Snoop Dogg and Incubus concerts

I’d never been to a big concert before, but a couple weeks ago, my cherry was popped in double, by Snoop Dogg and Incubus. Here’s a tale of how it all went:

Snoop Dogg played at the Grand Sierra in Reno, on July 9th 2009. Kelly, her brother Kyle and I went, and since we got in early we planted ourselves only feet away from the stage, hoping to be able to see a super-famous rapper from up-close.
The opening act was Stephen Marley (son of Bob). He put on a good show, with lots of people on stage, a little kid waving a Jamaican flag the whole time, and playing for almost an hour. By the way, he does sound a lot like his late father.

Since I didn’t know how things worked out, I expected Snoop Dogg to just come out as soon as the Marley troupe was gone from the stage, but I was told that they had to set up, and that it usually takes a good 30 minutes or so for the main act to come onstage.

Thirty minutes went by… four times. That’s right. A whole two hours later, Snoop Dogg showed up to do his thang. In the meantime, a lot of pushing and shoving went on in the crowd, and some drunk skanks got kicked out of the venue for getting in fights.

Regardless, as soon as Snoop showed up (he apparently was delayed because they were driving from California and got stuck in traffic), the crowd went wild.

Since he started so late, his setlist was cut in half and he ended up playing for less than an hour. He left the stage, and the crowd cheered for an encore. Staff started taking instruments down, and the cheering quickly turned into booing. It got so bad that they just closed the curtains to the stage.
I’m guessing this came from the GSR cutting it short, and it was pretty disappointing to have stood shoulder to shoulder with several hundreds of people for 5 hours, to only see a couple of hours of  spectacle.

On Sunday, July 11th, my mediocre experience was absolutely redeemed. We flew down to Las Vegas for the weekend. Besides doing the Vegas thing -walk around with a huge adult beverage in hand-  we had one major reason for being there. Incubus was touring, and this was the closest they’d get to us, so we were going to see them!

On our way to the venue, the Hard Rock Hotel of Las Vegas, we walked past a door where Ben Kenney (bass player of Incubus)  was hanging out, smoking a cigarette with a security guard. We came up to say hi, and we was very friendly, and Kelly even got a picture with him.

The venue (aka the Joint) at the Hard Rock was far superior than the GSR’s ballroom. It was clean. The staff were friendly, and I didn’t have to smuggle my camera in my underwear, because they allowed them.

Incubus put on a great show, and I enjoyed it much more than Snoop Dogg’s antics. The sound was fabulous, they had a very cool light show that went with the music and there was an LED screen in the background that played clips to go with it all. Fantastic:

Now, I was able to say I’d been to a concert. A real one, with a band that shows up when they should, provide great entertainment, at a venue that knows how to accommodate concertgoers.
However, my favorite part of it all wasn’t the awesome show. It was having Kelly next to me singing her heart out. I felt so lucky to be able to share with her, as her favorite band rocked her socks off.

This all makes me very excited about Outside Lands, which Kelly and I are planning on going to this year. More concerts!

So we went to Argentina

After a rather uneventful series of flights, we landed in Mendoza. We walked off the plane (using airstairs) and into the airport, where a small welcoming party patiently awaited for us.

Fresh off the plane, and only a few hours later, my dad prepared a monumental asado to usher us into Argentina. Not only that, but we were joined by both my parents, both brothers and their girlfriends, my grandparents and my aunt. It was quite the committee, and even though I expected it, I think it took Kelly by surprise.

That was only a preview of what the next two weeks would be: an incomparable gastronomical journey, where we ingested food in both great quantity and quality. We had a little bit of everything, but I can’t miss the chance to mention some of my (and now Kelly’s!) favorites: milanesas, empanadas, alfajores and lots of delicious wine.

We visited a lot of people and places, and my mom had planned things for most days, which kept us plenty busy. I’m pretty sure Kelly met 90% of the family, all the way up to my grandmother’s sisters.
It was also gratifying to be able to show Kelly where I grew up. I showed her the schools I went to (and the one that inspired my tattoo), the streets I played in, the buses that I rode around and the places where I used to go.

There were a few memorable events that took place, which I will just itemize for brevity’s sake:

  • We spent 4 days in a small apartment in downtown Mendoza. The place was very cold, but having to heat it up with precarious gas heaters was only a fraction of the weirdness.
    It was located right above a parking garage, which got unbearably loud as the business day started at 6am. Car alarms, traffic and people being loud woke us up, and would only let us be half-asleep until we gave up and got up half tired, and full cranky.
  • On the first night in Mendoza, and in the apartment, Kelly was woken up at 2 in the morning by a very peculiar sound. There was someone driving down the street, with his music on full blast. Apparently, the car stopped at a red light. And the song that he was having all of the city listen to at this time of night was no other than Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise.
    When she told me this the next day, the song was stuck in my head for at least two entire days. Thankfully, we found it hilarious.
  • We visited a couple of the finest wineries in Mendoza: Fournier and Salentein. We learned about the wine-making process, we sampled lots of delicious wines, and had a wonderful time with the family.
  • On Saturday night, Kelly was brushing her teeth when a hose under the sink busted. Water was spraying everywhere, and the only solution was to shut off the main water line. This meant that we couldn’t flush the toilet or shower.
  • On Sunday morning, we woke up and packed our stuff, and moved to a very nice hotel for the rest of our stay. Life was much better 6 stories away from downtown traffic, and with much better heating. As an added bonus, we also had internet access and my iPhone came in very handy to catch up and keep in touch with home.
  • Hanging out with some of my old friends was just like time had never passed. We met, we talked, we had fun and we said goodbye in a “I’ll see you tomorrow” kind of vibe.

We spent the last 3 days in the country in Buenos Aires. The weather was perfect for walking around, and we did a lot of that: from the Congress to San Telmo (the Tango district), with stops at the Obelisk and the Pink House. We saw lots of things, and chose to walk because it’s better to be able to hear and breathe a city than to see it pass you by if you chose to ride a taxi from one destination to the other. And it’s also a lot nicer to walk when you have someone’s hand to hold in yours.

One of the reasons why we went to Buenos Aires was to check out a soccer game. And that we did. We stood in a long line, with lots of shady characters, and bought tickets from the nicest scalper in the world. Some teenage punk tried to spit at Kelly as we walked past the security line, and we didn’t really know if we were in the right line… but it all worked out, and we made it inside Boca Juniors‘ stadium. Despite Boca losing the match, we had a great time soaking in the fans’ passion, the songs, the fireworks and the entire experience. We even had a choripán from a street vendor on the way out!

We also spent a day walking around the more centric part of Buenos Aires, and we walked up and down Florida Avenue. We had lunch at my favorite restaurant, Los Inmortales. Oh, and I got a Rhodochrosite ring for Kelly, to mark the occasion of our unforgettable trip to my motherland.

You’re probably wondering where all the pictures are. It was hard for me to chose which pictures to include in my post, since there’s a lot of good ones. Instead, you get to look at all of them by clicking the link:

And that’s that. Well, not really. There’s a lot to it, but I can’t do it justice without writing something akin to an essay. I can sum it all up by saying that it’s always great to see my family and friends, to be home and eat the stuff I grew up eating. But it’s even better to be able to do it in company of the love of my life.