Mayhem Week: Segment One - Rammstein in Seattle

It's not every day that a german industrial-metal powerhouse like Rammstein comes to North America. Things have been quiet for them for the last couple of years. So when I found out they were going on tour, I jumped at the chance to get tickets.

There were of course, a few catches to making this happen:
1) None of my friends wanted to go, for varying and totally legit reasons. (No money, no passport, no musical taste, etc.)
2) Since they weren't playing in Vancouver, the closest venue was the Tacoma Dome in Seattle. (Or is it Tacoma? I'm still not clear on whether it's a suburb or not.)
3) The Tacoma show was on a Sunday night*. (Another one of those totally legit reasons not to go.)

* This is notable because I had to go to work on Monday morning, which would necessitate driving back to Vancouver the same night, right after the concert. Getting time off was not an option, since I had time booked off later in the week to go to Montreal. More on that in the next few segments.

Enter my perky friend "V". Thanks to facebook, I happened to know that she wanted to go, and she was having as little luck finding friends as well.
A few facebook messages later we decided we were the only ones cool enough (or dumb enough?) to drive to Seattle to see Rammstein on a Sunday night.

The Road Trip
V met at my place a little before 4pm on Sunday. Google maps told us that with no traffic and no border waits we would need about 3 hours to get to the dome. That would get us there at about 7pm, with the show slated to start at 8pm. Go team!

While V and I have known each other for a while, we've never had much of a chance to hang out and talk. At least not outside of a loud environment where actual conversations can be had. So while I was a little worried that we would sit and ride in awkward silence, it couldn't have been more the opposite. V made an excellent road trip buddy. Not only was she handy with operating the stereo and changing CDs, but she also brought a complete picnic lunch! We had drinks, water, sandwiches, and snacks. We would not be hungry and we wouldn't need to stop for food.

We crossed the border with no problems. It was late on Sunday, so the wait at the Peace Arch was less than 5 minutes.
But we did stop for a bit in Bellingham for a washroom break, and some meandering around led us a bit astray off the highway. So we lost some time here.

I had my phone set to GPS in case we got lost, even though the route was very clear: get on the I5 and drive straight until you see a dome.
We drove. We talked. We listened to music. We ate sandwiches. And then we saw the dome. Actually, the dome was really hard to miss. Finding parking was a bit trickier, but we found a secure lot a few blocks away that charged less than the official lot, so that was that.

Concert Prep

We didn't make especially good time on the highway, partly due to my reluctance to speed and partly because of the pit-stop in Bellingham. So we were in line to enter the dome by a little after 8pm. That was the start time printed on the ticket, so we had figured we wouldn't miss anything. There was music-like noise coming from the stage as we entered, but we took very little notice. First, we needed another bathroom break.

An aside: I dislike public washrooms. I don't have a phobia, but I will still try and avoid them whenever possible. So the idea of using the washroom at the dome already had me on my guard. Rightfully so when I discovered the Tacoma Dome does not have urinals in the washroom. Where the wall of urinals should be, concert-goers are greeted by two long metal troughs. Pee troughs! Gross. Never again.... *shudder*

Next, we needed drinks. It was around this time that we realized we had no US currency on us, and our debit cards wouldn’t work at the concessions. So we had to wander around the stadium looking for the only ATM. We stopped at the merch stand because the poster-guy said he would take Canadian money. Which lead to a heated exchange between him and V when she asked for her change back in US bills and he refused to give her back anything other than Canadian. So she demanded her Canadian $50 back and decided not to buy the poster after all.

Frustrated, V stopped and asked the nearest gentlemen passing by if he knew where the ATM was. She explained that we were from Canada and had no US money, and that all we wanted to do was get a few drinks before the show. His reply was something along the lines of this:

"No, I don’t know, I'm sorry. But would you like to meet the band after the show?"
Our response was one of scepticism and disbelief, and also of confusion. We can meet the band? But you can't help us get beer?
WAIT! We can meet the band?! HELL YES!
And so the guy gives us a pair of convincing blue after-party wristbands. He explains that after the show we are to find the elevator between sections 1A and 1B, ride it to the bottom floor, and then find the northwest corner where he will meet us. This all sounds a little too good to be true. It sounded almost like the plot to some sort of cloak-and-dagger backdoor deal. So we figured either we just scored really big, or we were going to be murdered horribly and forgotten.
(Special note: There's no way I would ever have gotten those passes on my own. It’s a good thing I brought V as my concert buddy. Sometimes it pays to have attractive female friends.)

We found the ATM not far from the mysterious elevator. The line-up was quite long because there's only one ATM in the whole building. So I gave my VISA a try at the nearest concession while V waited in the ATM line. Thankfully the VISA came through and provided us with the beverages we sought.

The Concert

We took our drinks, found our seats, and sat in preparation for Rammstein. The previous noise from the stage had ended quite a while ago. Curious, I asked the guy next to us who we'd missed.
"Ummm... Combi-something?"

F&*K. We missed Combichrist*. Apparently they're really serious about starting shows on time down south. Here in Canada everybody knows that if you print 8PM on the ticket the show won't actually start until 9pm. But as luck would have it Combichrist were already on the stage before we even made it through the doors, and off the stage before we found our seats. So that was a little disappointing. But you can't win 'em all I suppose.

* Another aside: Panzer AG was originally slated to play Kinetik in Montreal later that week, but had dropped from the roster so that Combichrist (they share a member) could play the Rammstein tour. So I figured if I saw Combichrist at the Rammstein show I’d be getting a pretty great deal.

Rammstein put on an excellent show. They were loud! They were metal! They had fire! And giant metallic angel wings! They pretend-smashed through a fake wall! They rode a rubber raft out into the crowd! It was all very entertaining. I'm ranking the show as probably number 3 in my top 5 concerts I've ever seen. (Nine Inch Nails still holds both slots 1 and 2).

Here are a couple of choice clips from youtube to give you an idea of what you missed:



Of course the excitement of this was amped up for me by V. She was clearly very excited about the show, and I was feeding off her excess positive energy. V, for those of you who don't know her, is a bit like a glitter-filled-energy-hurricane. So we danced and rocked and headbanged and screamed and it was awesome. Well, for us anyways. Some of our row neighbours may have disagreed. They certainly didn’t seem to be as excited as we were. Although the man to our left definitely seemed to appreciate that V was doing her very best to get his somewhat bored-looking [wife/girlfriend/mistress?] to show a little more enthusiasm in the show. By dancing with her, helping her pound her fist in the air, and then by naughtily unzipping for sweater down the front – but just a little.

I think Rammstein played a set of about 15 songs. It was a 2 hour set and I heard all my favourite songs, but the time just flew by.

The After Party

So we sat in the stands for a few minutes to catch our breathe. It was 11pm. We still had to drive back to Vancouver and I had to work in the morning. But you only live once, right? How often is somebody going to hand you a pass to an exclusive invite-only after-party?

So we went back to the elevator. Sure enough, somebody inside greeted us. We flashed our wristbands and she took us to ground floor, where another guy pointed us across the floor to the meeting area.

We were then lead through a series of back hallways of the stadium and down some stairs into the basement. About 50 of us congregated in small white room furnished with a half-dozen chairs, a tiny audio system, and a makeshift bar with free water, free beer, and a guy in a sombrero mixing vodka-red-bulls.

Responsible driver note: I should probably mention for the sake of worried readers out there that I only had a single beer during the concert, and then had water at the after party. Drinking and driving is terribly irresponsible!

So there we are, in this weird little poorly-black-lit white room with a select group of other concert goers. And maybe band members? I realized at this point that I would never recognize any of the members of Rammstein unless they were still in costume or holding on to their instruments.

And then in walks a group of youngish awfully industrial-looking tattooed guys. V started saying hello and shaking hands and trying to be friendly. It took me a few minutes to figure it out, but eventually I clued in that we were talking to the members of Combichrist. I suppose the bullet belts, facial piercings, and dyed black hair probably should have given them away. V actually had no idea - she was just being friendly.

I don’t think I met Andy, the singer. But I did meet drummers Trevor and Joe. Who we thought was named Justin for some reason. I think at one point I caught him giving V a little playful peck on the lips. Which was terribly entertaining to me, since he stands at least a foot taller than she does.

I tried to strike up a conversation with an attractive blonde who was playing with a bouncy rubber ball. I asked her about it, and she said “oh, it’s for us to play with in the dressing room.”
“Wait, so you’re in the band too? Are you female vocals?”
(At this point I was confusing Combichrist with Icon of Coil, another of Andy’s musical projects which used to feature a female vocalist.)
“Oh, no. I’m Trevor’s* sister. I’m in a different band.” *(or maybe she was Joe’s sister?)
“Oh, I see. So what’s the name of the band you’re in”.
Completely non-chalantly she replies: “Alice Cooper.”

My jaw basically hit the floor here. I don’t even really like Alice Cooper, but the guy is still a music legend. And here I was talking to his … something…, who name-drops like it’s not a big deal. I was so dumbfounded I actually didn’t even find out what she does in his band. And wikipedia has failed to fill me in, nor can I remember her name to google it.

Till Lindemann, Rammstein’s singer, did come in for a few minutes at some point. But he was basically immediately surrounded by other after-partiers, so I kept my distance. He disappeared shortly after, so I didn’t get a chance to say so much as “hello”. As I understand it, somehow V didn’t even notice Till, who was standing no more than 3 feet away from her. And if the other guys from Rammstein were ever there, I don’t know and didn’t see or recognize them. Heck, for all I know the guy in the sombrero was one of them.

We stuck around and chatted with a few more random people. Somehow, through some weird coincidence, at least 20 of the people in the after party were from Vancouver. V and I recognized a few from our local hangout club of choice, and a few more recognized us. So if there were only about 50 people there, almost half were Vancouverites.
I know, it’s weird, right?

We left around 12:30AM, as we still had a trip to Vancouver to make.

The Return Trip

So we got back to the car around 1:00AM and hit the highway. We cranked the Rammstein and sang along. I drank a Rockstar energy drink to stay awake. We talked and laughed and reflected on how ridiculous and awesome the night had been. And then V curled up and fell asleep in the passenger seat, and I got us a little lost when I pulled off the highway to get some gas.

Compared to the way down, the drive back seemed to take forever. And since it took me about 2 hours to realize the distance signs were all in miles instead of kilometres, I had no real way of gauging how far we were from Vancouver. (For some reason my phone wasn’t roaming and so I couldn’t get a signal on the GPS.)

We got back across the border and arrived back at my apartment at 4:00AM, where I promptly put on my PJs, set the alarm for 9AM, and flopped into bed with the faint sound of tinnitus to rock me to sleep.

1 comment:

Evil Dan said...

That sounds like crazy fun! Makes me actually consider driving up to NY to see Buckethead in August.