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Worship the Music
A little past noon, 26th of October, 2008:
“This. Is. So. Awesome!” I squealed, grinning as I absorbed everything I could, my head swiveling around so I could look at every single thing. My dad rolled his eyes.
“Calm down Claire, you’re cramping my style.” He joked, nudging my side playfully. I pulled a face.
“But it’s so cool! And a lot bigger than I expected,” I noted. My dad nodded in agreement, then he and my friend rambled on about how small Jazz Fest was and how much bigger Voodoo Fest is. I barely listened. I had caught sight of the one other thing that makes me absolutely giddy as I am when I see the bands: the merch booth.
It was a big white tent, two sides covered by pieces of chain link fence for shirts and bags to be hung on display, and two big white plastic tables over the other two sides, where CD’s were duct-taped to the tables. I’m pretty sure I started drooling.
“C’mon Claire, we’ll check it out later,” my friend said, tugging my wrist, trying to tear me away from the beautiful sight. My face pulled into a pout, I trotted along with them, since my dad said we’d have to go if I wanted to get a good spot for the Cold War Kids, who were playing at one fifty.
Two long, paved avenues led from the entrance all the way to the front of the VIP LOA Lounge area, where they met in a semi-circle. The large median separating the two roads was slightly raised, and separated into three sections, the first containing Playstation Central, the Community Tents, and the Merch booth; the second was home to the Playstation Experience, and the Vendor Village, which was a collection of tents where you could buy little trinkets from local artists; and the third section had a couple more miscellaneous tents, a beverage place, and several food tents.
After my appetite for the Cold War Kids was satiated, my friend declared she was hungry. I politely asked my father to hand over twenty dollars before my friend bit my head off, and we sauntered over to Road Kill Grill. The menu read: Lemonade. Water. Jambalaya. My friend and I exchanged glances.
“Jambalaya it is, then?” I said, heaving a great sigh. I was vegetarian. But exceptions had to be made, because if I didn’t hurry up and get food 1) my friend would eat me instead, 2) we’d lose good places for the band we came here to see, and 3) I’d fall over I was so famished.
I picked the bits of chicken and sausage out of my bowl and tossed them on the ground while my friend chattered on about the band we were here to see: Panic at the Disco. We’d been Panic fans for around a year, and when we’d found out they were playing at Voodoo (right before R.E.M, my soul music), we’d nearly broken our vocal cords screaming so loudly.
Panic at the Disco was a fairly new band. Debuting in the latter part of 2005 with “A Fever You Just Can’t Sweat Out” on the label Fueled by Ramen, they hit it big with their single “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.” But they were labeled as emo for their pop-punky sound, and so in March of ’08 they deliberately fended off this new unwanted title with their new album Pretty. Odd. which was very Beatles-esk.
My friend had fallen head-over-heels for the singer, Brendon Urie. I rather fancied the drummer, Spencer Smith, even if he did have a mustache that sort of looked like atwo little caterpillars crawled under his nose and died.
“Whaddya think they’ll play first?” I thought out loud. My friend rolled her eyes.
“‘We’re So Sorry,’ du-uh. What did you think?”
I shrugged. I had not thought. I just wondered. “Do you s’pose we’ll be in a good spot to see Ryan and Jon?” I asked. “Mofrey hadn’t been able to see Andy or Pete or Joe.” I added, recalling what Mofrey, our other friend, had told us of last years Voodoo Fest. Ryan Ross was lead guitar, and Jon Walker was on bass. I hoped I’d be able to see them; Ryan looked like a girl and I was game for a good snicker, and Jon has pretty eyes and furry eyebrows, though Brendon still held the Gold Medal for The Most Fantastical Set Of Eyebrows.
“Oh, don’t worry. We’re going to get the best place.” My friend gave me a just-watch-them-try-to-push-me-to-the-back look. I shrugged, and tossed my now empty Styrofoam bowl into the trash.
“Then let’s go,” I advised.
When we walked over to the stage where Panic would be playing, Dashboard Confessional were just starting to jam. We shrugged and kicked it in the grass, drawing on our freebie Fuse bags we got from the Fuse tent, sweltering in the heat of October.
Le Ritual was the big one, the boss, the ‘It’ of Voodoo. It was the Fashion Week of Voodoo. It was the concert area where all the mainstream bands played, and was also the last day of Voodoo Fest, which lasted for three days. The big field was home to a track course, and a couple of scrawny trees. The Le Ritual field was also home to the Playstation/Billboard.com Stage (where we saw Cold War Kids), and the Voodoo Stage.
I observed the Voodoo stage while my friend texted her other friends. It was huge. It was flanked by two huge flat screens, which were hung directly over big purple banners which had the Voodoo monkey printed on them. Over the top of the stage was another banner. “Worship the Music” It commanded. I nodded. “Yeah,” I muttered.
“Hmm?” My friend inquired, without looking up from her phone and rapidly moving fingers.
“Nothing.” I shrugged the peculiar tingling sensation that sent a shiver down my spine when I looked at that banner and the creepy Voodoo monkey. It made me feel like I should go up to the bouncing group of screaming teens and bounce and scream with them. It was difficult to suppress the urge.
Soon enough, though, Dashboard ran off and as the group of teens disbanded, my friend and I collected our things and pushed our way through the crowd. We ran up to about five feet away from the stage. My friend nodded at me; this was good for her. I shrugged. Now we had to stand for an hour and wait while Lupe Fiasco finished on the Billboard stage.
One grueling hour later, my friend and I stood there and took being pushed around and had our toes trod on by unobservant fangirls. We watched as the road crew brought out pink and blue polka-dotted amps, and a whole rack of guitars. Who would need so many guitars? My friend didn’t know. I sniffed. The tangy smell of cigarettes tickled my nose and refused to leave. I sighed. My legs were growing weary of the constant standing, and the girl next to me was become increasingly annoying as she went on about how she would make Brendon marry her. But, when Panic finally danced onto stage, we all pressed together as tightly as we could and screamed into the back of the stranger in front of us’ head.
My friend was right; Panic played “We’re So Sorry” first. I didn’t think they’d play anything from their first album, but to my surprise, they played six songs from their debut album. And my friend and I were in luck – we could see all of the band members perfectly, except for Spencer, who was partially hidden by his drum set. Ryan wore a pair of tight black pants, and my friend gave my ribs a hard poke and yelled into my ear, “Ryan’s got a butt!” As if I hadn’t known this particular piece of information, but when I gave her a look displaying my thoughts, she glared and exclaimed, “A GIRL butt!” I snickered, mostly because it was true.
But what was better was that I was in perfect view of Jon. I stared at him strumming his bass like a starving mouse who’d just caught sight of cheese. (And if you might think this a tad bizarre, I’ll have you know I wasn’t alone.) Jon, who’d obviously mastered these songs and didn’t have to look at his bass as he plucked along, was staring out at the sea of fan-girls, with a small smile on his lips and looking generally pleased with himself, though slightly embarrassed at the same time. He caught my eye, and I winked. He stared, then hurriedly looked away. I chuckled. Then next time we made eye contact, I just stared, and kept staring. This happened five more times (Yes, I counted.).
My friend leaned over to point out the girl who was crowd-surfing, wearing a dragon vest, when Panic announced that the next song would be their last. The band made a point of getting in the right key, rambling on and adjusting their guitars and whatnot for sometime. But when they did start playing, the crowd was thoroughly shaken when Brendon started belting “Shout!” at the top of his lungs as we were expecting something expected. But, being an open crowd, and once we realized what he was singing, everyone screamed and sang along, jumping in time.
Panic ran off after that, and my friend and I just grinned at each other for some time. And when we did speak, we weren’t listening to each other; we were gushing our own account of the concert. Our voices were hoarse from Panic, so it wasn’t a surprise when we couldn’t speak afterwards.
But my father insisted on staying for R.E.M (Which I had no problem with) and though they were crowd pumping, I was running on empty, and drifting slowly into Dreamland. I vaguely remember singing along to “It’s the End of the World,” and the pungent smell of weed and other drugs in the air.
After a good while, my dad nudged us and said we could leave now, and hoisted us up from the ground. Before we left, we stayed for “Supernatural Superserious,” a new single from the band, and I could see that they had plastic dinosaurs glued to their amps. That was the last thing I saw before we left Voodoo.
Walking away, I saw this guy who was singing along with Stipe. “Hey, buddy,” I said, nudging him, nodding to the stage, “Worship the Music.” He grinned, and nodded. “Worship the Music.”