Let me start off by saying that Jack Johnson is probably my favorite musician, person, living creature in the world, and so this review will be from the point of view of one of his biggest fans.
It all started when I had been tracking Jack Johnson's website for the North American tour announcement for weeks, and that trusty day arrived when I clicked on the site and right in front of my face was a list of cities. My eyes darted around looking for any sign of "CO" and when I found it on August 18th at Red Rocks Amphitheater I could barely contain myself. I have been a fan of Jack's for quite some time and this was my first opportunity to see him live and it made it even better that it was booked at the best venue in the world.
My excitement was numbed when I experienced the struggles of actually purchasing Jack Johnson concert tickets, I had heard stories of how notoriously difficult the tickets could be to purchase due to scalpers and the sheer number of fans Jack has. I marked my calendar for the early on sale that I had the pass code for from being apart of Jacks mailing list. I was at school when the tickets went on sale and so thankfully my lovely mother was kind enough to try and get the tickets for me and a few friends.
The day arrived, and right at 10:00 am my mom was online trying to get the tickets, but it was to no avail, the predetermined amount of tickets for the early on sale sold out quicker than anyone could have ever imagined. I was shocked and a little defeated from the experience, but I knew there was still two more days of early on sales through the radio stations and one more day of when the tickets go on sale for the public, so I kept my spirits up. My mom tried for all the early on sales and got no where, the online scalpers where just to speedy for our little slow internet connection at my house. I'm not going to lie, I was petrified by the idea that I might not get tickets to my favorite artist. I had already missed his last show in Colorado, and I wasn't going to miss this one!
It was the last day of ticket sales, and I had prepared my mother for battle against the scalpers. She went to my dad's office so that both her and my dad could try to get tickets to double their chances. My dad works at the Kong Company and so they have a much faster internet speed than the one at my house. When the clock struck ten I swear my heart almost beat out of my chest; it was the moment of truth. I texted my mom "Did it work?" and a couple minutes later she responded with "You're going to see Jack Johnson!" I was beside myself and was thanking my lucky stars that it all worked out.
I was now the proud owner of three tickets to see Jack Johnson at Red Rocks Amphitheater on August 18th, 2014. Even though that was close to a year away I was just as excited as if it was the next day. Months past, and when April rolled around my local radio stations began announcing contests to win tickets to the show, and not just any tickets, tickets to sit side stage during the entire show. It was Earth day and the first contest was in full swing; the goal, to show yourself reducing, reusing, or recycling in some way and post it on twitter to win. Of course I entered, and I wasn't defeated that I didn't win being that I already had tickets to the show. Then the next radio contest began and this one was right up my ally, it was to create a work of art by using only recycled materials. I procrastinated like any good high school student would and I made my masterpiece a couple hours before it was due and turned it it right under the wire with only minutes to spare.
I made a fish dinner of sorts from plastic bags, paper plates, and bottle caps. See the image below of what my final product looked like.
After a month went by I had almost forgot about my art submission for the contest, and I was going about my day to day life. My birthday had just past and I had ordered the rest of the Jack Johnson CD's to complete my collection. When I got home from school I checked the mail as per usual and there were my CDs, so the day had already gone up in value from my point of view. I came in the house and gave the rest of the mail to my mom and head upstairs to my room to drop off my backpack and listen to my new CDs. I set everything down and then something caught my eye, on my bed was a pile of laundry with a little hand written note on top of it. It read "Brenn, Please clean your room and put your clean laundry away and..." Then there was a little arrow saying turn me over. On the back of the note it said " Watch your mom on stage at the Jack Johnson concert!" I let out a very audible and high pitched scream that you would only expect from a tween girl at a Justin Bieber concert. I couldn't believe what I had read, when I contained myself I made my way back down stairs to see my mom standing at the bottom of the stairs, she had obviously heard my reaction and came to see it for herself. I almost started crying while I hugged my mom from sheer joy.
You might be wondering why the note said that I would be watching my mom on stage at the show. You see to win any contest through a radio station you have to be at the legal adult age of eighteen, but I was but a year short. So I had entered the contest through my mom, and so the pair of side stage passes technically belonged to her and I was her plus one. I had already purchased three tickets to the show and so with my winnings I now had a total of five, and so I was able to bring both my parents and my two friends to the show.
As August approached I had already had a fantastic summer with my family coming in from New York and California for a family reunion in the mountains as well as going to Tanzania for a school trip to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and volunteer at an orphanage. August 18th was quickly approaching and I became more and more excited as the days flew by. The concert was also the first day of my senior year, but I was so focused on that night that I could hardly pay attention in class.
The time had come for my family and friends to drive up to Red Rocks for the show. I put on a flattering dress just encase I had the chance to meet my idol Jack. As we pulled up to the gates of the amphitheater I could hear the deaf sound of sound check already. My dad and two friends went to stand inline for the best possible seats while my mom and I went to the will call to pick up our side stage passes. We waited a good couple of hours for the stage manager to send the passes down to the will call booth, and when we open the envelope it had a note telling us when and where to meet for the passes. It was sort of like a secret spy mission, which only made it more fun.
It was time. My mom and I went to the stage door and waited for Jim the stage manager to let us in; he gave us both passes to stick on our clothes for stage access. I had never been back stage at any show, and so this was very cool for me. I saw the opening band ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra) finishing up and the crew setting up for the main performance. We were shown to our seats, but where told we didn't really have to sit in them because they wanted us to dance and have a good time. We met the winners of the other radio contest as well as the winners of a drawing at the show for the same passes, everyone was very nice and just as excited for the show to begin. Jim the stage manager then left us because he had to go retrieve the set list from Jack so the show could start. We we not allowed to go to our seats until Jack and the band where already on stage so we wouldn't distract them. We were standing in the shadows and that's where I had my first glimpse of Jack Johnson in the flesh.
We rushed to our designated area and the show began, all the contest winners periodically switched seats to insure everyone had time in the unobstructed viewing area know as the front. I was about ten feet away from all the action. It was magical, that's the best way to describe it. It was like I was the performer for the 10,000 people in attendance because I could see everything Jack and the band could see. I now know for sure that Red Rocks truly is the best venue in the world, its beautiful, the band can only see about the first twenty rows of people with the stage lights on making it more intimate, and when they shine the lights on the crowd you can see to the very top, showing the sheer size of the place. From the stage the sound was good, but not great, it was nearly impossible to hear anything Jack said to the crowd, but the music was all loud and clear which was good. It gave a me a very neat experience of what its like to be the performer. During one of the times I was in the front of the group I was dancing and singing my heart out, and at the end of the song Jack glanced over to the side of the stage I was on and I pointed at him, smiled, and gave him two big thumbs up. He smiled back and laughed a little and I felt as though my life was complete and I could die then and there. Jack played all the favorites along with a few oldies and mash-ups with some of his favorite songs. The show was fantastic and Jack really showed off his guitar skills that night with long solos in many of the songs.
Nearing the end of the show Jack and the band played their "last" song and headed off stage. At this moment I watched what happens when bands hang around before their encore. Jack talked with the sound guys and some friends and the band headed down stairs to relax. The encore was just Jack playing guitar with a single spotlight on him. His true last song was played, better together as per usual, and I welled up with tears of joy and sadness, for my show was over. Before we were shuffled off the stage though I asked Jim the stage manager if it would be possible to get a picture of autograph from Jack. He told me he would see what he could do.
The contest winners and I all then proceeded to head out the door where we then waited for about an hour for Jim to come back. I watched all of red rocks empty out and the crew clean up everything from beer bottles to lost shoes. Then another crew member came to the door asking if we were waiting for Jim, and he then took us around the venue to the other side of the stage and left us there. I felt so out of place because we were watching the crew brake down the stage and members of Jack's band converse with family and friends. Nobody knew who we were and I was the only one who knew who anyone else was through seeing pictures on Facebook and Instagram. The people slowly trickled out the door until it was only us the contest winners and Jack's Pianist and front man for ALO, Zach Gill. He came over introduced himself and we all talked for about ten minutes about various things, and he even signed the copy of Sleep Through The Static I brought. Then there was only us and a few stage crew milling about. It was a little awkward because we felt very out of place, but then out from the shadows the crew member who brought us this far returned and asked if Jim had ever came for us and he had not. The man looked concerned and I was then afraid that we were not going to get to meet Jack, gosh darn it if I had made it this far I was going to meet Jack Johnson! Then the man told us to follow him. I followed close behind as we traveled deeper under Red Rocks. The amphitheater that guests see isn't even half of the actual venue which is underground, where the band hangs out and practices.
I brushed my hand along the wave like red rock walls as we traveled down stairs, I could feel every nook and cranny that made this place so amazing and I saw the history unfold right before my eyes. There were pictures of every band that had performed here on the walls, and I even found one of Jack from 2008. As we turned the corner at the bottom of the ramp the crew member left us and I saw what I had been waiting all this time for. There he was, Jack Johnson was standing a mere three feet in front of me. I didn't freak out as I was expected to, I was very calm and collected, but the happiest I had ever been. Jack made his way to us and introduced himself. I immediately introduced myself and the rest of the crew. Jack was extremely nice to all of us, he took pictures, signed anything we had. I had him sign my favorite album Sleep Through The Static and my mom had him sign her ticket. I had bought a poster, but for some reason it didn't cross my mind to have it signed. I got to then talk to Jack for about fifteen minutes about various topics from college, reptiles and of course his music.
I told Jack that my favorite dong of his was Go On, and he proceeded to tell me that he had almost played that tonight. I smiled and nodded, but inside I was dying inside. How could I have let that opportunity slip past me. I should have told Jim the stage manager to ask Jack to play that song when he went to get the set list! That is my one regret of the show. Over all it was the best night of my life and I wouldn't change it for the world. Jack was the nicest and most down to earth person I have ever met and I didn't know it was possible to love him even more than I already did before the show.
My mom and I then headed out of Red Rocks with our hearts filled to the brim with love for Jack Johnson and everything he stands for musically and environmentally speaking. By this time I had forgotten that my dad and friends had been waiting in the car for about four hours now, and they were so revealed when we returned to the car, but they couldn't stay mad when I told them the news about Jack.
The Nights Setlist:
The Nights Setlist:
Sitting, Waiting, Wishing / Just What I Needed
You and Your Heart
If I Had Eyes
Bubble Toes / Not Fade Away / Mudfootball
(Steve Miller Band cover) (with ALO)
Shot Reverse Shot / I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
Staple It Together
At or With Me / Crosstown Traffic
(The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
I Got You
Do You Remember