NYC, Roseland Ballroom, 12.12.02....

This was definitely the strangest Goo experience I've had yet -- and hope to have ever!! It was a private show, sponsored by Parliament cigarettes, and 1500 people had received free tickets for themselves and a guest. A guy named Aaron e-mailed a fan list to see if anyone wanted to buy his extra ticket, and I was the first to reply. The first 25 people (and their guests) got "V-VIP Passes," so I got to the venue early -- 11:00 am. I was the 4th person in line! There wasn't anything to do but sit around and try to keep warm, but we did see Elijah Wood walk by. One of the other women in line got his autograph and some pictures for her husband, who's a big Lord of the Rings fan.

The Phillip Morris guys came out to talk to us around 4:00 -- doors will open at 6:45 at the earliest, first 25 people through the door get the V-VIP passes, if you're not there when the doors open, you don't get a pass even if you've been waiting all day, absolutely no cameras, not because of Phillip Morris, but because the band won't allow them -- bull shit!! -- two forms of picture ID required, you will be wanded and your bags will be searched.... It went on and on! Crazy shit, dude.

I went to the stage doors and listened to a bit of the sound check at 4:30, and around 6:30, we saw Johnny, Robby, and Greg across the street walking to the venue. Someone noticed Robby because of his hair and glasses, and shouted out to him. All three of them started walking faster, and one of my new friends sort of chased them to the door. When they got to the door, security told them "if you're here to see the band, you'll have to go get to the end of the line." My friend said, "they ARE the band!" -- to which Johnny said thank you, and they let them in.

Anyway, they let us in around 7:00, and it was absolutely nuts, worse than the airport. Eventually I checked my coat and bag and wandered around a very surreal blue and white landscape inside Roseland.... Techno music was playing, sparkly lights and gauzy cloth covered everything, and at the bar they were serving fancy hors d'oeuvres.... Very weird. At any rate, there was a bit of a crisis about getting into the meet-and-greet, but Aaron re-appeared just in the nick of time, so we were last in line.

I figured since we were last in line, I could take an extra minute with Robby. One of the women ahead of me, who'd been waiting since 6:45 am, had told him "your biggest fan is here and she has a pez present for you" -- so I got a big smile from him while I was waiting in line. They were standing against a blue velvet backdrop where the promoters were taking pictures with fans one after another, about two seconds each. When it was my turn, I walked straight up to Robby and handed him his present in a big yellow bumblebee bag (the present was a trio of pez dispensers I made to look like the Goos, inside a shadowbox like the ones he made on Rock The House -- pics on the fan art page -- plus some toe socks, stickers, and Goo Goo Clusters candy). The Phillip Morris people tried to get us to hurry up, but I ignored them and told Robby to open his present. While he was getting the tissue paper off the pezzes, the Phillip Morris people got really agitated, but I continued to ignore them. Robby tried to split open my carefully-glued-together shadowbox so I had to flip it over for him, but when he saw the little Goo pezzes, the look on his face was priceless!! He gave me a huge hug and said thank you, then we had to line up for the picture. I held out a peace sign and asked the guys to hold up peace signs too. Johnny said, "what are you, a hippie or somethin'?" I have no idea if Mike and Johnny humored me with the peace signs, I was still looking at Robby. They took the picture and rushed me out of that space but I stayed for as long as I could on the little landing. Robby ignored the next people who came for pictures and crouched on the floor to look at the pezzes again with a huge grin on his face. When they finally made Robby get up and made me get out, we both waved.

Hurry up and wait. I managed to get a spot close to the stage, second row (there was swanky "V-VIP" seating up 20 feet from the stage -- no thanks!). I was so excited about Robby's reaction to my present that I jumped around a bit before settling into my spot and making a few new friends there. I told the band's history to a group of women who thought that Gutterflower was their second album, answered all their questions, and gave them some Goo trivia. I told them all about the pezzes I made, and Security Mike oveherheard -- he told me Robby said they were his favorite gift he'd ever gotten from a fan. I couldn't help squeaking a little with delight, and Mike gave me a strange look. Oops. Anyway, we were waiting for another two hours before the show actually started at 9:15.

Here's the set list: Naked, Long Way Down, Slide, Big Machine, You Never Know, Tucked Away, Black Balloon, Dizzy, Here is Gone, Truth is a Whisper, Think About Me, Lucky Star, Smash, Name, All Eyes on Me, Broadway, Sympathy, Iris, What A Scene, Encore: January Friend, American Girl.

When Robby spotted me, I got a huge smile, and right after the first song, he mouthed "thank you" to me. The show was great, as usual -- though they didn't talk very much. They seemed to rush through the set as quickly as possible. The energy of the crowd wasn't very high, but I still had a good time jumping around. Johnny did make his usual jokes about the bras that were flying in his direction. The girls next to me threw a scarf up, which Robby grabbed and wrapped around his neck. He went up to the mic and said, "Now we're from New York, not too far from here, and we know how cold it gets. So you can throw as many bras as you like up here, but you *go* with a girl -- and you *stay* with a girl -- who throws a scarf up on stage!" Later, Johnny made his nuclear pot bomb jokes, and said that we don't need to invade Iraq, all we need to do is lace their water supply with Viagra. Robby flashed lots of peace signs. He was pretty stoned, though, and was vacantly staring at all the sparkly decorations most of the time. I think while Johnny was talking about the nuclear pot bombs and Dominoes trucks at the Kuwaiti border, Robby went backstage to smoke a bit, because after that he was on another planet. I still got a nice dose of eye contact and smiles, though :-)

In case you were wondering, Robby was wearing his Dopey t-shirt and black-turned-grey jeans, and Johnny was wearing his khaki t-shirt with a red star on it, and black pants. During Sympathy, when Robby was sitting under the keyboard, he put on Jason's John Deere hat. I love when he gets to the point in Sympathy where there's a pause, and he stops the shaker with a huge look of triumph on his face. It's like he's so surprised he can remember where the pause is and get it right.

After the show, I got my stuff and went out to the stage door to wait with some folks I'd met. The roadies were packing everything up really fast -- but these weren't their regular roadies, these were local Teamsters, and they were awful! Just being really rude to us, yelling, shoving us out of their way and whatnot. Makes me really appreciate the Goos' regular roadies!! Security guys, too. These were all complete assholes. Obviously everyone was in a hurry because the Goos had to catch a flight back to LA, but really.... Anyway, one of my friends spotted Mike coming out and it was like a bizarre football game trying to dodge the security guys and roadies to get to him. I asked if Robby was still inside, and he said yes. So we waited some more, and a raggedy old van pulled up to the stage door (strange to see after all the swanky decorations inside). A few minutes later, Johnny came out and they tried to rush him to the van, but he saw us 7 or 8 fans standing there and came to say hello. Most of the people left after Johnny got in the van, but my friends and I waited for Robby. A very nice guy who was walking by stopped to talk to us, found out I was a huge fan, and gave me a pick he'd caught from Robby! Yay!

Eventually, Robby came out, carrying my bumblebee bag, and I walked over to him as quickly as I could without looking agressive. More big smiles, and he said thank you again, told me it was so cool that I'd made those for him, and gave me a wonderful long hug. Security Mike shouted, "one item, please!" so I stepped back to give Robby my picture for him to sign, and one of the Teamster security guys grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled me away. Robby looked really confused, but then one of the other Teamster security guys came and sort of ushered him towards the van. I tried to follow, just to get a picture, and the guy who had grabbed my shoulders wrapped his arm around me and bodily shoved me away. I shoved him off me and told him to fuck off, and he was really rude, and said he was preventing me from being hit by a car. There was a red light, and traffic was not moving on the street. What a fucker. I was so mad, I was shaking. Anyway, meanwhile, my friend was snapping pictures, and if she got any good ones she'll send them to me. Even though I was pissed off at the security guy, I'm very happy that I got a nice Robby moment all to myself :-)

So all in all it was a good day. It was great to be able to hand Robby his Christmas present and see the look on his face when he opened it, the show was fun, and I had a nice hug to end the evening. But I'm definitely looking forward to my next "real" Goo Goo Dolls show, with real fans.