Thursday, June 16, 2011

Epic Concert Stories

Epic concert stories. Everyone has at least one, that one concert experience that stands out above the others. They are stories you write about, and that is what I’m here to share with you. For some time now, MAG has been in contact with Chad Szeliga, drummer for Breaking Benjamin and OurAfter. They’ve exchanged phone calls and emails and have become long distance friends. Chad was to substitute for the drummer of Hourcast for their concert in Irving Plaza, NYC. MAG would have the opportunity to hang out backstage during the show featuring: HourCast, Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society, Anchored, and Rev Theory. Any rock fans dream come true.

Two days before the show, MAG gets a call from Chad asking if it was possible to get a custom pair of Chucks for Black Label Society’s guitarist, Nick “Evil Twin” Catanese. Even though two days seemed like a daunting task, MAG didn’t want to let Chad down. He had the pair done and painted in time for the show. Because this wouldn’t be a complete story without someone getting an awesome pair of custom made sneakers.

On the day of the show, MAG met up with Chad in Jersey to hang out with the band for the day. That’s when he actually met Chad Szeliga for the first time and he described it as “like they were the oldest of friends.” How cool is that? A rock star, famous rock star, coming up to you and giving you a hug like you’ve known each other for years. It’s rare to find people of fame that are still so down to earth, and from what I heard, that was the general attitude of the rest of the band members. Not what you would expect and extremely cool.

When it was time to get to the show, they realized they couldn’t get the buses through city traffic. But it’s okay. Everything was fine. Tour manager Becky Hunt had a “connection” that would be able to take them to the show. The contact, and this is extremely weird and coincidental, turns out to be PJ Gasperini, the drummer for Sugar Red Drive. There was a moment of “Wait, who now?” Because MAG also keeps in contact with the band Sugar Red Drive, most notably, their drummer, PJ. So we hear a chorus of “It’s a Small World,” and they spend the rest of the time before the show killing time. Talking Chucks, music, nerf guns…

Laughing all the way to the show, they arrive in the late afternoon and wait for the techs to finish setting up. While waiting MAG got to meet, John DeServio, bassist for Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society and drummer Mike Froedge, and finally Zakk Wylde himself. Former lead guitarist for Ozzy Osborne. Yeah, it was that kind of ‘WOW.’ Zakk asked about the shoes and when Chad told him they were for Nick. Zakk threw them on the ground. Chad explained that it was all a joke and not to take it personally, but MAG was too star struck. “Dude, Zakk Wylde just threw my shoes on the ground. AWESOME!”

Finally, Nick arrives and he is presented the shoes, which he loved. He put them on immediately and posed for pictures. The concert opened with Anchored, who I was told were incredible. They were followed by HourCast who were also outstanding. And Chad was exceptional. MAG made it a point when relaying this story to me that he had never seen a drummer play like him before. Like a machine, with a dozen twirls and flourishes without missing a beat. Next was Rev Theory, another good show.

Black Label Society was up next, but MAG only got to hear two of their songs before he had to leave with Chad who hitched a ride on Anchored’s tour bus. For the song, “Crazy Horse,” Zakk came out in an old fashioned Indian headdress looking like a Native American Viking. It was an awesome performance and MAG really wished he could have seen more. He is going to check them out the next time they’re in town so he can see their full show.

On the tour bus with Anchored, Hourcast, Chad, drum and guitar techs, they headed back to Jersey to chill and bust out the XBOX 360 for some innocent Fight Night Boxing and football…except they forgot the lead singer of Hourcast …he made it back on his own. Nice.

We come to the end of this adventure and all I can say is that I often heard the phrase, “You should have been there.” One of those rare moments were you get to hang out with generally cool rock stars. It was described as one of the coolest meetings MAG had ever encountered. Good show with good people. And there were even kinder words about the one responsible for everything, Chad Szeliga. According to MAG, he is one of the nicest people he’s ever met. After the show a kid, teenager, came up to Chad with a pair of drum sticks and asked if he could show him how to do a special trick with them. Chad stops right there and doesn’t even hesitate to give the kid a run through of exactly how to do the motions. You could tell he wasn’t just talk, but a genuinely outstanding guy.