Sunday, January 17, 2016

Our frozen asses belong to Muse

We hard core fans have been saying our asses belong to Muse since last March when the song Psycho came out, with Matt in the character of drill sergeant singing "your ass belongs to me now" to a recruit. So when we finally got Drones tour dates for the US Midwest and saw they were in Dec. and Jan. , we nicknamed it the #FreezeYourAssTour.  We sort of lucked out though, precipitation was minimal and temps were milder than they sometimes are in January.

I got to sleep on my sister's sofa the night before the Chicago gig, then hooked up with my Musers for brunch. Wildberry's was great in every way, hope I can go back sometime.
taken by our awesome server at Wildberry's, Kym Detato's photo

The queue at the United Center was challenging though. Many layers, and most used hand warmers, making us look like extras from "Fargo" 
me, Lisa & Shauna, Wendy Smith's photo

 We also had breaks for the bathroom or just to pop in Melodie's van which she generously ran for us. One bathroom break occurred at the famous Billy Goat Tavern, kind of wish it had been the right time for a "cheezborger" 
Finally they lined us up at the doors, having teased us that they might do it an hour early. but they did not. In fact, we ended up standing there an extra half hour due to difficulties with the stage set-up, causing people who had ditched some layers to shiver. I had not since my outer layers were old ugly things that I did not care if I had to stand on or what. At last, we got let in, wristbanded, and then a short wait at the inner doors, the United Center does at least do a good job keeping our queue in order. So soon we were on the floor heading to a particular barrier spot , guided by Wendy, who had not only been to several earlier gigs, but is tall enough to spot easily :-) 
barrier babes: me (barely visible & texting), Janelle, Kelsy, Jen, Shauna, Lisa, Wendy
X Ambassadors opened the show. I had heard a couple songs on the radio and thought they were merely OK, but they really brought it live. The frontman is high energy and multi-talented, and the keyboard player played a beautiful interlude before their big hit, Unsteady.
We then waited impatiently as final preparations were made for Muse, including 2 announcements to disable our flash functions, though they welcomed people taking photos and videos. At last we saw the "stormtroopers" military looking types in blue blinking glasses- because of the blinking, none of my photos of them came out well. However, the recorded title track of Drones that usually starts the show was not played, and then our Muse boys came right out and plunged into Psycho. Let the head-banging and jumping begin!
Muse- Dom Howard, Chris Wolstenholme, Matt Bellamy
After this, I rather lost track of which of these photos were taken during what song. I have often said I don't care what songs are on the set list, but I was a little pleased that Map of the Problematique, one of my first favourite Muse songs, is back in rotation.



Dom, arm porn!

Some photos have visual cues that remind me which song it is, these next two are Apocalypse Please.

And this one is clearly the Drones Drum & Bass jam

My cheesy shot of the overhead screen during Madness.

Besides the round overhead screen, at times, transparent curtains dropped down for visual projections. 
projection of Dom during Undisclosed Desires

Back to not being sure which song...but I managed to get a shot of  Morgan Nicholls, Muse's 4th member for live touring,

Morgan, Dom, Matt
 An unfortunately unfocused, but particularly sexy pic of the Wolstenbeast!
 The next two may both be during Reapers though the lighting makes the guitars look different. At the end of this Matt beat up his guitar.  These Manson guitars are tough and can be repaired, but this night he actually broke a piece off!

my attempt at a close-up of Matt's fingers
Matt strutting on one of the catwalks

The confetti tells me this is probably Mercy, when we get showered with little grey drone men confetti and red & white streamers.
From there they go into the epic closer Knights of Cydonia.

Then came the most amazing moment for me. Wendy had positioned us where we were because she knew the steps the band takes to leave the stage would take them right in front of us. I had a pair of socks for Matt, a holiday pattern this time, and normally I would have tossed them on the stage for him. After consulting Wendy, I decided to take a chance of handing them to him as he walked by. After all, if that failed, I could toss them the next night when we were at the Detroit show.  But it did not fail!  He not only took the socks, he stopped to unwrap them...
Janelle Miller's photo
Kelsy Butterfield's photo
He seemed surprised that I was giving him something! :-)  and then to my complete shock, he came over and hugged me!!! Most people reading this probably know I am a "Matt girl" , so this was the thrill of a lifetime for me.  You can't quite see me, which is OK, my hair must have been a fright, however, I'm wearing olive green, you can make out my hands.
Janelle Miller's photo
Kelsy Butterfield's photo
Huge thanks to Janelle and Kelsy for getting this moment on camera!! Somehow I continued breathing and walking after this. I am still giddy 4 days later when I am typing this.

Others of our group had a good night, too, Wendy caught Matt's blinky glasses at the end of Undisclosed Desires, and Melodie got Chris' harmonica at the end of the show.

After the show, Crystal proves you can never have too many streamers :-)

Most of us had actually made it to the merch tables before the show, so food was the next order of business, especially for those of us nutty enough to drive overnight to Detroit to queue for the barrier again. A few of us went to the Golden Nugget so we could meet up with Jae who had been in the VIP section. There we finally got a good look at her red metallic pants :-) , and way more food than we could eat!

Then we regrouped for our mini-convoy to Detroit: Shauna and Kelsy in Jen's car, me and Wendy in Melodie's van. I rode shotgun and attempted to help the drivers stay awake but did end up nodding off a few times when Wendy was driving. She was fine though, singing along with Frank Turner :-) And we made enough rest stops too, both for bodily functions and driver alertness.

Then began the adventures that caused us to consider the hashtag #fuckingDetroit.  Once in the city, we had a devil of a time finding the arena parking lot. One wrong turn had us in a spot where we witnessed the tour buses pulling in, so that made us smile for a moment. Then back to frustration..even with an idea of where to go, screwy Detroit intersections with U turns required messed with us. We finally found the arena lot only to be informed by the attendant that it closed at 5! We explained we would be queuing all day for the Muse show that night. An older female attendant nearby laughed  "Oh that ain't happening!"  grrr, so we got out of there. Eventually we realized we would not be able to park close to the arena, so we went to our hotel. The Crowne Plaza was  not far, but between the distance and valet parking, we would not be able to use cars for warming up. Luckily, temps had risen overnight. And we had some shelter. We were also the very front of the line this time. 
Chinmayi's photo
After what had happened for me the night before, I knew this gig might be somewhat anti-climactic, but we got to meet more Muser friends. Ellen was driving up from Ohio even though she had to turn around and drive back right after the show.  Chinz found us thanks to an online introduction via Catherine Marlin. Catherine, Muse's most devoted fan, was with us in spirit, and we had a couple pics of her face on sticks, "flat Cath" that we were taking everywhere with us! 

We took turns going back to the hotel to wash up. That revived me a little. We also had a good time getting to know new people in the queue and signing the tour flag ( we also did that in Chicago, but it was hindered a little by greater need for hats and scarves) Then we once again heard from security that the band was behind schedule setting up. So we were a bit more cautious about the timing of removing layers and taking sleeping bags away. Wendy and I cut it real close, they were lining us up to be wristbanded when we got back.

That's when the real clusterfuck started. They told us they were opening 3 doors for this, so that scrambled our queue order, then when they actually opened only 2 , it was even worse, Wendy and I had to shove our way into another line. Even more ridiculous, after doing this, they put us back outside in 2 lines, now completely mangled as far as queue order. :-( We were still near the front though.  As we waited, we were told numbers of gates we could use to access the general admission floor. We raced for those when they let us in, and incomprehensibly, at some of these gates, personnel were still blocking people, and others were not! Some of us caught on to this and moved to one that let us in and then ran for our spots. No one cautioned us not to run despite steep stairs down to the floor. Somehow everyone but Chinz made it to our same spot on the barrier though we had to hold a spot for Melodie for a bit. I think it is a miracle no one was trampled or hurt. None of us had ever experienced a worse entry procedure :-(  There were also a couple rude, possible drunk people trying to wiggle forward into our barrier spots, but we were firm.
Ellen, me holding flat Cath, Melodie, Wendy, Shauna, Jen, Kelsy- Kelsy Butterfield's photo
Security at Joe Louis Arena failed later, too. We noticed a drunk person who had passed out and told the guards in front of us, but they said they couldn't do anything. They also failed to mind the mosh pit.

X Ambassadors opened with the same set as the night before, but they rock so hard, it was still enjoyable. Then when it was time for Muse, this night we got Drones, both the audio track with Matt's beautiful voice in 5 layers of choral singing,  and the giant round things flying over our heads.

So cool! I also tried to be more judicious in what I chose to photograph this time since I theoretically knew when I might have good shots. However, it's a 360 stage, part of the time we are looking at the boys' bums, and Matt moves very fast, so this one was an accident, but I am OK with that!

Much of the Muse set list was the same too, but not all, and the acoustics may have been slightly better. Having the drones flying added something too. Here during Supermassive Black Hole, I think they look like Christmas baubles.

Again, not sure what song some of these are from.

The drones were having some difficulties though.  A couple round ones had to be deactivated after bopping people on the heads. The big drone was still launched, but it also had some issues with going where it was not supposed to. 

The band carried on like the pros they are through all of this, though Matt seemed to find some of the mishaps funny. However, the boys seemed a bit tired, and then the piano lift also malfunctioned so we did not get one of the planned piano songs; later we found it was supposed to be United States of Eurasia.

This time during Mercy , I decided to photograph the confetti. I did not plan to get hands in this shot, but that I am glad I did as it captures the excitement of the crowd.
confetti and streamers during Mercy
All too soon, we were at the finale again, a little sadder for me this time since I have no other shows to go to on this tour, and I knew I would not be handing Matt socks again.

Knights of Cydonia, long view

Knights of Cydonia, zooming in on Matt, Chris and Dom
They did their usual tossing out of picks, harmonica and drumsticks- Wendy finally got a harmonica as she had been holding up a sign for one. However, they exited rather more quickly this night, though we still got some quick high fives in.

Despite all the difficulties, we were all ecstatic after the show.
back-Kelsy, Kym, Ellen, Wendy ,Melodie, me, front-Shauna,Jen, Lisa: Wendy Smith's photo slightly cropped
Then for most of us it was time to party! Food was a priority again, so pizza was ordered promptly. We also had snacks and wine in the room and some went to the hotel bar and got drinks that looked really good, but I mostly needed water. Some of us had been at the barrier, but others had seats for this show, so we had a lot to share. After a while I made a spot for my sleeping bag because Melodie planned to leave at 9 am. I apparently got to sleep easily as I totally missed those who were still up singing Bohemian Rhapsody over the phone to Ellen as she drove back to Ohio.

Shauna, a qualified Chicago driver after 9 years, did the driving on the morning shift, and handled all the jerks on the road well.  We listened to some Frank Turner again, but also Shauna's mix playlist which included some Bowie ( tears) and some Muse ( fist pumping!)  It seemed we were back at my sister's place all too soon; I did not want this adventure to end.  After a shower, I took a photo of all my souvenirs, the black satiny thing is part of a Hullaballoon- they bounce over the crowd during Starlight.

Most people would take a January vacation in a warm place, but I would not trade this. Being with my Muser friends, ones I know well, ones I knew online and finally met , and brand new ones, all made this trip fantastic. Though Muse themselves are still my reason for being there, and it is hard to top a hug from Matt, those things could not have happened if we were not all mutually supporting each other. I can't wait to do it again, though it would be fine if it was not in the dead of winter during a Mercury retrograde again!


  1. Reading through this felt like I was teleported into your story! Relived the Detroit concert and 'toured' the Chicago one. That's awesome, you giving Matt a pair of socks as gift and awesomer getting a hug from him!!! Lucky Wendy too!

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  3. Awwww, I love this! I love Muse & my Musers, and it indeed was quite the adventure. Thanks for posting!

  4. Nicole, great account. Glad I was there in spirit, but next time, I hope it will be my 3D version. Detroit entrance was so good last tour - can't believe they messed it up! And well done on the socks and hug - I know you have been yearning for that since Minneapolis, 2010! Feels good, doesn't it?!!!