Every now and then, you just gotta rock out. When my friend John texted me that tickets were on sale for Alice in Chains at the Palladium, I had just gone to bed. This is exactly the kind of emergency that you need an iPhone for. Didn’t have to get out of bed, and twelve minutes and some sore thumbs later, we had 4 tickets. Oh yeah!
It’s funny, everyone’s music tastes change as they go through life, but I think you’ll always have a special love for something that was popular during middle school and high school. Somehow, even though I grew up on an island surrounded by soca and reggae (with a slight Jimmy Buffet and classic rock influence from the boating crowd), I totally love hair bands and grunge. I’m not entirely sure how it happened — MTV was new and rad, and since I didn’t have cable TV at my house, it totally attained mythical status and I was glued to it whenever I could get a fix. Maybe I can blame it all on Adam Curry. In any case, during middle school it was totally Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Poison, Guns N Roses. Then one day, I was at a friend’s house (who OMG was so lucky, she actually had cable!), and I remember seeing this crazy video with a janitor dancing with a broom, and this guy had his hair all in his face and was screaming and mumbling. And it freakin’ ROCKED. Enter an obsession with all things Nirvana and grunge. Seriously, I was so into grunge that I wore flannel and jeans practically every day in the Caribbean. But unfortunately, rock bands don’t visit small islands in the Caribbean. So I never got to see any of my idols live, and by the time I was in college, many of them were dead. Bummer.
So when Alice in Chains first got back together with a new lead singer a few years ago, I was pretty skeptical. I mean, Layne Staley was so distinctive and crazy with his vocal warbles – how could anyone imitate that well? And if it wasn’t imitated, well, it just wouldn’t sound like Alice in Chains. So when we headed to a Velvet Revolver concert that they opened for several years ago, I was excited, but my expectations were pretty low. Well, turns out that they were really good, and Scott Weiland freakin’ sucked. (enter rant about Scott Weiland here – I have wasted my money on his sorry vocals 3 times – twice with Velvet Revolver and once with Stone Temple Pilots. He sounds great in the studio and just cannot carry a tune live. I really hope that Velvet Revolver reforms with another better singer because the rest of those guys rock. End of rant. For now.)
Anyway, the day of the concert came around, and John and I headed down to LA on Saturday afternoon, majorly stoked! We met up with two of John’s friends from high school. Much reminiscing, drinking, and shenanigans ensued, and then we went to the concert. I was doubly triply excited that it was at the Palladium – it’s just about the best venue you could ask for. I saw Garbage there in 1998, just after their second album, version 2.0. It’s in the middle of Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard, completely enclosed, and pretty small. No TV screens – you just don’t need them because it’s standing room only and you can see the stage from anywhere. There was the normal forgettable opening act, through which it was necessary to drink more overpriced vodka & Red Bulls and beer, and then Alice in Chains came on and totally rocked the house. Old songs, new songs, everything sounded great. I mean, no one is Layne Staley, but William Duvall is fantastic in his own right, and splits the singing with Jerry Cantrell, whose vocals have really come to life these days. And both are great on the guitar. Here’s my crappy iPhone picture of the whole shebang:
The whole experience was awesome – being with a group of fun friends, the drunken singing and screaming, the smell of pot gently wafting over the crowd, the elbowing pushy dudes who are trying to get in front of you out of the way, the midnight stop for chili cheese fries and a milkshake. A great memory for sure.
The next day is never so great, however. The scratchy voice, smelly clothes, headache, upset stomach, and 200 miles of driving, half of which were in complete stop-and-go traffic. I felt bad for John who was in worse shape – so much worse that I actually got to drive his hotrod VW R32. But we freakin’ ROCKED!!! Woooo!