Def Leppard @ Jacksonville Veteran’s Arena

Wow!  I don’t think I can recall a show that hit me more in the feels than this one.  This is my go to band for all the songs that I know and love.  This band proves you don’t necessarily need flames, spinning drum sets, or over the top light effects because when music is as good as theirs you just don’t need it.

So Doll normally gets dragged along to concerts that I want to go to since most of her concerts happen in other towns to groups you can’t understand but are permanently hypnotizing.  She likes Def Leppard like I “like” the Red Hot Chili Peppers but she really dug the show.

So I really don’t need to fully describe this show since everything went so smoothly (for once) so I’ll get down to what I loved about it the most: Rick Allen!  Are you a Def fan?  Then you know about Rick Allen.  He’s kinda the guy that got the band soberish.  For those of you who don’t know, in the mid 80’s Rick Allen lost his left arm in a car accident.  He is the drummer for Def and had to learn to play using synthesizers and foot pedals.  In the 80’s it was almost a sin for a “metal” band to use electric drums and synth instruments.  Rick was one of the few whom no one would make fun of for that.  He is a spectacular drummer and musician and I watched the video of his comeback after the accident.  His band mates called him ‘The Thunder God’ and I couldn’t agree more.  He did a solo drum set and I was floored and more happy than you could know!

My other happy moments came at the beginning of every song.  Joe Elliot still sounds just as good as he did 30 years ago and every performance was done with ease and pride.  With that I have nothing abnormal for you guys to know about, which is weird for any concert Doll and I attend, I will just leave this post saying that even if you didn’t like then much before go see a show!  This was a bucket list concert!


Dir En Grey @ House of Blues Chicago

Leola and me are on the right while are friends from Chicago are next to us.

Leola and me are on the right while are friends from Chicago are next to us.

Ah, Dir en Grey.  How we all love and fear you…and your fans.  You see, if you guys have kept up with the blog, Leola and I love going to Dir en Grey concerts because we never walk away disappointed…but at least we walk away!  Well, last year they had another US tour and we were all like, “Hell yeah!  Let’s go to Chicago since we went to Atlanta already and Atlantic traffic sucks balls!” which is how a lot of our decisions are made.  So the tickets were bought and the flight was booked.  Luckily and happily we have friends in Chicago, unluckily they lived too far out of the city for us to stay with them so we booked the amazing Sax hotel which is less then 200ft from the entrance of House of Blues.  Spiffy!

DSC03568Since our first Dir en Grey concert was of a smallish crowd size, we were happy to learn that this time around the concert was sold out!  After having lunch/dinner at the restaurant part we managed to get early access to the venue. Peachy, right?  If anyone has been to a House of Blues venue they are, I would say, a medium size capacity.  Bigger than most night clubs but smaller than most descent concert halls.  It was grimy, it was decadent and Leola was as giddy as a teeny bopper following David Bowie’s glitter trail!  Slowly, the crowd trickled in and everything started off well enough, but I must remind you that our first DeG concert was rather pitiful and this was a sold out show…shit was about to get real!

The opening act was a French metal band called Degoba…it literally took me five seconds to get that.  The band members of Dir en Grey are huge Star Wars fans so I’ll leave the rest up to you.  I would like to say that I didn’t carry my good professional camera into the crowd since I didn’t want it ruined…I had a feeling. So I handed that off to our friends Mandi and her husband Terry to get some shots on the balcony.  I wish to universally thank them since those were some of the only good pics I have! But I had my handy, trusty GoPro attached to my wrist in the hopes that I could get some great shots up front.  How naive and silly my assumptions turned out to be!  As Degoba played we noticed the crowd getting more…excited.  Leola was behind me and we were fine getting really acquainted with the people around us when the lead singer decided to encourage the crowd to make a circle pit…a large…violent circle pit!

It got crazy until they left the stage.  We had to fight off very strong and crazy drunk metal heads being encouraged by the band to kill each other.  This was but a small taste of what was eventually to come.When the opening act finally left the crowd settled down and the crowd was tight!  I’m very sure the women in front of me used Aquanet and the guy next to me loved Old Spice.  So we settled into a tight spot and waited…and then Dir en grey hit the stage!  They didn’t even start playing yet when the crowd went straight bat shit crazy!  And I mean bat shit crazy!  The moshing and fighting and pushing did not cease from the time they came on until well after they left!  I have never experienced anything like it!DSC03625

We were pushed at least 10 more feet closer than we were and poor Leola was the one getting the brunt of it!  As the music started and the pits became more violent, it occurred to us that we might have made a grave error.  Since Leo was behind me I didn’t notice what had happened until it was too late.  Someone had picked Leo up and threw her…literally threw her into one of the pits!  With the help of some shockingly sober men she was able to get back without falling and making our trip to the House of Blues Chicago into a trip to the Chicago Hospital!  Then the pushing came in waves.  Waves, upon waves, upon waves of young inebriated disillusioned youth clashing back and forth on top of everyone in front.  I think they were trying to walk on our bodies to get to the stage…but this didn’t happen.  By this time, both Leo and I had had quite enough and we started doing what any graceful, gentle, open minded and delicate southern woman would do in this situation…fight back!  Whatever space we were given and whomever was close enough to us who was within grabbing distance suffered the brunt of it!

So for well over an hour we fought, sweaty and tired, for our lives five feet away from one of the most massively abusive and violent mosh pits I hope to ever get trapped near again!  We walked away…sort of.  We had to get some water after that cause it was like fighting Krav Maga for an hour and then we got to witness the carnage of those not as lucky as we.  There was blood…oh yes, there was blood.  Ever since Atlanta we had wanted to know what a real Dir en Grey concert would be.  We’ve seen concerts of them in Japan and we jealous.  No longer.

Words from the ones who survived: unless you want the mosh pit experience, stay to the back and even then you might not be safe!  Leo and I are damn proud that we staggered away from that.  The concert was phenomenal when we caught glimpses through armpits and pump fists so I still encourage anyone to go.  We still walked away satisfied but maybe because we survived some of the hardest of the hardcore fans EVER with sanity and fingers intact!