Friday, August 21, 2009

It's not the final destination...

This past Sunday I spent a day at the state fair that culminated in a concert by Journey! With me was friend and fellow Journey aficionado, Jamie. On our way into the Indiana Fair Grounds we saw a big, light-up road sign that we felt started the day off on the right leg. "Enjoe Tethe Fair".
We strolled through most of the livestock barns, midway, and a couple of the exhibit buildings, with various breaks to eat some fried foods (what state fairs are all about!) and drink claustrophobic root beer. Things we did not eat include: Pork or Chicken On-A-Stick, fried Oreos, fried pizza, fried Pepsi, Fiddle Sticks, Dippin' Dots, Hot Wisconsin Cheese, chocolate covered bacon, Ribbon Fries with or without barbecued pork, sausage, sour cream, cheese, or bacon. Things we did eat include: funnel cake, corn dogs, and honey ice cream (delicious by the way.)
We got to see several classes of Draft Horse Competition and part of a goat show before hitting the grandstand 40 minutes before the concert was set to begin and after laughing at the fact that Jamie's seat was actually right behind a pillar (which I may or may not have predicted when he called dibs on Seat 37 back in March), we noticed that the sign on the pillar actually said "Section 5" and we were supposed to be in 6, so sadly no blocked view for Jamie.
Heart opened and even though I don't count myself among the throngs of hardened Heart fans, it was still enjoyable. Also very, very loud. They need to talk to their soundman though; there was a bit of distortion. But that's none of my business.
Right after Heart left the stage and while most of the audience was cheering for more, someone caught a glimpse of Ross Valory walking between the trailers and started cheering for him instead, so he stopped to give a bow and some funny poses, which really made the audience's day. I'm not saying that Heart doesn't have a good following, I'm sure that they do, but I do find it incredibly amusing that the bassist for Journey alone got louder cheers. To be perfectly honest the calls for a Heart encore had already died down a bit before Valory was spotted, but still.
Heart came back on for a 2 song encore and then there was a brief intermission while the stage set-up was changed.
And incidentally, again no offense to Heart, but Journey knows how to do a stage. We're talking banks of lights, rows of amps, stepped drum riser, Revelation album art floor covering, projectors, and a Fortress o' Keyboards flanked by a grand piano. Journey is not worried about conserving electricity. The downside of all those flashy lights is that they did confuse my camera quite a lot, so I ended up with a slew of very blurry and quite psychedelic photos (a few of which that can be made sense of, plus others from that day, can be found on Phasebook.)
Arnel Pineda (whom Jamie and I have affectionately nicknamed Zippy; 'cause he loves to jump around and dance so much) was great. He does love one move that comes close to a pelvic thrust, but he's got the blood of a showman, that's for sure. I think that he fits in very well with the rest of the band and the style of music. Fantastic voice. But I've covered that before.
Now, anybody who listens can tell from his music that Neal Schon (second biggest music crush!) does some amazing fingerwork to get the ridiculously fast note sequences in some of the songs that Journey does, but to watch that in action on the big screens was fantastic. Neal Schon's hands are magic, that's all I have to say. He's amazing. He's also a lot of fun to watch and obviously loves what he's doing, as do all of them.
Bit disappointed that Castronovo didn't sing lead on anything. On the concert DVD that I have he does the lead vocals for "Mother, Father" on top of playing drums and he's really fantastic. Of course he was fantastic just playing drums for this concert too. You know who else was fantastic? Jon Cain, that's who. He did a couple of short piano solos that were truly, truly great and also played backup guitar on a lot of songs. I had no idea that he played guitar as well. He's got some mad skillz. There were in fact several pleasantly surprising instrumentals in this concert that I'm not sure have been recorded. At least, I haven't heard them on an album. Anyway, they were great.
After a good hour and 45 minute set they left the stage and we all clapped and yelled and stomped our feet until they came back out for an encore. They did a long instrumental number and then "Any Way You Want It" with extended guitar and drum solos. After their encore all five band members lined up at the front edge of the stage to wave and bow and clap back at us before exiting, stage right, single file. Trailing the others by a couple of yards and sporting a funny, bustling sort of walk was of course, Ross Valory. "Oh Ross! He's such a kidder!"
As it was already getting on past 11pm when the concert let out we left pretty quickly, though we did pause to consider the possibility of riding the ferris wheel now that it was dark out, but decided against it and got out of the fairgrounds faster than I thought we would. About 10 or 15 miles out of Indy we passed a nondescript bus and then another one, so I mention to Jamie the fact those those buses look an awful lot like the nondescript tour buses that had been parked behind Journey's stage area. And that the band had in fact left with the quickness. And oh hey, I think that Journey is supposed to play in Illinois or Iowa or something in the next day or two. You don't think...?
Then we passed a third bus. Yeah, that has to be them is what I'm thinking. Quite a coincidence if it isn't. But naturally without substantiated evidence the sighting wouldn't be peer-review worthy. And then we come up on a fourth bus that happens to have a window on our side. A window with a light in it. As we begin to draw up to pass this bus I go ahead and make a generic joke about maybe being able to see Neal Schon inside and then I get a look in the window and who do you think is sitting there? No, not David Duchovny. Arnel Pineda! So I yell something along the lines of: "OH MY GOSH IT IS HIM!" At that moment I remembered my joke from only a second before so I amended (in a slightly more reasonable tone o' voice) "Oh, not Neal Schon, I mean it's Zippy! I saw Zippy!"
By this point we were actually already past the bus so I say to Jamie, "Do you think we should slow down and wave?" and he says, "Kinda, definitely yes." So we did, but only briefly so as not to be a danger to ourselves or others, so I can't say as he saw us, but we tried.
The concert was totally and completely awesome, but knowing for a fact that we were within a meager three yards of Journey, well that was the amazingly creamy, soft, enticing icing on the otherwise delicious cupcake that was the day. The whole thing could totally be a Mastercard commercial.
So thank you Indiana: We did enjoe tethe fair. We enjoed it very much.


Paul Kuliniewicz said...

I know state fairs are at the forefront of frying technology, but how exactly does one fry Pepsi? I mean, I figure the mechanics largely involve pouring a bottle of it into a vat of hot oil, but last I checked, Pepsi is liquid. (Unless you freeze it first, but the aforementioned hot oil will presumably effect a phase change right quick.) I suppose since oil is hydrophobic and Pepsi is water-based, it might stay pooled long enough for the water and carbon dioxide to boil out and leave a little pool of high fructose corn syrup and artifical flavors, which may be solid enough to have the requisite stick shoved into it.

And speaking of phobias of carbonated beverages, do I want to know what claustrophobic root beer is? (The answer is "yes".)

Renee L. said...

You know I wondered the same thing until I heard about how fried Coke is made on NPR or something. What they named the product is more than a bit deceptive. It is actually a coke flavored batter that is fried and then served with some sort of coke flavored syrup for dipping purposes. I could be wrong, but it seems plausible that frying Pepsi draws on similar techniques and concepts.

The only overpriced drink stand that Jamie and I patronized at the fair were the claustrophobic root beer ones. In effect these stands were big kegs, about 7 or 8' tall and 4' in diameter. So big for a keg, but quite small for up to two people, racks of cups, cash register, and a soft drink dispenser. Also they had to get in and out via a tiny 3' high door in the back. Did I mention that it was very, very hot at the fair? So, the term "claustrophobic root beer" could be viewed as misleading; I'll admit that I didn't in fact ask my root beer if it felt constricted or panicky, but I felt that if claustrophobia didn't play a role anywhere in the saga, then at least it would have been funnier if it had.

Paul Kuliniewicz said...

And here I was thinking that someone had shaken the root beer up a bit too vigorously before opening the bottle, causing it to fizz out all over as though it were desperately trying to escape the container that had been confining it.