Alright, I am about to leave the office and hop on I-55 to Memphis, where I'll join up with MTV, VH1 and the Flaming Lips as the band tries perform a world-record 8 concerts in 24 hours. All the while, they will be hosting the O Music Awards, which will be broadcast for the entire 24 hours on OMusicAwards.com. I'll be taking the entire trip, hopefully. I'm definitely going to be there from Memphis to Jackson, including shows in Clarksdale and Oxford. Whether I continue on to Hattiesburg, Biloxi, Baton Rouge and New Orleans is largely up to the glorious Donna Ladd. I will be updating the blog with words and photos whenever I get the chance from the road. So as you watch the live online stream, go to the shows or do whatever life has in store for you over the next 28 hours or so, check in here for all the Flaming Lips world-record tour info you can handle.
Also, if you attend any of the shows, see the caravan pass by or run the Flaming Lips at a gas station, tell us about your experience here!
Update 5:54 p.m.: I called my contact with MTV on my way to Memphis to ask where I need to meet the media caravan. He told me that the bus was full, and I was not on the list, as Gayle from Text100 told me I was June 19. He is still going to give me passes to all of the shows, but I don't have a ride.
Gayle was extremely apologetic, and said there was something lost between her and the folks at MTV. She thought I was on the list.
Since I would have been stuck in Memphis with no ride, I came to Oxford, where I have friends going to the show. I'll be going to the show here, starting at 9 p.m. and following the band to Jackson (if my ride doesn't fall through, again).
My plan is to follow them on to Hattiesburg, and probably call it quits after that, as I don't think I'll be awake enough to drive after that. I'm pretty bummed that I didn't get on the media bus, especially after I was told that I had a spot on it. Not going to let it ruin my night, though. I'll still give you all updates from the road. I think Virginia Schreiber will take the photos in Jackson. I'm sure she'll share those as well. Check back for more updates from road, from Oxford to Hattiesburg...
Update 7:49 p.m.: I'm sitting at Ajax in Oxford. Just got a call from MTV, they said there is room on the bus after all. I already have a ride from Oxford to Jackson, and we can get to Jackson faster than caravan. So I'll get on media bus after Jackson show and follow the rest of the tour. Great to know someone got on the list and didn't care enough to show up.
Next update will be from The Lyric in Oxford with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals...
Update: 11:07 p.m.: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals just finished. Text from MTV (can't figure out if his name is Kurt or Kirk) says caravan about 10 minutes away 11 minutes ago. Getting my passes when they get here. A Chris who saw the show in Memphis said they played about an hour and a half in Memphis. GP & the N were good. Sound in The Lyric, right by sound booth is impeccable. Update after the Flaming Lips...
Update 12:11: In a Ford Explorer Sport Track headed west on HWY 6 out of Oxford. Flaming Lips played 3 songs- 2 Led Zeppelin covers and "Do You Realize". Just over the GuInness- required 15 minutes. I met Kurt from MTV. Got passes to the rest of the shows. Kurt said we are taking media bus from Biloxi to New Orleans, skipping Baton Rouge. Ready to get in there with my camera.
Virginia, how's the Jackson show? I'll see you there around 3 a.m.
Update 3:14 a.m. - At Duling Hall. Neon Indian is on now. Photographer Virginia Schreiber is on front row. I've been up since 5:20 a.m. yesterday. Pushing 24 hours now. Neon Indian is techno rockin this joint. I'm headed back into show. Stay tuned...
Update 8:42 a.m. - Back on media bus, headed to Biloxi. Kurt said we're getting on O Music Awards bus with the Flaming Lips after next stop. Hattiesburg show at Benny's Boom Boom Room was so packed most media and security couldn't get in. From about 5 feet outside the door, I could feel the sweltering heat poring out of the club. Jackson Brown and Lips played great show in the heat. That Hunter kid who opened for them can flat play a guitar. Saw Virginia Schreiber, she got some great photos in Jackson and Hattiesburg. Gonna try to get some shut eye now. Stay tuned...
P.s.- if they don't play Yoshimi in Biloxi or New Orleans, I'm going to be severely disappointed
Update 12:22 p.m. - Woke up in Biloxi to a warm welcome from the Hard Rock Cafe Poolside Club, Neon Trees and a few hundred bikini and board-short clad fans. First venue yet with ample space and a big enough bathroom. Word is that the tour is behind schedule and the Flaming Lips won't break the record. They need to hurry, can't have an announcer waste 10 minutes pumping up the crowd before the show in Baton Rouge or N.O. like they did in Biloxi. I think they'll play a stripped-down show with little set up in Baton Rouge and head out fast. Got on bus with Wayne from Flaming Lips and Chris Pontius of Jackass after Biloxi show. Got to interview them live on the O Mysic Awards. Told Pontius he was one of my childhood heros. I videotaped the press conference on my iPhone. I'll post the videos when I figure out how and have proper access.
Will be in New Orleans in just over an hour. There, I'll get to tour the production bus before I check into my hotel and hopefully get some food and a little sleep before Flaming Lips take the stage for what will hopefully be a world-record 8th time in 24 hours.
Will try to upload some photos and video when I get to New Orleans. Stay tuned...
Show's over. Here's the story..
We were speeding north on I-55, somewhere near the Lexington exit, in my fiancé Alex's black Mercedes C280 when Kurt from MTV returned my call. I was headed to Memphis to join the Flaming Lips 24-hour tour caravan and I'd called Kurt to ask where I needed to meet him to get my passes. Gayle from Text100 assured me eight days earlier that I had a spot on the media bus for the entire tour - eight shows from Memphis to New Orleans in 24 hours.
"Jacob, I thought someone at Text100 told you. The bus is full. I can give you passes to all the shows, but there is no more room on the bus."
Kurt's words were like a swift kick in the balls of the excitement that had peaked after weeks of anticipation of seeing one of the most energetic live bands in music break a world record.
"Gayle assured me I was on the bus. Is there something you can do?"
"Sorry, the bus is full."
"Alright. I've got friends in Oxford. I guess I'll meet you there and get the passes."
Alex was headed to Kentucky to see friends and was dropping me off in Memphis. I had no other ride out of town. I knew I could get a ride back to Jackson from Oxford, so it was the only choice I had.
I had talked to my friend Chris and knew he was driving to Oxford at the time. I called him back.
"Chris, where on 55 are you?"
"just passed Lexington. What's up?"
"MTV just fucked me. They didn't save me a spot on the bus and now it's full. So now I'm just going to Oxford I guess. Can we meet you somewhere and I'll ride with you, so Alex doesn't have to drive to Oxford?"
"Yeah, there's a state park exit a couple miles up. I'll meet you there."
Chris was closer to us than I thought. I called Gayle and Kurt again, hoping for better news. All I got was more apologies, empty explanations and more disappointment as we drove past the exit where Chris was waiting. I realized we missed it 7 miles later. Called Chris again.
"Hey, we missed the exit. Come up to the next exit. Only thing there is a Pure gas station. We'll meet you there."
When Chris arrived, I tossed Alex's black The North Face backpack, stuffed with clothes, a notepad, pen, MacBook, Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8 lens, a bowl of Sun Chips, toiletries, flip flops, power cords for iPhone and MacBook and an SD card reader and my Canon EOS Rebel XS camera in the back seat of Chris's Ford Explorer Sporttrack. I kissed Alex goodbye and hopped in the seat of Chris's truck.
Kurt had said he could give me passes to the shows when the media bus got to Oxford. The Flaming Lips were attempting to break Jay-Z's Guinness world record by playing 8 concerts in 8 cities in 24 hours. They would open the tour in Memphis and play in Clarksdale, Oxford, Jackson, Hattiesburg, Biloxi, Baton Rouge and cap it off with a show at the House of Blues in New Orleans.
It dawned on me in Chris's truck that if I waited for a media pass to get into the show in Oxford, I would miss the opening act - Grace Potter & the Nocturnals. Guinness only required the Flaming Lips to play for 15 minutes for it to count as a concert. Obviously, I didn't want to travel to Oxford for a 15 minute show. I was getting in to see Grace Potter.
When tickets for the shows went on sale June 8, shows in Jackson and Hattiesburg sold out in less than 20 seconds. My friends and I (I hadn't secured media passes yet) were scrambling. We didn't have tickets and we wouldn't miss this tour.
It occurred to me about 10:30 the morning of June 8 (tickets went on sale at 10) that Oxford, a college town, was half it's school-year population during the summer.
I quickly got on the website of the venue, The Lyric Theater. Tickets were still available. I proceeded to buy 12 tickets, knowing I could sell them to friends, at face value, of course.
Friends claimed all 12 tickets that week, including the one I originally bought for me, because I soon secured a media pass.
A few had canceled their intended purchase by the week of the show, though, most because they couldn't get off work for a Wednesday-night, out-of-town concert.
I'd given the last two tickets to my friend Matt as I was leaving for Memphis, about an hour before I met up with Chris, to sell for me. While in Chris's truck, I figured Matt still had the tickets, so I called him to tell him to save one for me.
"Shit dude, I already sold them," Matt said over the phone.
" Already? How?"
"I posted them on Facebook and somebody called me right away. I just dropped them off."
"Damn, I need a ticket now. I won't get a pass until the Flaming Lips get to Oxford."
After another, unanswered call to Kurt to try to get on a list at the door in Oxford, I wasn't sure how I would get into The Lyric to see Grace Potter. Was my 24-hour assignment turning into a 15-minute debacle?
(Writing from the road. I need to save iPhone battery for interviews I have later today. The story of my travels will continue from a computer as soon as I get a window to write.) All updates will be announced on my twitter feed. Stay tuned....