Pilgrimage to Mecca AKA Warped Tour 1998

Pilgrimage to Mecca AKA Warped Tour 1998

(Originally appeared in Mutant Renegade Zine #9, Fall 1998)

I was looking through a paper which I picked up in Fort Wayne a while back and noticed it had info on the Warped Tour. I had wanted to go last year, but I missed the dates because my mind was out of wack (like it still isn’t). Anyway when I saw the list of bands scheduled I knew I just had to go to this show and even do some interviews. I hate doing interviews unless it’s a band who I really like and I just want to find out more about the people in the band. So, luckily I knew that Nasty Little Man Public Relations handled the tour and contacted Thahn Thahn. She was cool enough to get me the information and secure two passes even though the show was about a week away.

So once everything was secured I told Gail we were heading up to Chicago and seeing the tour. (Since Gail and I are both dateless losers, we hang out together quite a bit.) Gail bought a camera (she was supposed to be our photographer) and came by my house after her class. We left for Chicago at about ten for the five hour pilgrimage to the holy land. After a quick stop at Meijer for road supplies (chips, cola, apples, gum and other assorted crap) we started on that hellish five hour drive through the cornfields of Indiana. Gail called Todd at about midnight to make sure he’d let us into his apartment once we arrived from a payphone which made his voice sound like that of a robot. It was pretty cool and kinda spooky.

Anyway thanks to the time change and Grog’s driving ability (what????), we made it up there before two so that we could annoy our gracious host. (Check out his web page Visual Design Services .) Todd had to rush out in the morning so he actually left Grog and Gail alone in his apartment. We decided since we were staying until Saturday to not mess anything up. Then we headed out to breakfast at the Waffle House and journeyed off in search of the show and to write up our interview questions while we drove.

We were told to be there no later than ten, so we ended up parking exactly at ten. Then we walked around trying to find a security guard who actually knew where the media area was. By ten thirty we found the place and were told that we were early. However, Keri Lee decided to be cool and give us our crap right then. Once we received a schedule we noticed that we had over a hour until the first band played.

So I slapped on my pass and we journeyed off on the blacktop in the sweltering heat. The section between the two main stages and two secondary stages had a bunch tents from the bands and labels. So, we looked through the booths and grabbed all the free shit we could find. Since we were both short on cash, we decided to forgo eating and try to sneak some food from the back area, since we did have passes. Our attempt to scam food almost worked until this one guy asked for our meal tickets. Then we began a journey to try and secure meal tickets. We worked our way through six people until we came to the right person who told us that journalist just aren’t supplied with food. (Wow, she called us journalist.)

By then it was time for the Specials to come on so we headed off to the main stage. I started to whine to Gail to start taking pictures. So, while we were packed in the crowd Gail tried to figure out her new camera. It was a really nice one compared to the usual 35 mm we’re all used to. Then we moved our way up front to get some pictures. We finally made it to about 40 feet from the stage when Gail tried to take some pics. Eventually she noticed that the lens wasn’t on correctly, and with that fixed she snapped a few.

We watched a few other bands and watched the crowd quite a bit. We came up with nicknames for people and realized that other than the bands and the support staff we were two of the oldest people there. From this point forward we started the long process of Grog doing interviews, Gail running off to snap pictures of bands (which was better once we realized that photographers were aloud right in front of the stage where the security guards were), watching bands, wandering around the crowd, getting sunburned (Grog did at least, Gail was smart and used sun block), meeting fellow zinesters and getting water from the band area.

I did a total of seven interviews and missed a few more because mine went on too long. (Gee, Grog talked to much, what a surprise). My favorite interviews were Full on the Mouth (since I learned they were from Flint, another home of mine) and the Specials since the guitarist was so interesting and intelligent. The worst two were with Matt Freeman (the bass player from Rancid) and Bill Stevenson (the drummer from All). Gail thought the Rancid guy was going to leap out of his seat and strangle me during the questions because he was getting so annoyed. The drummer from All (he used to be in Black Flag) ate during the interview and seemed really pissed off and annoyed by my questions. All the other bands loved the questions and seemed to have a lot of fun. Maybe trying so hard to be not cool, but still cool does something to your sense of humor. Oh well, I still like the bands and I can’t judge all the members from just one of them and maybe they were just having a bad day (or I’m just an asshole). I’ll be posting the interviews next month so you can be the judge if I really am that much of an asshole.

After the show we were hot, sweaty and stinky. So we hooked up with Todd and made him sit in a car with us and find us a good place to eat. Once fed we retired to Todd’s humble abode and crashed. The next morning Todd again went to work so Gail and I decided to hit downtown and look around. We went to this place called “the Melrose” to get breakfast. I decided to order the “hobo”. About five minutes later the door opened behind my seat and a bag lady walked in. She stood right behind me (facing Gail and the rest of the restaurant) and yelled “Get out of my house!!”, “You’re all in my house!!!”, “You are going to die, you deserve to DIE, you’re already dead!!!!!”. Gail couldn’t stop laughing, but she told me not to turn around. Finally the lady left and things calmed down. About a minute later the waitress brought out my “hobo”.

I wonder if they pay that lady to do that everytime someone orders a hobo? Once we were finally fed we walked down the street and hit some shops. I finally found a pair of “boa” chucks in my size, which I’ve been wanting for months. We also ventured off the Michigan Avenue and looked in all the expensive stores (Gail is such an uptown girl) when we ran into street clowns. I tried to not make eye contact and told Gail to do the same, but I noticed she was gone and when I turned around she was staring at them and waving. So they did some things and had Gail help out their act. Finally we left and even gave them a few bucks, at least they weren’t mimes. Outside of this furniture store (yes Grog likes furniture, so does Gail) we were accosted by three young guys selling M&M’s and getting totally into our faces. I really couldn’t understand what they were saying, but we blew them off and watched them attack the tourists. Grog made Gail go to a pizza place Pizzeria Duo which was really great. Then we headed off for the North Shore and did some more looking. Gail bought some smelly stuff (incense, oils, and the like) from some store in the college area. Then we hooked up with Todd again.

I’d have to say this is one of the few trips out of town I’ve taken where I haven’t drank any alcohol, Gail didn’t drink either. It proved the point in my Drinking article where I said you can have just as good a time without drinking, but since drinks are usually associated with the fun activity you tend to drink anyway. No Grog hasn’t gone sXe (I’m pretty close though) but sometimes you just have to think everything through. Well, I’m looking forward to my next adventure with Gail, even though she chopped off all her dreads.

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