On a humid late summer day, the Goo Goo Dolls crashed the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul, Minnesota. It being my first concert, I was filled with excitement for what the forthcoming hours had to bring. I had just picked up my two backstage passes(pictured) that Robby had so graciously given me, and the gates started to open. After waiting an hour to get in, I walked up the ramp and found my seat. It had been hours since I had sat down and it was about 80 degrees in the outdoor Grandstand, with humidity on top of that. My friend and I baked in the sun while we waited for the show to start.
I was kind of disappointed about our seats; we had a 2nd row seat and the first row was about 40 to 50 feet away from the stage. There was a huge walkway that was right in front of the stage that took up most of the space(it was cordoned off during the concert, by the way). That's the thing that stuck in my head about this venue, how bad it was for fans that had worked so hard to get close seats. For me, I had been clicking like crazy on Ticketmaster.com the instant the tickets went on sale and thought that 2nd row tickets would be satisfying. Don't get me wrong, I loved my seats. But the space in between the stage and the first row of seats was so incredible, that it was like having 15th row seats in almost any other venue.
After talking to several fans I had planned to meet by contacting them on the Show Board, it was time for the show to begin. Looking behind me, there wasn't a vacant seat in the stands. It was really amazing, since the layout of the stands is rectangular; I could see the entire 10,000+ crowd in one glance right behind me. I've been to stadiums that have had 60,000+ people in them(for a football game), yet the presence of this crowd was greater than I had ever experienced before.
Tonic took the stage and were played a truly remarkable performance. Having the Lemon Parade CD, I knew most of the songs and it was so cool to see them live. They were actually the first band I ever liked, one of the first CDs I ever bought. Their guitarist's guitars were incredibly expensive. He had a different color of a Gibson Les Paul Custom for each and every song they played -- in case you don't know, they retail for around $4500 apiece and are quite hefty pieces of machinery! My friend and I laughed as they played, because we could feel the bass vibrating our chests. I've been to places with loud music that have vibrated me before(man, that sounds weird), but feeling the bassist's part so ecstatically in my body, was really cool.
As soon as Tonic was done playing, the behind the scenes people started setting up for the Goos. During that time, funny music was playing through the speakers such as music from the "South Park" soundtrack. State Fair trivia was being shown on the projection TV screens that had been set up on both sides of the stage. At this time, I noticed about 20 to 30 people going through what appeared to be an entrance to the backstage area. I took little note of it, wondering why they would let people back there in between shows.
After the longest wait in my life after the Tonic concert, the Goos took the stage to the Alpha lights of Dizzy. I tell you, if you've never been to a Goo Goo Dolls concert, you will never understand how spectacular that was. Song after song, the Goos put on an awe inspiring show. It was pretty humid; they had to grab towels often throughout the concert. Two people right next to me held up a sign that John took note of on the first break(something about Wisconsin, which the crowd booed). It's really neat how well the Goos interacted with the crowd that night, it was a really energetic concert that, as from what I hear, involved the crowd as always. The Goos did a great job with that, making the audience a part of what went on, especially in the encore.
Here's where things take a twist.
The concert had ended. Fireworks started firing off for the finale, the Goos had left the stage, and people were making their way down the stands and out the exits. My friend and I made our way to the gate that would give us access to the backstage area. There were 2 chain link fences with 2 doors that let people go to and fro the backstage area. As we neared the gate, we put the backstage stickers on our shirts which would grant us access to the backstage area.
Explosions, crackles and shimmers of the fireworks were going off. We arrived at the gate, and the guy at the gate had bad news for us. They wouldn't let us go backstage, because they claimed that the backstage access had already happened in between the Tonic and Goo concerts. I knew this was surely impossible, because the lady at the Will Call window had told us that it was explicitly after the show, as the passes indicate. After pleading with the guy at the gate, we gave up and left out the exits.
Saddened by the turn of events, we dejectedly made our way towards the State Fair parking lot. It was over, I wasn't going to get to see the Goos after all. But then, I remembered the writing on the envelope that contained our two backstage passes, that was in Robby's handwriting:
Meet after the show
Turning on our heels, we ran back into the Grandstand, made our way through the hoards of people that were exiting the other direction, and all the way back to the gate where we had been denied access. We demanded that he let us pass; I told him what was written on the envelope. I insisted that we were supposed to see them by now. I noticed two other girls that had the same stickers we had, that had "RT" written on them just like ours. They had been claiming the same thing, that "Meet after the show" was written on the back of their envelope too. The guy at the gate at this point is starting to believe us, but he needed a hard piece of evidence to let us through.
One of the other two girls that had passes had a checkbook, and we tore out one of the unused accounting pages in the back of it, and using a pen that I got from someone else in the crowd supporting us, I wrote Robby a quick note, that went something like this:
Robby-- Save us! It's Mike from the World of Goo, and they're not letting us get through to see you guys! Please let us come back there so we can see you! Thanks! -Mike
Imagine the most intense tension you have ever felt in your life. Then multiply that by two, and you might come close to understanding how I felt at that moment. I handed the note to the guy guarding the gate, then he passed off the note to a police officer in uniform that was nearby. The policeman walked out of our sight, and with every passing minute, hope was growing and diminishing at the same time.
Finally, the police officer came back and at the top of his voice, instructed the rest of the crowd without passes to start moving towards the exits. At that time, we were let in, the four of us, just inside the gate where they held us for a while.
Then, we finally were allowed backstage. We were led through a maze of the backstage setups and rigs that had been assembled for the show, and backstage where the four of us met the Goo Goo Dolls.
The rest is history, and something I'd like to keep as personal. I'll just say, We all lived happily ever after. The End. :)
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