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Plaza Of Nations - Vancouver BC Canada May 4, 1998

It was Wednesday, April 29th, 1998. I was sitting on the couch watching TV. It was still very early in the day, so nothing good was on. I grabbed my CD player and Cool For August CD. Before I had time to put the head phones on, the phone rang. I picked it up, knowing it would be Kelsey. “Brittany, guess who I’m talking to!” She said in a very excited voice. I could tell that she was talking to somebody important. After I had made a few unsuccessful guesses, she finally told me. “It’s Shane! I E-mailed him and he remembers us!” she said. She was talking to Shane Hills, the drummer of Cool For August, on the Internet. We had been to their concert about a month ago in Seattle, and we talked to him afterwards. It was really exciting that he remembered who we were. “He says that they will be with Matchbox 20 on May 4th in Vancouver BC.” When she said that, tons of thoughts were racing through my head. I just knew that somehow, we had to be there. With Kelsey still on the phone, I went to the backyard where my dad was cutting down some bushes. “Dad, Kelsey is talking to Shane right now online and he says that they’re coming to Vancouver on Monday with Matchbox 20! He says that it only takes about 2 hours to drive and we have to be there! Please, please, please will you take us?” This was very short notice. The concert was in 5 days and we didn’t have any tickets, information, or a hotel reservation. Dad said he would take us, but only if Mom said it was OK. After I relayed the message back to Kelsey, I hung up the phone and called Ticketmaster. They said that for 3 tickets, it would cost 105 dollars. No problem, I thought. Between me and Kelsey, we had about 500 dollars saved up, just in case something like this ever happened. Four hours later, Mom got home from work. I ran up to her, gave her a hug and told her that I loved her. I grabbed the grocery bags from her hands and started putting everything away. She had already talked to Dad on the phone, so she knew what was going on. For the rest of the day, I was really nice. I even helped set the table and clean up after dinner. We sat down and started discussing this in greater detail. Mom said, “For me to even consider this, you will need to help out more around here. Since we’re getting ready to move, you will need to help your dad in the yard more often and be ready to clean this house out.” I eagerly agreed. I would do anything to get to that concert. Even if it meant spending all my free time working on my house. On the morning of May 4th, the day of the concert, I woke up with good things on my mind. In just 3 hours, we would be on our way to Canada to see our favorite people in the world. I got all my things ready to go. I had to pack all my clothes, since we would be staying in a hotel that night. I also packed two stuffed animals to throw on the stage, all the things I would have them autograph, my camera and 6 rolls of film. First we had to go to school to get our homework for all the classes we would be missing. It was probably the longest 2 hours of my life. I was sitting in science when they finally called me down to the office. Kelsey was already waiting in the office with my dad, who was picking us up. We went to our locker, got our backpacks, and left the building. We had to go back to my house to pick up our bags for the trip. After everything was packed in the car, including Kelsey and me, Mom came out the door, got in the car, and backed out of the driveway. The time had finally come. We were on our way! The drive there only took about 2 hours. We slept a lot in the car because it was going to be a very late night. I was awakened by my mom who informed me that we were at the border. We got through customs very quickly and made our way to downtown Vancouver. Everything was different in Canada. The road signs, the radio and even the buildings looked weird. It was really exciting, but not nearly as exciting as what would happen later on that evening. After a few wrong turns, we finally found our hotel. We checked in and asked the friendly clerk how far the Plaza of Nations was. He replied with, “It takes about 20 minutes to walk there.” We thanked him then decided to take a taxi. As we got in the taxi, the driver asked us, “Where to?” My mom replied with, “The Plaza of Nations, please.” We arrived there just 5 minutes later, paid the money, and got out of the taxi. We arrived 5 and a half hours early. At first, we didn’t know where to go, so we walked around aimlessly for a few minutes. Then we saw the stage. It was outdoors, but covered under a huge glass structure. It was much nice than the venue in Seattle. We finally found the line, which only consisted of about 5 people. We were the 3rd group in line. Now, pretty much everything was set. We were definitely going to get in the front row, and now we had the tickets. They only thing left was meeting the bands. We stood up and looked through the gate that blocked off the stage. We could see everything. We saw a small white tent that was behind the stage, and lots of crew members were walking out of it. We were watching all the people, hoping we would see one of the guys from Matchbox 20 or Cool For August, when all of the sudden, Andrew Shives, the bassist of Cool For August walked out. We immediately started freaking out, trying to get his attention, when he disappeared behind the stage. A couple minutes later, Gordon Vaughn emerged from the tent. “Holy Wow, Brittany, look, it’s Gordon!” Kelsey told me very enthusiastically. We stood there waving at him, looking like idiots to everyone else watching us, but we didn’t care because he smiled and waved back. After all this was over, we sat back down and waited for about an hour while my mom went to buy us something to drink. When she returned, she sat down and let us go exploring around the venue. We sat down on a step where we could see everything going on inside the stage area. At that moment, Gordon Vaughn, the lead singer of Cool For August- the one who waved to us-casually walked by. I immediately froze up. I could not speak, stand up, or even move my hands. All I could do was stare at him in awe. Luckily, Kelsey spoke up and asked him to come over to us. He smiled at us again, then sat down right beside me. I was still in shock. “So what’s your name?” he asked me. “Um...” was all I could say. He laughed and replied, “You can’t remember?” At this point, I looked up at the sky, struggling to remember what my parents had decided to call me. “Her name is Brittany, “ Kelsey reminded me. I shook my head in agreement. He took our CD covers and signed them both, then handed them back. I thanked him then whispered to Kelsey, “Ask him how he’s feeling.” Gordon had fainted just 2 days ago at a concert in Atlanta, due to a really bad case of bronchitis. It was rumored that his band might not make it to Vancouver, because Gordon was in the hospital. But thankfully, he got better. “Oh, I’m doing a lot better. My voice is doing great, but my throat still hurts, and I’m still coughing hard.” We told him about how it was really good that he was doing better, and thanked him again. Before he left, we got our pictures taken with him. The second that Gordon left, Shane Hills, the drummer from the same band came out of a stand up comedy club called Yuk Yuk’s. He had just gotten back from taking a shower. Feeling a little more confident, I was able to talk to Shane. We reminded him that we had both talked with him on the Internet. He remembered us. We got more pictures taken with him and got his autograph. After Shane left, Andrew Shives, the bassist of Cool For August came out. We eagerly ran up to him. We were the only ones talking to him because nobody else had ever heard of their band. Andrew said that he remembered us from the Seattle concert and asked how we were doing. We talked to him for a while but then he informed us that he had to go find a $100 shirt that he had lost. We said our good-byes then got back in line. Now we had gotten almost everything that we wanted, except Matchbox 20. These guys were more popular than Cool For August, so we knew that we would have to wait after the concert to meet them. “Open up your bags please,” one of the security guys said. “Finally,” I thought, “Now we get to go in!” After they had checked out bags and frisked us, we raced up to the very front row on the right side. We still had an hour to wait before the concert started. I left my mom and Kelsey to go buy some T-shirts. When I returned, the guards were climbing over the barriers. I knew what was going to happen next. I stood up very quickly, grabbed my mom, and pulled her up to the front of the barrier. All of the sudden, 4,000 bodies were pushed up together. My mom had a worried look in her eyes, like she was going to die. I told her that if she wanted to get out at any time during the concert, the guards could pull her out and she could wait for us. I told her that it would get much worse once the music started, but she said that she could handle it and stayed with us. The lights went out. Shane, Andrew, Chris, and Trevor emerged from behind a curtain and started playing their instruments. About 30 seconds later, Gordon ran out on stage and started singing. I screamed. Me and Kelsey were probably the only ones there who knew who this band was, but it was still cool. Gordon grabbed a bottle of water, twisted off the cap, and sprayed the crowd with water. I got the side of my head wet. I looked down at the ground and saw that his bottle cap had fallen off the stage. I asked the security guard if he would be as kind as to get it for me. He agreed and reached down to get it. That bottle cap now rests on my necklace. I reached down my hand into my backpack and pulled out a sign that said, “WE LOVE YOU CFA!” I held it up and started screaming again. Now Gordon saw this, stood right in front of me, and blew me a kiss. Andrew, from the other side of the stage saw it too. He smiled and waved at me. Trevor, who was playing his guitar right in front of us, saw it and nodded his head in agreement. About 4 songs later, Gordon slipped off his shoes. I knew what was coming next. I started screaming, “Over here!” trying to get his attention, but it failed. He jumped into the crowd just about 2 feet away from me. I was hoping that he would jump over my head so I could help catch him. During the rest of the show, Gordon did his crazy dances was very full of energy. The show was, in 3 words: theatrical, energetic, and emotional. After Cool For August left the stage, they started setting up for Matchbox 20. When everything was ready, a small screen dropped from the roof. We watched a short “movie” about cars and ringing phones. A countdown began. “5...4...3...2...1...” The crowd chanted in unison. The huge black curtain fell and the guitar melodies of “Busted” rang through the entire stadium. We watched the whole concert wide-eyed, starting at them in awe. It was hard to believe that our idols were standing just a few feet in front of us. We see these people on TV and hear their music, but it’s a whole different experience seeing that they are real people. As I was watching the performance, I remembered the stuffed monkey that I had put in my backpack, planning to throw on stage. Since Kelsey was behind me, I asked her to retrieve it. She kindly did so and asked if she could throw it. I agreed. About 2 minutes later, when the song was over, the monkey went sailing over my head and landed between Brian Yale and Adam Gaynor. Adam motioned with his head that Brian should pick it up. Brian reached down and placed it on a speaker. During the last song, Rob Thomas, the lead singer, jumped off the stage and started shaking everybody’s hand. Nearing us, we all reached our hands out, which he slapped. Some stupid person behind grabbed his arm and tried to pull him into the crowd. I could see the startled look in Rob’s face, but he kept his cool and remained singing. Since he was standing right in front of us and singing, some of his spit landed on Kelsey’s face. She thought that was the coolest thing that ever happened to her. Instead of wiping it off, she let it dry on her face so it would remain there forever. Matchbox 20 provided the audience with a great show. Each song was filled with a great amount of energy and passion. They really did an amazing job! After the show was over, the remaining guitar pics from Adam Gaynor were thrown into the crowd. Kelsey reached her hand out and was lucky enough to grab one. The crowd eventually started leaving the venue and the lights started going out inside the stadium. The crew rushed in to clean up the stage. But the night was still young, and we still had a mission. We left the stage area just like everyone else. We had no idea where to go, until I remembered where Cool For August’s tour bus was parked. We quickly ran to see if it was still there, but sadly, it was gone. When we returned to the venue, Kelsey left my side to talk with folks of other places and left me standing all by myself. During this time, Shane walked up to me and the waves of conversation washed over us. He commented on my “Freak” shirt then asked what I was doing. I told him that I was waiting for Kelsey to return so we could find Matchbox 20. Then I proceeded to tell him that Cool For August did a very good job! He thanked me then politely informed me that he had to go find his friends who were waiting for him out front. I said goodbye then found Kelsey and told her what had happened. Knowing that we would be here for a while, we bought a beverage. As we were walking to the drink stand, my eyes came across two bookmark type things that read, “Matchbox 20 After Party @ The Rage! Free Admission With Your Ticket Stub.” The Rage was a nightclub and we were underage, so I made my mom go ask the door guard what was going on. When she returned to us, she explained, “Matchbox 20 isn’t going to be there. It’s just a party, nothing else. But that guy said to go around the stage and look for the building by their tour busses, and that’s where they’ll be.” So that’s exactly what we did. We got to the building and waited for about an hour. To pass off the time, we laughed at the drunk people acting like fools by the bar next door. The bar was outdoors, so we could see everything that was going on inside. Then we spotted one of Matchbox 20’s guitar tech people, but we weren’t allowed to go inside and talk to him. It was now 11:45 PM. I was getting worried. “What if they don’t come out?” or “What if they already left?” I thought. It then occurred to me that we could sneak backstage. I had always wanted to try it, and now was the right time. Two girls wearing backstage passes were leaving the venue. I said to Kelsey, “Hurry up and let’s ask them if we can have their passes!” We ran up to them and very kindly handed the passes over. They warned us, “Be careful, they might not let you in.” We thanked them then slowly walked up to the building. I asked a guard where we were supposed to go to meet Matchbox 20. He told us to wait then he slipped into the building. When he returned, he said, “I will escort you to them.” He led us inside the nice building. The room downstairs was really huge, but bare. The only thing inside was a fake tree. We started walking to the escalator, which would lead us up to the top floor, where the boys of Matchbox 20 were hanging out with the rest of their fans. All of the sudden, another guard came from behind us and told us to hang on for a few seconds while he talked to the other guard. While they were talking, I looked through the window outside the building and saw all the other fans watching us. Envy, jealousy and hate were all the emotions I was feeling from them. Now both guards walked back up to us. The new one asked me where I got the passes from. I buckled under the pressure and gave him a lame excuse that I wouldn’t even believe. “I’m afraid I can’t let you upstairs. Now please give me the passes and I will lead you out.” We gave him the passes which he ripped up and threw away. We looked at the guard who first let us in. “Sorry guys,” was all he could say. So we left the building and once again waited outside. Rob Thomas was the first one to come out. There was only about 15 people waiting, so the crowd was very small. We ran up and watched him talk to all the people who were waiting before us. I watched other girls give him a hug and thought that I could do the same thing. When it was my turn, I handed him a picture that I printed off the Internet of him sitting on a box. He asked me where I got it, so I told him, After out short conversation was over, I gathered up all my courage and asked him for a hug. When he said yes, I hesitated and bumped his nose. “Oow...geez, break my nose!” he jokingly said. I apologized about 10 times than thanked him. I turned around to find Kelsey talking with Adam Gaynor, the rhythm guitarist. She was spelling her name for him when I walked up. After they were done and Kelsey had given him a hug, I asked him if I could have one too. He replied, “Only if it’s not a wimpy one, you have to make sure that it’s a nice, big hug!” I eagerly agreed and hugged him. After I let go, he growled at me. That brought a big smile to my face! Adam was much taller than me, so even if I tried, I couldn’t hurt his nose like I did with Rob. I handed Adam my CD cover which he signed. He then asked me, “Can I come over to your house?” I excitedly started giving him directions to our hotel. “Are you sure? I like to eat a lot and watch TV all the time!” I shook my head yes, but he laughed and said he was only joking. We then got our pictures taken with him. Next, Kelsey and I made our way over to Paul Doucette, the drummer. Kelsey handed him her CD cover first. After he finished signing, he looked at my wrist. “Ooh, what do these say?” he questioned. I lifted my hand and showed him my bracelets that had each of their names written on beads. I found the one that said his name- Pauly. “Oh, that’d be me. That’s what they call me.” He was referring to the “Y” added to the end of “Paul.” I then handed him my CD cover. He was writing something on it when he asked me, “How do you spell bracelets? There’s an ‘e’ between the ‘c’ and ‘l’ right?” I said yes, then he replied with, “I should have gone to college.” He handed back my CD cover which said, “Brittany, I like your bracelets! Thanks, Paul Doucette.” I gave him a hug then we all posed for a picture. I thanked him and then found Kyle Cook, the lead guitarist. We walked up to Kyle who noticed that me and Kelsey were both wearing “Freak” shirts. He commented on how “Freaks were cool.” We both gave him a hug. He was nice enough to pose for 2 pictures with us. He signed my CD cover, “Brittany- Freaks Rock! Kyle Cook” Meanwhile, I wanted to talk to Paul again because he was so nice to us. I remembered that we still had another stuffed animal in my backpack. It was a stuffed dog. Paul has always wanted a dog, but since Adam is allergic to them, he can’t have one while on tour. Paul saw the dog and said that it was cute. “It’s for you,” I said. I handed him the dog, which he took. In his hand he had a very expensive Nike watch given to him by another fan. He handed me the watch in return and said, “You can have it, I’ll never wear it.” My mom was standing with us and was very suprised that he gave it to me. I thanked Paul many times again. He kept making the stuffed dog bark at me. The only band member left was Brian Yale, the bassist. At first, I didn’t see him, but I was really happy that he was there! He noticed Kelsey’s Freak shirt first, because when I walked up to him, he called me “The Other Freak.” I was really happy! Brian had to hurry because they had to leave soon and the security guy who kicked us out of the building kept telling him to get on the bus. Brian signed my CD cover, “Brittany- No Time! Gotta go! Brian Yale” We posed for one last picture then watched them climb onto the bus. Paul made the dog bark one last time at me, then got on the bus. We looked inside and saw Adam already sitting down on a couch. We waved to him and he acknowledged our presence by giving us a warm smile and waving back. As we walked away from the building and towards the street, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad. Our magic night was over. That was, by far, the best night of my life! I knew that I would remember my couple of hours spent with both bands for the rest of my life. If I had been killed by a taxi that night, I would have died the happiest person in the world.