4:40am my alarm went off one week ago today. I admit it, I had no idea where I was at first. Then it hit me, I slept in David's living room, on his beautifully modern red, surprisingly comfortable couch after Jeff and I arrived late the night before. The three of us zombies scurried around gathering our luggage and gear, then darted for LAX. After checking luggage and a few flight cases with gear, we made our way to Starbucks for some much needed caffeine. After spending $14 on a cup of coffee and a water, I believe I began talking in complete sentences for the first time that morning. Anyhow, we hopped on the plane and were pleasantly amused by the comedic delivery of the usual emergency exit, seat belt mumbo-jumbo. The three of us drifted off into iPod land and ripped through a few free snacks. Although I've seen 'Fletch Lives' upwards of 40 times, I watched it again on my iPod and laughed almost to the point of an accidentally empty bladder. It was spectacular. As the landing gear touched-down at Chicago-Midway, we knew our adventure was JUST beginning.
We met each other at the Baggage Claim (a little 7k humor for ya) and grabbed all our stuff. We flagged down a large taxi van and were ready to head for the van rental place. Interesting that a large taxi charged more...for fuel apparently, as the driver stood there and WATCHED me load and unload the entire taxi. We got our big van, plugged in our GPS (which we now officially despise) and made our way into downtown Chicago where S.I.R. is located. They've got locations all over the country and they rent gear to bands. When Muse comes over from England to play one TV show, Saturday Night Live for example, S.I.R. provides all their gear. We got there and each of us nearly drooled 8 gallons as we looked around to see all the immaculate, cool and vintage gear. Thankfully, the only thing preventing us from drooling was the temperature in Chicago....it was freezing cold, so each of us had a big icicle hanging from our lower lip. A staging area had all our gear in road cases. We initialed the invoice, loaded the van and set-up our rental gear return drop-off time.
Tempted as we were, we didn't smash the GPS to bits. It continued 'acquiring signal' convinced we were near Disneyland, so we wisely switched to Google Maps on Jeff's Blackberry. We headed down the same highways we did late last year on tour and all agreed it was nostalgic. The skies were cloudy, but dry, as we made our one hour trek to Valparaiso, Indiana. Arriving at our hotel around 5pm, about 5 minutes from the Valparaiso University campus, our stomachs rumbled simultaneously with hunger. Luckily there was a Red Robin in the same parking lot. We each went to our own rooms to freshen up, met in the hallway and went to dinner. After enjoying a great meal, relishing in smooth travel and a couple beers, all the exhaustion caught up with us. Personally, my head hit the pillow well before 9:30pm.....I know, I know....very UN-rockstar.
Friday morning we all slept-in, a very rare occurrence for we three lads. I flipped on the TV to catch the local forecast...gulp...snow was on the way. After a flurry (pun intended) of text messages, we headed for a local favorite breakfast spot (thanks to a tip from our waitress the night before). We ate a gloriously-Midwestern meal that totally eliminated the necessity for lunch and then ran some errands on the way back to the hotel. One stop was at the Harre Union where we were scheduled to perform that night. We walked through the Union and saw lots of 7k fliers for the show, located the HUGE ballroom where the show was to be and then found the ever-important freight elevator and loading dock. At this point, the sky was no longer dry as a light snow began.
We drove back to the hotel frantically making phone calls to adjust our load-in, sound-check and dinner times in preparation of potentially dangerous driving conditions. After shuffling times around, we returned to the hotel for a couple hours before load-in. While in my room, my eyes ping-ponged between Law & Order: SVU on TV and the snowflakes continuing to fall outside my window.
We walked out to the van for our quick but snowy drive and load-in at the Union. At this point, Jeff was boyishly fascinated by the snow, shuffling his feet to make that winter sound and gleefully giggling with wide eyes. He looked at us, David glared back with an almost-puzzled smirk and I simply growled like a caged badger.
Our load-in went beautifully as we set-up on the largest stage any of us had ever been on. Rental gear is always a challenge due to lack of familiarity, so everything took a bit longer, but after everything was set-up we were pleased. The sound company arrived and set-up a gigantic sound system. We ran a sound check, made some tweaks, ran another check and were floored by how epic everything sounded. The wonderful Valpo (that is what the students call it) staff took us out to dinner, where we enjoyed some warm pasta. It was a fitting meal, as the snow continued to fall. Grrr. Then we briefly returned to our rooms to shower and change. One hour til showtime.
We arrived back at the Union, stepped onstage and plowed (pun intended) through 23 songs. The students sang along and danced their hearts out. It was truly a sight. We challenged the students to see how many of them would get onstage with us to sing the last song of the night. Much to our surprise, nearly 30 students came up and joined us, making it impossible for me to see Jeff or David. With all visual cues out the window, we played the last chorus multiple times and every time the students cheered more loudly..."Sweeeet Caaaroline.....Bah, Bah, Bah...." After the show we signed autographs, took tons of photos and hung out with all our new Valpo friends. In short, everyone had a blast...Oh my!! We hope to see our Valpo friends again soon.
Saturday morning, we started our journey home. For details, start with the second sentence of the third paragraph...and read backwards. Well, that's how it felt anyway. LOL.
Til next time,
Corey, Jeff & David
little bit more
california is the end
what you do
my high life
dispense with the pleasantries
turnin' it up
take it off
i kissed a girl
pour some sugar on me
let's get it started
twist & shout
life is a highway
livin' on a prayer
are you gonna be my girl
hot in herre