I felt the cool Northern California breeze rush through my bones as it snuck its way into my sleeping bag. I shivered and rolled over, amused by the sight of my friends all piled up together in the middle of Berkeley. Only a few crazies would do this, but I’m glad those crazies were my friends. Tucking my bag up over my head, I drifted back into a dreamless sleep for a few more hours until the sun came out and woke me with its warm rays.By the time I emerged from my nest like a bear waking from hibernation there was already a line of people behind us. Barely opening my eyes, I smiled at the two directly behind us, friends we had accumulated in Chicago earlier in the summer. It’s nice to see familiar faces when waking on the side of the road in a random city. Someone had made a Starbucks run and I was pleased to find a chai tea latte with my name on it, patiently waiting for me to indulge.
The sun quickly decided to turn the cold night into a beautiful late summer day. It wasn’t long before we lost our sleeping bags and traded in the layers of sweatpants and sweatshirts for tanks and shorts. C and I found our way into the Business School Building, freshening up and trying to juice our phones up a little more for the day. Back to the line we went, sprawling out in the hot sun creating our signs for our favorite band members, chatting with our friends, and enjoying the last little bit of summer we could.
When it finally came time for doors to open, my heart was racing. Even though we knew security was going to walk us down- the anxiety and adrenaline never let’s up until I’m in my spot for show time. And, since the whole show was GA it meant that more people were in line and there was more of a challenge to get “your spot.” The security was awesome, and made sure everything went smoothly and fairly. They took the first 20 of us inside the venue and allowed us ample time to get situated before they cut the rest of the crowd loose for a madhouse of people charging not only the stage, but also various ‘good’ sections of the Greek Theater. Thankfully, I had made friends with the folks who stood behind me and they created a force field to ensure no one would crowd up on us- allowing us plenty of space for dancing!
The set opened with Dave and Tim doing a beautiful duet of Stay or Leave. The rest of the band came out and joined for the remaining “acoustic” set. I use the term acoustic loosely… even if the band claims it, I can’t help but laugh that Carter is most definitely not acoustic. He’s still very much pounding his heart out on this drum set, I wouldn’t want him any other way. Once the acoustic set started I was sad to find I couldn’t see Fonz at all because of the high stage and speakers blocking my view. Luckily the people to my right happily traded spots so down I went on the rail untilI found myself right in front of him. I also found myself next to a man, Rich, who was having the most fun I have seen recently at a DMB show. He was jamming so hard his head was literally smacking against the rail. It was awesome. He and I spent the remainder of the set dancing our hearts out. The people around us were a little concerned for our well-being but, I have no shame when it comes to dancing and enjoying a show. I mean, that’s what I paid money to come and do.
When the show was over, back to our camping spots we went for the evening. Papa Joe and Michael brought us burritos, which I don’t believe I have ever eaten something quicker, ha! Appetites emerge when you spend two hours going ballistic. Eventually, we all snuggled back into our sleeping bags and quickly drifted off to sleep.
Around 3 am, I heard the voice of a woman telling us we needed to leave. I rolled over and didn’t think much of it. But, this pesky woman’s voice wouldn’t leave so I put on my glasses and peered through my bag. Sure enough, there was a cop standing above us. Our group of seven sat up and discussed the situation at hand. She didn’t want us camping in our space- even though we had been doing so for the past few nights. Two other cops came and joined her- and weighed out some possibilities with us. While the others were discussing with the cops, I decided to scroll through my Twitter feed and my phone. My messages were blowing up- apparently; there had been a 6.0 earthquake that we had all somehow managed to sleep through! WHAT?! How in the world were we not able to feel it? We were sleeping outside, on the ground and none of us felt anything. I couldn’t even believe it. My mom, my old boss, some hometown friends were all freaking out asking if we were okay, but oddly enough we hadn’t felt a single thing.
Anyway, we finally made arrangements with security and they ended up moving us a few hundred feet down, onto the side of the road. Cool. We all laid our bags back out and feel immediately back to sleep. The next morning, Nick thought it was fun to wake me up by laying on me, poking me and over-all just being a bug. It’s amazing to me how comfortable it can be to be snuggled up on the ground. I think I could have kept sleeping there for ages- I was already exhausted and we were barely into our trip.
Starbucks and bagels were served up as we geared for another day of line waiting. Just as the day before, we made posters, sat around and talked and anticipated the walk in to the show. We were lucky enough to get to shower in a friend’s hotel today, which meant we could actually look like functioning humans of society. Yay. The walk in was similar to the night before. Security took good care of us- allowing us to walk in as a small group of 20-30 before letting the mad house begin. The same group of people ended up behind me and again, formed their barricade. It all seemed to work out perfectly.
Dave started with his beautiful rendition of John Denver’s “Take Me to Tomorrow.” I never get tired of hearing that. Night 2, Dave had joked about needing to go put on his “clown outfit” in-between sets and came back out juggling some balls. For Night3 Stef went and got a clown’s wig and a bunch of clown noses for the front row to wear. During the electric set opener, Jimi Thing, we threw the clown hat on stage while wearing out noses. Dave picked up the wig and entertained us for a few minutes while introducing the rest of the band. The rest of the set included some of my absolute favorites, “The Idea of You”, “Best of What’s Around”, “So Right” and “Pig”. It was probably one of my favorite shows of the summer, so far. I left the venue that night perfectly happy with everything we had heard that weekend. I don’t think I could have asked for anything more- it was seemingly perfect. Great friends, great band, great music and great memories. The bittersweet end of Berkeley was made more sweet than bitter by the simple fact that even though summer was ending, the fun was only beginning.
Next stop; Golden Gate Bridge & Bend, Oregon.