Irving Plaza - New York, USA
By MIKE STRAMAGLIO
All photos by JENNA O'BRIEN
My sister Jenna, friend Justin, mother and myself arrived at Irving Plaza at around 4:30 p.m., a half hour earlier than the designated time, to meet a certain person on the side door of Irving Plaza. As we waited we noticed the guys loading all of Handsome's equipment. One guy said to another, "Hey check it out, Handsome formerly known as Quicksand." He then placed a guitar case (Tom Capone's, former guitarist of Quicksand) which had Handsome stenciled in on it, and below it Quicksand underneath a coat of black spray paint. I then heard one crew person say to the same guy, "Hey Tom, get this!" After hearing the guy's name was Tom I asked him if he was Tom Capone and was told that we had just missed him as he left in a van.
After dinner, around 6:15 p.m., a small line had already formed to see silverchair, despite the fact that the doors didn't open for another hour and 45 minutes and the show was general admission (translation -- FREE FOR ALL in front of the stage). Rather than waiting in line, Justin and I decided to wait by the side door in hopes of meeting SOMEONE who could get us backstage. Some teenyboppers had followed us to the side of the door after they heard us asking for a person on the guest list, and asking the location of the side door. One of them decided to try to get in by pressing the intercom on the side door and identifying herself as "Mrs. Gillies" to which the guy on the other side of the intercom said "Go to the front door." Gee, maybe at least an Australian accent would have convinced the guy she was Mrs. Gillies.
We then noticed a couple of FML people (actually, after having mentioned Pete Walton's name they found out we were on the FML) and met up with them. Around 7:15 p.m. a group of about 8 guys walked out of the door clad in black clothes from nearly head to toe. I watched them carefully and recognized a face.
"You," I said, "You're Pete!" Peter Mengede of Handsome responded, "No, I'm Peter, but this fellow over here is Pete Hines." Thankfully I had my Handsome CD on hand and managed to get their autographs!
At around 7:30 all of us were chatting, praying someone we knew would come out the door when all the sudden the door opened and a guy with a wool hat and long coat came out with a girl about his height and some Epic employee who'd been at the Virgin show on Saturday. I then heard a voice say, "Hi Daniel!" to which a very familiar, though seemingly agitated voice responded "Hi." I hadn't even recognized Daniel before he was five feet ahead of me, leaving! He went on the tour bus, with a girl at his side, and we never saw him return so, assumingly, he came back after the crowd filed in for the 8 p.m. show since silverchair wouldn't take the stage until after 10.
Now around 8 p.m. we all got into Irving Plaza, one of the nicest looking venues I've ever been in, and found a spot in the crowd. The place had chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, gold trim on everything, couches lying everywhere, a bar on each level, and a second floor balcony. Justin and I got pretty far back from the stage but as soon as the music began we moved/moshed within feet of the barricade separating us from silverchair. A screen had dropped from the ceiling before the stage and was playing tons of great videos. A.D.I.D.A.S., Blind and Shoots and Ladders by Korn, Home Style by 311, All Washed Up by The Urge, Aneurysm by Nirvana, a Social Distortion video, People of the Sun by Rage, Scrape by Unsane, etc. After the videos were through some advertisements came up for upcoming bands at Irving and THEN Handsome finally came on stage.
Handsome (photo at right) played an awesome 10-song set. Justin and I got as close as possible but could hardly move once we were within the first three rows of people. In mid-song I managed to lift up my arm and got Peter Mengede's attention. "GO PETER!" I yelled to him, to which he responded with a look and grin recognizing me from earlier.
After Handsome finished, the screen dropped down again and played some old black-and-white movie which didn't have sound. Justin and I found Pete W. on the second level balcony. Waving frantically, we got his attention. A little after 10 the screen went up and lights went on stage. Justin and I noticed Daniel's female friend pop her head on stage a couple times as the roadies and techs set up silverchair's equipment. Booker, a DJ from New York's 92.3 K-Rock, got on stage and informed the crowd that silverchair would be on shortly.
He left and within minutes circus music began playing. With the lights off, silverchair walked on stage against a backdrop advertising circus freaks. Daniel ripped through the intro to Slave as tons of teenyboppers screamed, "Daniel, I want to fuck you!" After playing an awesome version of Slave, silverchair jumped right into Leave Me Out without missing a beat. Again, they played the song perfectly and went right into Findaway, still without comment from Daniel.
As they were playing, the mosh pit got worse and worse. I didn't mind getting hit from the usual up-and-down jumping, but there were hundreds of bodies being passed over my head, each time getting struck by a boot or other kicking appendage. In addition, the crowd was so tightly packed that all the bodies combined withheld all the body heat of the huge mass making it extremely difficult to breathe.
In the middle of Findaway I had to leave when I began feeling dizzy and decided to find Pete on the second level after getting three Sprites.
When they finished Findaway something happened to Ben. I was told he was barfing, which would be likely since I had learned earlier that he had food poisoning and did not feel well the past two days. So Daniel took it upon himself to act as a comedian and began telling some joke that went like, "I saw this guy on the street and you he said, 'Hey would you like some coffee?' and I said 'no I don't want some coffee, I want some CAWFEE!'" in an attempt to imitate an exaggerated New York accent. After Ben seemed to feel a little better they started playing again, beginning with Abuse Me (photo at left) to which Daniel slightly changed some of the vocal parts in which he may have either sang in a different key or sang up octaves rather than down.
After Abuse Me they played an awesome version of Freak, again with Daniel singing up octaves on certain parts. Next Ben and Chris left Daniel alone to play Cemetery which was unreal, except for the fact that there was too much bass on the microphone and it didn't sound very good (not Daniel, but the actual output of the microphone).
While Ben and Chris returned, I descended back down the stairs to the pit to find Justin. While looking for him silverchair began playing Suicidal Dream, which rocked! I eventually got back to my original spot by Justin. I can't recall which song they played next but it was either Tomorrow or Pop Song For Us Rejects. Both songs rocked. Everyone knew all the words to Tomorrow and it sounded as if a choir were singing with Daniel.
Daniel wished the crowd a happy Valentine's Day a few days early. He also decided to sing an impromptu cover of a bit of Michael Jackson's Billy Jean.
"What's the matter?" he asked. "Not grungy enough for you? Who wants to get up on stage and sing up here? If you get up here I'll let you sing and do whatever you want! If you get up here you can stand on our PA and jump off it and... no, wait...don't do that. People in New York sue and we wouldn't want to have to pay for that. Who wants to get up here? If you get up here you can sing some rock and roll songs... how about Aerosmith? (singing) 'Dude looks like a lady!'"
He also told the crowd that the band was having equipment problems.
"Our stuff is broken...don't you guys care you broke our stuff?"
After Pure Massacre silverchair left the stage for a couple of minutes and came back on to play Madman. Following that, Chris began to play the bass line which silverchair has used to end every show. Daniel and Ben chimed in with Daniel's palm mutes and they kicked into one of the best performance's of Israel's Son I have heard. It ended with Daniel making as much noise as you'd expect to hear at a Sonic Youth concert, much less a silverchair one. During the solo, Daniel walked over to an amp and removed a paper from it that had been on it, and stuck it to his forehead. He then lifted it up to glance at the crowd and let it drop on his face.
silverchair's 16-song, 80-minute set was awesome and it was honestly the best show I've ever seen (including bands such as KoRn and Smashing Pumpkins). The worst part of the show was the fans. It was the roughest pit I have ever been in, and had I not left when I did in mid-set I probably would have fainted because of all the heat and lack of air.
In addition, the hundreds of kicks I received from insane crowd surfers didn't help very much either. The KoRn mosh pit in Asbury Park, N.J. last fall (a show which the members of silverchair also attended) wasn't half as bad as the silverchair one! Despite the crowd, though, the show still rocked and I did after all get to meet Handsome and Daniel.
By SONIA ANN MOSS
I was hesistant about going to the concert at Irving Plaza. Having been at the Virgin Megastore appearance, I was crushed and intimidated by the physicality of the crowd. I've been to more than 100 concerts and have been in crowds before but it been a lot of years since I've experienced that kind of mini-riot.
I went to the gig for two reasons -- one, because I got up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday to buy the ticket and two, if I had heard about a great show that I could have been at afterwards I would have felt like a schmuck. So I got on line and waited for the doors to open. I talked to the people around me for company as I was there by myself. Various plans were discussed including a girl wanting to throw her bra at Daniel and a stage diver mapping his route to the stage.
I went to the balcony thinking it was the safest place to stand and I was right. I also had a great view of the crowd and the stage. Handsome came on and started their set. I was completely unfamiliar with their music so I just listened and watched the crowd. Moshing and crowd surfing looks dangerous, silly and plain crazy from high above the floor. I didn't get the reasoning behind it -- how can you enjoy a show if you are risking a broken neck?
The lads finally came out at 10:15 or so with Daniel wearing a plain white shirt and white jeans, Chris in a gray short-sleeve shirt and dark shorts and Ben dressed liked the rock god drummer he wants to be so badly -- shirtless with shorts.
I thought there was a problem right away. Two road crew members stayed on the stage (photo at left) for the opening number, Slave. Ben had an equipment problem during the first three numbers (Slave, Leave Me Out and Findaway). It was distracting and Daniel was forced to do some stage patter for quite some time until it was resolved. He told a joke about "New Yawkers and coffee." With everything in good repair, Abuse Me was next. This was the first time the crowd stopped and sang and really heard the band. With Freak they were off bouncing and surfing again.
The sound as a whole was good at some parts and muddy at others. The mix on the vocals was somewhat flimsy, serving well during Cemetery and poorly for The Door. The music mix was strong throughout with Chris' bass rattling the fillings in my teeth. I like a good deep sound and these guys have got it. Now if only their equipment would work consistently. The flow was interrupted again by technical matters. This time the victim was Daniel. He commented on how everything "seemed to be breaking" and did we mind. The crowd didn't seem to care.
The invitations to come on the stage included Daniel wanting to find someone to sing Dude Looks Like a Lady by Aerosmith and for someone to "jump off the PA" but on second thought Daniel said,"No, don't jump off the PA because you might get hurt and New Yorkers tend to sue, don't they?"
Pure Massacre followed and it was the best music of the night. I finally understood moshing with the drive of this song. I was so revved up I wanted to hit someone! It was brilliant.
In conclusion, some stray observations:
- Why is that I work for a living and can't afford the new CD when every 15-year-old in the place has it already?
- All three guys move the same when counting into a song.
- The stage diver did his thing during Tomorrow but was thrown out for his efforts.
- No bra made it to the stage.
- Daniel does a great Michael Jackson impression.
- Daniel wishing the crowd a "Happy Valentine's Day" made many a young girl's night.
- Seeing silverchair made my night.
I just got back from Irving Plaza where silverchair played tonight. It was the best concert I ever went to in my life! Handsome was really cool and LOUD. The pit was CRAZY and it seemed like the majority of the people were real fans, not just teenyboppers.
After the circus theme played, they came out and played Leave Me Out. Then Daniel told the crowd about some guy he met on the street and how Ben got food poisoning and might spew at any minute. They played some old stuff like Suicidal Dream and Findaway and some Freak Show material like Lie To Me and Freak.
Daniel also did a really good solo of Cemetery. Daniel asked if anyone wanted to sing Dude Looks Like a Lady by Aerosmith. I screamed and jumped up but he didn't pick me. He was just joking, I guess. He did a great rendition of Billy Jean by Michael Jackson. He said Michael was "grunge enough."
I'm really glad I FINALLY got to see my fave band. They rock more than any band ever!
CHAIRPAGE ROAD NOTES FROM THE NEW YORK SHOW: silverchair's dressing room backstage at Irving Plaza had a live Internet connection, so Chris Joannou became the first member of the band to checkout silverchair's official web site, www.chairpage.com. Ben Gillies logged on to silverchat, becoming the first member of the band to do so.
Ben Gillies tries to charm Jenna O'Brien of Boston's WFNX
before the Irving Plaza show in New York, Feb. 11, 1997