"The Warmth Of The Sun: Meeting your Idol At A Price"
I have, for some reason or another, always found it to be necessary to go through the long walks of my life with low expectations. I don't mean this to come off as depressing, like I am always having to deal with disappointment, but maybe it was just how I was raised I guess?
I've never expected to have anything handed to me easily. I always found it best to not expect much and hope to get pleasantly surprised when something great happens.
I think that is why I can say I genuinely had a top ten "will remember for the rest of my life" moment on October 10th, 2015 when I met one of THE musical giants I have always looked up to; Brian Wilson.
Brian Wilson's story has always ran deep with me. I think it is because I have dealt with my own serious bouts with both anxiety and depression, so I can empathize with many of the things you may have either heard or read about his life.
What I however lack is the gift of being a musical genius! I contend to anyone that Brian is by far the greatest American pop song writer by a mile. Period! ...And If you haven't heard the song "The Warmth Of The Sun", do yourself a favor and listen now!
It was a serious no brainer for me that if an opportunity ever arised, I had to meet this living legend. While I already had many examples of Brian's autographs in my collection, it however was important for me to actually stand in front of him and say how much he had meant to me.
I have heard how much of a challenge it could be to meet Brian outside a venue. As I may have mentioned before, I am by no means a professional "grapher". I give all the credit in the world to those who wait for hours in all types of conditions in hope to just get pen to paper. I just don't have it in me to hear the words "Not today" when there might not be another opportunity!
I decided the only guarantee was paying for the meet & greet package at one of his shows, and while the price for one ticket was extreme; $500! I knew it would be the only way I would be confident I would get to share in a moment of his time.
While this was a dream for me, that amount of money spent on myself would be considered a huge luxury. Those of you with families maybe understand. I decided that it was time to sell a few of my things from my record collection to help fund my adventure! Some moments we experience are worth more than material possessions.
For that price I was guaranteed a few things. A seat in the third row center for the show, access to sound check with Brian and the band, a hand signed copy of the sheet music to the song "Love & Mercy", and a meet & greet with Brian, Al Jardine, and Blondie Chaplin. With "one small item" to be signed!
Another agenda to all of this was adding Al Jardine to my Pet Sounds album already signed by Brian, Mike, Bruce, and lyricist Tony Asher. It was important to complete it.
I had already experienced a meet & greet with Mike Love/Bruce Johnston a few months earlier where I added them to my album, so I already knew what a "Meet & Greet" consisted of going in. You line up with a bunch other people like cattle and one by one you are given a brief moment and a photo with. I get it. They are on a time crunch. The show must go on...
This is where the debate always comes in with meet & greets, when actually paying for someone's time: What do you feel is owed to you?
I think some people expect to have long conversations with these people they are meeting, or have them sign hundreds of things and while "wouldn't it be nice", it just can't always be as perfect as you expect. Now I have heard some artists, newer and old will spends a little more time depending on the situation. I would say if it isn't spelled out in the terms and conditions don't expect much more than what you paid for.
This was the first concert I ever attended by myself. Heck, I never have even been to the movies by myself! Luckily you will always meet a fellow Beach Boys fan at a show like this, I however might have been the youngest.
The lady who we all checked in with pretty much said you don't really know what to expect when meeting Brian. The meet & greet actually took place before sound check, which we were told normally it is the opposite.
I made sure to get at the venue an hour earlier than told via email. I always get paranoid that I am going to miss out on something of be late. Luckily I did as there was a huge traffic jam that I later heard caused some people to miss the meet & greet altogether! I would have been crushed!
While lined up we were all given our signed sheet music and VIP lanyard. It was a beautifully signed full Brian Wilson graph in blue! I was already pleasantly surprised when we were waiting Blondie Chaplin came walking by us and said hello.
I decided to wait in the middle of the line. I figured at first maybe going last would give the most time, but the one guy I had been talking most of the evening tried that and Brian must have already been feeling tired or overwhelmed at that point because he basically got only his one item signed and a quick photo and felt ripped.
When it had just about been my turn one of his handlers I was asked what I was getting signed. I brought extra stuff with me just in case. My Pet Sounds needed Al Jardine. I also wanted to add Al and Blondie to my already signed No Pier Pressure album. As for Brian picked a Surfin USA album already signed by David Marks.
I was extremely happy they gave me no fuss! In fact I also pulled out of my bag the 45 sleeve to Brian Wilson's song Love & Mercy to get signed to go with the sheet music! No trouble at all. The only thing I was worried about was whether or not they would lay the right items in front of the right people, the last thing I wanted was Blondie signing my Pet Sounds.
They grabbed my items and put them where they needed to go just fine. The lady took my phone and later when I got a chance to sit down I found out she even took photos of them signing and when I shook hands with Brian!
I thanked both Al and Blondie, but when I shook Brian's hand I thanked him for everything he had done for mental health awareness. He perked up, looked at me smiling said "Thank you...Well I had too!" I got right between Brian and Al, putting my arm on his shoulder as she took a couple pictures.
For me, I had got everything I asked for! Sound check was also an amazing experience. We were allowed to sit anywhere we wanted, take as many photos or videos too! The concert was also amazing! I believe they played 29 songs in total, I also got the first page to the setlist Brian used!
The moral to my story being, if you can keep your own expectations in check you might just find yourself having a wonderful time when paying for a meet & greet! It obviously depends on the artist and venue as well...But I can say I will always remember that day with Brian. That is priceless.
New York, NY
Los Angeles, CA