[N0te: This piece first appeared in an earlier instance of my blog (troubledsoulsunite.blogspot.com) which has since been shut down. It’s being reposted here under the “Posts About Gilad” section of the blog.]
[Editor’s note: This is a guest post written by my younger brother Gilad, who attended the Aerosmith/ZZ Top show last night at Nissan Pavilion.]
So it’s two thirty in the morning, my hearing is severely impaired and I just got home from the craziest show of my life. Aerosmith and ZZ Top; backstage; on stage for the show. What could be cooler? I know what you’re thinking- How the hell did Ariel’s brother, albeit an awesome and great looking brother, get the hook up for this? I’ll tell you the tale.
To give you some background info, my oncologist’s sister knows the guy who runs Nissan Pavilion so I got hooked up to hang around with him all day before the Aerosmith show this past sunday.
The first part of the day was pretty chill. I met the guy Ryan who runs the place, and we chatted a bit, and he remarked “Yeah hopefully you’ll have a pretty cool night” Little did I know….
So after meeting some of the staff, and driving around in the golf cart through the backstage area, taking care of some misc. stuff, we headed to the Aerosmith meet and greet, which the Aerosmith people graciously let me go to. At this point in the day I learned that my oncologist’s sister also knows Aerosmith (?) or something like that. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to meet them, get a picture and get my one item signed. I actually was put at the front of the line, before the two kids who won the guitar hero contest (they were kinda weird), and before the two dozen other people who probably payed close to three thousand dollars for the same thing I was about to get for free. I guess I’m pretty lucky.
Here’s where it gets cool. I walk up to the guys by the picture tent, and Steven Tyler immediately signs my hat. I hand my ticket to a decidedly dazed and confused Joe Perry, which he signs, and as we get ready for the picture I proceed to have the greatest conversation of my life.
Steven: (jokingly) Hey they say I have a zit on my face
Me: Nah man, you look great
Steven: Yeah, so do you, so do you
Steven: Hey man, so are you doing ok?
Me: Yeah I’m doing great, thanks…
Steven: So where are you sitting?
Me: VIP Box 203
Steven: (aloud) Let’s this guy on stage for the show….
WTF?? It seems as though Steven knew why I was there and was informed of my medical situation. How did that happen? And in a move that displayed his graciousness and good heartedness, he immediately upgraded me to the best seat in the house.
I waited until the meet and greet was done, and I went with some of Aerosmith’s guys backstage to get me a pass to get on the stage. I then proceeded to the VIP box they had to watch ZZ Top open the show.
Now for the music…
I never really ‘got into’ ZZ Top. They’re just one of those bands that everyone loves to listen to and that plays good southern rock blues. In my VIP box I had a pretty good view of the stage, and the sound was damn good. The word I’d use to describe their sound is heavy; you feel the thickness of the strings and the deep, grungy, booming riffs crankin’ out of the amps. I wasn’t familiar with all of their songs, but they were all similar and pretty rockin’. After a finale that included La Grange and Tush, I decided that ZZ Top puts on a decent live show and was satisfied with their set.
Just a little bit about the atmosphere in the box. If you’ve ever been in a VIP box you’ll know its a totally different atmosphere than a lawn seat or even a regular pavilion seat. There are chairs around tables and waitresses that come around bringing food and drinks. To me it was very strange; it almost seemed as if the music was an afterthought, sort of like music to accompany dinner. I’d probably rather be in a regular seat during a concert (although I can’t really complain). The other thing that drove me nuts was the abundance of fat middle aged women getting drunk and trying (horribly) to dance. It really was not the greatest sight to see but I guess it’s inevitable at a concert like this.
So ZZ Top finished and there was a 45 minute break in between the bands, since Aerosmith has a shitload of equipment to set up. I met up with Ryan again, and we headed into the back again to get me set up on the stage. I got set up in a seat that was literally right on the side of the stage. About ten feet in front of me was the spot where the bass player would be jamming all night. [Editor’s note: Mike’s side of the stage. PJ fans know what I’m talking about.] I was seated next to a disabled lady named Cathy (I think it was Cathy, or Kathy) who was clearly a huge Aerosmith fan. When I told her this was my first show, she looked at me like I was nuts. The roadies helped us settle into our little area and told us that we definitely had the “best seats in the house”. There was a huge black curtain in front of us that pretty much blocked our view of most of the stage, but we were assured it would go down once the band got out. I felt like the kid from Almost Famous when he gets whisked backstage for the Stillwater show. Crazy.
Aerosmith walked onstage to Bob Dylan’s ‘Everybody must get stoned’ [Editor’s note: the song is actually called ‘Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35′], and the crowd happily sang along, reveling in the apparent condoning of drug use and drenched in the excitement of the oncoming foray of rock n’ roll. As Aerosmith started playing the chords to ‘Train Kept a Rollin,’ the huge curtains came down and we were struck with an incredible view of the stage and the 14 thousand fans in the stands and lawn. It was a surreal experience, and it kept getting better. They played hit after hit, including the full album ‘Toys in the Attic.’
Throughout the show Steven periodically would come to the right side of the stage and sing directly to Cathy, myself and the rest of those lucky enough to be on stage. But the best part of the night came during ‘Walk This Way’. Steven screamed Cathy’s name and ran over to let her sing a verse of the song with him, finishing off by giving her ‘a little kiss, like this.’ I took a picture with my phone (since my camera died halfway through the set) and the look on Cathy’s face directly afterwards was one of pure joy. She was so happy that her idols had granted her this opportunity, and she had shared in the rock star glory.
After the first set ended, Joe Perry came out and did a guitar battle with his Guitar Hero character who played on the big screen. The real Joe Perry eventually won, as the video game version burst into flames, and the rest of the band ran on stage to perform an encore of ‘Rag Doll’, and ‘Come Together’ (which kicked ass). When the show ended I chilled with Ryan and drove around the parking lot in our golf cart, hanging out with drunk chicks. I finally drove home at midnight, and here I am trying to retain the glory and excitement of the night. I have my pictures, autographs and backstage passes to remember the night by, but nothing will match actually being there.
The music, the rock stars, the experience was amazing; truly once in a lifetime.
[Editor’s note: Check out the video from the show. If you look to the little ramp on the left side of the stage, you can see some people sitting behind it. Gilad is the one in the black t-shirt with his arms crossed. Pretty sweet, considering that when I saw Aerosmith at the same venue back in ’01, I was in the back of the lawn section.]