Though it’s not like traveling to another continent to take in a concert, I was initially leery of going all the way from Los Angeles to Costa Mesa for a Lindsey Stirling concert… but on the other hand, who is more worth it? Took a vacation day from work so I wouldn’t be scrambling to get to the show, and since the concert was part of the Orange County Fair, figured I’d make it a full vacation-type thing and walk around in the thankfully-not-so-hot sun for about five hours. (Still got a little sunburned.)
Left around 2, got a Lyft right away. Suddenly it’s 2:48, and I’m having fun talking to my driver, Monica. Not much traffic, I’m in the gates at 3:05.
Seemed like more than five hours of walking around in the junior-sized version of the Los Angeles County Fair, or any I’ve seen in the Midwest. It didn’t remind me, for instance, of the one I went to in southern Wisconsin, but then I met an awesome redhead there, and… story for another time.
I can pretty much sum the day up like this:
Food consumed: Cup of corn with lemonade, bacon-sprinkled cinnamon roll with tons of frosting (from an Alex Morgan lookalike), and a scoop of vanilla gelato in a waffle cone. It was the last one that filled me up the most. Really wanted to get a bacon-wrapped something, but there was nothing I liked; you’d think with all the corn they were selling they might have had bacon-wrapped corn on the cob, but that seemed too advanced for them. I was at the point of asking if I could just have bacon, but as stated, the gelato filled me.
Things bought: gel insoles, UCLA lanyard, UCLA neck cooler, ten-minute massage, approximately $120 round trip on Lyft/Uber.
Things not bought: self-heating massage pads, faux Tiffany lamps Handmade Lamps | Rmartdesigns, all hair products (just shaved my head again last week, the faces of those sellers seeing it was priceless!).
Freebie: spinal exam by an extremely cute chiropractor.
Another way to sum up the fair experience: I didn’t take one single photo until the concert.
At 7:35 I’m in my pretty good seat for the concert, not that far up and right on the aisle. Looks like Mako is a DJ, cuz there’s some loud stuff assaulting my ears. I’ve chronicled earlier what I think of DJs—basically they do the same thing I do, choose songs; only difference is they do it in front of an audience—but this guy doesn’t look or sound as obnoxious as most, so I’ll give him a pass, especially since he sang a few songs of his own.
But finally it was time for tonight’s diva. This set list might not be in the right order, especially at the start:
When the Light Goes Out
Brightside or Aurora or such (Completely blanked, to my embarrassment. I was so annoyed at not remembering I forgot to enjoy it.)
Master of Tides
Love Goes On and On
Roundtable/Don’t Let this Feeling Fade
Lose You Now/Guardian (with Mako)
Encore: Behind the Veil/Phantom
The show ended just after 10; would have been sooner without the TikTok break. By 10:15 I was out in the parking lot waiting for my Uber in the designated area, only to have the lady not find me and give up. Given a new rider, at 10:45 I was finally on my way home. Then we got stuck on the freeway, as Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” came on the radio to soundtrack our wait. After a long crawl we’re directed off the freeway, as it was closed! It took half an hour to go a few blocks, and then we’re looking for a new route, with soft incense nosetracking the ride.
Finally got home just after midnight, two hours after the concert ended. So sleepy at work the next day…
So, I finally got transferred from Lincoln Heights, close to downtown El Lay, to El Monte, pretty far to the east. Why did I want this? Because it took me an hour and half to get to Lincoln Heights on the bus, whereas it’s only a ten minute ride and fifteen minute walk now. Unfortunately it would take me that much longer to get to Inglewood and the YouTube Theater, but that was the only downside of the transfer. Even though it was only my second week there, they let me leave two hours early; I did not volunteer why I wanted this, and luckily they didn’t ask. So after the fifteen minute walk—not as sweaty as I feared, for I was dressed for nighttime by the sea—and just missing a bus, I waited between five and ten minutes to catch the next one… going east. Huh? you’re thinking; why is he heading away from the venue, which is damn close to the ocean? Because the bus was going to the El Monte Station, which was the terminus for the Silver Line, a special bus that took the express lane of the 10 Freeway, thus getting downtown in what to me seemed like record time. I barely refrained from waving at the building I’d just left as we passed it, because let’s be honest, that woulda been weird. Once downtown the bus slowed to a crawl, as traffic never really lets up even before afternoon rush hour, but eventually we got on another freeway. This time I could not resist sticking out my tongue as we passed by u$c, otherwise known as the University of Spoiled Children, but no one mentioned it… or possibly saw it. So an hour and a half after I got on the rickety old bus—had the rear section to myself for a while—I got off at the Manchester busway stop. The elevator didn’t smell as bad as most, so I got down to street level pretty fast, and a block’s walking to the east got me to the bus stop as the 115 pulled up. I could not believe how fast I got out here! This ride didn’t seem like all that long either, and I got off before I reached the cemetery and Forum, instead opting to walk down Crenshaw, not realizing there was a bus line there too. The stroll turned out to be a lot longer than I’d thought, but it was a pleasant night walk in a neighborhood I had no problems feeling safe in. There were even some gated communities. The only thing that caught my attention was an older Hispanic lady not dressed for the (relative) cold while listening to a really loud radio and dancing, but I zoomed by without a second glance. There’s an electronic billboard over an interchange. Distracted drivers much? Didn’t check how long it took me to get to In ‘n’ Out, but I wasn’t as tired as I’d feared. Been five months since my last trip to an embassy of the crossed palms, and though I’d never had the dream of visiting each one in existence, here’s another ticked off the list. For the first time in a while I ordered the Flying Dutchman, along with fries and a 7-Up, only later realizing that cost more than the special with a regular cheeseburger. Got no buns, but more meat and cheese, so a good trade-off, but I wonder if they would have let me substitute the Dutchman on the special. Probably not… After that came a long walk through endless parking lots. Sofi Stadium looks too modern, if you know what I mean.
Walked around a while, found that there’s water fountains, so no expensive bottle of water this time. There were also water fountains of a different kind, with red filters making the dancing geysers look pretty darn cool.
Despite the long line for merch I got into the area pretty quickly, zeroing in on an Evanescence hoodie with Amy on the back. Turned out costing $75, $82.50 when you counted the service fee/extortion, but since it was the same price as in the online store and I didn’t have to pay for shipping or wait for it to arrive, I pulled the trigger. More time spent wandering around inside, checking exits and restrooms, before I found I was seated downstairs. Nice. Feeling tired at last, I found my seat between two couples, while the row before me was empty. Got there in the middle of Plush’s set. They’re loud. Hey, there’s a mosh pit!
Halestorm started right at 7:59PM. Haven’t seen Lzzy since the short hair of the Break In video she did with Amy Lee, and despite this half-hearted blonde job she definitely looks better—and younger—with the longer locks. More importantly, she’s clad in a little schoolgirl miniskirt that looks amazing with her long legs. But damn, those platform heels… she must have sold her soul to the devil for preternatural balance. Back From the Dead Let’s face it: I like the band, and I certainly like Lzzy and appreciate her tremendous vocal talent, but what keeps me from being a bigger fan is that I prefer a smooth clean voice like Amy Lee’s. Lzzy certainly has that in some of my favorite songs, but when it’s all rasp and grit I’m just not into it. The music is harder and louder than my usual preferred style as well. Love Bites (So Do I) I’ve always liked the simplicity of this song, and while I think they have far better songs, I don’t begrudge them the Grammy for this. Makes for a fun singalong too. And as I’m always telling people, an energetic live performance can transform a good song into awesome territory, especially with her little guitar solo near the end. I Get Off “Los Angeles, I get off on you getting off on me!” Which are of course the lyrics, but she made it sound even better as an intro. Another of those simple singalong songs, not as heavy as most. Mz. Hyde Always enjoy the opening bluesy guitar, as well as the special effects on the accelerator right before the chorus. Lzzy singing cutesy is totally… cute, and completely out of place… unless you understand what the song is about, then it makes complete sense. I Am the Fire I remember watching a reaction to this song, with the guy freaking out about never having seen a “girl” playing a double neck. I laughed as I remembered that, but then I settled in to enjoy one of my favorites of their songs. Was not surprised by the amount of female empowerment coming off in waves throughout the crowd, as that’s definitely what the song is about. And on another footwear note, the bassist appeared to be sporting cowboy boots while the guitarist was in sneakers. Break In (with Amy Lee) Time out while the piano is rolled in; how they managed to find the right place in the dark I’ll never know, but then they’ve been practicing. Must be a highlight for the roadies. I do love that the white piano has the Halestorm logo on it. Lzzy asks for cellphones and lighters; I did both, as I have an app that looks like a lighter, and even wavers like the wind is hitting it when you move it from side to side. But of course it was too far for Lzzy to see as she breaks into—see what I did there?—what is probably my favorite Halestorm song, at worst my second fave. Only a few of the crowd seemed to know Amy was coming out, so it made for a nice roar of surprise when it happened. Best moment was Amy making an awesome funny face at a strange Lzzy note, perfectly caught on the big screen. Amen This is one of the slower songs that I really don’t listen to much, but this performance was raised by a long jam that, in addition to superb instrumentation, featured the best mix I’ve heard in a long time. Definitely not too loud, like most; I can feel the bass as much as hear it. I’d noticed it before, but I couldn’t help but smile at the vertical cymbal on the side of the drum kit, which was used often here. Love the closeup on the big screen with all the picks on Lzzy’s mic stand, as well as showing she’d changed her shoes. And as a leg man, again thanks for the schoolgirl miniskirt. Drum solo The big sticks! Freak Like Me “Are you a freak like me?” Doesn’t sound as imposing with the little British accent she yelled it in. Yes, I’m a freak, but not like you, babe, especially with the new—or same?—platform heels. Uncomfortable Again doing cutesy head bobs while singing gritty. By this time I was flagging on the energy and finally decided to take a break, so I tuned out so I could be ready for the last song, which is one of my faves. I Miss the Misery This is the exception to everything I’ve said before: a hard song with a lot of grit that I love. But who doesn’t love the opening scream and the vocal gymnastics on the catchy melody? And as often happens with the last song, why not use up any leftover energy to rock out as much as possible? And as long as your tossing picks, setlists, and drumsticks to the crowd, why not take the bracelet off your wrist and give that away too before taking bows and posing for some photos?
Besides the obvious vocal contrasts, it occurred to me that the main difference between tonight’s two divas is that while Amy is often put on a pedestal—not that she doesn’t deserve it, but you know what I mean—Lzzy is earthy, almost girl-next-door in comparison. Even when doing a 30 second metal scream—she even checks her watch—she’s such a dork, and I love it.
Song I wish had been played: Familiar Taste of Poison
Figured on a fifteen minute break, so I went out and walked a bit before getting into the restroom line—like at the Lindsey Stirling concert and unlike Rush concerts, the line for the women was longer—and then finding a hidden nook with a water fountain. As I got back to my seat the unknown song playing on the speakers ended and “Another One Bites the Dust” came on. Ugh, talk about overdone. Did you know that Brian May, the guitarist for Queen who wrote this song, has a doctorate in astrophysics? An old guy two rows in front just announced that he’s Amy’s lawyer. Okay… This is taking place on the fifth anniversary of my first Lindsey Stirling concert. Finally time for Evanescence… but I didn’t take nearly as many notes, as I prefer to simply be in the moment with these guys, so I don’t think I can write enough to make this part interesting. Already blogged an Evanescence concert in the past, anyway. Here’s the setlist, at least: Broken Pieces Shine Made of Stone Take Cover Going Under The Game Is Over Lose Control The Change Lithium (My fave!) Wasted on You Part of Me End of the Dream Far From Heaven Better Without You Call Me When You’re Sober Imaginary Heavy (cover w/ Lzzy) Use My Voice Bring Me To Life My Immortal (Funny that this is the only song I air drum to!) Blind Belief
Song I wish had been played: My Heart Is Broken
Out at 11:11, waiting for Uber at 11:18. From the time I called the Uber till the time I got home, about an hour. My voice was gone but driver wanted to talk in Spanish about famous books. Mayas were aliens, apparently.
Right now as I write this I’m listening to Halestorm’s Love Bites and Familiar Taste of Poison, which is musical whiplash. Familiar Taste of Poison might be my fave Halestorm… after Break In, of course. Or maybe even with Break In.
A fun discussion with an old friend led me to come up with a new top 15. Since Evanescence is one of my top three favorite bands/acts, along with Rush and Lindsey Stirling—and maybe Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler—and I’ve done top 15 for all of them. . . yep, pretty much had to.
So here we go. Maybe I’ll come back later and flesh out what I like about each song, but for now it’s just the list. I can say that it’s my favorite Amy Lee note, at the end of the last chorus, that puts the #1 ahead of the others.
A strange race of critics,
They perform autopsies on
The poetry of the dead.
They chew through thorns.
No poet’s too dull
For them to elucidate, these who defile
The bones of the great.
Callimachus attacked them like a dog.
Out! Into the long darkness.
Perpetual beginner, little gnat—
It is a poet you distract.