Last week marked the beginning of my first trip for Carnivores Tour and first of two US Summits. At the last minute I was able to volunteer for Music for Relief at Holmdel, New Jersey, adding a show to my trip much earlier than expected. That same night we headed over to Wantagh, New York for yet another show volunteering for MFR, followed by a fun LPU Meet Up at Darien Lake Amusement Park, finishing with the Summit at Darien Center.
— Natasha Lopez de A (@NLopezdeArenosa) August 17, 2014
My trip started as all my other trips; I of course didn’t even know where my luggage was until the morning of, panicking on Twitter and not even having an item to get signed. Running around a couple of stores, I eventually decided to make a drumhead, paying my love to my first LPU Summit, Cape Town of South Africa. I finished it just in time to actually pack some clothes.
My first flight left Monday at midnight, stopping in Charlotte, North Carolina before finding myself in Newark, New Jersey. I had originally planned to head straight to JFK in New York for Wantagh on Tuesday, but in order to arrive on time for MFR volunteer duties, I had to arrive earlier. Met up with other fans that were heading the same show route in Holmdel, thinking I’d have to wait out the concert in the lot. I ended up being able to join the MFR team after two fans had to cancel.
For the Carnivores Tour, Music for Relief has a new way to donate at the booths; get a massage. That’s right- a massage. Hands That Rock have joined MFR for the tour run, offering 15 minute massages for $10.00 to start. The newest bracelets are also out, Haiyan Typhoon relief supported by white-cord bracelets in blue velvet pouches.
The bracelets, solar light bulbs and bandanas (“Bananas!”) all go for $10.00, metal reusable water bottles going for $15.00, raffle tickets and ear plugs going for $1.00. Fans that buy the water bottle can immediately enjoy free water provided by Brita and Linkin Park, something we’re all starting to wish for all major festivals to adopt. Items that have been raffled off at Holmdel, Wantagh and Darien were a signed AFI Burials vinyl, a signed LINKIN PARK x A BATHING APE shirt and a signed drumhead by Linkin Park, a fan at Wantagh having put down $100.00 worth of raffle tickets for the shirt!
It was in Holmdel for Music for Relief volunteering that I also got to finally meet in person our friends from LP Live, Mark (@hahninator) and Jonas (@jonaslpl), along with Nick and Preston. The shows were fun, especially hearing Mark slightly fan-boy as we watched from behind VIP at Jones Beach, and working the booth was great with their humor and Luigi noises- wish Mark could have been there for the Summit!
Holmdel was my first show of the Carnivores Tour, my first time enjoying a Linkin Park show from anywhere that wasn’t the pit, and you know a band has truly made it when they can blow your mind just watching the performance on screens. Had I been at the barricade I would have completely lost it. Check out my view:
I couldn’t even see the actual stage and it was just so good. My favorite surprise was the touch of “When They Come For Me” in Mike’s moment alone working the vocals, and I died a little inside at the very first sounds of “Rebellion.” I enjoyed the show with Nick rocking the air guitar and Jonas enjoying the wet lawn with me, many guys pretty drunk but still managing to dance and sing. Color me impressed, ha ha.
Immediately after the show, we parted ways with the boys and headed for Wantagh, finding the arena and taking a break at a diner open twenty-four-seven, not our first grab of food at unhealthy hours. I think the only time we ate at any acceptable hour turned out at the Meet Up! Of course, being at Wantagh so early paid off, catching the last of sunrise at the beach right by the arena.
For this show, the Music for Relief tent was unfortunately set up further from the free water stations we had enjoyed easily in Holmdel, but we made up for it being set up right beside the merch booth and in the middle of the major walkway, splitting the crowds on either side of our tent, making for three fronts. The interest was high, raffle entries were even higher and we had a great night for Music for Relief. Definitely one to remember, except I did quickly get over my own voice after yelling the same phrases for four hours, ha!
Clean up was a tad of a hassle with the water stations being away from us and people taking last minute bathroom breaks, crowding the area, but it was done quickly and unlike Holmdel, the team stayed together, led to a section at an access point to the trucks behind VIP. We weren’t in the pit again, but the view was great and the sound and energy was even better. Jones Beach brought it hard and even the furthest, highest seats had fans at their feet. Incredible.
The night ending too soon with not enough Linkin Park, the next stop on my Carnivores Tour trip was Darien Center by Buffalo, about seven hours away by car. We gave the same diner yet another visit, cramming ourselves into the car and heading off at about two in the morning, our aim the ten o’clock check-in that same morning for the LPU Meet Up. The ride was brutal for my long legs and my motionsickness almost made me jump out into moving traffic, but the trip was made with two stops, arriving a little under an hour until check-in. Never again.
Despite in-yo-face bees trying to pick fights with Lulu and kill my allergic self, this Meet Up was pretty unique, taking place inside an amusement park at a proper picnic area, part of the crew joining us. Sam, the band’s lead carpenter and in charge of the video camera capturing the energy of the show at the front of the stage and barricade, was especially kind and very approachable, spending most of the entire time telling us stories. He met Mike back on the Family Values Tour in 2001, talked about his favorite times with Chester, even told us how Mike becoming a parent really made him into an even more enjoyable person to be around. Small stories that just stand so strongly with us.
The Meet Up ended with a group photo, some of the crew joining others for a few rides, some heading off to enjoy their day off elsewhere. We thank Lorenzo and Lulu for planning such a fun, unique location, and to the crew for joining us on their time off!
After some restless hours, my fourth Summit and first at home in the United States came. Check-in had LPU members picking up their exclusive shirts and the passes with a brand-new look. Hello, my name is tags were made, groups were led to the seats in front of the stage- it started off great with “Papa Linkin” Jim Digby talking to the group and taking questions as the crew built the stage. We even had a quick visit from Megumi!
At this Summit, we had the usual tables for Music for Relief, raffles, the LPU shop- keep an eye out for those summer tees! -and the silent auction. The auction featured some great items: LINKIN PARK x A BATHING APE shirt, a pair of drumsticks, a customized drumhead, a album-sales plague from Thailand, program book for the A Thousand Suns World Tour, setlist and one of Mike’s skatedecks for Glorious Excess. Excited to see what surprises they have for the next Summit.
A special addition to this Summit and the entire tour is Staramba, a 3D printing company that has exclusive, realistic and slightly-creepy-to-those-of-us-with-fear-of-dolls figurines of the entire band. More info here! Thinking of buying one, or the whole band? What about your own figurine? What I forgot to ask and see for myself is how much details are shown for tattoos!
After tours on stage with each tech were made and some fans getting to visit Pooch, auction and raffle winners were announced, signaling more fun! Winners of the backstage tour were taken with Mike and Phoenix as the rest of the Summit group was lead to a shaded area for a Q & A, Joe first to make his hysterical appearance- “What? You like my balls?” Enjoy finding the context of that.
The Q & A was pretty neat, but completely trumped by their acoustic performance of “Final Masquerade.” I was too engrossed in it to film, so let’s be thankful for guys like Mark McGauley:
Afterwards we had the best part of the Summit- Meet & Greet! The guys were more chatty than usual, Mike and Chester taking over an hour to make it to the end, Phoenix almost giving two rounds to the line. We were making jokes about how of course it’d be Mike and Chester to take the longest, but we all knew it’s exactly what we wanted; great chats with our heroes, hugs and handshakes, smiles, laughs. It’s this time at the Summits that make the trips great.
The Summit ended with a blast; led out to the pit and seats, LPU found their places for the show as AFI finished with their last songs, I myself heading over to the Music for Relief booth up by gates, only Preston from the boys there that I knew aside from Emilio checking in on us. It wasn’t long before it was time to bring it down, the tent coming down as rain came down, as well. It sucked. Didn’t bother much people, though, the place looking even more packed as it got closer to Linkin Park’s set.
When nine o’clock did come, I got to experience a first for me- side stage. No words for the unique view and was surprised not to have my ears blasted. The work going on out of our sight for the guys to bring us a great show is truly great.
After an incredible performance of “Given Up,” “Guilty All the Same,” “Points of Authority” and “One Step Closer,” we were led from side stage, finding myself at Stage Rad. I didn’t have a front view, but again highly impressed even then. Darien Center’s giant tent over the stage and seating may not have been the best thing for sound, but it was awesome seeing the lights work off of it. PS: Mike on “Rebellion” is the most beautiful thing ever.
My trip ended with the usual cursing of traffic, every fan and their mother heading the same way we were in our hunt for food. It’s not our usual iHop or In n Out after concerts, but Denny’s did have endless refills on my mango lemonade, so no complaints there. Can’t wait to see where and with who my next trip ends!
Special thanks and all my love to my friends and the boys from LP Live, Lorenzo, Lulu, Missy, the entire Linkin Park crew and band, and everyone following along my traveling wishing me safety. Til the next!