So here's the story of Bob. A few of weeks ago, my wife was up north at a place called Mirror Lake Inn with a couple of friends, enjoying a "Girl's Weekend" special they had going on. I'm not sure what that entails, but I know they eat and drink a lot and do things like go to the spa and have someone rub their backs with hot oiled stones, put cucumber paste on their faces and stick slices of ripe zucchini up their asses or something. I don't know what goes on there and I don't want to know. Anyway, I was looking for a weekend activity of my own, and it just so happened that my friend Pete's band The Badlees was opening up for Bob Seger at the Mohegan Sun arena that very same weekend, a mere 3.5 hours from here. I immediately called him, and said I was thinking of making the drive down. He told me they only had a 35 minute opening slot, but since it was a five hour drive from home for most of them, the guys in the band were going to get rooms at the hotel and hang out rather than running off stage and jumping in their cars while the last note was still ringing in the air as they usually do. So we called it a plan and it was good.
Or it was good until about 10 minutes later when he called me back and said that their manager gave back the rooms because he didn't think anyone was going to use them, and the rest of the band was just driving home immediately after the show. I think he probably would have driven right home too, but since I had committed to driving down for the show, it was either get a room somewhere or scrap the idea, because it probably didn't make good sense for me to drive seven hours to see 30 minutes of music. It was a golden opportunity to hang and we didn't want to waste it, so we decided that we'd find a place to stay that wouldn't break the bank, then watch Bob's show, maybe hit a casino or something, have some drinks, then crash. The free rooms they gave back went for about $350 a night, and they were right in the hotel attached to the casino and arena. The room I found was...not.
We figured our budget was about a hundred bucks if we split it and shared a room. So off to Hotel.com I went. I could find nothing that wasn't at least a 20 minute drive away from the casino. There's a lot of gamblers in Connecticut, I guess. I finally made a reservation at a Red Roof Inn that didn't get bad reviews for a 2 star hotel, and then after I paid for it, I looked them up on the bedbug registry (yes, it's a thing) and they had 3 entries for bedbugs, and two for scabies. I had to look up what that was. Believe me, I've stayed in some shitty hotels over the years seeing his band, but even though in the past I've found dirty underwear behind the bathroom door and used condoms under the bed, I never got fucking scabies.*
So I immediately jumped back on hotel.com, canceled my reservation with a shudder, and got my money back. Then I went to expedia.com to try my luck, and ended up with a hotel that got mostly horrible reviews because it was under construction while it was being renovated and turned from some no-name hotel into a Raddisson. I took a shot, hoping that the construction was done and that "renovation" meant the rooms were new.
The next morning I fed the hotel address into the GPS and started driving. My GPS is really old and really slow, (like me) so it gets confused if there's too much going on (like me). I got somewhere near Hartford and it said (in its pleasant, female British voice): "In 200 yards, take the exit right." and then 201 yards later, as I watched the exit go by, it proceeded to make Maxx Headroom-style stuttering announcements as it recalculated four times in the space of 30 seconds. When I finally got headed in the right direction again, I had added about 20 minutes to my ETA, which is the opposite of what a GPS is supposed to do for you. I think it's time to retire that $59 piece of crap. You'd think I would have shit-canned it after it was trying to get me to take a left through the guardrail on the Taconic Parkway at three in the morning, but no.
The hotel was actually pretty nice, but in the meantime it had inexplicably changed from a Raddisson to a Holiday Inn. I'm not sure what that was about, but all the construction was done. The only thing even remotely construction related that I saw was someone pulling network wire in the bar area. I checked in, did the standard bedbug check (yes, there is one, Google it), and then headed downstairs to get some lunch and wait for Pete to show up.
The bartender was a cute girl who moved with the speed of a garden slug, but I eventually got what I ordered. I think the issue was either that she was hoping I'd order more than one drink before I got my food, or she was just side-tracked by the giant TV showing the ESPN Strongest Man competition. All these ripped dudes in perfect shape were lifting weights against a clock and against each other, and while she was watching it and drooling, I was watching it and feeling really guilty about ordering hot wings and a Guinness. I thought about asking if I could change my order to a salad and a bucket of whey protein, or at least change the station, but I didn't.
An hour later, Pete silently rolled up in his brand new Prius, (Rock and Roll! \m/) I jumped in, and we headed north to the casino.
When The Badlees first got signed to Polygram in the late 90's, they did an extensive tour with Bob Seger. So I figured they were old pals. Even back then, we joked about Bob Seger and the Silver Anniversary Band, and here it is some 17 years later and old Bob is still rockin'. You have to hand it to the guy.
We arrived at the casino and drove around back, and the security guy in the guard house thought he was on a military installation because he had his list of IDs and pictures and he spent a few minutes comparing Pete's license to his list before he'd let us in. Eventually, after a radio call to someone, he was satisfied that we weren't terrorists and he let us continue on. We drove around underneath the casino for a bit, until we found the 18-wheelers that presumably carried all Bob's equipment. Let me tell you, Bob has a LOT of equipment. It's all union labor once you're past the gate, so they didn't want you unloading anything yourself. Pete backed his little Prius up to this massive loading dock door, and like six guys unloaded his monitor unit and mic stand. We got our laminates, then we parked his car and went to find the dressing room. The place is basically a maze and there are dressing rooms all over the place, so they put orange tape on the floor and then write on it with a sharpie telling you what's where. So we wandered around looking for the Badlees dressing room. We passed a wall of video recording equipment and I laughed when I saw the sign taped to the one of the video monitors. It said:
Please BE QUIET.
Bob is sleeping.
And yes, I laughed quietly. You wouldn't like Bob when he's angry. Plus his video guy looked like he just broke out of prison.
We kept walking and passed tape that said Catering, Video, Horn Section, "Lovely Ladies," (at least the whole thing was in quotes, and not just the word "Lovely") and finally, way down at the end, The Badlees.
I've been in the "band room" at lots of hole-in-the-wall clubs, but I've rarely been backstage at an arena. It was a little nicer than I expected, but also weird. The dressing area consisted of two rooms -- in the first room was a bunch of cubby holes* and a closet area with some permanent hangers, a couch and a fridge, then there was a second room with a shower, a toilet and a urinal. The "door" between the two consisted of a curtain like the one you'd normally see on a voting booth. I'm really glad I didn't have to drop one before the show because it would have been like going to a house party and taking a crap with the door open.
We dropped off our stuff and then it was time for setup and sound check. Sound checks are hard to do when Bob is Sleeping, but they managed. I had an "All Access" laminate, so I got to wander around just about anywhere, and basically pretend I was a roadie. I got the "'sup" head nod down pat, and after a while the security guys didn't even look twice at me.
After the sound check, we headed over to catering and got some food. While we were there, Bob came in and sat down at a table and I thought maybe I'd get to to meet him, but he seemed pretty focused and unapproachable. Pete nudged me and said, "There's Bob." and that was about the extent of the meet n' greet, for me at least.
The Badlees set was great, and it was good to see them in front of that many people on an arena stage. They have a new record due out soon, and from what I've heard, it should be pretty good. If you're not familiar with them or their sound, here's some samples from the Seger shows.
Bob's show was better than I expected it to be. He had a ton of people on stage from backup singers to a horn section to his sax player Alto Reed. Yes, I know. I'm pretty sure that's not the name on his birth certificate. That early afternoon nap he takes before the early-bird special must be in a slurry made from moisturizer and cocaine because holy shit, for a 68 year-old guy, he never stopped running (against the wind). Sorry, I couldn't resist. But seriously, he's still the same. The guy is like a rock. You can tell he's still got the fire inside. Dear God, this could go on forever. Seriously, when you think about the sheer number of hits this guy has had over the length of his career, it's pretty impressive. I was never what I'd consider a fan, but I knew the words to every freaking song he sang. I don't even know how that's possible. He totally owns all that old time rock and roll. (I just stabbed myself in the eye with a fork, so you don't have to.)
The only time he sat down all night was for Turn the Page. His voice still sounds pretty good. He's lost a little off the top, but he's allowed. He looked like a garden gnome who forgot his hat, but he can still make the women throw their control-top panties up on stage.
Pete and I got in trouble for standing back by the sound board because we were apparently blocking the view of some old biddy with floor seats, so we went up to the side where they had some reserved tickets for friends and family. After the show it was a little surreal to be funneling out with the rest of the crowd and have people do a double-take because they suddenly recognized Pete. You could tell they weren't paying much attention to the rest of the band though, because at least three people saw me walking with him and told me that I had done a great job. I just thanked them and told them they were a great audience while Pete laughed at me.
After everyone left, Pete had to go somewhere to get paid, and I got to wait in the dressing room. I waited and waited and waited….still no Pete. It took him about 2 hours to finally get cashed out, and I spent the entire time shooting the shit with a 70-year-old security guard, and eyeing the untouched platter of cold cuts in the fridge. He was a funny old guy though -- worked every concert for extra cash. He spent a lot of time telling me how he didn't like "them Rush fellas" though. They were too damn loud.
By the time we got back to the hotel bar and decided to have a drink, it was almost 3am. W were both pretty comatose and he had to get up early and get home because his wife had to work and they have a 1-year-old now. Man, times have changed. (Rock and Ro-zzzzzzzzz.) We ordered up a couple of Grey Goose dirty martinis anyway, but the waitress said they didn't have olives. Not that they were out of olives, but that they never had them, ever, at all. Very odd. They had all sorts of top-shelf liquor, but no olives. We ordered them anyway, but as expected, they sucked.
That's pretty much it. A good show, all in all, and really nothing went wrong so I count it in the win column. The only issue I had was with the GPS again on the way home -- somehow it kept looping me around on Main Street and at one point I had to stop at a crossing and wait for the downtown train to go by.
p.s. - if you're wondering about the title of this post, it's what the guitar player's girlfriend thought Bob was singing in the chorus to "Like a Rock" when she was a kid.
*spell check wanted to change that to "chubby holes" and now I can't imagine the blog spam I'm going to get.
*that I know of.