7:34 PM, Saturday, April 18th, 2009:
I don't mean near the front of the crowd. I don't mean close to center stage. I mean "arm-on-the-rail", absolute dead center of the stage. Why have I even made you wait 4 sentences, enjoy:
YOU MUST HIT THE "HQ" BUTTON WHEN IT STARTS!!!! (the low quality is nearly unwatchable)
I'm pretty happy with some of the things I've pulled off in my life. This will go into my Top 5 for sure. Other 4 would be sitting in the locker room with Michael Jordan the year they won 70 (and watching the game ON the court), getting stared down by Tony Soprano for secretly taping during an episode I was IN, doing my own short film on The Price is Right, and being close enough at the Inauguration to see Obama get sworn in with my own eyes. Front and center for McCartney would be so many thousands of dollars it simply isn't possible... and even then you'd probably have to know him personally. So when I heard he was playing Coachella and the only thing between me and the perfect seat was the ability to get there when the gates open at 11am and not move? Sheeeeeeeeeeeeit. I will win this battle. I have "Inauguration Training". LOL. Then again, had I known I would've had to stand through Morrissey, I'm not so sure I would've been able to pull it off...
Wow. I felt like I was having a beer when suddenly I realize it's a gay bar. You know? Morrissey comes on and instantly all the guys around me with funny haircuts, crying, make a lot more sense. I had no idea Morrissey was a gay icon. I knew he was that Smiths' guy that sings the depressing songs (which I THOUGHT I would probably relate to, I was wrong) - but what I saw was an overweight 50 year old man who was so "diva" he had to leave the stage because of the smell of "burning animals". Hamburgers. Hamburgers almost stopped the show (he came back). Seriously - he says: "I smell burning flesh. I hope it's human." The guy next to me says "yeah!" and thinking "what the FUCK are these people into??!?!" I totally didn't get what was happening. Then he explains the "meat" thing, I presume he's a vegetarian... a dramatic vegetarian and then, dear jesus he ripped off his shirt and threw it at me. Seriously. The girl next to me happily grabbed it. It was like Tom Jones meets Milk. HAHAHA. And I'm actually one of those straight men who digs quite a bit of gay culture. But this was just... you know what it was? It was probably something pretty awesome in the early 90s. But now? It's very difficult to feel the original vibe. A newcomer to this "scene" is bound to have a similar reaction. An utter and complete what, the, fuck. And the Morrissey fans LEFT. LEFT after he finished! !??!?!
They left, after he finished. I'm not sure if I was able to write that with enough astonishment in my voice. They left, after he finished. Sir fucking Paul. They were up front with me. Hello? The gates opened at 11am people. McCartney didn't go on until nearly TWELVE HOURS LATER. They were 30 minutes away from seeing a Beatle rock the FREAKING house and they left. That's so gay.
Hahaha. Bryan and Alan, I hope you're laughing at that. I wrote that for you two specifically. What an awesome way to get Journey Player status. :) Goddamn Adam, get to McCartney already...
I can thank my Inauguration experience singlehandedly for getting me front and center. That was when I learned about not drinking or eating anything so you don't lose your place due to bathroom breaks.

However, since it was 100 degrees and not 19... there's another cool physical trick you can do. You can drink one full bottle of water, and it never leaves your body. :-) Yes, that's how freaking dehydrating it is at Coachella. So I had one bottle while waiting thanks to a girl behind me being nice enough to give me one. But yeah, I was a goddamn science experiment. Amazingly, I went over 24 hours without food by the time it was all said and done. I was too scared I would fall asleep driving home if I stopped for food.

The first (and only other) time I saw McCartney in 2002 my eyes welled up when he appeared onstage. It's just a "holy shit" moment when you realize it's actually him. This time however, I was so concerned with videotaping it that I was in a different mode. So how the hell did I pull that off... well Coachella gives you the "in" because although they prohibit any video or audio recordings they do allow still cameras - as long as they don't have detatchable lenses. So no professional stuff, just point and clicks. A lot of those do have video functions but are all pretty assy. I wanted something that looked like a point-and-click but had a great picture...
...enter Andrew, again. This man is looking for Journey GOD status isn't he? He links me to the minoHD camcorder for $200. It's smaller than my phone and takes HD quality video. It also fits in my shoe. :-) Just to be safe I put electric tape over the "Flip Video" part and I actually put it in my pocket... and damnit, they checked it...
...and gave it right back to me 'cause it looked like a point and click. Wheeeeeeew. I'm not sure I've ever been happier (give it a few hours Adam, you will be). But I was there at 11AM when the gates opened, I got my HD cam in... and I was ready to... WAIT.
(btw - I believe that's the 1st public footage of The Beatles Rockband on the screen)
The downside of the videocamera is that I could've gotten FAR better pictures had I just brought a point-and-click. I mean, I'm front and center and these pictures look like I'm in the middle of the crowd zooming in.

Thank GOD in the video I thought to do the ground shot up to the stage - it's amazing how that actually makes you FEEL like you're front row! I've actually never seen a video that does that. I think it's cause there are very few "fans" that get to experience this. These are VIP seats. I mean, everyone's a "fan" of McCartney (except for gay people apparently - KIDDING) but someone like me thinks of shooting the ground leading up to the stage because in a million years I would never think I would be there. VIPs expect it, I don't. Speaking of unexpected...

In the middle of his new song "Sing the Changes" - Barack comes up on the screen... barely. Other than this one still - I guarantee people missed it. It was all these swirling black circles and you could only recognize his face for a split second. Really pissed off the punks behind me. They enjoyed yelling about their favorite drugs and saying "FUCK OBAMA!". It actually made me smile. It made me realize that being "anti-establishment" will always mean going against the grain... even when we all fought for 8 years to change the grain. You have to respect all "anti-establishment" views 'cause it keeps us movin'. However, I'm giving these dolts far too much credit. They were legitimately slow boys.
Another surprise was of course Paul's announcement that it was the 11 year Anniversary of Linda's passing. She died in Arizona, literally a few hours from Indio California where Coachella is held. I just can't imagine how that must've felt. The landscape is identical... whew. The entire night was actually really emotional. When I saw him before the tributes to George and John were touching, but last night everything felt really, really heavy.
...and how cool was Give Peace a Chance!?!?! Oh wait, I didn't include that in the video. You can't fathom how hard it was to make this show under 10 minutes for YouTube's guidelines. There may have to be a part 2. They did "Day in the Life" (which I had NO IDEA Paul was doing now - a recent thing for him) into Give Peace a Chance (which allowed me to get my fingers in the shot proving I was there. I did turn the camera around once and it didn't turn out so I erased the clip in favor of more McCartney. I also taped some of Franz Ferdinand before Morrissey (who were fun as hell) but it was that clip or Paul doing Yesterday. Sorry guys.

As it did in 2002, "Live & Let Die" comes out of nowhere and just blows everyone out of the water. There are no pyrotechnics for the entire show, and suddenly there's fireworks and fire...

...and guess what's REALLY freaking hot when you're up front. HAHA. I actually stroked my eyebrows (swear to you) after this 'cause it felt like they were singed from my skull. Rock & Roll.

Another incredibly cool thing about last night - my Uncle Tim (grew up like brothers as he's 3 years older than me) and his wife Eileen became parents for the 2nd time (you may remember Lila's first birthday song last year) with the birth of baby Elsa. And of course Paul sang "You say it's your birthday!" which I was able to grab 30 seconds of. How, freaking, cool, is that gonna be years from now. McCartney singing that the day you were born. Hope she thinks it's as cool as I do. :-)

Then again, you're kind of safe with The Beatles. Nearly everyone "gets" them and is a fan. EXCEPT FOR THE LITTLE BITCH NEXT TO ME TEXTING DURING HEY JUDE OH MY FREAKING CHRIST.... REALLY?!?!?!?!
Sorry. I... just... sorry. I turned to her and gave her a look which could only be described as fatherly. I hope the texting thing fades or is replaced by something less annoying in the next decade or so. Hey Jude. Paul McCartney is a few feet from you playing Hey Fucking Jude. I'm sure your boyfriend asking you "hey sup wit U?" can FREAKING wait. Good. God. Damn.
Anyway, the night was perfect. To say I will cherish this hour of footage the rest of my life is truly saying the least. I will most likely never see McCartney again because this will never come close to being topped unless I can actually pull off meeting him. No, this is one of those moments in time like the ones I linked to before that will be in your heart forever. Which also highlights the absolute wonder and joy that this project, The Journey, has brought me. I was able to link to an entry and video of all of those events I mentioned and can relive and share them so vividly that I'm swept back in time.
And hopefully watching this entry's video made you feel like you were in the front row. 'Cause sure, there are concert DVDs, but those are almost too professional. You know? Something gets lost in the production. The gazillion camera angles and jib-arms and close-ups makes it "fantasy" at some point. This feels different to me. I hope it does for you too.
PS - believe it or not, there's even better news coming next week. Momentum is a magical feeling.