Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Three Days Grace

Probably like most parents, it's not always easy to find common ground with my children's musical tastes. My wife and I took them to their first live concert when we were still in the visiting phase of our adoption process. We saw Paramore at Jones Beach, which they loved. But as they've grown, and their tastes have changed, it's always been a given that they make fun of most of the music that I listen to.

My son listens to a lot of hip hop these days, and I just don't have an affinity for it. But there's always been a part of him that likes good hard rock. He's always liked Aerosmith. He loved Linkin Park (except for their ballad-laden last album), and a few years ago, I took him and his buddy to see them live (again at Jones Beach). He even showed some interest in The Good Rats (and if he hadn't still been so young when Peppi passed away, you can bet I would have taken him out to see them.) And two bands he's always liked (although more so when he was younger) are Skillet and Three Days Grace. So I always keep an eye out for when these two bands are on tour.

Skillet, for whatever reason, seems to avoid the New York metropolitan area like the plague. When they play at all in New York State, it tends to be far, far upstate, like in the Buffalo area. (Hell, I just looked at their schedule as I'm typing this, and they'd sooner play Vladivostock, Russia than play in Manhattan or Long Island.) But once in a blue moon, Three Days Grace comes around. They played Jones Beach last summer, but as the opening act for two bands that neither I nor my kids had any knowledge of or interest in seeing. (I just looked it up. They were Avenged Sevenfold and Prophets of Rage). We talked about going, but it just didn't seem worth it. I knew they'd play about a 30-minute set, and the sound would be all echoey because there would be no bodies in the seats for the earliest set. So we passed.

This year, however, I saw that Three Days Grace was coming to Madison Square Garden, opening for Disturbed. I figured as the opener of two bands, they'd at least get a full set in. And while I wasn't super familiar with Disturbed, I had less objection to seeing them than I did the two Jones Beach bands. I actually thought I was a little familiar with them -- I thought my daughter had one of their albums out in her car. (Once in awhile if my car is in the shop, I borrow hers.) It turns out I was wrong about that -- the band I was thinking about was A Day to Remember. (You can see how my brain works -- I obviously had them filed under "heavy rock bands that begin with the letter 'D'.") But I had recently bought a Disturbed album on my own just to check them out, the band's first album The Sickness.

I asked my daughter if she was interested in going, but she passed. My son, however, said yes.

When I bought the tickets, they sent me three CD copies of the latest Disturbed album, which I thought was mighty nice of them. (This must be a new trend. When my wife bought our tickets to the recent Joe Jackson show, they gave us a free download of his most recent album, too.)

I put together a YouTube playlist last week for both bands that matched the setlists they were playing on this tour, to familiarize myself more with the music. I encouraged my son to listen to them too, because my experience is that live shows are much more enjoyable when you know the songs beforehand. But kids these days ... they never listen.  :)

Anyway, yesterday in the late afternoon, the two of us grabbed the LIRR train at Ronkonkoma. It brought back memories of a similar trip I'd taken with him nine years ago. I was bringing him into the city to grab a train to take him back upstate during the adoption visiting process. I remember a kindly lady offering us some tissues so I could wipe the orange cheese doodle stains off of his little fingers. I remember the look on his face as he got his first look at some of the weird characters who roam through Penn Station on a typical day (especially the guy in the Men's Room who was singing a Bob Marley song at the top of his lungs.) Then on the train upstate, I remember him cheating me constantly, and laughing his little rump off about it, as we played the card game "War". I mentioned that card game to him recently, and he smiled, and said, "I totally won."

As we road to the concert, we chatted a little with fellow concertgoers on the train into the city. But mostly, it was a quiet ride. (Although I did buy him a nice-looking Disturbed shirt from a guy who was selling them on the train.)

When we got into the city, we worked our way upstairs. We got through Madison Square Garden's metal detectors pretty quickly, because I had the foresight to not bring a bag with me. I just had a small book which fit easily into my (huge) coat pockets.

Once we got in, we had to wait in the lobby for fifteen minutes or so, until they opened the doors. When we finally got inside, we used the facilities, grabbed some drinks, and found our seats. Then we watched the crowd filter in.

On the train, there had been some talk about the possibility of a third band. But come 7:30, the lights went out, and a sign lit up that said Three Days Grace.

We were sitting upstairs in section 224. However, this was one of those shows where there were no chairs for the floor section. It was used as a General Admission area instead, where a host of kids stood for the show.

The crowd was a little older than I expected. It included lots of people in their 30s and 40s, and several parents with fairly young kids.

Three Days Grace came out with a lot of energy. The 12-song setlist was essentially the same one they've been doing. It was a good one for fans like my son, loaded with a bunch of their older songs from albums like One-X and their self-titled album. There were also three songs from their latest album, Outsider and only one from Human, the LP before that. It was unfortunate for me, as I happen to especially like Human. I was glad, however, because I really bought these tickets to entertain my son.

My son isn't quite as stoic as my daughter, but at concerts, he's a little impassive. It's hard to tell by his facial expressions if he's having a good time. I could tell he was, though, because when they played some of his favorite songs, he was definitely singing along. This was especially so with "Pain", "I Hate Everything About You", "Animal I Have Become" (which mixed in a little of the White Stripes song "Seven Nation Army") and the set closer "Riot".

The show wasn't a sellout, but I'd say it was about three quarters full. The band seemed psyched to be there, and clearly wanted to put on a good show. I thought that the lead singer, Matt Walst, didn't quite know what to say to the crowd, though. He kept repeating questions like, "How's it going!" and encouraging the mosh pits (which for most of the set, involved two fairly tiny vortexes down in the midst of the rest of the crowd, with about a dozen kids or less involved in each.) But the band played well, and the crowd was definitely involved in the show, clapping and moving along with the music, even if it wasn't quite the wild bacchanal that Walst was clearly hoping for.

The set ended, and people pored down to get their drinks and use the restrooms. At this point, my son turned to me and asked if we had to stay for Disturbed. "You don't want to?" I asked him. He explained that he hadn't been feeling well all day, and that because of a cold he's been sporting for about three weeks, he was having a hard time hearing out of one ear. I'm sure that these things were true, but I also know my son, so I wasn't really surprised by the question. Because he wasn't familiar with Disturbed, he wasn't excited about sitting through their set.

I was a little disappointed -- I'd have liked to have stayed for Disturbed. But this show was really about him, and if his night was more enjoyable with a shorter show, then that was what I'd give him. And as I said, I wasn't surprised -- I'd had a feeling he might want to leave after Three Days Grace. Also, I was pretty tired myself -- I'd been woken up earlier than I'd have liked that morning -- and the thought of not having to fight the concert crowd onto the LIRR train back home wasn't entirely unwelcome. As we started working our way out of the arena, we both noticed long lines at the concession stands, and quite a few people who were already pretty well lubricated. I commented later that I thought this was going to be a heavy drinking crowd for the Disturbed set, and he agreed.

My son dozed for most of the train back home, and I squintily read my book (as I had forgotten to bring my glasses). When we got back to Ronkonkoma, I let him drive, at his request. (He got his license fairly recently). We stopped at Taco Bell, where I got some food for us, his sister, and his sister's boyfriend (who were waiting at home). After we ate, my son and I both went to bed way earlier than usual. It was a decent night, but we were both worn out.

Three Day's Grace's setlist can be found at notmuchofamoshpit.com. And the setlist for the Disturbed show we missed is at sorryimissedyouguys.com.