" The Hispanic guy pulled the blue shirt guy back and I slipped into place behind Mollie. The blonde woman took my spot behind skinny Juan and apologized to me. I told her don't worry about it and smiled. She was actually kinda scared and I immediately felt bad. Nightwish fans are generally a peaceful bunch and just a really nice group of people! But this guy was fixin' to open a can of Momma Bear Whoop-Ass.

Mollie later told me she has heard of fans who follow Nightwish all around the world and if the blue shirt guy was one of them, then I gave him a very poor impression of America. Well...I don't give two shits about that. A grown man is NOT going to push himself up on my 16 year old. Ain't gonna happen on my watch. Ain't happenin' captain.

Moments later, I caught a second pick from Emppu. The Hispanic guy reached for it, but I got it first and I heard him say, "Awww man." I stood up, slapped the pick in his hand and said, "Here man. It's yours. Thanks for helping me look out for my kid." He smiled, said thanks and that it was no problem. At a moment between songs, I leaned over to the blonde woman and apologized if I scared her. She said she did not blame me at all and understood. She was totally cool about it.

The cutest part of the night was each time Nightwish would start the next song, Mollie and Juan would look at eachother, scream, jump up and down and hug each other! It was adorable! I could only stand back and watch my kid having the time of her life! It was so incredibly cool. Really, there just are no words to describe.
And then...then....the band played Ghost Love Score. Oh my gawd the crowd went insane! And Floor freakin' nailed it! What an incredible, insanely talented woman! She was on fire! And when the song ended, Marco said, "We haven't played that one in years..." This song as NOT played anywhere else on tour so far. This treat was specifically for Austin, Texas and we LOVED it!!!
The Austin crowd was so loud, the sound guy had to re-adjust Floor's ear piece. How cool is that???
Sure, we had two all access passes, but we did not want to lose our spot in front of Marco. We were firmly planted right where we wanted to be. When the show was over, the band stood together on stage and bowed. It was beautiful. And then... they were gone. Mollie looked down and found another guitar pick from Kamelot. She gave it to Juan. They exchanged phone numbers and hugged one last time. He turned to me and I said, "Juan, next time you come to Austin, you call us. We will get you and Mollie back together to hang out." Mollie laughed and again said, "That's my crazy mother!" He hugged me and walked away with his friends.

It was now midnight. Mollie had school the next day and I had to work. We had our all access passes, but really, what more could we do? We already met the band, saw an incredible show... so we walked out to the car talking and reliving each moment as we walked. We passed the Nightwish tour bus and Mollie showed me where she first met and hugged Tuomas, and the corner which Marco & Jukka came around. She was glowing, she was giddy. It was beautiful. But she was also starving!!!! We stopped at the Wendy's drive thru for a double burger combo which Mollie scarfed down in a record four minutes and we were on our way home, headed north on Interstate 35.

This night was EVERYTHING Mollie dreamed of and so much MORE!! It was absolutely perfect.

Thank you Tuomas, Marco, Jukka, Emppu, Troy and Floor for making my daughter's year. She will never forget this night as long as she lives. And thank you for giving me the opportunity to see her this happy....

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dream Big

Sometimes, no matter how outlandish a dream may seem, you have to make an attempt. Even if it doesn't work out exactly as you wish it would, at least you can say you tried.

And never...never laugh at someone's dream. It may be all they have left.