The Band That Gets Around

Westbury Music Fair
Westbury, NY
July 7, 2000

The drive to Westbury was long, but surprisingly there was no traffic. I had planned for about an hour and a half of traffic considering I always have bad luck with traffic in Connecticut, and it was a Friday evening in the summer. Fortunately, all the traffic was going the other way. Even after making a wrong turn, Christina and I got there with plenty of time to spare.

We walked over to the busses to see if we could get a glimpse of the band. At the busses, we noticed that one of the Ryder trucks that we had seen the night before was being towed away. The entire front and back ends of it were smashed. We later found out that it had been involved in an accident and some of the equipment it was carrying, including some lighting, the fog machines, and the bubble machine, was damaged. There were some damaged plastic carrying cases on the loading dock as well. Fortunately we heard no reports of anyone being injured, and the show was able to go on relatively unaffected.

There were quite a few people at the busses, including the Yellin family, who came from Seattle, WA, to follow Al to a few shows on the East Coast. I chatted with the family for a while. They are really dedicated fans and seem like they were having a great time on their vacation. Also out by the busses were Richard E Green and his two friends, Brett and Dave. We managed to catch a few glimpses of Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz, Rubén Valtierra, Steve Jay, and Danny Brant out by the busses, but no one stopped as much to even wave hello. I wonder if they knew we were out there.

By the time we made it back from the busses, there was a huge crowd out front waiting to get in. We went in and found our seats. Christina and I were directly across the venue from Richard. I'm not sure where the Yellin family was. Anyway, our seats were close. There are no bad seats in the venue. It's a theater in the round, with a revolving stage, and because so, any seat in the theater is a good seat. Also, because the stage is in the center of the venue, this requires Al and the band to walk up and down the aisles during the video clips, in order to change. It's a unique experience to see the show revolve in front of you. Over half of the time, Al isn't singing to you, but you can watch the band play from different angles. I found it interesting to watch Jon for the costume changes. His outfits are so different from the rest of the band, because he sits the entire show. However the difference is unnoticed when you see the show from the front.

The stage was very crowded, but the show was good. In fact, the stage was so crowded, that during "Gump," when Al swung his microphone stand around, he nearly knocked out Danny. Danny had to duck out of the way to avoid getting hit. There was no smoke or bubbles the entire show, so "Closing Time" and "Germs" and "It's All About The Pentiums" looked a little different. I kind of liked the show without the smoke because it gave a chance to really watch the band. However, the smoke really adds a lot to the lighting, so I hope the band can add it back in soon.

Al hopped into the audience a few times to do accordion solos and tried to take advantage of the revolving stage as much as possible. He didn't forget the fans behind him. However, it was pretty weird to watch the back of Al doing Alanis-like arm movements for "Fast Food." Rubén was shot a total of four times for "One More Minute." The very last time he was shot, Al started to sing " more minute... with... *bang*... you!" That was pretty clever.

Again, Al didn't perform "Like A Surgeon." I'd actually not be surprised if it was because of the stage size, although he has performed it in Westbury before. As if the stage wasn't packed enough, when the cheerleaders came out for "Smells Like Nirvana," there were now two more people on stage, and Al was supposed to run around like a mad man during that song. When Al ran around the stage dragging his microphone stand, it was dragging into the audience. Steve relieved some of the congestion by going behind the keyboards and playing a little bit with Rubén. In fact, on a few occasions Steve went behind the equipment and played. It's a good thing he has a long cord on that bass.

"Amish Paradise" was very interesting to watch because no one in the audience had any clue which way to wave their arms. Al would try to wave his arms, but people behind him got all confused. Since he was walking all over the stage, everyone was lost. During "Fat," Al and a stagehand pummeled Santa. He came down pretty hard and looked hurt. He got up quickly though and was escorted away up the aisle.

Westbury Music Fair

After the show, Jon came out and talked to me for a little bit. Jon was carrying a few drumheads around and I was just about to ask him why, when security came over and made us move out of the venue so they could clean up. Jon pushed us into the general direction of the tent and then disappeared. There was a tent outside that had tables and people waiting for Al to come out. Jon showed up again and came over and gave Christina and I and another friend of his each a drumhead. It was such a nice surprise and if you're reading this, thanks Jon! That made my evening. Jon signed my drumhead and personalized it to "Elvis!!"

About that time, Rubén came out. He sat by a table and started signing autographs for people. He was drawing pictures for all the little kids and in a very playful mood. I asked him to sign my drumhead and he looked at it and said, "Who wrote that?" and I told him that Jon did, and he said, "Well I'm the Mexican Elvis, El Vez!" and wrote "The Mexican Elvis!" and then signed his name. He posed for a picture with Christina and she gave him a kiss. I asked of he would pose for a picture with me and he said sure, but no kissing! Then at the last second he turned his head and gave me a kiss. Then he started going "Blechhhh!!" It was so funny. He's a character.

We got in line to talk to Al and I asked him to sign my drumhead. He did, right below Jon's name. We talked for a minute and some guy wanted to photograph my tattoo with Al so we posed for a picture. Al said he really liked my shirt. This is the second time I've worn the shirt to a show and both times he said he liked it. If I ever tire of the shirt, I should give it to Al. Al realized that this might be the last time that we would talk to each other for a while, so he started to sniffle and say that he'd miss me. He's such a nice guy. I'm so happy that I have gotten to talk to him all the times that I have.

We left the tent and went out by the busses. Security had everyone standing behind barricades, so we went and stood with everyone. At this point we met back up with Richard, Brett, and Dave. Danny came out and did some signing. He was trying to make his way over to us, but he kept getting stopped along the way. Rubén came out for a minute or two also. Eventually, everyone was asked to form a line to go meet Al. At this point, everyone ran over to get in line and Danny was free. He came over and talked to us. He signed my drumhead, but it was so dark where we were that he overlapped Rubén's signature a little bit. Danny eventually left to go get a drink and Richard and Brett and Dave got in line to meet Al. When they finally were taken to the tent, I called it a night and went home.

Westbury Music Fair

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