Summer in Saratoga Springs means many things. It means the race track is open, adding excitement and dust to the air. It means all the restaurants downtown have their outdoor seating areas open, leave the doors ajar, and let the delicious smells from within waft outside. It means every fake tanned-douche bag from Jersey is coming down for the weekend to party in our bar district.
It also means that SPAC is open and running.
SPAC is the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, which is located in the state park. It’s an outdoor amphitheater that seats about 25,000 including the lawn. Only open in the summer, they’re the summer home of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York City Ballet, as well as the area’s Live Nation venue. Shows include the likes of everything from Yo-Yo Ma to Phish to My Blink 182 with My Chemical Romance to
that douchebag with the guitar Dave Matthews. We’d heard a lot about the venue, as our boss is their former Production Manager, and we’d broken into taken some casual walks through the space when it was dark, but we’d never actually seen a show at SPAC.
But after almost three years here in Saratoga, we figured we were overdue to see a SPAC show. It was time. And what show did we choose to pop our SPAC cherry? Motherfucking Journey, bitches! What could be a more epic beginning to our SPAC experience than seeing the godfathers of 80’s stadium rock?
This is our journey to Journey.
September 1, 2011 10:56 pm– We’re going to see Journey tomorrow. I am so excited that I could wet myself if I wasn’t pretty sure Kyle would make me clean it up.
September 2, 2011 9:38am–Woke up, showered, and proceeded to do 7 hours of nothing of particular interest.
4:30pm–Took my second shower of the day after getting dumpster juice in my hair while dumpster diving for cardboard boxes. Used the time to plan the divorce that was going to go through if Kyle didn’t stop hysterically laughing at me.
4:43pm–Dressed, ate delicious fried bologna sandwich, and packed up a backpack with a blanket and snacks. (We’re too broke for general admission seats so we lawned it.)
6:02pm–Set off on foot for SPAC. It’s a little over 2 miles from our house, which is still quicker than trying to find parking.
6:48pm–Almost died trying to cross Rt 50.
7:05pm–Met up with our friends Christine and Ryan…
…and the awesome spot on the lawn they’d staked out: clear view of the stage, no major poles in the way, good view of the screens. Badass job, kids.
The hardest part of this endeavor was trying to get back to our blanket through the crowd while holding a 24oz beer. Even 90 minutes before the headliner the lawn was getting full.
7:30pm–Night Rider started their set. If you don’t know who they are, they’re the ones who gave us “Sister Christian.” If you don’t know what that is, you have a very sad life, and it’s the song that Old Navy ripped off for their latest commercial hocking sports gear. Now go Google that shit. I’ll wait.
7:34pm–Was incredibly bothered by the fact that they used spotlights from the front instead of the top or back. I get why they had to, (so they would show up on the screens for us poor lawn saps,) but that doesn’t mean I like it.
7:38pm–Figured out that I’m watching the stage on a 2 second delay. (Because lawn patrons can be up to 500′ away from the stage, they set up speakers around the lawn to supplement the sound. However, because we were hearing the sound in real time and watching the stage from 300′ away, it takes a second for the light to reach us, while the sound got to us instantly. So what we were seeing on the stage was happening 2 seconds after we heard it happen.) Realized that this was going to fuck with me all night.
8:17–Night Rider played “Sister Christian.” It was delicious. Seriously, they don’t make guitar solos like that anymore.
8:30–Night Rider finished up and crew did changeover. The Night Rider drop came out of the air, their drum kit was struck, and the Journey setup was put into place.
8:55pm–Journey took the stage, motherfuckers!
My underpants got a little moist. I must admit, it was a little trippy to watch the little Asian bounce around on stage, especially when he opened his mouth and Steve Perry came out. But his voice was liquid magic.
8:57pm–What appeared to be a backdrop consisting of a weenie little video wall…
…suddenly exploded in a full upstage wall of blinding light and video. It was so surprising and explosive that I actually jumped and screamed. Talk about a BLAM!
9:02pm–Discovered that blue and lime green light together is sexy. Still can’t decide if I want to use it to light a rock show or decorate my living room with it.
9:16pm–Journey played “Faithfully.” It was blue and purple and pink and sexy. Pantie Threat Level was now at Soggy.
9:29pm–Journey played a song from their new album. Everyone got up to go to the bathroom.
9:35pm–Journey played “Lights.” We forgave them.
9:41pm–Smelled that distinctive smell that told me that someone is having a really good night. Good for you, sir, good for you.
9:15pm–The 10 year old boys next to us got bored and formed their own mini most pit. Was seriously tempted to join in so I could throw a few well-deserved elbows of my own.
9:57pm–They played “Open Arms.” Every couple in the place immediately wrapped their arms around each other and got all mushy eyed.
10:10pm–They played “Any Way You Want It.” We were pretty sure this was going to be the last song in the set. Balls were approaching the wall and the can of Whoop Ass was out and sitting on the table.
10:14pm–As the band took their bows, lead guitarist Neal Schon handed his guitar to a kid in the front row.
We were all stunned until we learned that there was group of disabled kids there to see the show and he appeared to be one of them. (The kid, not Neal.) Still extremely kind and generous, but a little less random. Turns out this information was totally wrong, that it was a regular kid there with his dad and it was just a totally random act of generosity. This is what I get for believing the drunk guy next to me. (Does this also mean that I’m not a hot piece with an ass that begs to be played like a bongo? My world just got turned upside down.)
10:15pm–That was, indeed, the end of their set. Up came the obligatory blue lights and we waited to see
if how long they’d make us wait for an encore.
10:16pm–Not long, as it turns out.
10:17pm–This is the point where I died, because this is the point where they played “Don’t Stop Believing.” At this point, Pantie Threat Levels were irrelevant because I was trying to figure out if I could lob them the 300′ to the stage. It was fantastic. And the lighting designer? Brought. It. So much lighting hotness.
10:21pm–The song ended with an explosion of ringing vocals and light and screaming guitar and enough confetti to drown a cow. At that moment, I welcomed death in the hopes that my last moment alive be that beautiful.
10:26pm–There was one more song, but for the life of me I don’t remember what it was. Truth be told, it felt like a little bit of a letdown. They’d blown their load on “Don’t Stop Believing,” and it felt anticlimactic. But Kyle says that it’s supposed to be like that, that if they end with their climax the audience will start rioting. I believe him, but it still felt kinda lame.
10:28pm–Show came down.
10:28:07–Crew hit the deck and started striking. For once, we weren’t among them. We packed up and started walking home, instead. It felt nice.
10:32pm–As we walked across the lawn we overhead a man say, “Alright kids, let’s start walking around and looking for money and drugs!”
11:12pm–While waiting at an intersection we watching two teenage girls get into a truck with two guys that they may or may not have known, we couldn’t tell. Then spent the next 10 minutes discussing whether we were partially responsible for rape.
11:53pm–Finally made it home. The cooking of 4th meal commenced immediately. (It was omelets with mushrooms, onions, ham, tomatoes and cheese. Num!)
Awesome friends and epic rock. Amazing show and a fantastic night. Here’s hoping it’s not our last!