June 18, 2012

Cody Canada and the Departed - June 14, 2012

I'm warning you now - hold on tight, this is gunna be a long one, but I feel like it deserves it.

Let me start at the beginning. I've said it before, but my first NON-mainstream, huge arena, sit down and be still and don't get rowdy concert was a Cross Canadian Ragweed concert outside in the Depot District of Lubbock when I was maybe 13 or 14 years old. I went with my parents, sister, and cool older cousin. She (my cousin) had been to many concerts like this including several Ragweed shows. I'm not sure what my parents were thinking taking a little girl to a street concert packed with drunk college kids and stoners and most kids my age would have been terrified but no, I was mesmerized. My cousin grabbed my hand and taught me how to use my elbows and height (5'1 now) to my advantage to make my way up to the front row - a skill I have used at every concert since. At one point she even got fed up with some drunk young girls in front of us that kept getting in our way so she started lighting cigarettes and burning her purse.

I learned a lot that night, but I especially learned that Cross Canadian Ragweed was and always will be my favorite band. From that point on, I was sold on all things Texas Country/Red Dirt and begged my parents to take me to every concert held somewhere I could get in. I became the biggest Ragweed fan my age I am sure. Unfortunately they didn't come to Lubbock often, but I got to see them one more time at an indoor thing. It wasn't the same (I still claim my first concert was the best I've ever been to), but it was another experience I'll never forget. That was the last time I saw them together. They cancelled the concert they were supposed to have in Lubbock the Fall before they called it quits.

Thankfully Cody Canada and the Departed came around to cheer me up. I love this band more and more every time I listen. I was obviously heartbroken when Ragweed broke up but when I first heard about the Departed, I was ecstatic. I was already a Seth James fan so I couldn't wait to see what they had up their sleeves. I got to see them last August at a festival in South Texas. It was more of a dance floor/festival situation and I don't think the people down there really knew or appreciated who this "new" band was, never mind the fact that all members are extremely talented and experienced. I had a good time and danced a lot, but pretty much stood at the front of the stage by myself, again, mesmerized. I was disappointed in the crowd though. You had your little handful of fans that were respectful, but I wanted it to be like my first Ragweed concert - packed, with tons of people crowding the stage, singing along and crowd surfing and whatever else. But I guess it made sense considering the timing.

When I heard that Cody and the boys were coming to Lubbock, I was excited, but nervous. I had read and watched interviews in which Cody said how tough Lubbock can be. In fact, his first show in Lubbock was a disaster. They received what he called the "Lubbock-stare" and it took a lot of convincing before we came around. I was worried that Lubbock fans weren't going to be understanding of the changes and wouldn't be as supportive of The Departed as they were Cross Canadian Ragweed.

When my sister and I got to the Blue Light Thursday night (after waiting out a hailstorm and haboob in her garage) we saw the bar was packed and it was still about an hour before they were supposed to play. It was such a different crowd than we are used to. We only knew a few other people there and usually when it's that packed, we know many more than that. As soon as the band started I grabbed my sister and we made our way to the front of the stage of course. The crowd was different, but there was something familiar about it. I eventually realized this is the same crowd that was at my first Ragweed concert just down the street years ago. Compared to the usual Blue Light crowd, they were more territorial of the stage area, more rowdy, more interested in the music. True, die-hard music fans that I was afraid didn't exist. These were the people who were the age I am now during Ragweed's heyday. And it was awesome. My sister even turned to me at one point and said she was having deja vu and may be fixin to start burning purses.

As far as the concert went.... well it was incredible. I don't know how I have a face anymore, because I was certain it had been melted all the way off. The atmosphere of the crowd could not have been better. They started off with Seth singing something new if I remember correctly. I love that he started the show. They played a mix of songs off This Is Indian Land, like Years In The Making, Staring Down The Sun, of course all the radio singles. Cody used a nifty little microphone that made Face on Mars and Water Your Own Yard sound really good. Bass-player and original Ragweed member Jeremy Plato sang Long Way to Nowhere. They also did several new songs from the album they are working on now. Having two lead guitars, plus the piano/keyboard is something you don't see every day yet they seemed so comfortable all packed in up on that little stage. They would just play and play a song until it just came a big jam session, but it never got old. The crowd would scream and they'd just keep going. The new songs were all SO rocking and downright badass. I looked down at the set list to figure out what one that I absolutely loved was called and it just said "WTF." Right on. I was impressed with how much of the crowd actually new the Indian Land songs and were singing every word, and not just on Skyline Radio. They also mixed in some good old Ragweed songs. I figured we might hear Dimebag and maybe one other, but they surprised me by playing that as well as Alabama, Time to Move On, and Anywhere But Here; I seriously wanted to cry during those, I never thought I'd hear them live again.

It was good to hear those old songs, but I am just so damn excited for their new album after hearing them rock out. They really seem happy and it just felt right. They finished up with Home Sweet Oklahoma, but came back for an encore which included a Buddy Holly cover, of course, All My Love, which you know us Lubbock kids just went crazy for.  Cody said "in true Lubbock fashion, I have to fuck up at least one song." I hope they got a good taste of Lubbock and will be back soon. They definitly have a fan base here and Cody even mention that when they come back, it will be to Blue Light, not that other bullshit he played last time with the old band.

Afterwards, I decided I needed a souvenir but I already I have tshirt and coozie, so in true Hallie fashion, just grabbed the set list off the stage. I nearly got in a fight with another dude who had the same idea, but if ya snooze ya lose, sorry buddy. My sister and I were just gunna go straight to the bathroom and maybe come back for a picture if the line wasn't too long, but on my way I had the perfect opportunity so I just jumped in there. I have always wanted to meet Cody Canada. And I think I could keep my composure for most people, but not this one. I was speechless, which never happens. Even if I have nothing to say, I generally say anything. Instead I just said, "uhhh, I stole your set list. Can you sign it?" He just laughed and said "whatever it takes," took a picture with me and off I went.

Funny thing is, the next morning at work I saw on Twitter an interview he'd done in Lubbock before the show and the way he described the time he passed up meeting Waylon Jennings because he was afraid he'd go all "Chris Farley" on him, which was the exact reason I just took a picture and walked off and nearly didn't even do that. Funny how that works. I guess we're all human.

I can easily say that was the best concert I've seen at Blue Light, and maybe even ever, with the exception of my first "real" concert back in the day which will always be number one in my heart. I'm so glad these boys are still rocking and have everything worked out. I hope they keep it up for a long, long time and stay happy and come back to Lubbock soon. We'll be waiting! 

[Please ignore my sweaty, flat hair and 13 year old expression.]

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