This Kind of Thing Only Happens To Me - I'm Only Here to Here to Hang!
Updated: Aug 31, 2020
A few weeks ago, Friday May 10, I drove down to Newport, KY to attend the first show of the tour my friends Nonpoint are on. They're out with P.O.D., Islander and Nine Shrines, all of who I am fans of.
Islander are my friends too, and were also on the tour last year that I worked with Nonpoint, so I got to know them pretty well. So I really wasn't going just for a show, I was going to see a bunch of my friends. Couple this with my Facebook community 361° All Things Nonpoint, I'm quite recognizable at a Nonpoint show. The Facebook group is fairly large and many people know me from it (this comes into play later).
Yes, the tour was coming closer to my home (I live in the suburbs) in Chicago, but it was on Mother's day, and I have a wife, a mother and a mother in law, so there was a lot going on this day. The Nonpoint guys know I love them, and I'll always do my best to come see them on tour. I looked at the dates and the map and this really wasn't that far (five hours), so I called a friend of mine and we made the trip. Neither of us had been to the Newport area before, so this was 100% brand new for us both.
Anyway, we get there, I see the Nonpoint guys, say hi, catch up a bit, then I excuse myself, my friend and I haven't really eaten and we need some dinner. While walking to the place to eat, I run into Chris Carvajal, the keyboard player/backup vocalist from Islander. He's my pal, he does their merch, so he and I got to be friends on the tour last year.
He looks at me and goes "wait, you're here? I thought you lived somewhere else. Where do you live?" I go "Chicago, man, I'm just here to hang." I explain that the show in Chicago is Mother's day and blah blah blah, and he understands, then he goes "You wanna work tonight?"
I go "for who?" I know Nonpoint has a merch person, and I know he handles his own band's stuff as well as Nine Shines doing their own, but he goes "for P.O.D., they don't have merch person yet."
I think about it for a second and say "If they need help, no problem, I'm in." I told him Robb from Nonpoint would vouch for me (I've worked merch at various Nonpoint shows for almost four years now) and Chris himself could also vouch for me.
I'm at the restaurant and my phone lights up, it's Chris. "Cool man, it's set up if you want to." I tell him I do, and I'm eating, but I'll be back in a little bit. I finish up my dinner and make my way back to the venue.
I'm introduced to P.O.D.'s Tour Manager who finishes up the band's pre-show Meet and Greet activities, photos etc. and comes by and shakes my hand "thanks for doing this, man. We really appreciate it" I tell him "no problem, I'm always happy to help out." He takes me to meet the guys in the band, and they're all super cool, then I meet their singer, Sonny Sandoval. He and I talk for a couple minutes and then he takes me inside to show me all their merch.
He set up all their stuff, so I basically just had to start working, there were a few things which needed to be priced out, but we figured all that out. He gets me some start up cash (to make change with) and some paper and "OK, I'm working for P.O.D. now."
About a half hour later, the doors open and people start coming in, as I mentioned before, I'm known as that Nonpoint guy to many, so the sight of me, working for a band that isn't Nonpoint was a little much for some people to digest. One person walked over "are you lost? you work for that band" motioning to the merch booth next to mine, where Nonpoint has their set up. I go "I know, I'm just helping out tonight."
All in all, it was a wonderful night. My merch table was in the showroom, which meant I could actually see the show (my favorite kinds of shows), and everyone was great. Nine Shrines crushed it, and I picked up their new record on vinyl. Islander played my #1 song of theirs. Nonpoint are ALWAYS great, 130+ shows now, and I still love seeing them live. And P.O.D., man, what can I say... they've got some fantastic songs and they damn near blew the roof off the place.
The night ends, I close up merch, I pack up all the shirts, I count up all the money and now I'm stuck with a dilemma; "Do I let myself onto their bus?" I mean I was working for them, and I do have their money in my possession, so I don't think they'll mind, but at the same time, my gosh darn Midwestern politeness overtakes me and I think "maybe I should knock" (SIDE NOTE: It wasn't until my third show working for Nonpoint that Rasheed told me "you don't gotta knock on the door, you can just come in") - I remembered that, so I opened the door and let myself on to P.O.D.'s bus.
I'm greeted like a long-lost member of the family, they all greet me warmly, and again, thank me for working for them. I go to the back of the bus with Sonny to count up their money and turn it all in. We get that out of the way and he and I just talk. He asks if I'm married (I am), If I have children (I do), how I know Nonpoint, how long I've been doing stuff for them and on and on. He offered to pay me for the night's work, and initially I told him no, that I was just happy to help out. He insisted that I take some money from him, so I did. He asked me if I took any merch. I didn't, because it wasn't talked about earlier in the night. Then he goes "oh man, you should have!" I said "well, nothing's put away yet...so maybe I will"
I said my goodbyes to P.O.D. and made my way back into the club, where I did grab myself a shirt (hey! I was told it was cool)... I also found Adam from Nonpoint and spent a few minutes talking with him. I walked around a little more, found my friend, said my goodbyes to anyone else I knew from either band or crew that I know and we walked to our hotel.
Got up in the morning, had breakfast and drove home. A very good night.
But seriously, had I not been walking down that street at that precise time, I wouldn't have run into Chris and this whole series of events may not have happened... who else do you know is going to a show "only to hang" and ends up working merch for one of the bands?? I swear, this kind of thing only happens to me.
P.S. - if you happen to find yourself in Newport, Kentucky, visit the Newport Aquarium (there's a rope bridge over a shark tank!!) and eat at Mad Mike's Burgers.