If you could fall in love with a voice--seduced by the words the voice is wrapping around--then I am in love with Aaron Lewis'.
Sometime in the winter of 2000/2001, I heard a song. I remember exactly where I was, too. Sitting in the warmth of my Ford Focus while my then-fiance filled up the gas tank. The song was Outside. I sat, rapt with attention, until my man finally finished feeding the car and dropped back into his seat.
"Who is that?" I asked.
"That dude from Limp Bizkit... Fred someone..." he shrugged.
"No, not him," I replied, waiting until the lyrics: All the times that I've cried, all this wasted, it's all inside... and I feel... all this pain... stuffed it down... it's back again... "HIM."
"Oh, that's the lead singer from a group called Staind. I don't think you'd like them. Might be... harder than you like to listen to."
Up until that point, I'd been pretty mellow with my musical tastes--choosing not to expose my boyfriend to my "secret" collection of Metallica, Zeppelin, AC/DC, and the like. But after hearing that song--that voice, those words--I was so turned on to his music that I began to seek it out. Hunt it down. Search. The bf/fiance/husband was educated quickly and, as it turns out, we had some musical tastes in common.
From that moment, I've gathered Staind close to me--turning to Aaron's voice and his pain-laced words in times of familial drama and then, later, writing hurdles. There are times when I listen to his music and I think, Thank God I didn't have to live through that. And then there are moments--and these times are more frequent--when I feel as though he somehow stepped into my heart, consulted my memories, and tripped out a song that tore the secrets from inside and laid them bare inside a melody that was destined to haunt me.
Everything Changes gives me a twisted little bit of hope. Zoe Jane is my song for Mo Chuisle. Devil has been my ode to my husband at different moments in our journey. Please is an occasional cry to my parents. It's Been Awhile is my apology... Epiphany, Right Here, So Far Away, Fade... all wrapped writing characters up inside of me and allowed me to pour out their perceived emotions and angst onto paper in such a way that strangers told me they heard the character's voices in my words.
There are so many more--they've been playing for 11 years, after all.
With that little backstory, I bring you to last night. The hubs and I aren't really concert-goers, per se. We will watch them on TV -- spent three hours with 311 in New Orleans once, wore out the Linkin Park Live in Dallas DVD, catch U2s Rattle and Hum whenever it comes back around -- but with our budget the way it is, it's an expense we can't really justify. Often.
Bon Jovi in April of 2008 was a gift I won't soon forget. *grin*
And then there came the day when the hubs heard an announcement on 96.5 The Buzz out of Kansas City that Creed was coming to town, with the opening act of Staind. He came home, dropped that fact into casual conversation, and before I could roll through the rollercoaster of omgheshereintown...dontgetexcitedwecanta
In those three month's time, things in our little family went from not-so-great, to way-worse, to slightly-better, to glimmer-of-hope, and are now balanced on the cusp of maybe-it-will-be-okay. Through it all, the hubs and I stood with fingers mentally laced together, buckling down, getting through it. Last night's date? Was a bit of a reward for surviving.
Saturday afternoon, the baby sitter showed up, Mo Chuisle was excited to have a 'friend' to play with, we overwhelmed the sitter with facts and information and what to do ifs, and then we bolted. We got to Kansas City early enough that we avoided that $10 event parking fee (go us!) and had dinner at a restaurant where I was referred to as his 'date.' Hee. That made me giggle. And I know I'm biased, but, the hubs? Looked goooood. Slightly scruffy 'cause it's the weekend, after all, hair smushed up like I like, wearing gray that set his hazel eyes more to the green of the spectrum... just... sigh. I was his date.
We got to the concert plenty early--I didn't want to miss a thing. There were some banners up on stage that I didn't recognize. A large moth (think cover of Silence of the Lambs) and the words "Like a Storm." *shrug* When the lights went down, however, it wasn't my boys on stage... instead three skinny guys from New Zealand (Like a Storm) scurried out (standing in front of the banners and giving the effect that they had wings) and yelled "Kansas City!" a lot, telling us we were awesome and asking us if we were ready for Creed. I was like, Creed, Schmeed, get it overwith already. They did their level-best to get the crowd worked up and screaming, and we complied because we were there to have fun.
They weren't bad--sounded very much like rock songs you'd hear at the end of CW's The Vampire Diaries. Best thing they did was a cover of Alice In Chains' Man In A Box. All I could think was that they were taking song time away from Staind, so get on with it already. They finished, roadies switched out the set, and the lights went down once more.
My heart started hammering. I was actually nervous-excited. I hadn't felt like that for something like this in quite some time. I'd warned the hubs to not expect much as far as 'show' from them because Aaron's more of a "This is song" and he goes at it. I was right. They exploded with Home and the lights and the video screen and the STAGE was all a bit overwhelming. We were sitting up a bit, facing the stage, and so the band members were approximately the size of G.I. Joe action figures, but then I found Aaron Lewis in the center and then the concert peeps got the mega screens working and... OMG, I was watching Staind sing.
First song ended, stage went dark, and after a 15-20 second count, the lights came up and there he was, his gruff, shy, I've lived three lifetimes since I was born and I remember every lesson voice was saying, "This song is called Right Here." And that's how he carried on. Once, he paused, saying, "I wanna ask you people back there something," meaning those of us on the stadium seats, far, far away, "what do you think of these people down front sitting at a f*cking rock concert." The stadium BOOed the foolish front-rowers and everyone on the floor rose to their feet as he sang For You.
If I wouldn't have been the only one in our section doing it--and if I wasn't afraid of embarassing the hubs--I would have been on my feet the whole time. As it was, I rocked my seat as my body felt the music, sang my throat raw (I sound like Princess Leia in Jedi this morning), whoo-hoo'd my bloody heart out. Half-way through their set, the lights went down after Fade, and when they came back it was just Aaron, on a barstool, accoustic guitar across his lap, and a sleep-eyed, slow grin on his face.
Now, if' you've never seen this guy, I don't know that you'd instantly get "ROCK STAR" from him. He's not very tall--I'm guessing roughly 5'11", maybe 6'. He's shaved his head for years. He was slimmer last night than I've seen in a lot of concerts or live performances on TV. He's built a bit like a former high-school football player who layered some squishiness over the muscle. Tats cover his arms, across the back of his shoulders and neck, and there were a couple new ones on his hands. His smile is reluctant and mostly a bit of a brief tug at the corner of his mouth, and his eyes are slightly hooded.
He exposes so much pain and healing, life-lessons learned and realizations come by the hard way in his music that his person has the appearance of wary caution.
So when that spotlight hit him, I think the whole stadium took a breath. He says, "This song... was kind of... an accident waiting to happen." And then he rolls out the first chords of Outside. I was shocked with the number of lighters that instantly popped up. Some glowy phones, too, but mainly lighters. I was awed by him. I sang along with everyone else, but what I noticed, mostly, was how quiet the place became. Any rock star with a guitar and a good drummer can work a crowd up in a decent frenzy of excitement, but it takes a singer of a certain caliber (IMO) to bring them all down to the same level, hush them with his words, and draw them into his spell. We sang his words and allowed him to mezmerize us.
Lights down, lights up, and the band came back strong with This Is It which gave the hubs a grin because that is the one song he and I both rock on in Rock Band. Me with the singing, hubs with the guitar. As he wrapped up It's Been Awhile, I knew we were coming close to the end and I was mentally asking for more time. Just before his last song, he thanked the fans for letting them do what they love for eleven years, thanked Creed for allowing them to come along, and ripped into Mudshovel with frenzy.
And then, they were done. My eyes were still dazzled when I turned to the hubs. He was like, "So??" All I could think to say was, "It wasn't long enough." *laugh* They'd played for about 45 mins -- and they ran through about 12 songs in that time, both 'older' and from the most recent album, The Illusion of Progress. I know there's no way they could have hit on all the songs I love -- Fray, Believe, Save Me, The Corner, Come Again... but I simply wanted more. I wanted Creed to open for THEM.
The hubs and I debated for a moment, but decided that we didn't really love Creed and were just fine holding our Staind experience a bit longer... however, we hadn't been out together in months, so instead of heading home... we walked two blocks to a new movie theatre and watched "Couples Retreat," which was funny (Vince Vaughn, how can you go wrong?) and also strangly poignant for the place we're at in our marriage.
On the way home, I was still buzzing from the concert and he was laughing at my youthful "Did you see when he..." "Did you catch how he..." "Didn't you love how they..."
I told him that I'd heard that Aaron Lewis was going on an accoustical tour after this gig with Creed was done, just tossing off the information in my torrent of Staind love, and he simply smiled and said, "I know."
*eyebrows up* I didn't press, but I won't be letting that little reveal go easy, I can tell you that much.
It was one of the best times I've had in a long, long while and the fact that I got to share it with my husband, that he got wrapped up in it all through me, will have me rolling on a music high for days to come.