Can’t Beat the Meet and Greet

In Columns
Mushroomhead and Jeff Payne
Mushroomhead and Jeff Payne

Have you ever been faced with a spontaneous question where an answer was needed right there on the spot?  And you said, ‘Naw’, and walked away like most of us.  Well recently, on a night out with the family, I faced that very dilemma.  And I said yes.  But I did not just say yes.  I exclaimed, “Hell, Yeah!”  What did I say hell yeah to?  A meet and greet.

You see, I still go to concerts.  Rock & Roll show to be specific, but nowadays, r & r has evolved into more branches than the Christian religion.  This night’s occasion had us seeing a band that played what critics might call nu-metal or industrial metal.  A fusion of many different forms of the genre of rock which might include, hip-hop, heavy & industrial metal, and techno.  A band named Mushroomhead.

Mushroomhead employs a hard, tribal beat to most of their songs.  Along with melodic sampling and dual vocalizations gravied with mask-wearing, costumed band members, it makes for a great live show.

The venue was a small domed building called the Cotillion Ballroom.  Built in 1960, this bowl-shaped amphitheater’s backlit stage throws the music right back down to the audience.  The acoustics are amazing, and you might be able to squeeze a thousand or so inside, but tonight we will be lucky to get a few hundred.

I saw this band back in 2014 and there might have been maybe 50 people there.  They still rocked as if they played in front of 5000.

So, we stroll in and we head right over to the merchandise booth because I got to have a t-shirt, black, with concert dates on the back.  Every concert I have ever attended I made sure I bought one.  I bet If I still had all my concert shirts from the seventies until now it would be an accurate evolutionary history of R & R.  No lie.  So, the merch guy hands me my shirt and a baseball jersey, (splurge lever engaged) when I see this neat little-laminated card with Mushroomhead’s image on it.  “What’s this?”  I queried.  “It is a meet and greets VIP pass.”  answered the guy behind the booth.  And he further explained.

“This pass allows you and nine others to meet the band before the show.  Say hello, wish them well, you know, kind of like a pep rally.  That way, the band members get amped up before and go play a great show.” said the merch guy.  With a comparing thought, I said, “Like everyone huddling up together putting a hand in and going Mushroomhead on 1…  3, 2, 1 MUSHROOMHEAD! break.”  He laughed and said, “Yea, kind of like that.  Last one, do you want it?”

Like being the contestant on a game show having to choose between curtains 1, 2, or 3 I turned to my wife and son.  My wife gave the ‘can we afford it’ shrug and my son was all for it.  As the studio audience, that was in my head, seem to shout every curtain number for me to pick I went ahead and exclaimed, “Hell, yeah!”  Since only ten VIP passes were sold the purchasers were to report back at this booth at such and such time fifteen minutes before the show.

The time came and we all met at the booth where we were then ushered outside to the tour bus.  All ten of us lined up beside the large vehicle just right next to the door.  The PR guy then explained that were we to go up inside the bus, one at a time, say hi and wish them well, then turn around I’ll snap a picture and you’ll come back outside and get at the end of the line.   Whereas, we will all go back inside and take a group photo.  I am second in line.

I was getting nervous.  I don’t know why, but I felt as though I were a young, star struck, joint-blazing teenager again.  I hope I don’t mess up in anyway.  In fact, what the hell am I going to say to these guys?  ‘Hi, hope you have a good show’ I thought quickly, ‘hello, welcome to…damn, nothing sounds right.  We had to wait for a little because the band was still getting ready and had to have their masks on before anyone could enter.  Before long the first greeter entered, and it seemed to have gone really fast because before I knew it the PR guy said, “Your turn.”

Up the bus stairs, a little 90 degree turn and there they were.  Mushroomhead spread out on each side of the aisle.  Two sitting at the little booth on the right, two on the other, and the rest in the middle.  I didn’t really rehearse what I was going to say, it just came out, “On behalf of all the veterans of Wichita, welcome and thank you for coming.”  That’s exactly what I said, and I don’t really remember any responses other than the semi-hug they all gave me when I turned around for the picture to be taken.  I did shake a few hands and exited quickly.

Mushroomhead Group Picture
Mushroomhead Group Picture

It took about ten more minutes, but before long we all piled, squished, and squirmed, but we all fit in the group shot, said one last motivational yell, we departed.  Filled with the enthusiasm from a small legion of ten, grateful but ready to rock, well-wishers Mushroomhead went out and played a set like it was the first night of the tour.  And on one of their songs was a dedication to all the veterans out there who have helped make this country great.  I couldn’t help but think that I was sort of responsible for that one.

That, to me, is what a meet and greet entails.  It makes you feel as though you played a little part in not only raising the band’s enthusiasm but setting the tone for the whole show.  A whole new perspective for me when usually with me it is to see a show and go home.  The meet and greet insert is a great emphasis on going to a show in helping rile up the band then seeing the results of your efforts through the show.  If you get a chance at any opportunity take the meet and greet, regardless of the setting.  You won’t regret it.

I would like to say also that all the members of Mushroomhead were cordial, inviting, approachable, or otherwise just downright nice guys.  Wichita was the second to the last date on that tour and you could see the fatigue and tiredness, but you wouldn’t have known that through the energy that emulated from the great show performed.  Thanks for the experience Mushroomhead.

Jeff Payne

Blogger, Photographer, Hard-Rocker
[email protected]

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