You can bet that I never imagined I would someday have the opportunity to design a poster for one of my favorite bands. I was totally floored when my old boss from Red Deluxe commissioned my work for every concert in the Live at the Garden series in Memphis and I found out the Goo Goo Dolls would be the season finale. Could’ve cried I was so thrilled. I decided on purple (they just feel purple to me—eggplant to be more specific), and I designed posters, invitations, fans and t-shirts:
Then I found out I would be receiving VIP parking passes and tickets to the show. For free. Then I really flipped out. And away we went, with Jim and Mallorie, to stay the weekend with Josh and Rebecca at their home in Collierville. The Botanic Garden concerts encourage picnicking, so Rebecca made from-scratch potato salad, pasta salad and black bean salsa. I made chicken salad. We packed our quilts, blankets, candles and ice chests and headed out. When we arrived, our hangtag parking pass allowed us into the VIP parking area, just a few yards from the concert and stage. We were SO thankful with Ben still hobbling around on his crutches. We were handed fans entering the grounds, fans that I designed. And that is a thrilling and bizarre feeling to see 15,000 people feeling the breeze with your artwork that you created at your little iMac in Laurel, Mississippi. I’ve never experienced anything like it before. It was scary. What if I had misspelled something?
A band called Parachute opened up, then Michelle Branch, then we headed to the VIP section for the Goo Goo Dolls’ set as the clock struck 10. We only got 4 VIP passes, so we had to leave Jim and Josh behind keeping watch over the picnic, sadly. Inside the VIP gates, we were able to go inside an air conditioned tent for catered food and drinks, but who wants that junk? We’re picknickers!
I asked an event staffer to help me get backstage to the band to autograph my poster, and while I wasn’t able to go back, she took it from me promising to do her best. She returned a while later with all 3 signatures right there on my poster.
And then… Then the Goo Goo Dolls came on stage. They played Slide, and I was able to get a great video with my new little Canon camera. Hearing it took me straight back to 9th grade, riding in Jeeps with my tangled hair in the wind, drinking an Ocean Water from Sonic. How does music do that?
And then… The wind began to pick up. The trees were rocking and swaying, and the jumbo screens projecting the concert were too. Then the lightening stopped looking like heat lightening and more like something dangerous. People began skittering away, grabbing their blankets and bags. The lady next to us showed us the impending severe storm cell creeping up on us with her phone, and we made a dash for Jim and Josh. They were ready to hold down the fort come hail or high water.
As Black Balloon was echoing across the gardens, the storm was all around and the rain began flooding down on us unmercifully. I pulled Ben down for a quick kiss, and in the thundering chaos of people and mud we all grabbed everything we could, laughing and slipping and sliding and hobbling all the way to the car. We were soaked to the bone. And it was perfect.