Friday, October 25, 2013

The Nation invades Gulfport & my epic birthday weekend May 2013

I got to the airport on the early side so I sat down to enjoy something to eat and plopped myself down in one of the rocking chairs & watched the flights come in & out. Getting thru security was the easiest that I have ever had. I had plenty of time to wait til I had to board. The flight from Boston to Orlando had me in the back of the plane with undisciplined noisy toddlers who were all over the place thanks to their parents.  When I got off the plane, I went straight to get a cup of wine, which was expensive as hell but totally worth it.  My layover wasn't too bad as everything was lining up exactly the way that everything it was supposed to.

I sat down to wait & there was a nice older talkative lady to keep me company asking if I wanted to share her magazines. She made me laugh. As I recharged myself with the wine, I was also able to charge my phone & keep tabs with everyone.  The time flew by & eventually it was time to board & continue on with my travels.  The cool thing about flying with Southwest is that it's first come first serve for seating. I saw the seat next to the lady I was waiting with was empty so I decided to join her again.  She was chatty but not too much so I could get a little napping & reading in.  It was a good, easy flight, even the landing. When I arrived in Nola I had to sit around for a bit waiting for my other nation buddies to come in from their drive from Texas.  It was gorgeously warm so I decided to go out & sit outside to watch the hustle & bustle of people.  The lady on the bench further down was nodding & had some hardcore drug induced moment. I sat & couldn't stop looking at the train wreck that she was out of the corner of my eye. I just kept hoping that she wasn't going to fall off the bench onto the cement.  Eventually the other nationers arrived and we were off to Gulfport. With the music blaring, we enjoyed our drive. Before heading to the hotel, we scoped out the area where the fest was being held & decided to take a jaunt down to the beach where I immediately stuck my feet in the water. Some Texas wusses thought it was  cold but it was just fine for me, compared to the water that I was used to.

There was an anchor statue right as you headed in out of the place so we thought it was perfect to get up on, it just seemed so fitting.

We then drove around for a little bit before deciding we should finally check in and get some sleep, since we had to get up early and we would have a long day ahead of us. The anticipation of the festival made it hard to sleep but we all got some. We stopped for a quick breakfast before getting to where the line started. There were a few other nationers already there, as well as this one crazy guy who beat us all there at six in the morning. We were told by the heads of the fest if we wanted a spot on the rail, we would have to get there bright and early and it is exactly what we did. There was a tent set up at the opening gate and they said we were more than welcome to sit underneath and hang out until the gates opened. Which would not be until early afternoon so we were grateful especially since the forecast called for some rain. A few more Nationers showed up to make our whole group complete. The skies opened up and the rain torrentially poured on us along with high winds. At one point we were tent surfing just to keep it up as the winds are blowing so hard, coming along with the rain. Luckily we had the camaraderie of each other to commiserate together and I was so grateful that I had brought my AWOL jacket/windbreaker with me for the weekend, I almost didn't. A few people ask myself & another girl who also have hers if we were part of the festival or the security with the band, it was pretty funny. One of the nationers had gotten shirts made for all of us with saying that we were the nation invasion. So we all matched to be a sea of blue which was pretty cool.

One of the guys who works for the festival kept coming back to hang out with us and to talk. At one point he said he is been talking with the guys saying that there was already a group of us in line. He said one of the guys said "oh those crazy bitches, they follow us everywhere!" It made us all laugh because it's so true. If we added up how many shows and states we all travel to be together, it would be a lot and we keep coming together and it pretty great. Between the 13 of us gathered together we represented six states, truly a nation far and wide. We stood around all day and I would nap off and on. A local news station came over and interviewed us, asking about our group and AWOLNATION and the festival. Eventually more people showed up and online began to really form. The rain stopped for a little while and the sun almost tried to come out for a bit too. They announced that they were going to open the gates and we are already planning to make a run for the front of it as soon as the gates with open and they would let us in. As soon as they did we were a mad dash for the rail. Having to run around and through a field to get there was a challenge, especially for me because I was wearing flip-flops. Whose bright idea was it to wear flip-flops to a festival is beyond me but I did. Luckily our sea of blue shirts spread out and we made room for the 13 of us we are able to occupy the pretty much the whole front rail, exactly where we were meant to be.

We stood around and the rain picked up again at that point we were just sick of the rain and having to stand around, but we gotten used to it though. I decided that it was time for another nap, so I used the rail for support and put my jacket over my head. As each act came on, we thought okay hurry and be done so it's time for AWOL to come on. We spotted the bus and watched a few people come and go but no specific sightings. Patti fashioned his own rain gear which is pretty amusing, electrical tape and ponchos work well. He seem to keep dry. We watched him come and go and the rain continued on. The Wallflowers hit the stage and we all got a little excited that as soon as they were gone AWOL was going to hit the stage. Until the MC head guy head of the festival came out and said that there was going to be an hour intermission to try to dry off the stage. We all turned to one another and are like are you kidding me?! At this point we have stood around for almost 13 hours and we just wanted to have the guys come out and play. Before the guys came out, we noticed Berko walking past us and we yelled out to him. He leaned to give myself and other nationer a hug - we told him trust us, you don't want to hug us unless you want to get soaked, so he just fist bumped us both instead. He said it was nice to see us but he looked dry and it made us jealous. After all the waiting in the rain, the skies finally stopped and the sign made a brief appearance and all of a sudden a gorgeous double rainbow arched above all of us. The sky behind the stage while Patti and the crew set up the equipment was stunningly gorgeous. It was nice not to have to have my jacket on top of my head anymore. The minute Megalithic Symphony's music started, our front row went a little crazy. This is what we had waiting for all day for any was finally time to have our faces be melted, as many people say. I love where I was situated against the rail & between two people that I was. It was great to be able to jump up and down and hold hands of one of my closest friends which is because of this music.

We were separated by the barricade but still able to make connections and eye contact with each one of the guys and it was pretty great. Drew smiled, Kenny waved and at one point and Aaron must've noticed the sea of blue of us and noticed some familiar faces as he climbed off the stage and started down the far end of the barricade of our group. He leaned in and hug each person. He stopped at the girls and give them the biggest longest hugs, it was the sweetest thing. He downloads down the line and continue grabbing hands and hugging each one of us. He grabbed my hand hug me, and gave me the biggest smile. Then to the left of me I went to let go so he can keep going but he held on for a minute longer and my arm got stuck. I was completely contorted when I finally was able to free my arm. We all cheered as we watched him go all the way to the end of us and before he made his way back to the middle where he stood up on the barricade and jumped out into the crowd and surfed up-and-down back for a bit until Aaron got help back up onto the stage by Patti. The set was cut short, due to the other band doing their entire set and the rain delay and then having to be on the road for a certain time to get to Indiana for the next day. Each one of the guys smiled and waved and gave us love. Hayden through his sticks into the crowd and then turned and went back to grab another one and tossed it directly at the nationer next to me. She then handed it to another nation of our group who plays the drums. He gave her a thumbs up when she caught it. We're all excited but needed bathroom breaks and water and immediately so we left our spots to find the guys. We went to the gate near the bus and we caught Devin. He said he would be right back but he'd meet us at the other gate. Which none actually were really sure which one he meant so we just kept going until there was no more To go past without the guys and we gathered around and waited for him to come back out. He came back apologetically saying he didn't mean to keep us waiting for so long but he had to use the bathroom. Little did he realize that we were used to having to wait around for a long time so just a few minutes of wait time was really nothing. At first he was still on the other side of the gate were passing presents for him and he said hold on, I'll come around. We handed his and the other guys shirts and he put his on right away then he came around to where we were. I introduce myself and ask him to give him give the guy the book that I made for them and to make sure that Aaron got it first because I had wanted him to read what I wrote("I'm a mom, so I made you this book."). I was going thru my bag and I found the card that I had gotten for Patti's birthday from us nationers with spent a year before with him. Devin came over for a picture with us said he was hoping that the other guys could come out but they were in a rush and he'd see us when he sees us.

We waited around and look watch the bus for a while but then my eyes that we were tired and hungry and just needed to get some rest after a long day I'm waiting outside. So myself and the other two nations that I was staying decided that we were gonna go eat at the Waffle House. We headed out got some food and decided it was time to go to sleep for the night. In the morning a handful of other nationers showed up at our door and hung out for a little bit. I had gotten a picture from another nation are saying and I needed to go to the Hard Rock and there was a good reason why. So after showering and getting ready and just hanging out, we decided that we would drive to Biluxi to the Hard Rock for brunch and to walk around.

As we went into the lobby of the hard rock right there in front of the lobby was an old guitar from Blind Melon with Shannon & the rest of the guys signatures on it. It was really cool to be able to combine both my two loves of bands into one weekend, such a rarity but how I got into this band to begin with. We hung out for a while and then ended up going back to the hotel for a bit for a nap, a beer and to just hang out. We have decided that if the weather was good we would go back to the fest just to walk around and to see everything that we missed the day before by having to be at the front. We had heard that there was going to be a delay of all the bands because of the rain from the day before, big surprise. So we just hung out and relaxed and then ended up going back to the fest as the weather cleared and it was beautiful.

We walked around saw some cool things checked out a couple of bands. As we were walking around we noticed there was a photo booth and we decided that we would go have a picture taken together. When we were waiting for the picture to be done there was a booth with radio station on so we headed over because we heard AWOL playing. We came over and as soon as Sail ended and as soon as it did Kill Your Heroes came on and we started dancing and laughing and it was just so much fun. We got our picture we hung out we are able to go back-and-forth and we decided that we weren't gonna wait to see the last band because it was gonna be late my flight the next morning was really really early. Before going back to the hotel, we went to get another bite to eat decided that we should go to Taco Bell me wish we had gone little earlier because we heard a story that somebody told us about a fan happening to go through the drive-through and the guys asked if they could hop in your car because they couldn't walk through the drive-through. How awesome would it have been to have them in the car and hanging out and eating Taco Bell. Oh well, all in all a little weekend was amazing and epic and I love my nation family. I decided that this is probably going to be my last show for a while and I was going to take a hiatus from the band I'll miss it but I think for now it's the right decision for me to make and I'll pick back up again when the new record comes out. I had to wake up really early and get on my flight and head home back to Massachusetts until the next time when something else amazing comes along and we have another nation invasion.

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