I just returned home from an incredible overnight trip to see my favorite band. Nothing blew up, no one got hurt, there was no fighting and I only cried when they played my favorite song. This is in stark contrast to when I saw the same band in a venue slightly closer less than a year ago. The difference? Planning.
Last time I didn’t take the time to do the research I needed to make that a smooth trip. Last time was about refusing to stay home even though my escort fell through. I focused on taking my time and trying to relax rather than doing the research to have a plan and a fall back plan. It was stressful. I was late, my view was terrible, I felt awkward and out of place, I got lost trying to find my way back to the parking garage, (yes you read that correctly). The best thing I could say about it was that I got there and back without getting into an accident and there were moments where I enjoyed the show.
Mistakes from that trip were:
- Not making a real plan for parking. Venue parking is never big enough unless it’s a dedicated garage so if you plan to use it get there super early and not halfway through the second act. I know this. I really should have known better. There was in fact a huge garage within walking distance which through the grace of the goddess and no plan of mine I managed to find at the last minute.
- Taking a purse into the venue. Seriously who takes a purse to a rock show? It makes you a liability in a crowd and if you have any kind of care for the people around you just makes you feel in the way, which a person with anxiety in public really doesn’t need more of.
- Planning to be late. I fooled myself into thinking that if I took my time getting there and put no real time restrictions on myself I would be more relaxed. Wrong!
Basically by refusing to look at what could go wrong and simply telling myself if I didn’t freak out everything would be fine, I seriously missed the mark. I was therefore extremely lucky when the band, who are based in Finland, decided to tour North America again. This time I made sure I secured an escort and made it clear that we were prioritizing our view. Just to give credit where it’s due this is not my husband’s favorite band. He went with me to be supportive and visit a friend in the area.
I planned an outfit for functionality not style because really if you’re not on stage it does not matter what you look like. In short I had pockets for everything. The more self sufficient I can be the better equipped I feel to deal with unknowns. What do you really need to enjoy a show? Your tickets to get in and your id, also to get in.
We booked a hotel and my husband sourced restaurants that were celiac safe.
Most of all we planned to give ourselves tons of extra time. We left home at 10am, plenty of time to get to town, meet a friend for late lunch order more take out for post show food and shower before the show. We left the hotel with enough time to park, realize we were parked illegally and repark all without missing the opening act.
The key to all this was putting my husband’s and my skills to good use. Jeff is great at doing very thorough research. He didn’t just find a restaurant with “gluten free options”. A salad is not viable option if that is all their menu can accommodate you on. He made sure it had lots of options, enough that we could get lunch and take out to eat after the show because his research had shown that there would not be anything open after the show. I knew from experience that attempting to eating out at dinner time before a show is too stressful for me. You can’t count on getting in and out of a restaurant quick enough to get where you’re going, unless the restaurant is close to the venue which in this case we knew it was not. There’s just too many variables for me.
This is where all my worrying can be put to good use, time management. Because I assume something, or multiple things will go wrong if I have control of the time table I can account for those variables and leave a pretty decent cushion. If you plan to leave time you also don’t have to rush. I used to be fine with rushing but Jeff hates it and I have learned that it is actually less stressful to not have to and it’s also better if you don’t forget things like tickets and cameras and phones. So he likes to go at an even pace and as long as we start out with enough time to spare we both get what we need. Leaving an hour before the door opens when you are fifteen minutes from the venue might seem extreme but I think the proof is in the pudding on this one. The parking at the venue was already full and like I said we fucked up and had time to fix it well before the doors opened. Long story short, our car was where we left it when we got out of the show.
Recognizing that just going with the flow isn’t a viable option for me actually makes things go smoother. Rather than focusing on manufacturing calm I create a better chance that nothing will make me nervous.
Now is when we get to the payoff of little things going right that we couldn’t plan for. The venue, the Webster Theater was great. About 90% of it is open floor space, so even when the crowd was at it’s height we had room to move. Nightwish has some of the nicest fans in the world. We staked out a spot early and people around us were polite and genuine which when you stop to think about it is what you would expect. That is if you’re not stuck picturing the worst all the time. Regardless of what else separates you from the people around you at a show you at least know you have one thing in common and everyone should be pumped for the same reason.
The staff were on top of their game. There was about 30 seconds of moshing during one of the opening acts before it was resolved without anyone having to be thrown out. There is no moshing during the epic aural journey of Nightwish. If you do you’re doing it wrong.
Finally and most importantly they played a different set list than last time which meant that Marco’s solo piece was my absolute favorite song, While Your Lips Are Still Red. It was a lot nicer to hear it with my hubby with me rather than all on my own. That was just the planets aligning right there. I was able to lose myself completely in the experience the whole show and that is not just rare. It literally never happens to me in public. The whole trip was a complete success, something else I can never really claim. There’s always some qualifier; perfect but for this moment of panic or this snit fit or glutening myself. This was actually perfect and if it can happen once, it can happen again. Since my husband left a fan, the word legends was thrown around, maybe we’ll get a chance to do it all again.