The Big Concert Review In The Middle Of Nowhere

Waterloo Village Concert Tent
Stanhope, NJ
July 15, 2000

It was a bit rainy that day, so I was a little worried that the show might be canceled. I called and got a recording that said the show was on, rain, or shine, so we headed out. Jackie and I carpooled there, but we weren't together for the show. I had seats with my friend James, who was responsible for bringing me to my first concert ever, and Beth, who went last year to the show with us and enjoyed it tremendously, and John, who was in for his first show.

Jackie and I got to the village about an hour before the show was to start. Things were already very busy there. We saw Brian, who I knew from ALCON '98 and a few local shows, and talked to him for a bit. I had wanted to go inside and get some shirts and try to find James, Beth, and John, so we didn't talk long. On the way in, the "Peace Patrol" was stopping everybody. They wouldn't let anyone in with a camera or food (or alcohol or drugs or all that other illegal stuff.). Well I had my camera in my bag so I had to go and put it back in the car. So, there are no pictures for the review or for my collection. I was a little upset, because I like to take pictures, and did last year, but I guess they've changed their policy. The Peace Patrol did however ignore my Swedish Fish, giving me a wink, and saying, "Keep the fish quiet."

I went in, bought some tour shirts, and walked around a bit. Shortly before the show started, I ran into the gang I was waiting for. We talked for a bit while Beth bought a shirt, and then headed in. Our seats were fifth row, right on the center aisle. They were absolutely great! All the seats were tied together and really cramped, but that just made us be all that much closer to the stage. I had Beth sit on the aisle, with the hopes that Al would give her a scarf, but that didn't happen. Oh well, she really enjoyed the show, as did John and James. Even by the end of the show, John, who isn't as familiar with the words to the songs as the rest of us, was singing along.

This show was really good. North Jersey audiences are just awesome. Everything was really cool, show-wise. Even the opening comedian was very funny. I didn't catch his name, but he was out of Brooklyn and knew the area well, and played upon that. He was also very brave and did some song parodies of his own. That really could have backfired if he tried to play up Al or the parodies weren't funny. As it turned out, he started off the bat saying that he wasn't anywhere near as brilliant as Al, but Al was an inspiration. And his parodies were short, one or two lines, and very funny, so it paid off for him. The audience loved it. He was probably the best opening act I've ever seen for Al, and kept me laughing the whole time.

The comedian said that with the response we gave him, he just knew we would love the show! And boy was he right! Al came out to an energized crowd and really played up on it. He made an interesting comment as the show started. He said how "last night we opened for Lynnyrd Skynnrd." I'm not sure what he meant by that, but I found it random and amusing. He then said how he was really excited to be back at the big tent in the middle of nowhere. We were excited to have him.

Since the concert tent is exactly that, a permanent tent with the sides open, the light breeze was blowing the wrong way for us to be covered with snow during "The Night Santa Went Crazy." It did change direction enough for us to get some snow during the end of the song though. Throughout the show, there was a little more smoke and fog than usual, but I think they had to overcompensate because of the open air.

Al was pretty playful that night. During "Germs" he went over to Danny Brant's side of the stage and started singing to the crowd over there for a bit. He was crawling around singing to a few people in the audience when he bent down and put his hands on the head of the Peace Patrol member over there. Before long he was crawling all over him. It was pretty funny to watch. The Peace Patrol guy was just rolling his eyes, as if this happens often.

Al came down the aisle right next to me during "One More Minute." He sat on a woman in the front row and then walked to the back for most of the song. He stopped in the row behind me and reached in about 3 or 4 seats to give the scarf to a woman sitting there, when a young boy, probably the woman's son, grabbed the scarf. Al gave him a quizzical look and then grabbed the scarf back, animated, but playfully, and handed it to the woman to the cheers and laughter of everyone around her.

It was a complete setlist for this show, with "Like A Surgeon" back in. While it's not my favorite concert song, I had missed seeing it, so it was nice that they could perform it. Rubén Valtierra came out eating a candy bar and danced a little bit. He used to be a lot funnier and wittier during the song. I wonder if he's lost some enthusiasm, or if Al asked him to tone it down a bit. Splashes from the water from "Smells Like Nirvana" landed on us. I didn't see where the cup landed, however.

The audience cheered wildly when Al paused for a moment during "The Saga Begins." The cheering was so loud that Al was forced to stop singing until it quieted down a little bit. There was a little kid who had put together a helmet and glasses like Anakin wore in "The Phantom Menace." He went up to the side of the stage and the Peace Patrol let him sit up on the stage throughout the song. I hoped he would acknowledge the line "I think I'll train this boy," but either he was on cloud nine and didn't realize what was going on, or didn't want chance it with the Peace Patrol right there.

The show ended and Jackie came to find us in our seats. Adrian and Anne were at the show and found us too. We stuck around under the tent as long as possible. Finally the Peace Patrol asked us to move and we went out to the side to find the busses. James, Beth, and John didn't want to hang around, so they took off. Brian was at the busses. He was trying to get his wedding program back to Al or Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz. He finally gave it to a guard who said he would pass it on. When we got there, the Peace Patrol closed the gates and told everyone Al wasn't coming out. We went to the other side of the tent, and it looked like they were going to let us wait, but someone came out and made the Peace Patrol kick us out. They lied to us and said Al left already. Meanwhile they were shuffling those with passes back to see Al.

The one thing I didn't enjoy about the show was that the Peace Patrol behavior, and mostly the fact that they lied to us. They lied when we came in and said that Al asked them to not allow any pictures and then they lied and said Al had left. I'm sure they had their reasons, but I would have been happy had they just spoken the truth and said it was now their policy to not allow pictures and not allow after show guests, instead of lying and making Al look like the bad guy. I imagine their bad behavior stemmed from an unrelated incident somewhere and they were just being overly cautious, however it did dampen the mood a little. I don't blame the Peace Patrol, they were just doing what they were told, but I do blame the person, or people, who told them to lie and who told them to act "tough."

Everyone finally got tired of the Peace Patrol and went to the big parking lot in the middle of nowhere and hung around. We realized there was a slim to none chance that Al or anyone in the band would find us out there, but we waited patiently anyway. I looked at pictures from Asbury Park that Adrian took and after a while, a bus drove by and we realized all hope was gone. We said our good-byes, made our way out onto the not so big road in the middle of nowhere, and headed home.