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12/05/01 - The Metro - Chicago, IL
by Katie

Have you ever had a day or an experience where everything just falls into place in an odd but perfect way? That's this story.

Let me give you a brief background about my experience with Phantom Planet. I first heard the band in early 1998 and promptly fell in love. Since I don't live anywhere near California, I wished and wished that PP would bring the rock to Chicago (specifically, to my favorite venue, the Metro), but never honestly thought it would happen. Fast forward to this September, and their very first show of their very first national tour. At the Hideout. In Chicago. A dream come true. Their show in October at the Metro (!!!) was nothing short of amazing as well, so when I heard they'd be playing there again in December (with Pete Yorn, no less!), I knew I had to go. Ticketmaster didn't agree though, and I had to resort to some crazy crazy tactics to get into this very much sold-out show.

I found tickets for sale on the Pete Yorn board, and soon discovered that the seller not only goes to my school, but lives in my dorm on my floor. Could that be any weirder? So I had a ticket for my sister and my friend Karen, and just needed one for myself. After trying basically everything I could think of, I found a girl on a random message board who is friends with PP's guitar tech and said she would get me in if she could get on the guest list. I didn't hear from her again until this Tuesday, one day before the show and one day after I had completely given up hope. She told me she had found a guy who had extra tickets, I emailed him, and that evening I made my travel plans!

The next morning, I climbed aboard a Greyhound bus in Champaign, Illinois, where I go to school. Four hours later, my dad and younger sister, Claire, picked me up in Chicago and we headed for the north side and the Metro. After a quick bite to eat and a rather creepy ticket-purchasing-incident with Dan, my unlikely savior and ticket-provider, Claire and I got in the short line in front of Metro. We soon were joined by Erynn, PP's guitar tech's friend, and Brian, James and Fred, huge PP fans who we had met at the first Hideout show. And we waited. For a few minutes, I heard "California" wafting out from the venue during soundcheck and then the excitement really set in. The line moved forward a bit, and we saw a sign hanging on Metro's doors: "by entering this venue, you are giving permission to such-and-such company to use your likeness in the upcoming PHANTOM PLANET video for the song 'CALIFORNIA'". Let's just say that this certainly did not make waiting any easier, because we wanted to go in and see what this was all about!

When we finally got inside, Claire and the guys ran upstairs to stake out our spots. I unsuccessfully tried to leave Karen's ticket at the guest list podium for her to pick up (she had to come late) and would have begged them again had it not been for the wonderful Mr. Schwartzman. I snagged him as he was walking past, and explained the situation ("we're all here to see you guys, and want to get upstairs before the show starts!", at which he smiled). I asked if he could try to get the podium people to take the ticket, and he said he'd give it a shot. He marched over and, in his best businesslike voice, said "excuse me, do you think you could hold this ticket here for a friend who's coming late?" and they took it. I could barely keep myself from cracking up. He turned around, winked at me, and said "no problem, thanks for coming! i'll see you later" after I whispered thanks. (Very very unfortunately, Karen sprained her ankle that afternoon and couldn't make it to the show. We missed you, Karen!!! But see, Jason's got your back! hehe)

We found that Claire and the guys had saved some prime spots right up front and center, and settled in to get ready for the show. Finally, the lights went down and Jason walked onstage, sat down, and proceeded to SLAM out the intro to "Shadows". Our neighbors in the crowd, to whom we had made sure to talk up PP, said "wow, it IS the guy from Rushmore!", but forgot about that and stared as soon as he started playing. The other guys walked out and started up their feedback sounds. I think this is one of the coolest parts of the song/show, kind of the calm before the storm; you're waiting there in excitement because you know that in a few seconds the guitar riff will start, and then you get to watch Phantom Planet own the stage for the next thirty or so minutes.

I could tell by the time that they started their second song, "In Our Darkest Hour", that they had really improved in the couple months since they'd last played Chicago. The sound was better, they were more tight, and seemed very at home on stage. And this was an improvement on a live show that was already above and beyond most bands you see on tour today. I especially remember this song having a real boundless energy to it, Alex was doing a little dance during the intro and everything seemed to have just more of a...snap. Claire and I sang along to basically every song, and we were some of the very few who seemed to be huge fans of the band. They haven't really broken in Chicago...yet. Alex and Darren both noticed us singing and smiled. A few songs into the set, Alex said something to the extent of "thanks to our fans who came out here tonight" and smiled down at our little PP appreciation section, which was very cool. Before "Nobody's Fault", the guys said as usual that they'd need some crowd participation and Claire let out a little whoop. Alex looked over at her and said "that's enough out of you", hehe. People were much more responsive to the call for participation than they'd been at the last show, and there was a small section of people on the other side of the crowd who even sang the first few lines with Alex really loudly. I LOVED finally hearing "Anthem" live, it was so beautiful and their first time playing it in Chicago. I've heard a crappy live mp3 version of it for so long that hearing it for real made it such a highlight. Even during the slow songs, Jason would pound the hell out of his drums. It would be a slow beat, but a very forceful slow beat. They're all so fun to watch, because they go off into their little worlds, but I think Jason is my favorite for this. He plays so hard and sings along and does Keith Moon poses and rises off his stool with momentum. How can you not love that? During one song, I don't remember which, Alex decided to take a little trip. He jumped down into the area between the crowd and the stage, and then I couldn't see him anymore. He was playing on the floor, and then all of the sudden popped up in the audience's faces.

I don't remember when the cameras came out, but they were definitely there for "California". After the song, Alex said that they had another show that night at the Hideout where they would be playing the song over and over again so they could film it for their video. "So if you want to be forever immortalized in rock and roll, come on out". I had read about the show that morning on the message board, and knew that we probably wouldn't be able to go. Claire had school the next morning at seven and I had to get back to college for exams and presentations and a recital. This was disappointing enough, but when we heard that they would be filming the video in the place where we first saw them and have such great memories, we were even more upset. Didn't stop us from rocking out during "All Over Again", which I remember was also videotaped. Alex had us all make the most noise we possibly could before the song, and I think that was recorded too. Somehow I get the idea that they recorded sound at Metro and visuals at Hideout, but I don't remember where I heard that so it could be wrong. In any case, the guys certainly went out with a bang. There wasn't much room on stage, but they managed to roam around and Jason went crazy and Alex did the usual crowdsurfing. The song ended and they left the stage amidst lots of enthusiastic cheering. We gave up our spots in front to some Remy Zero fans and went to talk to the band, since they wouldn't be there after the show because they had to get to the Hideout.

Down in the merch booth, we were able to chat with all the guys. Roman was down there too, filming basically everything. A little disconcerting at first, but after awhile I got used to it (Jason: "Oh, this is my cousin Roman. He's filming for our video, don't mind him!"). I complemented all of them on the show and they seemed very satisfied with it themselves. At one point, I got an autograph from Jason for my friend back at school and then remembered to mention my dad to him. My dad came with us to the first Hideout show because a) we're under 21 and its a bar and b) he really truly likes Phantom Planet. He came to the first Metro show as well, because he was so impressed with the Hideout show. He talked to Jason a lot at that show, and encouraged him to keep up his energetic drumming rather than try to fade into the background a bit more. They talked about Keith Moon (from The Who) and my dad made Jason verrrry happy by saying that he was the only drummer he's seen that has anywhere near the kind of spark that Keith did. This time though, he had a meeting and couldn't make it. I said to Jason, "our dad was with us last time", not suspecting him to really remember. He interrupted me though, and said "Bill! I love Bill!", which made my dad crack up when we told him later. While I was waiting behind some other people to talk to Jason and Alex, I looked up and saw Darren watching me. He said "Hey, how are you?" and I was pleasantly surprised to be remembered from last time, since he also remembered me at the first Metro show. I love Darren, he's such a nice guy (well, they all are!). Somewhere in there, I jokingly said to Jacques that they should play in England soon (I'm going to be there from January until June) and he said "well...we're playing in Amsterdam in March". I'm going to be really really close to Amsterdam, and told him that I would definitely come. He was very surprised and offered me travel ideas on how to get there..hehe. I don't remember who started it, but the guys asked if we were coming to the Hideout later on. Claire and I said that we couldn't, and they were like "why not?". Claire said "well, i have to go to school at seven in the morning" and I said that I needed to leave for college at eight. Jacques said, "hey, me too! we"re going to Minnesota at eight! so see, you can come to the show". We told them we'd work on it, and to take care if we didn't see them later.

For Remy Zero, we chilled in the lobby because it had grown really crowded while we were talking to the guys. Brian, James and Fred headed up to the VIP balcony for that part of the show, because they were on the guest list. RZ sounded really good, I kind of wish I would have been able to see them. We tried to see from multiple places during Pete Yorn, but the place was so packed that we couldn't get anywhere. Claire doesn't like him, so she was standing by the stairs and looking down to the first floor when she noticed a VIP pass down there. She went to get it, and came back with two that were down there! Then I saw one stuck to the floor right in front of us, so we took that, put them on and went to the VIP balcony. It was funny, because at the last show, Brian had tried to get Jason to believe that Suzanne had promised us VIP passes to the next show. Jason said "oh cool! let's all put our hands in and yell 'VIP NEXT SHOW!!!!', so the whole group of us huddled and did it. I never expected it to actually happen though! Pete was great, by the way. I'd love to see him again sometime.

Outside afterwards, we talked to Suzanne and she asked if we were going to the Hideout too. The guys said they were, and Claire and I sadly said that we were going to try but that it was unlikely. She put us on the guest list with them just in case though, and then the bus took off. My dad drove up and Claire went to beg. My dad wanted to go to the show too, but didn't think that my mom would agree because she would be worried about him staying out late (show didn't start till midnight) since he had to drive me back to school the next morning. He went to call her and things were as we suspected...she didn't think it was worth the risk. Then Claire, bless her heart, called back and told my mom how much it meant to us and how the guys had asked if we were going and how we were on the list. And it worked! I'm very lucky to have two of the coolest parents in the world, and I am so grateful that they gave me this opportunity. So we jumped in the car and headed to the Hideout....

The drive to the Hideout was an interesting one...Claire and I told my dad all about the show while trying not to freak out too much about where we were headed or how unbelievably lucky we were to be going there (this wasn't very successful, surprise surprise). We turned down the street and drove through the industrial neighborhood that the bar is "hidden" in. When we finally saw it, a now familiar little white two-story house with a warm light glowing out from all the windows, all the memories of my first Phantom Planet show came flooding back. I REALLY love this place. We approached the door and saw Suzanne outside, who told us that we didn't have to pay if we went in after 11:15. It was 11:10, so we decided to wait outside on the offchance that Claire and I weren't able to prove we were on the list and so my dad wouldn't have to pay. I ran back to the car and grabbed my new PP t-shirt and my PP sweatshirt for us to wear to the show, and we went in. When you first go in the Hideout, there's the "bar" area. There's, um, a bar and some tables and lots of people were hanging out in the cramped area. We told the guy at the door that we were on the list, but he said that the people at the back door would take care of us. He didn't look twice at Claire or I, who are obviously not 21, and I guess that Brian, James and Fred (who are19 like me and originally tried to get in with a fake dad at the first show, haha) had no problem either. Oh yeah, we were at least part of the "group of underagers" who got into the first Hideout show that Suzanne mentioned in her email update on Wednesday. And darn proud of it! We walked toward the doors to the stage area, but I stopped when I heard a screech, "Hey, it's the kids!". It was Katie, who owns the Hideout (I want her job) with her husband Tim, and who we got to know pretty well the last time we were here. She is the wonderful lady who let us in last time, and took a picture of us with the guys when my camera ran out of film. We chatted for a minute and she told me that two bands had already played, and that there was one more before Phantom Planet would go on around midnight. We said goodbye and I headed into the room with the stage, where there was nobody to check us off on the guest list, as promised, or make us pay.

The stage area is set up like this: it's a really small room, with bar-style tables down the right side and open space throughout the rest of the area. The whole room is done up in wood paneling, and there are paintings and paper snowflakes hanging all over. At the end of the room, there's the stage. It's about the height of a standard table, with no barricade or anything in front of it, and is pushed up against the left side of the room to leave an aisle on the right side that leads to the "backstage door" (quotes because it's just a door. nothing special). The guys, Claire, and Erynn were already lined up in that aisle to watch the remaining band, a really good Chicago group called Million Yen. Right when I got up there, Alex came out the stage door. He saw us and said "oh, you came!". We talked with him for a minute and I remember telling him that Million Yen was a good band. He told us that PP would play a full show, for about 40 minutes (it wasn‘t going to be just "California" like we thought). We asked if he was excited, and he said that he definitely was. Sam came out too and said hi, which was great. Million Yen played and I very much enjoyed their set, although they only did three songs. Hmmm. As soon as they were done, Claire and I ran to the front and got a spot right on the stage in the middle. We were followed by the guys, who pushed and tried to steal our spots because they are SUCH gentlemen, lol. Erynn stood behind Fred and I. My dad stayed in the aisle, and got sweatshirt holding and camera duty. The singer of Million Yen started taking down his equipment and Claire and I complimented their set. I told him that I really liked them and had heard them on the local music radio show a few times, and he asked if I wanted a CD. I said sure and he brought me one, saying "our record company people are in the audience so don't let them see me giving you this!". Eventually Jason came out and my dad said hi, and was greeted with a big "Bill!!! How are you?". Claire and I called hello to him, and he looked over and yelled "there they are!". Darren walked on stage, we said hi, and he did a double take and said "hey! you guys made it!". Same thing happened with Jacques. Jason came on stage and I asked if they were going to play "Surrender", because they did at the last Hideout show and it absolutely rocked. He said that they might, he wasn't sure, and I told him that they definitely should. Claire asked if they were taking requests, and he said of course. We asked for "Winter Wonderland" and he said they couldn't do it, so Claire asked for "Lonely Day" and he shot that one down also. He told us that they were going to switch some songs from the last set, adding in "Hey Now Girl", "Apply Yourself" and "Can't Take It". "Can you play Lisa?". "No". Haha, we were 0 for 3.

Roman and his crew were setting up lights all during this, and running around with a little instrument that measured the light levels. I didn't know what to expect, but he didn't have any huge professional cameras or elaborate lighting setups, so it didn't change the look of the place very much. Claire had a brief conversation with him, which she was very excited about. The rest of the guys eventually came out, and they put their hands in and did a "whoa Phantom Planet" right on stage (don't kill me if this isn't what they say. It's currently 5:45 a.m.). They went into "Shadows", and I was transfixed for the rest of the show. There I was, somebody who once thought that I'd probably never get to see Phantom Planet live, watching them with my hands resting on the stage with a better view than I had at my graduation party where bands played in my own garage. I'll admit that every few songs, I'd stop singing along, think about where I was and how randomly I got there, and get a bit teary-eyed. That must have looked really really funny, now that I think about it J The show really was moving though. And I mean moving in both senses of the word: it was of course very emotional to watch Phantom Planet rock harder than I'd ever seen them or any other band do, but it was also moving in that they were going CRAZY!! Darren and Sam owned their little territory and played their hearts out. Alex ran all over the stage, danced, prowled, collapsed, you name it. Jacques kept crouching and jumping all over. And Jason was a maniac. Yes, a MANIAC. All of this big action was occurring on a very small stage, and it was scary at times because I felt sure that somebody would hurt themselves. To give you an idea, during one song (I think it was "Apply Yourself", but the whole night is such a blur), Alex danced on top of Jason's kick drum and his head grazed the ceiling. The smallness of the stage amplified the energy of the show, and made the guys seem bigger than life and down to earth at the same time.

If I had to pick recurring themes for the night, they would be breaking guitar strings and laughing. The first of these happened ALL the time. It was remarkable. Alex would be playing, break a string, put down his guitar and roam the stage with just the mic, only to break another string on his newly-fixed guitar in the very next song. He and Darren especially had to keep switching, and Darren did indeed in his frustration rip out all of his strings at one point. Alex kindly pointed out to all of us that his spare guitar has a picture of a wounded hand on it, and also said that he hoped he didn't look too stupid running around without an instrument. He didn't. Laughing, too, happened all night. They just always looked so happy and carefree, and took us all right with them. Sam describes it really well in his most recent tour diary, when he talks about how this second performance was more of a laugh-and-have-fun show, rather than a we-need-to-impress-people show. I think that they were even more impressive, though, when they weren't trying to be. You could tell that the guys felt totally comfortable and free to completely let loose. The Hideout crowd was more intimate, with the few PP fans crowding the stage while the rest of the audience chilled and open-mindedly listened to the music. There was no concrete set list. Pete Yorn and PP's friends from the Chicago band Kill Hannah yelled out from the middle of the crowd. Roman darted back and forth, getting new camera angles, apparently stepping on people, and recording everything. Most of the front row (us!) wore our PP shirts proudly and screamed ourselves hoarse (perhaps in exchange for us wearing our PP gear, Sam wore a pin that Claire gave him at the bottom of his t-shirt). The guys completely interacted with the crowd, and especially with each other. They'd play back to back, rest their heads on each other's shoulders, play each other's instruments, share mics, and constantly invade each other's already-tiny space. They've done this the other times I've seen them, but this time really took it up a notch and almost seemed to act as one person (ok, maybe one person with multiple personalities and spasm-ing body parts). For instance, once Sam came up behind Alex and looped his arms in around him so he could play his guitar while Alex held the mic and sang. Teamwork at its best. They all talked to each other and constantly cracked up at their fellow bandmates' antics. It was wonderful to see them visibly enjoying themselves so much, and to see the almost-permanent grins on their faces.

I felt so much a part of this show. Given that we were so close (and often in front of the cameras), it sometimes seemed as if we might as well have been on stage. Although nothing we were doing could compete with the show PP was putting on: we just tried to keep up with singing along and dancing and getting lost in the music. My face was directly at Alex's guitar's level especially when he came up to the edge of the stage (when he was wearing it. When he wasn't, I looked away. You do the math! I also had to avert my eyes during "In Our Darkest Hour" when Alex courteously came and stuck his butt in our faces for awhile before he did a leap toward the drum set. Hmmm). I play guitar, so I loved being able to watch him play and pick up little bits of the songs. It was also cool because we could hear Jacques's parts a lot louder since we were right by his monitor, and it gave a lot of the songs a slightly different feel. We laughed so much too, especially in between songs. At the beginning of the show, Alex noticed that a hum that came out of the monitors for the entire show was amplified when he raised his arms and/or breathed on the mic. He raised his arms and opened his mouth and it looked like this strange, monster-ish noise was coming from him. Evidently very amused, he did this a few times and finally apologized to us for wasting time. Everyone was cracking up. Early on in the show, Claire spotted one of Jason's broken drumsticks lying on stage and told me that she really wanted it. Awhile later, Alex turned around, picked it up and licked it. He dangled it in front of him and said "um, does anybody want this?". Claire wasn't too thrilled with the just-licked factor, but she really wanted that drumstick so she said "sure, I'll have it". Just as she was taking it from him, Alex said proudly into the mic "I licked that. That's gross." He looked down (all 2 feet away) at her and said "Hey, you're gross!", to which she quickly retorted, "no Alex, you're gross for licking a drumstick!" and he laughed. Another time, he started singing "Chop Suey" by System of a Down and ended the mini-cover with a terrific scream. All red in the face and clutching his chest, he said in this womanly voice, "I'm sorry, I've had to get that off my chest for SO long!"

Right before "California", Jacques said that he thought it was his duty to tell the public that the show was being recorded for the video for this song. During this, Alex was busy at the piano, trying to find the perfect spot to hold his mic so the piano could be heard. This piano is so great. It's old and looks like it would be completely out of tune, but it's definitely not (I played it after the last show, so I was excited that they were going to use it in the video!). He finally got it, and Roman went right over there and taped Alex playing the intro close up. They went into the song, and played it especially well. I'm pretty sure it was during this song (like I said, the night was such a whirl for me, it's so hard to remember exactly what happened when), that I had a really wonderful moment. Alex came up to the edge of the stage a lot during the whole show, which was right in front of me. He'd lean over me to peer out over the crowd, and sometimes crouch down to do so. At the end of one song, probably this one (or possibly "Anthem" or "The Guest" or "All Over Again"?), he was doing the crouching thing while holding out a long, beautiful note. When the song ended, I looked up to see what he was doing because he wasn't moving, and his face was directly over me, he was facing the ground. His eyes were scrunched shut and I could see the pure emotion in his statement…I felt like I shouldn't be looking, that I was invading his privacy somehow because he looked so vulnerable. At that moment I felt like I could truly see all the feeling and intensity that goes into these songs and it was absolutely amazing.

Another highlight was in the middle of the set, when they played "Lisa". It was an extremely action packed few minutes. First of all, Jason had said that they wouldn't play it when we requested it, so it was a nice surprise. And it was my first time seeing it live. Alex sang the first verse to Darren, looking up at him from the floor of the stage. Darren looked very amused. Alex eventually made his way back to the center and edge of the stage, and started to lean out. And his mic cord started to hit me in the face, it was sort of swinging back and forth. I looked up to kind of lean back at the exact instant that he glanced down and saw that it was hitting me. He got this horrified and apologetic look on his face and grabbed that cord away so fast! In the second verse, Jacques was politely asked what he said to Alex (which I was actually very excited to hear live because I am a nerd) and he just saluted and laughed in reply. Jacques, show some respect! Hehe. During the part after the second chorus, you know, where there's the strange guitar notes that keep going up in pitch? Are you with me? Find it on your CD if you must, you have to know what I'm talking about to appreciate this. Ready? You sure? Ok. Alex, who was facing Jason, would bring his arms up in time with each note in a manner that I can only describe as a cross between an orchestra conductor and a wizard. Quick, picture that! I cannot tell you how entertaining that was, but I'm sure you can guess. Use this mental image for endless hours of amusement. After this, I couldn't tell you exactly what happened because it moved so fast. All I know is that Alex came over to Claire and I, crouched down right in our faces, pointed at us and said "you two", shoved the mic in between all three of us and all of the sudden we were belting out the last chorus with him. WOW!!!! Not only could we hear his voice without amplification, which is always nice, but we were singing the freakin song together in this tight little huddle of rock and roll. And out of the corner of my eye, I saw Roman recording the entire moment for posterity. Bless that wonderful wonderful man. I swear, if that makes it into the video, I will soil myself. Ok, umm, anyway…

"All Over Again" rocked, as usual. Jason did an amazing drum solo during it, which whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Darren also played part of the song while perched on Jason's drum. I thought the show was over, which sucked, but I would have been more than satisfied. But oh no, we were in for quite a bit more. Jason lured Mr. Pete Yorn onto the stage to assume the drummer's position for "Surrender" (yessss!) because Pete "knows this song note for note on the drums". Then Jason wondered aloud what he'd do, which was echoed by Alex. Claire, always quick with a suggestion, proclaimed that "Jason will be the dancer!" and Alex agreed, demonstrating the Mighty Mighty Bosstones-esque dance that Jason would evidently be treating us with. The song began, and I made a fool of myself very nicely by singing and bouncing around even more energetically than usual (come on, Phantom Planet + Cheap Trick IN Chicago!). Jason did indeed start to dance, hopping around so enthusiastically, in fact, that he almost lost his pants. Pete was terrific at the drums, I had no idea he could play them! By this time, all was complete chaos. I couldn't tell you for the life of me who sang what parts, because I think that Jason, Sam, Alex and Jacques all were on mics at some point. I do know that Alex sang the first verse, because he sang the famous first line, "Mother told me, yes she told me, I'd meet girls like you" directly to Claire. People were running all over the stage, going completely nuts, singing, jumping, dancing. Like Suzanne wrote in the tour diary, Jason came up to the front of the stage and removed his shoes and started clapping with them. The pandemonium continued, each person seeming to try to top everyone else. I think that if they had had the means to set the stage on fire or something, they might have done it (well…maybe that's going a bit far, but you get the picture). And then it was over.

I could tell that they weren't ready to have the show be finished, and we certainly agreed with that. Alex said to the crowd, "Should I blow my voice out completely?" and we all yelled "yes!". He started laughing because the two tour managers were the only ones in the crowd who said very forceful "NO"s. Jason pulled off his socks, said "I GOTTA go Shoeless Joe Jackson on this bitch!" and threw his socks at the crowd. One gracefully landed on Alex's mic stand. One of the guys introduced the song, and they ripped into "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys. Picture the previous song, minus Pete and Jason the dancer, plus Alex jumping into the crowd and rocking out with one girl who was getting really into it. It was awesome. I love this song, and don't know how to describe their version other than to say was a GREAT way to close the show! Something familiar, but different, and a song where each of the guys has the opportunity to completely rock it. And did they ever! A couple of highlights were the part where there's just the bass going really loud and Sam coming to the edge of the stage, putting his foot up on the monitor, and sticking his bass out over the crowd while he played looked and sounded so cool! Towards the end of the song, Alex got in kind of the crabwalk position with one arm on the floor to support himself. I thought he was going to jump up and keep switching which arm he put on the floor (a la 1991), but he instead did an...interesting..."sexy" slow-motion thrusting dance that I could not help laughing at no matter how hard I tried not to. Jason did a little somersault over his drums and the guys left the stage.

As we were beginning to come out of our concert stupor and realize what we had just experienced, a guy came over to us and said that we'd have to follow him backstage so we could sign release forms to be in the video. We were *more* than happy to comply, and followed the nice man. On the way, I saw Jason and Sam, and complimented them all on the show. I told Jason that it was the best show I'd ever seen and he said "good, so we didn't make total asses out of ourselves?" or something like that. Asses? Are you kidding me? Psh. So we got backstage and then got kicked out, which was kind of funny. On the way OUT, we walked past Pete Yorn and I told him great job at the Metro show. He gave me a nice smile and said thank you. We also passed Alex and Claire thanked him for letting us sing with him. "Oh, no problem. I hope my breath didn't smell too bad!" We finally congregated by the stage, and waited for the guy to bring the forms out to us. I went over to my dad, who was talking to Darren, to get my sweatshirt in the meantime. My dad told me that Darren was going to take care of me in Amsterdam, and I was kind of confused but told D that the show was amazing. He said something like, "I want you to understand that that show was not normal, we were all having fun, but acting really stupid too" and my dad said "so you're not going to play like that every night? I think you should!" and Darren said "we'd die if we played like that every night! I mean, I broke 5 strings, that's insane. I'm bleeding!". I had to leave then to sign the forms, but later on my dad told me that he'd told Darren that I was going to see them in Amsterdam while I'm abroad, to which D said "you're letting your daughter go to AMSTERDAM?? It's kind of wild!". Hahaha. My dad said that I could handle it, but that Darren should look out for me anyway. Don't think that'll actually happen, but it's a nice thought.

We signed the forms, which basically said that we gave them the rights to use our likeness in the video. The best part was that the line we had to write our name on said "Performer:", which made us feel way more important than we actually were ;) I found Jacques then, and said "I don't remember if I've said this to you yet, but the show was awesome!" He put his hands on my arms and smiled and said "Nope, you haven't talked to me yet" so I repeated that it was the best show I've ever been to. And that I couldn't wait for Amsterdam, to which he said "that's right, and you're going to take the ferry because you'll be right across from there!". Hehe, that's what I had told him at the Metro earlier. Brian, James and Fred came over and started talking to Jacques about guitar playing then, and Roman was still videotaping everything. Claire asked Jacques if he thought we could get a group picture and he said "good luck. i don‘t know where Alex is". She said, "The bar maybe?" and was off to find him. We finally rounded up everybody for the picture and while Claire and I were posing with the band, Jason proclaimed "now, I think THIS should be our album cover!". Jacques said "Phantom Planet with the fans?" and he said "yeah!". I had my jacket on and Jacques started pulling on it, saying, "come on, you have to show off the t-shirt for the picture!" because I had my new PP one on underneath, hehe. My dad took a picture, then somebody who was with the band snapped one, and Roman of course was there to videotape. So we had no idea which camera to look at and our picture turned out kind of funny looking, lol. My dad and I started talking to Jason, and I mentioned (can you tell I'm just a BIT excited about this? hehe) Amsterdam to him. He said, "whoa, are you just coming for the heck of it?", but I said no, I was going to be in England for the semester and he was like "wow cool!!! Yeah, you have to come then!! We'll put you on the list!". I don't care about the list, as long as I get to go, but again it's a nice thought. We had to get going, and Jason gave Claire and I a hug and shook my dad's hand. We said bye to Brian, James and Fred (who apparently stayed an hour later while Alex played requests for them on the piano. He played classical stuff, The Strokes, "California"….ahhh why couldn't I stay!!!). Waved to Jacques and Sam. I said goodbye to Darren, who was talking to a friend, but stopped for a sec and put his arm around me and said thanks for coming and he'd see Claire in Chicago and me in Amsterdam. And we left and drove home. And now I'm back at school taking finals. Sigh.

And that, my friends, is my story. It honestly seems like a dream. I don't know how everything fell into place, but it did somehow and I'm so grateful for it. I have never seen such talent and energy and great songwriting in one group. And I’ve also never met a nicer or more down to earth group of guys, let alone band. I emailed Jacques and he wrote back that playing these two shows was "more than a pleasure for us" and I'm so glad they feel that way too. We all know that it's just a matter of time before they hit it big, and this experience only reaffirmed that in my mind. They won't change though, and we're lucky for that!