My happy ending arrived after all.
After the absurd occurrences leading up to this event that included some of Malaysia’s most idiotic circumsized dickheads (forgive the pun) & a dead-undead car, 29th August could not have come soon enough. Finally, the day I’ve been waiting, since the delightful tunes of “Complicated” first knocked on my ears 6 years back, is here. The Avril awesomeness has landed.
Yea, & that other thing, Merdeka.
Part I: The Wait & the Shit Before…
It was a wonderful feeling, going to Stadium Merdeka on a Merdeka weekend, but not to celebrate the country’s backwards growth in 51 years of independence. Joshua, Chris, Chee Fai & I arrived at the stadium at approximately 4.45pm, before cramming in the queue for the RM338 Red Zone entrance under the intense heat & sun light. Hotlink & Maxis were having massive promotions & advertisements, while Belinda C with the 8TV crew were going around acting cute & interviewing people with pink ties or pink shirts. Oh, despite the reported protests, we spotted nothing of that nature, only the armies of FRU personnel & vehicles as well as the police patrolling the area.
Observing the “no camera or recording devices” warning, we stuffed our digi cams in our crotch zone, the waistline of our jeans being the fastener & of course our own trusted P as base support. The doors of the stadium opened at 7.30pm, & with us already sweating & exhausted from the lining-up-under-sun, added with digicams securely positioned in such a way that they gave the impression that we each had a massive erection, it was no easy task to run towards the stage to get a strategic location. In the end, we all got ourselves the best spot possible, center & a row away from the gates that separated our Red Zone & the VIP box.
Wait a minute, the VIP box? To our horror, we discovered that the RM338 Red Zone wasn’t as close to the stage as we hoped, thanks to the enormous space nearest to the stage dedicated to undeserving VIPs. The VIP box, situated in what usually was the mosh pit area for standard rock concerts, not only took over the entire area directly in front of the stage, it was filled with chairs! What the fark are chairs doing right in front of an Avril Lavigne stage?! Galaxy, you moron organizers. To make matters worse for us, as the VIPs slowly arrived & landed their colossal butts in assigned seats, we, the die-hard fans who forked out for the most expensive ticket we could get our hands on, observed in complete agony that some of the VIPs consisted of apek uncles, uninterested Datuks & Datins, & overdressed Ah Lians & Ah Bengs who didn’t even seem to know who Avril was.
The situation worsened when, after soaking ourselves under the intense sun for so long, rain started to fall just after we entered into the stadium. Then the organizers started handing out colourful garbage plastic bags that were designed as rain coats for all of us to wear. Great, we were already going through two contrastingly extreme weathers, & we found ourselves barricaded behind a box full of very important asses, now we looked like multi-coloured thrash. After playing a set of annoyingly repetitive Avril clips & advertisements, the lights finally dimmed at 9pm, but not for Avril. Instead a Michael-Jackson-wannabe dude hopped out & performed Maroon 5’s “This Love”, complete with some photostated MJ moves. I had no idea why he was the opening act, nor did I know or care who the hell he actually was, but it felt something like Colbie Caillat opening for Metallica. I was the first to shout “WE WANT AVRIL!” after the dude finished the last lines of “This Love”. Thankfully, the dude relieved us of our misery as he left after that one song.
Part II: The Awesomeness Arrives…
I’m telling you, the wait was pure anguish. Legs were sore, & it did not help that Joshua kept complaining like a girl about his back pain. But everything was forgotten (& almost forgiven) when the band finally stepped out & churned out a warming up session, before finally kicking off the tunes of “Girlfriend”. At 9.15pm, with the crowd completely exploding in joy, Avril Lavigne Whibley emerged & skipped out onto the stage.
Right at that moment, I was almost shocked in disbelief, overwhelmed with a strange concoction of confused feelings that included me wanting to shout in joy, cry & die at the same time, very much unable to grasp the fact that I am actually watching the petite Avril, the Avril Joshua & I worshipped in high school, in person. But just as she hit the first chorus, I finally regained awareness & before long, supported by my poorly weakening knees & ankles, I was jumping like a 5-year-old starstruck maniac along to the “Hey hey you you!”s.
Part III: Anything But Ordinary…
Okay, I will try to push aside my over-biased opinions & the complete euphoria of seeing my highschool idol live, while trying to rationalize the performance. TOO SHORT would be the first two words that come into mind, as she rocked 17 songs in total in 1 hour & 15 minutes. The good thing is we felt it was too quick simply because we were having the time of our lives. Avril’s singing was flawless, & the band was excellent but knew their place well, which was to back & support Avril. Musically however, the overall sound came out as imbalanced, with the bass drum swallowing everything up & the lead guitar barely noticeable. I probably expected too much, since this was after all a big-ass open-air concert. I was most excited to see Jim McGorman who was on rhythm guitar; he was most popular for being part of the house band for Rock Star: Supernova, while Steve Fekete was the latest lead guitarist, replacing Devin Bronson (& before that, Evan Taubenfeld). There was no doubt who the real star was that night, & the crowd lapped up every one of Avril’s antics. Avril looked as hot as ever, even with curly hair (though deep down, I might have preferred to see the classic straight-hair), but what I did not expect was how bloody adorable she actually was! With the cheekiest grins & smiles flashed all the time, she pranced & skipped around like the happiest being in the world. Gone are the emo-days of “Let Go” & “Under My Skin”. As she performed most of the songs from her latest album (which I do not quite approve of, because it made the concert too pop-ish), I was quite dissatisfied with the meager number of tracks chosen from the 1st two albums. We sang our hearts out to favourites like “My Happy Ending”, “I’m With You”, “Complicated”, & “When You’re Gone”, but songs that she skipped like “Tomorrow”, “Nobody’s Home”, “Nobody’s Fool” & “Mobile” were sorely missed. One thing about singing along to Avril’s songs is that her pitch certainly doesn’t suit the male normal pitch range; we either had to scream really high (& completely off tune) or really low (with reduced volume).
Part IV: The Best Damn Moments, & Some Not-So…
Here comes my favourite part, the most memorable moments of the concert. I think I’ve already mentioned how incredibly hot she was that night. But my favourite moment (something all 4 of us agreed on) has to be when a pink baby grand piano was brought out, & Avril played & sang her heart out to a stripped-down version of “When You’re Gone” on it. With the spotlight focusing only on her & the piano, it was the single most beautiful moment of the night. The momentum was continued when right after that, she launched into the melancholic “Innocence”, & then performed the next few songs (“Losing Grip” &“Hot”) with her pink sparkling acoustic guitar, backed by 2 other acoustic guitars. That chain of stripped-down acoustic performances was by far the best agenda of the night. Following in a close second was how she sent us all to the point of complete orgasm when she playfully conducted the crowd to a scream-silent-scream sequence. When she raised her arms, we all screamed madly, & when she lowered her arms, we had to keep silent. Of course remaining silent at some points was impossible, to which she mischievously put her knuckles on the sides of her waist in mock displeasure. The whole sequence finally ended when she raised her arms high up, shaking her hands, soaking in the complete glory of our ecstasy. The smile on her face at the moment – priceless; she was so damn cute I could have died a happy man right there right then. Finally, Avril playing the drums while singing “Runaway”, that was a real gem.
Despite that, her interaction with the audience was kept to a minimum, which I largely suspect is due to the unresponsive VIPs sitting their fat asses down right in front of the stage. She also skipped all the swear & bad words in her songs, but WE sure as hell didn’t. I remember how loud the crowd barked “SHIT” during the “All the SHIT that you do” line in “My Happy Ending”. I swear I saw Avril almost grinning in glee. I also got a strange feeling that Avril gave a very controlled performance. She minimized the screams & energetic jumps, resorting to mostly skipping & prancing around the stage instead. The same pair of jeans (with the skull on her right knee) was worn throughout the night, only changing her tops (the last red hooded sweater was kick-ass!), & at one point we noticed how she sort of tugged down her top. Go figure. The flow of the arrangement was not the best at times; I especially found the break-dance routine by her back-up dancers (twice!) to be awkwardly irksome, & I feel the Lil’ Mama remix of “Girlfriend” has to be axed from her track list.
“Sk8er Boi” was appropriately selected as her last encore song, & I jumped like the ground was on fire to the tune. Agonizingly, she did not stay long for goodbyes, only giving us a quick wave & a thank you before disappearing backstage, concluding the first stop of her The Best Damn Asian Tour at 10.30pm. Josh & I stared in disbelief, that just like that, our Avril came & left. We screamed our lungs out for her to come back, but she never reappeared.
Part V: The Shit that Happened…
Avril was awesome; there is no doubt about that. There were however some really bad bits that night (that had nothing to do with her). Between organizers Galaxy & Hotlink, I damn whoever who structured the crowd zone arrangement to hell for what was possibly the worse standing & seating arrangement in recent eons. The seated VIP box is a complete embarrassment & fiasco, & it prevented us, the die-hard fans, from fully soaking in the experience. As if that wasn’t enough, the VIPs didn’t even seem enthusiastic, & were already standing up to leave even before “Sk8er Boi” ended! Fark all of you man. Joshua was observing the apek tua who was sitting at the left side in the VIP area, & noticed how the stupid apek tua was so unresponsive & just sat crossed-arms throughout the entire concert! Unbelievable shit, we were so angry at this particular apek tua that the only way we could ever forgive him is if he actually died of heart attack, thus explaining why he was so impassive. I do pity those who bought the free-standing RM268 & RM168 ticks, since we in the RM338 zone were already feeling disappointed with our location.
Another thing we 4 guys experienced that night was this creature thingy called BWBs, or Bitch With Boobs. Now before you girls get all angry about this, I’m not referring to women, I’m referring a specific breed that night who, from behind, tried their very best in “boobing” their way through the crowd to get as front as possible. As the 4 of us were among those nearest to the front, Joshua, who was nearest to me, was among the first to experience “boobing”. Let me try to explain to you how “boobing” works. A BWB would first try to force one boob in between the people in front of her by thrusting forward her chest. Being the gentlemen we usually were, we would of course try to avoid the poking boob, & just as we did that, before we even realized it, a second boob will appear, following swiftly the first boob. & just as the pair of boobs have gained access to the next level, the entire body of the BWB would of course follow. The procedure would then be repeated from row to row until finally the BWB reaches the front. Of course, a particular BWB failed in her quest as Chee Fai, who was a being a complete non-gentleman at the RIGHT time, elbowed her boobs backwards.
Part VI: The Aftermath…
Oh…guess who I finally met after the concert?
Angel, now our Miss Malaysia Tourism Metropolitan 2008, haha, it’s been a long time, as always. Gel was actually still contemplating whether to come to the concert till the day itself, apalah; until I had to bug her to come. But it came not as a surprise that Avril indeed does reunite some of us that were ardent friends during our teenage years, which was another wonder to marvel at that night. Also, it was an endearing sight to see some kids who came dressed in self-drawn Avril t-shirts.
After all, on that night, Avril came & gave me something to remember & cherish for the rest of my life. Though not musically her best (as compared to her awesome acoustic performance in the Roxy Theatre), & despite the lingering thought of how it could have been better, her fantastic performance still left us all with a rapturous sense of exhilaration, a dream fulfilled, & of course, incredibly sore knees & ankles.
Heck, I’m already missing her.
Avril Lavigne sang:
2. I Can Do Better
4. My Happy Ending
5. I’m With You
6. I Always Get What I Want
7. When You’re Gone
10. Losing Grip
11. Everything Back But You
13. The Best Damn Thing
14. I Don’t Have To Try
15. He Wasn’t
16. Girlfriend (Remix)
17. Sk8er Boi