A Night in the ATL: Good Music and Mediocre Baseball

Here in the world of the Bear Team, we love going to shows. Now when I say shows, I don’t mean Broadway, or community theatre. I’m talking live music. Specifically live rock music. In an era dominated by the Katy Perrys and Lady Ga Gas of the world, we remain faithful to the rock bands we’ve followed over the years.

As our latest live experience approached, we’d already witnessed Drivin’ N Cryin’ take the stage to close out Athfest. We’d also been up close and personal with Southern hard rockers Jackyl at Wild Bill’s. Now we were headed to Atlanta to take in a set by alternative heros Weezer, which would take place at Turner field following a game between my beloved Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Before we begin, let me start by dispelling the notion that attending a Major League Baseball game is ridiculously expensive. This is simply not the case. For a mere $125, I was able to treat a family of four to a game, complete with souveniers, food, drinks, programs, and beers. Well, actually, there were only two of us. And there were no souvenirs, programs, or beers. In reality I bought tickets and a parking pass, and paid $27 for a chicken sandwich.

But you can’t put a price on experience! There is nothing like being at the ball park on game day. The beautiful, manicured field; the way the sun fills the sky with color an instant before it drops below the horizon; the traditions which have been handed down from generation to generation; and most importantly of all, the Home Depot Tool Race.

You simply can’t beat the Tool Race for sheer excitement and drama. In this intense competition, four participants dressed as a hammer, a drill, a saw, and a bucket race around the warning track as the crowd cheers. If you were in the ballpark, and you didn’t get a lump in your throat when, against all odds, the hammer rallied from last place to an upset win, all I can say is good for you!

I hate the Tool Race! As a matter of fact, I hate all of the manufactured “contests” and “interactive experiences” that happen between innings, during pitching changes, and practically any time there is a brief pause in play. The “kiss” cam, the “hug” cam, the “hey look at me, I’m making a fool of myself on television” cam. How did we get to the point where, as a society, we need entertainment every second of every hour of every day? Call me a grumpy old curmudgeon if you will. Believe me, you won’t be the first one to do so. As I told my wife during one of these endless, irritating moments: They better watch out, or a baseball game might break out here.

Still, all of the annoyances aside, I enjoy being at the ballpark. It’s hard to beat watching two good teams go head to head. Unfortunately, the Braves haven’t exactly been good over the last month or two. In fact, as the game commenced, they found themselves in danger over dropping completely out of the playoff hunt. Their offense had been particulary anemic, with two or three runs often enough to beat them.

But despite all of this, things started out okay. After the Dodgers scored an early run to take the lead, the Braves responded with an RBI double by Justin Upton. Then in the fourth inning, B.J. Upton, who to put it mildly has struggled in his time in Atlanta, hit a home run to put the Braves ahead 2-1. Things were looking up. We might acutally win this game!

The celebration was short lived however, as the Dodgers scored two runs in the fifth to regain the lead. The Braves failed to pull even over the next several innings. Then, in the eighth, an error by second baseman Emilio Bonifacio coupled with a wild pitch by relief pitcher David Hale led to an insurance run for L.A. The Braves went quietly in the ninth, and the Dodgers had the win. It was a disappointing outcome, though not an unexpected one. The Dodgers and Braves are two teams headed in opposite directions, and Atlanta is the one going South.

Fortunately there was still the concert.The seating for the show was general admission, so we moved from our club level seats to a spot behind home plate as the crew set everything up. A few minutes later, Weezer took the stage, opening with “My Name is Jonas” from their 1994 debut.

Over the next hour, the band proceeded to run through hit after hit; “Beverly Hills,” “Hash Pipe,” “Say it Ain’t So,” “Island in the Sun.” They also played a song from their upcoming album “Everything Will be Alright in the End” called “Back to the Shack.” The song is vintage Weezer, from the guitars to Rivers Cuomo’s distinctive vocals. The show was great, with the exception of the stage lights.

Maybe it was where we were sitting, or the fact that it was a bigger venue than the band was used to, but the lights were absolutely blinding. They were so bright that I found myself watching most of the set on the big screen above the stage. Whenever I tried to look at the stage itself, I would only make it a few seconds before being forced to look away. Epileptic seizure, anyone?

But beyond that, it was a great show. After playing “Undone (The Sweater Song),” Weezer left the stage. After building the anticipation for a minute or two, they returned to close the show with perhaps their biggest hit of all, “Buddy Holly,” which is a great song, with an even better music video. At the end of the song, each of the four band members grabbed sticks and proceeded to play the drums as the crowd broke into the “tomahawk chop.”

For those who are unfamiliar, the tomahawk chop, which dates back to the Braves “worst to first” season of 1991, takes place any time the team threatens to mount a rally. The organist plays a melody which prompts the crowd into what is supposed to be a Native American war chant accompanied by the rythmic “chopping” of one arm, but looks and sounds more like what it is: fifty thousand inebriated individuals suffering from severe heartburn brought on by one too many hot dogs. It’s fun to do, though!

We left Turner field at just after 12:30 am, completely exhausted from the day’s events. After the customary handful of wrong turns and traffic mishaps, we found ourselves cruising down Highway 316 on our way back to Athens. As classic rock, courtesy of 97.1 “The River,” drifted from the radio, we reflected on another day, and night, in the continuing saga of the Bear Team. So many experiences, good bad and in between, and so many yet to come.

That just about does it for now. As always, thanks for reading. We always appreciate it. And remember, if things get a bit boring, or life gets you down, the next adventure is always waiting just around the corner. In fact, you can probably picture it if you try hard enough. Now close your eyes and repeat after me:

“If you want to destroy my sweater….”

 

 

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