April 27, 2009

Vegas Media Part 2: (More) Pics & (Some) Videos

LOL they're coming slowly but surely...like I'm really going to focus on the work and class stuff I have this week. 

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And two videos I have uploaded so far:

Start Me Up - Stones Cover

Keep the Faith (about 20-30 seconds in)
I SWEAR the quality is far better than what shows here, but unfortunately it doesn't upload 100% all the time...

April 25, 2009

The Joint Review

Las Vegas: The Joint, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
April 24, 2009

Well, what an AMAZING weekend, that’s all I can say! It started on Thursday night – since I had to work and go to class, I had packed the night before and prepared to drive up to Chatsworth to pick up Rosie after work.

At 6pm I left work and headed straight up to Los Angeles, arriving at Rosie’s around 8:30 (right as she pulled in from work herself!). We each used the bathroom, I stretched while she showered, and we were on our way. We stopped for gas and Subway, then hit the road and began the very long drive to Vegas in the middle of the night. LOL.

We arrived at Hooters Hotel around 2:30am, which was good since check-in ended at 3am. We checked in, hauled our luggage up to the room, and headed on over to the Hard Rock to see when we were allowed to line up.

This was our first of MANY encounters with security who did not know what the hell they were talking about. We were told we could not line up until 6am, and that they would distribute wristbands around 8:30. So Rosie and I headed back to our hotel and attempted to sleep, which did not happen. At 5:30 we got up and met Serene and Michelle in the casino, then headed back over to the HRC to line up.

To women from Japan were already lined up and said they had been there since 5, but that they were the first ones. So we joined them, wondering if it was all too good to be true…if it wasn’t, we would be the first ones to get wristbands and get practically front row!! We knew we had to make sure no other lines were forming, so we communicated with as many security guards as possible the fact that we were the official line and not to let anyone else start others.

More and more people began arriving and joined the line, and unfortunately everyone had heard different stories about when we were allowed to line up and when wristbands would be distributed. Some had heard 8:30 like us, some had heard 10, some 11, some noon. I eventually decided to check inside and make sure another line wasn’t forming. Unfortunately, I did find two women in a hallway right outside the Joint’s front doors who refused to listen to the fact that a much longer official line was already outside, and insisted that we join theirs and they were first. Okay, whatever.

I went back out and informed the line that these two women were “first”, and we went inside to join them. Once again, security had no idea what was going on and we were yelled at to keep standing, that we weren’t allowed to sit or lie down (which is stupid) and that they were not officially endorsing our line-up, so we were on our own.

We all decided to self-govern ourselves as much as possible, to keep things running smoothly. A line manager was assigned (her name was Cathy) and she was AMAZING at managing everything! She began a list and started at the beginning of the line, writing down our names and numbered place in line, then writing our number on our hands in Sharpie so there was no confusion. I was #7, Rosie was #6, Serene and Michelle #8 and 9. Liz, Sandra, and Debbie were arriving later that day, and Julie had arrived the night before separately with Susan.

Everything went smoothly for about an hour – people took turns leaving the line to go get Starbucks around the corner in the casino, and I ignored security and napped on the ground for about 15 minutes before they yelled at me. I was soooo tired and hoping to God that they’d actually give us wristbands at 8:30 so I could go back to the hotel and sleep.

Well, come 8:15 a security guard named Kori (a short little woman with a mean face) came out and ordered all attention on her (there were about 70 people in line by now). She then informed us that there would be NOTHING given out until 3:00pm, and that we were absolutely not allowed to line up before then. Anyone who tried to, she said, would be turned away or sent to the back of the line. We asked if our line and numbered places would be honored, and she basically said NO, not by security, but if we could arrange it amongst ourselves, go for it.

Well of course we were all livid, and she gave us 5 minutes to clear the area and get out. So we all met up outside and tried to figure out what to do. We tossed around ideas of sending scouts around the building to make sure no other lines formed, taking shifts so people could sleep and come back to manage the line, etc. We could never settle on anything, and security came back outside and changed the story yet again. I don’t even remember what they said then because they changed it even in those 5 minutes of talking to us, and then Kori came back out and said that she had been wrong, the box office would open at 10am and it was up to them if we would get wristbands.

With this new piece of news, we decided to stick around until box office opened, and wait to see what they said. Somehow, we were allowed to move over to another side of the building and wait there in a line, and amazingly everyone cooperated and stayed in their numbered places. It was hot by then, though, the Vegas sun was strong, and we were all exhausted.

Sometime later, the head of security – a tall, burly, hilarious black guy named Reggie – came out to inform us of yet more changes. He talked to us for a good 20 minutes, telling us that his boss said wristbands were dependent solely on the amount of people lined up (no problem there, we figured), and that they would be distributed at 12:30pm. We were not allowed to line up before, however, and Reggie said that they had no control over whether other lines formed because they could not make ours official. So he suggested we get over there at 12:25 to make sure we were first since we’d been waiting since 6am, and we were to have ticket IN HAND. We confirmed all the details, asked him a million questions to make sure everything would indeed work out that way, and everything seemed set.

Then another girl came out and said Kori had just told HER that wristbands would be distributed in 20 minutes. Reggie said that wasn’t true and he went inside to tell her otherwise, reassuring us that since he was head of security and his boss had told him otherwise, we were to follow his instructions.

So everyone in the line decided to start taking shifts to go change, shower, and get ready for the show to come back at 12:00 and get back in our ordered line so we could head over at 12:25 and get our wristbands. It was nearly 10am, when box office would open, and our group wanted to stay to make sure the story didn’t change again before we left. We finally did leave around 10, figuring Reggie had everything under control, and we dispersed back at Hooters, arranging to meet back in front of the lobby at 11:15 to get back to line.

It was about 10:30 by then, and Rosie, Serene, Michelle, and I went back to our rooms to shower and get ready as quickly as possible. I jumped in the shower first, rushing and praying that things would work out and we wouldn’t have to wait any longer. When I got out, I had a voicemail on my phone from Dawn…wondering where we were because wristbands were being flucking given out right then!!! It was barely 11:00!!!!

I ran out of the bathroom half dressed and told Rosie, who in turn called Serene and Michelle back up and we rushed down to the lobby to meet back up and get BACK over to the damn HRC. Dawn had been able to grab Rosie and me wristbands (which were not numbered, but security said they would honor our numbered line then) but we had to get them for Serene, Michelle, Sandra, Debbie, and Liz.

We raced back over to the HRC and found Reggie, who gave us a look that matched ours and said he was as exasperated as we were. We got our wristbands, and he said to be back in front of the Joint doors at 5pm sharp to start the line up, apologizing for the mix-up as he was confused as well.

So we headed back to Hooters yet again to actually get ready and sleep, knowing we had several hours to do so. I napped for about an hour and a half in my dress, with the alarm set to get up and do my makeup before we were going to meet the others back for the line.

Well, of course things couldn’t go smoothly, and I was awakened around 3:15pm by Rosie on the phone with Sandra and Debbie, who had just gotten there and said the line was already friggin starting. So rush status began again: I jumped out of bed and slapped on some makeup so fast I was nearly blind from the sleep still in my eyes mixed with mascara and eyeliner.

We rushed back…yet AGAIN…to the HRC and found the line, which was outside the Joint doors. A good 200 people were already there, NONE of which were from our numbered line or with wristbands. UGH.

I hunted down Reggie, who actually recognized me, and asked what the hell was going on. The poor guy said that these people had started lining up around 3 and that his boss said it was okay, which pissed him off since he’d told us otherwise. Regardless, he told us not to worry because people with wristbands would be let in first, and we should STAY PUT because he had no idea when that would be.

So we met up with the rest of our CA girls and hung around for maybe 10 minutes before Reggie’s boss announced that nothing would be done until 5pm…which made no sense…and then all of a sudden they started calling up people with wristbands. We were at the front of the line talking to Reggie and thus right by the doors, so we were let in right away. It was MADNESS trying to get through the doors, however – people were shoving so much I could barely breathe, and security was yelling in our faces and making me deaf. We finally got inside and lined up among roped off pathways outside the Joint itself. Reggie had said our numbers were now NOT honored, and that it was up to us to arrange ourselves in that mess. Needles to say, we gave that idea up. So I had originally been #7, but I was now about 50 people back, behind a bunch of young punks who had probably cut everyone else.

So we all stood in the hallway (not allowed to sit again) for TWO hours before we were finally let inside. They let the VIP GA line in first (maybe 100 people), then checked our tickets and pointed us toward the floor, yelled at us to walk, and we were finally in!!! Our group somehow managed to stay together, and we secured a spot about 4-5 people deep from the front barrier, smack dab between Jon and Richie’s places on stage. Holy FRICK it was so close!

We waited yet ANOTHER two hours, standing and sweating like sardines before the opening band FINALLY came on. A very strange retro-style band from Texas called Electric Touch, with a lead singer who seriously thought he was Mick Jagger. It wasn’t Bon Jovi, but damn the music filling our ears and the adrenaline filling our veins felt so good after standing monotonously ALL DAY.

They played several songs and finished up none all too quickly, then it was time for Bon Jovi…and man, we were DYING for them. Seeing Electric Touch playing had shown us just how flucking close we really were, and I was shaking like the first time I ever had a FC seat in 2006. We were all super excited and VERY anxious, impatiently waiting another half hour before the lights FINALLY dimmed, the fog rolled out across the lone white mic stand, the drumset and keyboards, and the black stand to the right.

The crowd screamed itself hoarse as I heard squeals behind me of “There they are!!” and “LOOK, it’s THEM!” and my eyes were so wide and my heart pounding so fast I thought I was having a heart attack.

And then there they were…Richie in a friggin beautiful jacket with his “Bless” shirt, David and Tico looking clean and happy and relaxed, and then Jon…emerging from the shadows like the man of seduction he is…clad in a thin black shirt unbuttoned halfway down his chest. *swoon* !! I started SCREAMING, and when the lights came on and the band was in full view, tears rolled down my face in a mixture of finality (we had been waiting allll day for them…) and disbelief at how close and special my spot was…we were in for one intimate night.

For a corporate show, vanilla setlist, it was the BEST show I have ever been to. Jon was in amazing spirits and Richie on fire, Dave and Teek in the back as they usually are, but in good spirits during some band chatter in the show. They started off with Prayer, as expected, and as I screamed and sang along with my friends and other fans, I was transported back to the first time I ever saw them live, almost exactly four years ago, when I was so far back that they were specks on the stage, and I had no idea what a ride I was in for the next few years.

Jon gave everyone in the front major attention, and I made eye contact a couple of times, but of course missed my photo ops…gah!! Security was annoying up front, flashing bright flashlights at those they thought were filming (how the heck can you tell?), and the light beams on the stage were horrible for good photography, but I managed to get a good couple of dozen great shots.

I screamed and sang along the entire time (except when taking pics, hehe), and it was SO much fun to be there with my friends around me! In GA pits people’s hands go up in your face all the time and that got old quickly, but we were SO CLOSE that I forgot all about it. I couldn’t see Richie well, but whenever he came over more toward the center, I tried to get his attention too…and once again blanched at the fact that he was RIGHT THERE, in the flesh, facial expressions and eye movement completely visible to me.

I did finally get a picture of Jon and Richie together in front of us and Jon was looking RIGHT at my camera! And I attempted to get a good clear smiling pic, which I managed to do sometime during the performance.

It was just completely amazing – being so up close and personal was the best part, and while I won’t do GA again, the intimacy of being in that vicinity is just mind-blowing. And the best part was that because everyone up in that area had been waiting around allll day together, no one pushed and shoved or made their neighbor’s experience a bad one. We were all in it together, all courteous of each other and respectful of our view, and when outsiders tried to shove to the front, we formed a barrier and pushed them back. LOL! Don’t mess with us, you have NO idea what we’ve been through!

They played for a solid two hours, which FLEW by (but surprised us because we thought we’d get an hour tops!), and at the end I was so dehydrated and tired, my feet were so numb and my legs so sore that I could barely walk, but I was on Cloud 9.

I cried again at the end when they left out of sheer joy - it had been such an amazing experience and I couldn’t believe how blessed I was to have had it. We joined the throngs of people swarming out of the arena, and set off in search of water, gingerly stepping on weakened and sore as hell legs, wincing with every step. I REALLY wanted to stick around and see if we couldn’t see the guys, since there had been stories ALL weekend of sightings and people meeting them…it was insane how public they’d been.

But of course, my luck was that I never even saw them…until the next morning. We arranged to meet up at Starbucks for brunch (and stargazing, since that was Jon’s favorite place!) and of course saw no one, but Rosie and I then headed off afterward for the pool. Meanwhile, Liz had gone to the taxi line outside the HRC to meet up with other friends, and called Liz saying the security had just mentioned Richie was coming out!!!

We hightailed it outside and saw two black Escalades and a stretch limo parked outside, and we nonchalantly settled down to watch on a low wall in front of some planters. Liz had already left and we figured Richie was gone too, as the limo and one of the Escalades pulled away just as we sat down. But the other Escalade remained, and though we couldn’t see inside because of the black windows, the passenger in the back did roll down the window once to talk to security, and I saw blonde hair. That was it – whether it was Jon or not (and if it was, he was probably watching us watch him, LOL!) I like to think it was. And we were right friggin there. But alas, it drove off after the other two, and we lost our chance of meeting them.

Something told me to stay, though, and sure enough another Escalade pulled up. We waited around for almost an hour to see who would come out, and we heard snippets of conversation between the driver and security, and distinctly heard them say “Richie”. The driver finally was told to move around to the back entrance on the side of the hotel, and though we maneuvered ourselves so we could still watch from a distance, no one ever came out and the driver eventually left. So we think there had been a miscommunication, that Richie DID leave in the limo, and this guy was there for no reason.

We spent the day walking around the Strip then, since everyone else in our group had left and it was just Rosie and me, and then I retired early to the room and played with my pictures while Rosie partied until 1am by herself.

It was one hell of an adventure – hours upon hours of travel and driving, insane goose chases to get our damn wristbands and actually get in, missed opportunities to meet the guys yet again, 40 hours of no sleep, and I lost my cell phone AGAIN!…but those two hours of the band performing right in front of us made it all better. It was simply incredible – it was exhilarating, it was emotional and moving…and so completely worth it.

Bad Name
Lost Highway
Born to Be My Baby
Raise Your Hands
Sleep When I'm Dead/Start Me Up
Whole Lotta Leaving Going On
Saturday Night
We Got It Going On
It's My Life
I'll Be There for You (Richie!)
Keep the Faith
Bad Medicine/Shout
Blood on Blood
Twist & Shout

Vegas Media Part 1: Pics

Okay so here are a small gallery of my favorite shots from last night - the lighting was awful for good photography so I had to weed out about half of the total 500, (hehe!) but I got some great ones when Jon and Richie would actually stand still.

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I'm still working on videos, but they shall come soon! I managed to get the better part of KTF, with Jon working those damn maracas and nearly killing me in the process. OY.