Friday, July 14, 2006

Red Eye Fest 2006

Wednesday was the Hot Stove, Cool Music concert at Fenway. Here's the view from my seat. If you're Fenway illiterate, the stage is set up in the right field corner, facing the grandstand. Only the right field grandstand and concourse underneath were open to fans. You can tell I was one of the first ones in. Click 4 big.

And here's the view when I looked left. I was kind of pissed that the camera set up right next to us would steal all my shots.

And here's the view when I looked right. Put these 3 shots together for a panorama if you want. That's what I'd do.

Even though I got the 50 dollar seats, as opposed to 75 or 100, it was a sweet spot. Dead center, unobstructed, and under cover. And the rain was Herecomestherainagain-ing. This is during soundcheck. Hanks-style. You know what I'm talkin' about.

The retired numbers. Check out how the 42 is peeling.

Mike O'Malley was the host again this year. Here he is on stage with a guy with a mop.

News reporter-type. Maybe a Boston person can tell us who it is.

Looking out at the field from the Big Concourse, up the alley between the bleachers and grandstand. If you're standing here, and you look to your right, you'd see a big area with black curtains around it. That was the makeshift backstage area.

I figured any notable people would come in through the gate behind the bleachers, so I went over there, adjacent to the backstage area. Within minutes, there was Theo, holding a guitar and talking with some dudes from Buffalo Tom, who he'd be playing with later. I was literally the only person noticing this.

And here he heads "backstage." Again, this going on right in front of me, and countless teenage girls were missing their chance.

Paul Epstein, non-identical twin of Theo who founded the A Foundation To Be Named Later foundation, underneath the stands.

Kay Hanley hanging out near the backstage area. At this point I was just standing around with the fifty other dweebs who got there early, waiting for my girlfriend to arrive.

Back out in the stands, the rain and more people arrived.

This may or may not be the band Furvis, who played a quick set in the rain.

Theo asesses the situation onstage.

Then the hard stuff came. Rain, not music. You can see a guy emptying out a bucket of rainwater off the front of the stage.

The decision was made to "move it indoors." Huh? Where, Fenway Indoor Arena?

Turns out they decided to just set up bands to play right in front of the backstage area. So we all headed underneath.

There's gotta be someone out there who's always wondered what the men's rooms at Fenway look like. Fortunately, the trough is long gone. (I assure you, there was no one else at all in the bathroom when I took this.) So, I guess that was the segue to the indoor portion of the evening.

We got a pretty good spot, a few spots back of the barrier between fans and non-stage. Except for this pole. So I had to lean around it. Here's Mike O'Malley and Theo.

Theo. Fortunately, they then moved the barrier up so more people could fit in behind us, putting that pole behind us. Perfect. So I only had like one short lady in front of me.

Theo. He was having trouble figuring out the microphone. The secret? Talk right into it. The sound people get credit for having to re-do the whole event, but the main mic that the singers, and O'Malley, used, ended up being deafening. My ears rang all the way into this morning. A lot of people have red eye in these pics. Just a warning.

They also made the bad call of always doing the "Q&A" while stalling between bands. O'Malley's funny, and did what he could with that concept, but they should have let him just screw around instead of trying to make order out of chaos. Here, it worked to my advantage, as the lady right in front of me asked Theo what his best trade has been so far. He answered that it was the Nomar trade, but no one heard, since he still wasn't talking into the mic.

Sometimes the camera effs up and it looks cool.

Then Theo introduced Kapler. Here he is.

And again.

Gabe was loved by all as usual. He talked about how much he appreciates us and we him and all that good stuff. And he introduced The Click Five.

Kay Hanley peeks out from backstage at The Click Five. Since the stage was set up right in front of the backstage area, and since that area was guarded by thin, fairly see-through curtains that kept blowing in the wind, we could basically see everything that went on back there.

The Click Five. I think the record producer who invented these kids told them that they're the first ones to look or sound like they do...and they're buying it! And so are the fans! Go figure! Oh, and they have a token old dude who tries to look young--the keyboard player.

Kay Hanley and "her band." (aka NOT Letters To Cleo.)

Instead of watching them, I pretty much kept my eye on Papelbon behind the curtains.

More Hanley. O'Malley also auctioned stuff off between bands, like last year. And like last year, the lady who got the huge divorce settlement won some expensive stuff. How many times can O'Malley use the "don't make a fake bid, I'll come after you, I know where you live" joke in one night? Yet, his drunkenness makes me laugh at it anyway. No Dennis Leary this year.

Yet more Kay. She was wearing a specially made Red Sox shirt which was auctioned off later. Terribly, it had an 18 on it. Fortunately, while describing it, she acknowledged it, saying that we should ignore the 18. (Hey, who's that bald guy peeking out from behing the curtain?)

Tito came out, did some talkety talking, and then introduced Papelbon.

He auctioned off this guitar, the Pap 58 Flamethrower. I'm serious. He enjoyed holding it up in the air.

Here, Pap pretends to play the thing. He actually makes a good fake guitar player face. Note how spiffed out he is for the evening. O'Malley tried to get him to let the jacket go as part of an auction.

Papelbon was hilarious, and really comfortable on the mic. Here, he's really getting into teaching these two guys rock/paper/scissors as a tiebreaker of an auction. He was all, "It's one, two, three, shoot! Don't be throwin' down on three, now." It really seemed like he did this kind of thing every night.

Did I mention he liked holding the guitar up in the air?

Here he does more auctioneering.

I thought Lenny DiNardo was supposed to play. I guess not. But here he is peeking out.

Gammons didn't make it, due to his health, obviously. Here, Theo introduces Peter's wife, and she gives a little speech.

James Taylor came out and played with some people from Peter's band. To Theo's left is Juliana Hatfield.

He had his Ted Williams hat on, which makes even James Taylor a little bit cool in my eyes.

I have this theory. Actually, I developed it while watching James Taylor (who, incidentally appears on the "Eh, No Peg" episode of The Simpsons). As each of his children (does he have any?) reached that stage in life where they realized who daddy was, and that the other kids were gonna tell them he's not cool, he takes them into his studio, and shuts the door. "You're only gonna hear this once. So don't ever forget it." And then he proceeds to bust out the deadliest metal riff you've ever heard. That no one's ever heard, actually. And then he walks out, with a "dinner's in fifteen."

You know this band Cowboy Mouth? Easily the highlight of the evening, musically. They're from New Orleans, but the drummer/singer/leader was a Sox fan. His dream was to play Fenway Park, and he was living it, and wanted to make sure we went absolutely crazy for the occasion. He would just scream and go nuts, like some sort of Jack Black-figure.

Here he hugs the crowd.

And here they rock some more.

Then some pop guy named Howie Day played, and all the teen girls screamed. All I could do was wonder, why couldn't they at least fake this kind of enthusiasm for the rock band that came before, and tried everything they could to make people go nuts? Terrible job, society. I hope at least one of those kids learned on this night that there's more to music than a dude with slightly shaggy or spiky hair posing with an acoustic guitar. Above is Paul onstage with "Buffalo Theo."

Theo actually playing music.

The Fenway Park Big Concourse makeshift rain rock/crappy pop concert crowd. So, you made it to the end. We didn't. At this point, it must've been the rest of Gammons' band up there. But I'm pretty sure that was the last act. I had a four hour drive ahead of me. I did it in three.

What did I learn that night? That Burrito Max in Kenmore Square is closed. Terrible job.

After your nap, if you want to see my pics from last year's concert, click here.

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Location: Rhode Island, United States