You meet interesting people flying international flights. This is good because often times you are sitting next to a person for the better part of an entire day. And I've been pretty lucky over the past year. For example, I sat next to a professional cyclist on my flight home from Japan a few weeks ago.
Now usually, I am not a great seatmate. I don't really like sitting next to people and basically just keep to myself. But I got lucky on my trip out and there was no one in the middle seat so I was in a pretty good mood. That is, until I saw my seatmate's reading materials. He had a large, leatherbound with gold gilted pages. I almost panicked thinking he might be ... religious. And talkative. Not wanting to chance it (it is a 14 hour flight), I immediate went into immersion mode by pulling out the laptop and putting on my headphones.
About half way through my fifth or sixth song, I catch a better glimpse of his book. It turns out it isn't a bible, but actually a trade handcover called The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists. So probably not a religious guy after all. Just odd. But I can deal with odd. Hell, I know odd pretty well myself.
Realising that danger is over, I come out of immersion mode and took off my headphones. He asks me about my mac, turns out his MacBook Pro was stolen a few weeks ago (note to self: do not leave lappy in your pickup). He's a bit into computers and we talk about some normal Mac stuff, mostly related to music software. During the course of the conversation, he asks why I'm going to Australia. I give him my sad story and return the question. "Concert," he says. Curious, I ask for details. Turns out he's a sound engineer for Brand New, a punk pop band. A punk pop band I actually know. He's surprised, as am I. Turns out, he tours with a lot of bands from Primus to Lisa Loeb to the White Stripes. It's a pretty damn interesting conversation.
As we part after clearing customs and such, he stops and asks if I want to come to the concert on Friday night. And as you well know, I don't have a lot going on in Melbourne, so I accept. He says if he can swing it, he'll send me an SMS. Cool.
I have to go straight to a customer meeting after I land so I quickly forget about the conversation and go about my work week. However, come Friday afternoon I get a SMS: "I'll put u on the guest list for tonight if ur interesting in coming. Doors open at 9pm." I look up the club that they're playing at and it turns out it is only 5 blocks from my hotel. Certainly worth at least a fly-by.
Around 9 pm, I cruise by the venue. And there is literally a line around the block. Crap, best laid plans and all. Of well, I'll grab some food and if the line peters out I'll go in. I go around the corner and settle into Nandos for dinner. Finishing my Double Classic, I get another SMS: "There's a long line. If u make it here before 10 let me know. I'll meet you outside with a pass.." Damn, this is getting better and better. I finish my sandwich and head over. The line is still huge, but emboldened by my inside contact, I just walk up to the head of the line. "I'm on the list," I tell the bouncer. He looks me over (as I am twenty years older than everyone in line) and tells me to go see the ticket people. I scoot inside to jeers in the crowd. I give my name to the ticket lady and she searches the list. "Sorry, I don't see your tickets," she says. I say that the band left me passes. Apparently, I've said the magic words. "Oh, you're with THE BAND." And she pulls out a different list, with only 3 people on it. And my name is at the top with VIP next to it. Almost giddy, I repeat after her, "Yes, I AM WITH THE BAND." She is now quite apologetic and says that I should go right in. Emboldened by my new found status, and sensing that my American accent might let me pull this off, I start towards the entrance then stop and ask "Oh, will I need a bracelet to get back stage? I've never been here before." At this point, she is almost falling over herself. She says that they don't do bracelets, but she can get someone to take me if I want. This is a little higher risk that I had intended, so I decline and walked in.
It turned out that I made the right choice. The bars were on the opposite side of the venue from the stage, but still had a front and center view of the stage. In fact, we could stand right behind and above the sound boards (where I got a chance to talk with my seatmate). The concert itself was really quite good. I never really followed Brand New before, but they put on a long show (2+ hours) that showcased a lot of different material. You can tell they have changed their sound quite a bit of the years. The crowd was really into the show, I think they sung along word for word for the first hour.
I caught up with my seatmate after the show. He thought it had gone pretty well and was ready to go out for drinks with the band. I was still shaking off my jet lag a bit so I declined to come along. They are off to Sydney then Brisbane to complete the tour.
My camera phone took some pretty crappy pictures but some posted some video to YouTube: