Monday, August 15, 2011

Spanking the Monkey

100 Monkeys to be exact ;)

Jackson Rathbone, Ben Johnson, Jerad Anderson, Ben Graupner, Uncle Larry

As most of you know, Jackson Rathbone and his band 100 Monkeys are on tour promoting their new album "Liquid Zoo." One of the tour stops was at the House of Blues in Chicago. How did I first find out they'd be in Chicago? The awesome Jamie (@Jaymes805/Borderline Phenomenal) emailed me. Any of you lucky enough to email and/or tweet with Jamie know that she's hilarious and a big sweetheart.

Needless to say, I didn't have to think twice about going. Having heard so much about 100 Monkeys from my besties Sue (@TwiloveSue/TwiBite) and Jen (@TwiredJen/Twired) and Jen's sister (@Elusive_S/Twired), I knew I had to go. What I didn't know is how many of us would end up going to the show and getting to hang out together. It ended up being an incredible four days.

Of course I had to get my Soul Sister Mary (@Mama_Cougar) to go with me. Then we got in touch with our Illinois girlz Kassie (@MrsKassieCullen) and Marie (@MarieCullen1) - both with Twilight Junkies Anonymous - about getting tickets and meeting up. Next, HB Marie (@HisbellaMarie) and Mary's daughter (Lil Cougar) got tickets. Then, to my complete surprise, Fran (@belladuluk) and Jayla (@ChefJayla) decided to fly in from the East coast to go to the concert. Having met Fran in NYC for the Water for Elephants premiere (here), I couldn't wait to spend time with her again. Having never met Jayla before, I was ecstatic that we were finally going to make it happen. Add to that a Twitarded mini-reunion - Jude (@Double_Dippin), Micki (@Micki_Martini), Mandy (@Purple_whipped), Nicole (@sloppy_scnds), and Kristin (@justkristin1) - and the trip reached epic proportions.

The band announced the sale of VIP tickets, which included early entrance into the venue for a soundcheck party and a t-shirt, and a few of us bought them. Money well spent. If you are thinking about going to their concert and VIP tickets are available, buy one! Not only did we get to have a very intimate acoustic set with the guys, we got to have our picture taken with the band and were given an autographed picture. More on that later.

In the meantime, I got another email from Jamie (did I mention I love her?) telling me about a flyer contest hosted by the 100 Monkeys Official Street Team. She thought I should enter, so I did...but only after procrastinating until the last possible minute and submitting my entry at the deadline. Literally. The contest was to create a flyer for the venue(s) you would be seeing the band at in order to promote the concert. How did I find out I won for the Chicago stop on the tour? Yep. Jamie tweeted me all excited that I'd won and provided me with the link showing all of the winners.

So it was that I won a meet and greet with the band. This would be a first for me...meeting someone whose career I followed and inappropriately lusted after respected. I alternated between being thrilled and feeling my age. But as many of you reminded me, I'm 17 forever and growing up is overrated, so excitement won out. I wasn't notified that I could take a guest and a small part of me was relieved that I wouldn't have to choose who to take with me to meet the boys. But then I got a last-minute email guessed it...Jamie saying I really needed to check with the Street Team because she was 99.9% positive I could take a guest. So I emailed them and sure enough, I could.

So began the selection process. I figured it would be easier to pick someone who had bought a VIP ticket because they told me the meet and greet would take place right after the VIP soundcheck party. That narrowed it down. Then I thought of the person who was standing next to me in NYC when I got to see Rob. I knew it would be fitting to have her standing next to me when I got to see Jackson too. I also needed her support for something I wanted to do during the meet and greet. It was late the night before the concert when I emailed Fran to tell her I wanted her to go with me. I was smiling as I typed the email, knowing she'd wake up to the news. When she found out, I think she went through all of the same emotions I had, with excitement eventually winning out.

Finally the day of the concert arrived. I drove three hours to our hotel and met up with Mary, Mary's daughter (Lil Cougar), Fran, Kassie, Marie, HB Marie, and Jude.

Fran, Marie, Kassie, Mary, Me, HB Marie
(Lil Cougar was taking the picture and Jude hadn't arrived yet.)

Then we headed to the venue. Those of us with VIP tickets were let in early. I had never been to a House of Blues before, so that alone was cool. We could have taken a place right up by the stage, but they were putting up small, round tables with bar stools half way back on the floor and along the perimeter, so Fran and I grabbed one in the middle of the front row. It was nice because it gave us a place to set our purses, cameras, drinks, etc., throughout the course of the night as others joined us.

Me and Fran inside the House of Blues

Then I went in search of someone who could tell me where to be for the meet and greet. I found out where the line would be forming, and I was able to watch it from our table. Kassie and Lil Cougar were the only other ones in our group who had VIP tickets, and they got a spot in the very front to the right of the stage.

There was no announcement that the band was taking the stage. They simply came out and started walking toward the front of the stage where they sat on speakers and stools close to the fans. I don't know what it is about me, but just like when I first saw Rob, the sounds around me faded away. I could hear Jackson's cowboy boots as he walked across the wooden flooring. When my eyes found him, I couldn't stop smiling. When he sat down in front of me, only one thought came to mind...Rathbulge. Do you know who came up with that nickname? Jamie. She had told me to be sure and get a picture of the Rathbulge if I could, so after everything she'd done for me, how could I not? I had to tweet it to her, right? Right.

The VIP soundcheck party was incredible. Jackson talked a little bit (he told us Uncle Larry was sick but was resting so he could try and do the show, especially since he's from Chicago), and then they did an acoustic set, the highlight being the song .38 Special.

Unfortunately, I screwed up big time when I forgot to actually put the battery in my new camera when I charged it, so the only pictures I got were with my cell phone. I was practically in tears, but Fran took care of me and let me use her camera a little bit and also shared all of her pictures with me. Now I'm sharing them with you. Thank you again, Fran!

(partial recording from my BlackBerry)


My crappy BlackBerry pictures

Fran's awesome digital camera pictures

Then their tour manager announced that if we got into a single line, the band had agreed to take pictures with us. The boys are beyond generous and appreciative of their fans. Fran was wicked smart and asked Jackson for a hug and he gave her one...something she'll never forget.

Autographed picture they gave VIP ticketholders

Once the VIP soundcheck party was over, they started letting in what we thought were the general admission floor ticketholders. But before I knew it, Mary (who had a balcony ticket) was standing in front of me. It turned out that everyone was let onto the floor. I am sure it had to do with the total amount of tickets sold and while I wish they had sold more so that they had to open up the balcony, it was a bonus to be able to share the concert experience with everyone in our group, regardless of the level of ticket they had purchased. Seeing Mary at one point with her jaw practically touching the floor while watching Jackson was something I wouldn't have missed for the world. I definitely converted my Soul Sister into a Jackson fan that night.

Micki, Mandy, Nicole
Jude, Mary, Mary's friend, Me, Kristin

Fran, HB Marie, Kassie, Me, Marie

Lil Cougar, HB Marie, Kassie, Me, Marie

It was after Jackson did this with his beer bottle
that I turned to Mary and found her in a daze.
I didn't realize I'd recorded it until later. Yay me!
(Just try and watch it only once. *bites knuckle*)

Jayla, one of my original blog followers and my partner in crime in all things ff, found me too. Meeting her was everything I had hoped it would be. She is beautiful, smart, funny, and just so real. Did I mention that I love her?

Jayla has seen 100 Monkeys more than once, but I think one particular concert will go down in history. You can read her story on Tongue Twied here.

I went to check on the meet and greet line and was told it would be soon, so I went back and got Fran. Eventually, the tour manager escorted us to another area at the foot of stairs leading up to the next level. I told Fran that I wanted to go last, so as more people came, we let them go ahead of us. Fran had hoped to purchase a "Liquid Zoo" CD for the band members to sign, so I asked the tour manager as she went by if there were any for sale. She happily told us yes and where the merchandise table was located. She said we had time to go over and make a purchase before we would be taken upstairs, so we went and checked it out. Fran was able to get the CD, and I bought a concert program for them to autograph.

The time came, and they took us to the top of the stairs where there was a narrow hallway with a wooden railing leading to a closed door. There was a House of Blues security guy and an assistant tour manager at the front of the line controlling who would go into the room and when. To say I was freaking out was an understatement. Fran was so calm and kept reminding me to breathe. Of course, I found out later that she was only holding it together for me. Have I mentioned that I love her?

There were only about 15 of us in line. Finally, it was our turn. I wish I could say that I remember every single second of what happened next, but when adrenaline is pumping through your veins and you come face to face with Jackson (and the boys) in a dimly lit room, time stands still and speeds up all at the same time. Fran went through the line first, and I talked a little bit with their tour manager. I thanked her for the opportunity and told her I enjoyed seeing her on the video when the American Idol finalists Scotty and Lauren went backstage to meet the band recently. We talked about that until it was my turn. Jackson was first in line, then Ben G., Jerad, and Ben J. (Uncle Larry had to pass on the meet and greet in order to get more rest.)

I know I said hello and thanks for meeting with us. I also had an ice breaker thanks to my bestie kiTT (@tonguetwied/Tongue Twied). As many of you know, she coined the nickname "Mohawtie" for Jerad. She joked with me one day to be sure and tell Mohawtie hello for her when I met him. So an idea came to me the morning of the concert. I made a sign that said, "Wish you were here, kiTT! Love, Mohawtie." I told Jerad that a good friend of mine had come up with a nickname for him and now we all call him that. I asked him if he would mind holding a sign I'd made when we took our picture and he said sure. I handed him the sign, and the boys crowded around to read it.

At this point, Jackson's left arm was literally up against my right arm. It was all I could do to concentrate and not jump him. I had to keep reminding myself that I was only 17 forever in my head and old enough to be his mother. Jackson read the nickname out loud and sounded it out as "moHATtie." I told him it was pronounced "moHOTtie." They all got a big kick out of that and laughed. Jerad was definitely a good sport about the whole thing. After the picture, I told him he could keep the sign and showed him where I'd typed kiTT's twitter name in the lower rh corner, mentioning that it would be awesome if he'd tweet her. Nothing yet, but you never know. (And for the record, kiTT got it SO right. Jerad, with his mohawk and dimples for days, definitely puts the HAWT in Mohawtie.)

Thanks to Jude, here is the video of Jackson referring to Jerad as Mohawtie. kiTT didn't believe us when we told her he'd actually said it on stage. Jayla and I were standing next to each other and went nutz, high-fiving each other. So cool. Thanks, Jude!

I told the guys that I loved the new album and Jackson wanted to know which songs were my favorite. I told him Made of Gold, The Sound, and Invisible Monsters. He said, "Uncle Larry sings Invisible Monsters!" I didn't know that, so it was cool. Uncle Larry, a Chicago native, closed the show with that song.

There's more to the meet and greet story regarding a conversation I had with Jackson about something else, but l have to save it for another place and time ;) Those of you who have heard the story already...shhhhhh! In the meantime, check out kiTT's reaction to me delivering her message to Jerad here. It really made my day to be able to do this for her. Have I mentioned that I love her? (Stop rolling your eyes, kiTT!)

The concert was amazing. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Just as Sue, Jen, and others have been telling me for months and months, you have to see the band live to really appreciate how good they are. They have such an energy on stage...a love for what they are doing. They take turns singing lead vocals, switch instruments, do an improv song, and engage the audience, especially Jackson. He never stops moving, and it's sexy as hell. Mandy, Nicole, and Micki's husbands were also at the concert, and even they were impressed when it was all said in done.

More awesome pictures from Fran

Part of the reason it's taken me so long to post about this is that every time I went searching for videos from the concert, I would get lost watching them and many other videos. Before I knew it, I'd spent hours watching. I don't see it as time wasted. It just upped my Monkey Junkie status. I cannot wait until they get anywhere close again.

Our very own Kassie posted in a VERY timely fashion and got some good pictures and videos. You can find them all here.

Here are the best quality videos I could find online for our concert. I really, really want a recording of The Sound from that night, so if you know of anyone who has one, please let me know. Thanks!


(Jackson playing the drums kills me. I love the angle they got from upstairs.)

(improv song)

(This is a crowd favorite.)

(That boy can dance. I couldn't get enough.)

Some of us stayed in Chicago for a few more days to visit, tour the city, etc. During the day on Friday, we walked around Millenium Park and Navy Pier.

Fran and Jayla

The "Bean"

Me and Fran

Fran and Me

Fran and Me

Kristin and Jude

Friday night a bunch of us got together at HB Marie's house for appetizers and drinks *coughtoypartycough*. I was the DD for our group, which was probably a good thing. We had a blast. Thanks again HB Marie for having us over. Have I mentioned that I love her too? (Hey, I have a big heart and lots of love to give.)

Marie, Jude, Kassie, Marie's sister Barb, Me, HB Marie, Fran

Saturday morning we went and picked up Kassie, and she took us to the Mount Olivet Cemetery where Al Capone is buried. The real reason we went? The cemetery plays a significant role in the ff story Emancipation Proclamation. Fran and Kassie are huge fans of the story. I would be too if I'd ever finish it. *hangs head in shame* I love what I've read so far though.

Jude, Fran, Me, Kassie

Kassie and Fran

Saturday afternoon Kassie and I went to watch the Chicago White Sox play the Minnesota Twins while the other girls went on a Chicago mafia tour, which they really enjoyed. Kassie's a die-hard Sox fan and I'm a die-hard baseball fan. My allegiance is to the St. Louis Cardinals, however, I love Carlos Quentin, and Joe Mauer came through our local minor-league affiliate, so it was a win-win for me. We scored free tickets five rows up from the Twins' dugout and couldn't believe it. A family who was in line behind us needing to make a ticket exchange ended up having free tickets they couldn't use and wanted to pay it forward. I had the best time and...wait for it...did I mention I love Kassie? The mom in me wanted to keep her and bring her home with me. Just sayin'.


View from our kick-ass seats

Joe Mauer (Twins) and Carlos Quentin (White Sox)

Saturday night, Micki stayed with Jude, Fran, and I. Micki, Jude, and I ended up walking around for a little bit, stopping in at an interesting karaoke bar for a drink and then grabbing a sandwich. Back at the hotel, we had a ton of laughs, and then I shed a ton of tears reading the final chapter of a ff story with Fran. Remember the "more to the story...another place and time" comment above? It will make more sense then.

As I told the girlz from Twitarded, I honestly don't think that any of my adventures would have happened without finding them in the early days. I took my first solo vacation ever...making me get over my guilt at being selfish and traveling without my family...when I went to Forks with them last September. I've met the most amazing people in this fandom as a direct result, many of whom I know will be life-long friends. Since Forks, I've been to NYC for the WFE premiere, Chicago for the 100 Monkeys concert, and most recently San Diego for Comic-Con...where Sue and I may or may not have found the Holy Grail (well, at least the Holy Trinity)...another long-ass post to follow, but don't hold me to a time frame ;) So if you're reading this girlz, thank you again and a big, fat MWAH for bringing us all together!

100 Monkeys Official Band Website

100 Monkeys Official Street Team

Jackson Rathbone
Twitter: @JacksonRathbone

JRathboneFB Fan Page

Jackson Rathbone Online

Jerad Anderson
Twitter: @Jerad_Anderson

Jackson and His Ladies
Great photos from the concert here.

Trixie and Tess
Jenny Kate saw 100 Monkeys earlier this month.
Check out her post and pictures here.

Two Guys and a Fangirl
DJ saw 100 Monkeys this past weekend. and
I'm pretty sure she thinks their f*cking awesome ;)
Check out her post and pictures here.

If you're not subscribed to Lostimortal2's YouTube channel, then what are you waiting for?! She makes the most amazing Jackson tribute videos (she's also my source for Jazzward manips on tumblr). This one posted one day before my birthday, so I like to pretend she made it for me.

And Fran emailed this one to a group of us the other day. Somehow I'd missed my subscription alert and hadn't seen it yet. Being the #SAP that I am, it makes me cry. These boys are definitely having the time of their lives...and I know that all of us at the concert that night did too.

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