Howdy all. Yes, I know I’m not the sort to say ‘howdy’ but I haven’t touched this blog in ages so I figured my opening statement deserved some fanfare. It’s a lot better than ‘salutations’, I gotta say. This post will be long so bear with me; I wanted to take some time to digest the events of the day and figure out how I wanted to present it. Plus, it’s not every day that I get the proper chance to explain why a band means so much to me without feeling like I’ll be ridiculed or not taken seriously about it.
Anyway, for those of you who don’t know (and I’m really not sure how people don’t at this point), Simple Plan is my all time favorite band in the entire world. I’ve loved them ever since I bought their first album when I was eight, back in 2002 when it first came out. All I had to do was hear the guitar intro to their first track, I’d Do Anything, and I fell in love with the five Canadian boys. I’ve supported and listened to them ever since so when the opportunity came up that I could finally see them live in Williamsburg it was a no brainer that we would go.
But seeing them play an acoustic show wasn’t enough for the eight-year-old inside of me. There were no flashing lights, no explosions, no gimmicks, no energy that I’ve witnessed in live performances that I’ve poured over on YouTube or random fan websites over the years. All of that was missing and I knew I needed to see them live to get the full effect of a band that I have loved for so many years—plus it was only the four of them at the Williamsburg show, Chuck, their drummer, didn’t attend these string of shows. So when I heard about the Taking One for The Team tour coming to the United States I paid close attention to their twitters to know the very second that they would release their tour dates. It’s safe to say I was driving my sisters crazy at this point because Simple Plan was the only thing I could talk about for a while.
So, back in April, I believe, the US tour dates are released and I see that the closest show to us is in Baltimore, Maryland. I’ve been to Maryland plenty of times before due to having cousins out there so I figured it’s the best place to go to, Philadelphia being a close second. Talked to my sisters about it and we all agreed we’d head out there. Next came my new obsession of waiting an agonizingly long time for the tickets to be put on sale. It was then that I remembered they had a fanclub (SP Crew) that we could join to get pre-sale tickets. So I signed up and then gave my login information to Jess to buy the tickets for me because they would be released early morning when I’d still be at work (I knew being a quadruplet would come in handy one day, haha!)
So, Jess got the tickets for us and then we just had to sit back and wait. And wait. And wait. Boy, do I hate waiting. I’m incredibly impatient when it comes to being excited for something that’s far off in the future. It’s the only thing I can think about and obsess and daydream over (you all know you’ve done it too!) Plus, having attended their acoustic show at the Williamsburg Winery only made me more anxious to see them with all the bells and whistles.
The closer it got to the show the more I talked about it to the point that Mom kept calling me their “groupie”. Which rubbed me the wrong way mainly because of what a groupie actually is, which I am not, but because they mean more to me than just being five guys that I want to “spend time with” (which wouldn’t work anyway because 3/5 of them are married and 4/5 of them have children). I’ve never once connected to a band like I have with them. I have never once connected to the messages that people convey through their music like I have and do with them. I have never seen a band that cares about their fans as much as they do. They take so much time out of their lives, two to three years per album cycle, to tour and get out and see and meet as many fans as they possibly can and they never once have complained about it. They thank us for being there for them and supporting them and allowing them to keep living their dream more often than they accept their talent and drive as being the reason behind it. Plus, they don’t take themselves seriously and they can laugh at themselves which is a quality I like in people so I was drawn to them from the start.
So then comes the Baltimore show. The days leading up to it felt like they took forever and so when I woke up that Monday morning on October 10th I woke up with the biggest smile I’ve ever had on my face. Because I was finally going to see Simple Plan live, on a big stage, with all the lights and the big crowds and I couldn’t wait. That morning we also had to take my dad to the airport so our plans changed slightly. The biggest part? Being in Baltimore a lot longer than I had planned aka all day. Now, that’s not a problem on the surface. Give my sisters and I enough free time and we’ll find ways to entertain ourselves no problem but here was the thing: being part of SP Crew meant that we got to go into their soundcheck around 3 o’clock to get a chance to talk to them and everything. After dropping Dad off at the airport we made it into Baltimore around twelve in the afternoon. …What the heck were we supposed to do for three hours short of just sitting on the sidewalk in the cold?
Thankfully, I looked up what was near the venue on Google the night before so I had a vague idea of places we could go. I, for one, was banking on heading to the Hard Rock Café; seeing that giant guitar on the drive in instantly grabbed my attention. Along the way we pointed out different stores and stuff we could go to see we had a vague plan when we parked in the garage attached to the venue (which was a genius idea, to whoever built the place).
So we park, walk down nine flights of stairs, and then hit the town. I saw a mall on the way in so I suggested that we go there first. It was a nice, crisp autumn day so there were a lot of people out and because we were in the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore we also saw a lot of boats. Now, I’m not a nautical person by any means but seeing all those boats kinda made me wish I was. They were so cool, especially the Coast Guard one that was docked. I had to get a picture of that for my dad.
We get to the mall, The Gallery, which wasn’t really a mall. More like…half a mall. The other half of the building was a hotel, The Renaissance, and it didn’t have that many stores we liked. We ended up doing a quick lap around the first and second floors and then stopped in a purse store (for Steph) and a Claire’s (also for Steph) while we waited and tried to kill time. We got bored of that so we then decided to go to the Cheesecake Factory for some lunch because, I figured, we could kill at least an hour and fifteen minutes eating and talking.
We went out onto the deck outside and looked at some more boats (where I swore we saw the Spirit of Washington that we used for senior Prom, it looked exactly like it anyway). From where we were standing we saw The Top of the World (this really tall building that made me a little sick looking at it) and there were a bunch of dragon paddle boats! I’ve seen swan ones and normal looking ones but these were dragons! And they were colorful! We wanted to take some out but then thought better of it because 1) we had all our stuff on us so if it tipped over somehow everything would get soaked and 2) who knows how cold that water would be?
We played some Pokemon Go while we were waiting—I almost caught a Golbat but the dumb game didn’t register that I had caught it after the screen froze—and finally we were called in to eat. We ate and talked and looked out at the scenery and there was this girl there that was wearing a Backstreet Boys sweater and I wanted to comment on it but I thought better of it and worried she’d think I was weird so I didn’t. (Boy do I regret that, I want that sweater!)
After we ate it was about 1:15 so we decided to head back to the Sound Stage and wait for soundcheck there. There were a few girls there who had been waiting since about 10 in the morning. We said hi to them, talked a little, and then everyone went back to what they were doing i.e. reading, talking quietly, playing games on our phones, etc. It was then I looked up and noticed that a tour bus was across the street and I knew instantly that it was theirs (it’s actually kind of pathetic how I could tell right away but if you watch enough videos about any band/performer/musician you like you notice these things.)
So we’re sitting around and waiting and waiting, in the shade which made the day colder than it actually was and I feared I was beginning to get sick at one point because I couldn’t stop sniffing. The closer it drew to 3 o’clock the more anxious I was becoming. Not just to meet the band but because I was meeting someone else there too. Because of Simple Plan, I was meeting a girl named Eliana aka Eli, there that day. We met each other through a mutual Simple Plan fan (my good friend, Caro, whom I will talk about later) who introduced us when she realized we were both going to the same show.
While waiting the guys in the band come around to get their things out of their tour bus and they waved to us, thanked us for coming, and told us to get pumped for the show and the like. Which I think they could tell a good chunk of us weren’t really taking to the cold all that well, haha. (Anyone who knows me knows I despise the cold. Which is funny ‘cause I love snow. I really wish we could have snow without the cold but, alas, I know that’s impossible). Then came more waiting.
And then I met Eli! She came from D.C. and we’ve been talking over the past couple months once we found out we were going to the show so being able to actually meet another Simple Plan fan was awesome. She told me about the other Soundcheck Parties that she had gone to; we talked about how we both knew Caro, and how many SP shows we’ve been to. Finally after another half hour of waiting their photographer, Chady, came out and checked the ideas of soundcheck people and in we went. (Actually as he was checking our IDs, I was in front of my sisters, and I quickly said “You have four Jacksons in a row, just to save you some time.” He looked up from my ID to me and then over to my sisters. His eyes widened a little and then he laughed and said, “Yeah, I guess so” and ushered us all in without really checking their IDs.)
Soundcheck was supposed to be around 3, we didn’t get in until about 3:30 so we all think they were running late but seeing them on stage in front of me made my frustration about that go flying out the window. They had finished practicing my favorite song off their new album, Kiss Me Like Nobody’s Watching, when we came in and they all greeted us with big smiles. Pierre, unfortunately, wasn’t there there. Seb says it was because Pierre didn’t need to do soundcheck that day.
But I didn’t care because Seb was there and Seb’s my favorite member of the band. I mean, I like them all for different reasons of course, but I took one look at Seb and I was drawn to him from the start. They asked us if there was something we wanted to hear them play so they played Loser of the Year and No Love. Jess asked them to play Ordinary Life but they said they couldn’t because of reasons. Really it’s because they didn’t remember all the lyrics to the song, not that I can blame them. You have five albums worth of material; you’re not going to remember every single one (hell during a show a few years ago Pierre had to have the lyrics to My Alien in his hand to remember them since it’s been so long since they performed it live. And he wrote the song).
After that they came down and talked to the SP Crew members that were there. In total there was supposed to be seventeen of us there but it was really more like thirteen so we got to have a little more time with them. David we talked to first and it was cute because he introduced himself to us even though we knew who he was. After talking a while he asked us if we had anything we wanted to sign, which I thought was nice. I actually forgot I had something I wanted signed if possible, I just liked talking to him. He’s super sweet and funny; when I asked him to sign the Polaroid pic I had taken of him (Instax Mini, invest in one people), I said “Can you sign this for me please? If you can squeeze it in, I mean.” And, of course, he made a very well-timed That’s What She Said joke. I didn’t get a pic with him, unfortunately, because after talking for a bit he practically pulled a Houdini and disappeared.
Jeff came up to talk to us next, gave us hugs and remembered that we met once before at the Williamsburg Winery show and thanked us for coming again. I finally got him to sign my SP coffee book after missing the chance to ask him to sign it while in Williamsburg and we talked about how this was our first big SP show and he, again, thanked us for coming and hoped that we would have a good time and we took pictures with him.
Chuck we met next and he gave us hugs and asked how we were doing. I jokingly said that we were fine now that we weren’t out sitting in the cold and he rebuffed saying that it wasn’t that cold and he was wearing shorts so it was fine. I pointed out that he was from Canada so he built up an immunity to cold. I then said that I was just happy it wasn’t raining like hell anymore and he agreed saying that he was enjoying the weather. As he went around signing things for us I lightly teased him for not being at the Williamsburg show and he said, “I know, I’m sorry! At least I’m here now and I’ll put on a good show for you.”
It was then, after giving him a gift, that Jess asked the golden question, “So is this the first time you’ve ever met quadruplets?”
Chuck blinked, looked at her, and then said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you. What did you say?”
So Jess repeated the question. Let me tell you, watching him make the connection in his head was hilarious. He slowly looked around at my sisters and I, blinked, and took a step back while saying, “Whoa, I didn’t even notice. Wow. Shit! Sorry. Yeah, to answer your question, you’re the first quadruplets I ever met. Wow, that’s so cool! It must be fun! That must have been so crazy for your mom to have four babies at once.”
And she said, “Actually, we were adopted. And we have two older brothers too.”
And he said, “Wow! That’s so cool! Well, thanks for coming! We appreciate it; we hope you enjoy the show!”
And then we took pictures one right after another and I said, “Once you get one you have to get them all” and he laughed and said “Yeah, of course, it’s like a set!”
So then after that Seb came over and I was over the moon. He remembered us too saying “Hey, it’s good to see you guys again. It wasn’t too long ago. At the winery! Thanks for coming!” Let me tell ya, he gives good hugs. And I may be biased when I say that, okay I am, but he gives good hugs. We chatted with him, gave him his gift, took some pictures, and then I stopped him before he could walk away and finally got the opportunity to tell him that he was the one that got me into playing guitar and that he’s my inspiration and I asked what happened to the blue guitar he used to have at the beginning of their career (I know they retire some guitars after a while but I was curious about this one). It sounds like a silly question but that guitar was what made me pay attention to the instrument in the first place and the fact that he actually took the time to talk to me about it meant a lot. He’s the sweetest guy I’ve ever met and he’s a big dork and I felt like I’ve known him forever. The two times I met Simple Plan I wasn’t nervous, it was like catching up with old friends. It was strange but then again it goes to show how much they actually care about us. When I was talking to Seb he looked in my eyes and actually listened to me. Feeling like I’m being listened to means a lot to me in ways that others can’t understand (since they’re not multiples). I felt like I mattered to him and I will always cherish that.
So all of that took about ten minutes which I was bummed about because I figured the soundcheck opportunity would take longer but, again, they were running late so I can’t hold that against them too much. Chady then came around and asked if we got a chance to talk to them all before we were ushered back outside again. This time the SP Crew people had a different roped off place to stand rather than the general public/VIP people (SP, to go along with the sports theme of their album cover, have VIP pizza parties after their shows to eat pizza and talk with their fans. We would’ve done that too but I didn’t want to stay out that late at night and eat pizza that doesn’t even compare to Vocelli’s.)
And we waited some more. The doors were to open at 6 and it was only 4 by this point so we just talked about random stuff and joked around with the other girls that were with us in the SP Crew part of the line. As we stood around we watched as the line slowly got longer the more people showed up and we watched a few bad drivers trying to make a left hand turn from a center lane (just go around the block, people!) Nothing happened until the general public line was split so the VIP people could form their own line and get early access wrist bands. (SP Crew and VIP get early access into the venue. VIP were let in first and then us.) Eli, somehow, squeezed her way into the front despite the VIP people being there but she’s small so I think that’s how she got it. I didn’t care too much, I was still super close being in the second row and the two girls in front of me weren’t that tall so my view wasn’t blocked.
I had Mere hold my place as I went to get some merch, I got a North American tour-date T-shirt and a new rubber bracelet which I thought would actually fit for once but I should have known my wrist was still, and forever will be, too small for those things. I got my place back and we waited some more. The doors opened at 6, the show didn’t start until 7:30. None of us were exactly happy that they let us in so early to stand around so long. My lower back started to hurt from standing after ten minutes so that added to my frustration. While we were waiting they were playing songs through the Sound Stage’s speaker system and a few bangs would come on that people would sing along with (Offpsring, Blink 182, Paramore, DNCE, the Backstreet Boys even) but then when we were Simple Plan’s Perfect playing through, a big portion of the crowd hushed and we all sang along with it. I don’t call many moments “magical” but this one was for sure.
Finally at 7:30 the first band came on stage, one that I haven’t heard of before. They’re called Story Untold and they’re from Montreal, like Simple Plan. Let me tell ya, the lead singer was freakin’ cute. Plus, he wore the tightest skinny jeans I’ve ever seen so I don’t know how he was able to move around. These guys were good, I’d give them a chance. They had good stage presence and energy so the crowd got into them. After them was a band called Hit the Lights, who apparently have been around for a while but I also hadn’t heard of them. They were pretty good, they didn’t have as much energy as Story Untold in my opinion, but that may be because they’re visibly older. They were both very appreciative of Simple Plan taking them out on tour, which warmed me up to them.
Now, I would have enjoyed them more if this one chick behind me got off my ass. I know going to a smallish venue meant I would be jostled around and crowded. For a girl who likes her personal space, it would be a bit hard to get it, I understand that. But that doesn’t mean you have to keep pressing into my back and shoving me forward. I was trying to make space so I didn’t crush the girls in front of me. If there was a day I was going to throw down with a girl, it would have been that day. I was so ready to give her a piece of my mind but I decided to keep my mouth shut and plant my feet. That girl was not going to take my spot!
Ten more minutes went by and I became more anxious. Then the lights went out, screams went up through the crowd, silhouettes of the band members moved across the dark stage, and then they launched into their first song, Opinion Overload. The place went nuts! We were jumping up and down and singing along with the band and going crazy.
The energy in that room skyrocketed and stayed at a high from the very first note to the very last. David was crazy on stage as always: throwing guitar pics (well, actually, mostly he put them in his mouth and spat them into the crowd), making jokes, climbing up onto the barrier to play bass as close as possible for us. Chuck held down the fort behind the drumset, Jeff’s guitar licks were on fire, Seb played up the crowd, and Pierre charmed everyone as he always does. In fact, during I’d Do Anything, Pierre came down to the barrier and of course all the fans surged forward to touch him. I got to hold his hand; oh my god, his hands are so soft! And he has a beautiful smile. They even played What’s New Scooby Doo?, the theme song they recorded for the new Scooby Doo series back in 2003.
Of course, what comes with the good is the bad and there were a few times during the show that were bad. With a place so small you’re not supposed to crowd surf. People did it anyway and one of those people kicked Mere in the eye. All I saw was one girl going over the barrier and into the arms of a security member, turned around, and Mere’s face is scrunched up and she’s holding her eye. I thought she had trouble breathing and I was freaking out thinking we’d have to go to the hospital or something but it turns out she just got kicked. She was fine but understandably annoyed. Hell, she wasn’t the only one annoyed. A lot of us at the front were angry with the crowd surfers because we had to take our attention off of the band to make sure they didn’t fall, got over the barrier, and didn’t take our spots if they did fall. (One girl may have been dropped on purpose; I’m still not exactly sure what happened there). But they ended up kicking Jess in the head as well and jostled Steph. I’m the only one who came out of it alive, so to speak. Probably because I was standing off to the side of the main path of the crowd surfers.
The show was amazing and everything I dreamed it would be. I know a lot of people can claim that certain members looked at them but I swear every time Seb or Jeff or David looked our way they locked eyes with me and it just made me feel like I was connected with them. I know, it’s cheesy, but I’ve waited fourteen years for that moment. I’ll never forget it. My phone had died party way through the first song so I didn’t get a lot of pictures of them performing but I think it was better that way. I was watching them not a screen and now I have memories that will last me a lifetime.
The show ended with the staple crowd participation song, Perfect, and then the lights came up and it was over. I walked away with a guitar pic and a streamer from their song Boom, Jess and Steph got guitar pics, and Mere didn’t get anything but she didn’t care too much because she got a picture with David and that made her super happy.
We waited for the crowds to part before we tried to leave and I had the idea to form a human chain. Actually I kinda got bossy (yes, Jess, I’m admitting that I’m bossy) and said, “Okay! You grab onto my shirt. You grab hers, you grab hers, form a chain and let’s go!” and basically powered my way through the crowd to get us out into the crisp air, which was very much welcomed after the sweaty show. We paid for our parking and, rather than wait for the elevator with the masses, we decided it was a brilliant idea to take the nine flights of stairs back up to our car.
Note the sarcasm.
After standing all day and jumping around and being on our feet we were exhausted and climbing up nine flights of stairs to get to our car was the last thing I wanted to do. But we decided to do it.
I nearly died.
Okay, not really, but dude was it hard. I charged up the stairs the first two floors but after that my legs and thighs and calves were burning and I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere and seeing the marine life on the wall wasn’t helping matters. (The parking garage behind the Sound Stage labels their floors with the number and a marine animal to help us remember where we parked. We were PR, aka the roof, and we had a penguin.) Of course, us being us, we find the situation hilarious and while we’re wheezing and struggling we’re laughing our asses off. I nearly lost it when I heard Jess say, “How is it that the two who don’t go to the gym are ahead of us?” And when I finally reached the top and saw the car, much like after the long hike at Old Rag, I took off for the car. I was so happy to see it that I actually laid on the hood of the van and hugged it. We all scrambled inside, ate the clementines we had brought (thanks Mom!), and then headed home.
Partially because of my job giving me the ability to vaguely know where I’m going at any moment, I’ve been deemed the designated navigator. So getting us back onto the highway with the GPS is my job and Jess’s job is to not kill us on the way there. Here’s the thing about us (in general) whenever we fight, which is rare, it’s because we’re saying the exact same thing two different ways. Whenever Jess and I navigate there’s a 99% chance we’re going to argue about something. In this case: me explaining directions one way and her understanding it a different way. So for, about, ten minutes we did nothing about argue over the directions I gave her and her not following some of the directions I gave her. Thankfully the two of us never take our arguing personally and chock it up to the stress of making sure we get to where we need to be in one piece. After that, everything was smooth as we all recounted the best and worst moments of the night so I’ll do that here.
-Getting to Baltimore without getting lost (ha, Mom!)
-Seeing the boats
-Being able to talk to the band
-Seeing the show in general
-Getting kicked by crowd surfers
-Being pushed around
-Arguing while getting back onto the highway
But overall, if I had to rate the day; I’d give it a solid 9. It was one of the best days of my life and I can’t wait to see the boys perform life again next year. Only, this time I hope they come to Virginia so I don’t have to travel too far. And with a good chunk of their US shows being sold out I think it’s a good possibility that they’ll be back!
Simple Plan is a band that lets their fans feel like they’re important to someone and they made me feel like I was important to them. If I had more time with them I would’ve said thank you to them and explain how they make us fans feel and how much we appreciate them. (Actually, I said this to Chuck on twitter and he was super sweet in his reply but it’s still not the same as saying it to his face.) If it weren’t for this band I wouldn’t feel as if I was important. If it weren’t for this band I wouldn’t feel as if I matter. If it weren’t for this band I wouldn’t have met two of my good friends, Caro and Taryn, whom I can’t imagine not having in my life.
We don’t talk daily, in fact there are some times where we got months or even a couple years without exchanging a word, but every time I talk to them about, catch up with them and bring up something SP related it’s like no time had ever passed between us. Caro lives all the way over in Colombia and, even though it’ll be hard to find a way to make it work, one of these days I know we’re going to meet up and I’ll have Simple Plan to thank for that.
I met her back in 2007 on a Simple Plan fansite, when I was a mere fifteen-year-old who had a lot of trouble talking about her confusing feelings which tended to manifest itself in anger. (Looking back, there were moments I was a downright jerk in high school and I can’t even say sorry enough to my fellow classmates to make up for that.) If I hadn’t met her and had someone to vent to and talk about our shared of love for SP with, I wouldn’t be who I am today. It was also through this fansite that I met my other good friend, Taryn. She lives much closer than Caro does, in Illinois actually, and we still, to this day, vow that we’ll attend a Simple Plan show together. And one day it will happen and I can’t wait to be able to hang out with and spend time with someone who gets why I love this band and gets why I forever will support them and who gets me.
I owe a lot to this band. Being able to see them twice within the same year has just cemented how much they mean to me. They have a place in my heart that will never be replaced or removed and I can’t wait to see what they do next.
If you ever want a good laugh, come see me. I find enjoyment out of a lot of simple things.