Through the Grove (Dia & the Gang Encounters)

First things first, I apologize I haven’t written about my little spontaneous LA trip I had earlier this week sooner. Usually, my concert-high kicks in and I can’t sleep until I make some sort of testimony to my experience. Well, I was on the road and didn’t have any Internet connection (though I did write a bit in my phone), and once I returned home the next night, my weary body passed out! But, it’s safe to say that time has let things “sink in” a little for me.

Here’s the trip in a very-detailed yet trying-to-be-condensed write-up:

On a lazy Tuesday afternoon, I left my town and rode BART all the way down to San Jose to meet up with my brother. I helped a couple lost souls find their way around the tracks as I was figuring my own way out… (I think I’m getting better at this thing, no? …. Hey, I’d trust myself with directions!) Anyway, I left for San Luis Obispo at around 3pm with my brother Anthony and friend/fellow MaD-boardie Matt. We arrived around 6pm, rested up, then proceeded to walk around Downtown SLO. It was my first time being there and I loved how nice and mellow the town seemed to be. I’d call it a… “skater beach” with “white kids with money” kind’a town (for lack of a better description, I apologize). I could definitely see how Mr. Zac Efron grew up in this town! We all had had a tri-tip steak sandwich at SLO’s infamous Firestone Grill, then went down “Bubblegum Alley” and visited a cute candy & soda pop shop.

The next day was the big day and reason we made this long tread! We left for L.A. that Wednesday around 1 o’clock to head to The Grove. We arrived around 4:30, I believe… (LA traffic’s the devil!) We ended up wanting to kill some time for the concert at 7:30 (which didn’t start until 8). I figured the band wasn’t there yet, but if they would be anywhere here, the Farmer’s Market would be the place to go! I personally love their Farmer’s Market–it’s a cute little cultured and diverse outdoor food center. Lots of local and homegrown foods and cute shops. Spent about half an hour looking throughout the entire market, figuring out what food to get since we’d probably not be able to get some later. I eventually found this seafood place called Tusquella’s with a reasonably-priced meal (as compared to every other $11+ meal!) Hey, I’m trying not to spend too much!

Now, here’s where the story begins! About 10 minutes into eating my first taco, Matt suddenly looks up and says, “Oh my God.” “What?” He goes again, “Oh my God. They’re here.” “What? Where?” I look in his direction behind me and fail to find anything familiar-looking. “Where?” I repeat. He’s panting. “Right there. There’s Mike (their manager). And Dia.” My brother tells me, “They’re right there.” I look again and I see Mike and immediately spot Dia next to him with a big brown Nike shopping bag on her shoulder.

Weirdly enough, the sight didn’t phase me. I smiled to myself thinking, “Ah, I knew they were gonna be here!” (Great minds think alike after all, right?) Going up to them and saying hi was undoubtedly going to happen, no questions asked. I couldn’t let myself see them and ignore them. They walk across towards the other side of the market, then turn down inwards towards the opposite end. Matt and I start freaking out, thinking what we could do. My brother laughs at us thinking how silly we look getting all “gaga”. “We have to say hi to them!” Matt says. We agreed to greeting Carlo first, because he at least knew me. We followed the direction Carlo went since they all split into different directions. We couldn’t find Carlo, so we went the direction Dia and the rest of them went. We find ourselves in the middle of the Farmer’s Market with the shops around us. Mike’s at the bar to our right not too far from us, and Dia’s down at the tea shop a little further down but in eye’s sight to our left and ahead of us We didn’t know how to approach her. I insisted, “Maybe if we walk while she walks we’ll bump into each other and say hi!” (Hah! I’m silly…) She ended up taking 10 or so minutes alone at the tea shop. It’s funny how absolutely no one in the entire market noticed them and we were the only ones freaking out. Mike probably sensed our awkwardly-standing-in-the-middle-of-the-market while glancing-in-Dia’s-direction-and-on-our-phones, being all antsy. I believe Dia ended up buying a lot of tea since I saw the cashier lady prepare her a pretty full black bag of her delicacies. My brother calls us saying, “Dude, Carlo is right in front of me.” We headed back to our table where my brother was and we see Carlo and Mike sitting down. We went back and Dia had left the tea shop, so we walked around and eventually went back to the table.

This next part can actually make me pee in my pants. We sit down and see Dia, Carlo and the rest of them a few tables across from us. We try to eat. I look at my food, pick up my remaining taco and throw it down saying, “Oh gosh. I can’t eat this.” Matt replies, “Me too,” with him not even having touched his food! “I lost my appetite,” I say panting-ly (not a word, I know), while Matt is still freaking out. My brother looks at us with his goofy smile and pokes fun at us! (He doesn’t want to admit his love for fear of embarassment!) I swear, if it were any other person but them, it’d be so much easier to go up to them! Trust me when I say that, because I’ve met quite a few within the past year… They were both making me the “sacrifice”/the “bait” to go and lead this walk to them! Not a very comfortable position for me to be in… but I knew I had to do it…. Gotta take the reins!

After 10 or so minutes of composing ourselves, this happens (my brother’s commentary makes me crack up!):

The plan of going up to them was simple. I’d say hi to Carlo, he would remember me, we’d say we came down to see you guys… and, at that point, that was all we could think of for a conversation… Of course there could’ve been more, such as how’s the rest of the band, how’s Meg, Nick, and Jonathan… How’s the studio been, how’s your day been, excited for the show? etc etc. but, our heads weren’t entirely “screwed on straight,” and that’s all we came up with to get through the initial hello. Before heading off, it was clear that all the people around us could see Matt and I freaking out, wondering why we were freaking out… We were obviously the only ones who recognized them (or knew them for that matter) as we were all giddy with anxiety and happiness!

As the initial “walk” happened, I was heading to approach Carlo. All of a sudden, a couple feet away, Mike stares me down! I don’t know what to do! Ha ha! He gave me some sort of death stare! I proceed to waving my hand, smiling a little to him, and saying out loud, “Hiii…” He didn’t do anything. So I walk up in-between Dia and Carlo, say out loud to Carlo, “Oh hi…” A second later, nobody says anything (mind you, they are all just eating and sitting down). I then say, “We came all the way from NorCal–the Bay Area to see you guys… And we just wanted to say Hi!” Carlo coughs and says, “Sorry, I was drinking water.” I seemed to have made him choke, haha… (That’s a story!) He then says Hi… Dia looks up, I see she’s eating a falafel pita… I don’t remember much else of how it went, but that the conversation shifts to talking about Starcraft 2 between Matt and Carlo. Carlo asks if Matt is Matt and asks me, “You’re Rachel, right?” (He knows and remembers us for sure now.) They start talking about playing Starcraft 2 together, Mike says, “You play? You any good?” Carlo says, “Yeah”, Matt says he leveled Nick up, and Mike says, “You got a laptop? Let’s play!”  They continue to talk about that, Matt looks towards Dia asking if she watches them play, she looks up and nods a big nod assuring a “Yeah!” (Her mouth was full.) “I’m never gonna play that game.” I say out loud, “Ugh, my brothers got me into playing that…” Dia was probably the only one that heard me say that. I don’t know what else happened, but after a while Dia says, “Well thank you guys for coming. Hope you enjoy the show.” We talk a little more, say a goodbye, see you later, etc etc. There wasn’t much else to say… so awkward! I could’ve said so much more, but whatever. Baby steps. The whole experience makes me laugh. We return to our table and my brother says, “That was it?! That was short.” At least next time we’ll know what to say. I just need to make girl talk instead of being so tied-up!

It probably wasn’t a very apt conversational environment because they were all eating on their own time (not in a state where they are at least prepared for interactions) and we didn’t want to bother them. We knew we had to say hi before they left and missed this chance! (It was either talk to them or take a picture, but taking a picture wouldn’t have made any sense…) Being in our states, there wasn’t much else we could do since we’re not that well-acquainted with the band, reason being we’re not exactly good friends who hang out all the time… And who wants to tend to fans while eating? It was just funny yet so natural seeing them in a natural state, walking around, looking completely normal and blending in…  I guess I’ve gotten used to seeing them in that state. Just saying hello to them is polite enough, seeing to it I’ve known them for 6 years and have seen them countless times already! My mission to work on now? Making conversation. (I definitely know what to ask Dia next time now…. I plan on reserving her for a wedding and setting her up on a date! 😉 )

After about 10 minutes, Dia and Carlo leave while Mike and his friend (and another) stay and chat. We head back to the concert area and there was a scarily long line that wasn’t there when we first got there! (Looks can be deceiving seeing that we weren’t even far from the stage.) For a free concert, it was well worth the 3 songs a set for each performer (4 total)… Very diverse, talented, and such great performances from the 4 Voice contestants. And it wasn’t too big a gig for the performers to freak out about.  It was also a real treat to finally see Dia perform “Losing My Religion” live. That’s always been one of my favorites she’s done in the past year yet never performed when I saw her. Dia was her natural self up there, and Carlo was as cool as ever. Dia interacting with the audience, making side comments, pointing out things in the crowd, smiling… Just being herself, which is what she, as a performer, has always done best… Here’s a video of the performance (Funny how you can hear my brother and I conversing in the background from this video!):


After her set, my camera died. Sucks, but thank goodness I was able to catch her since she opened the concert! Tony Lucca was stellar. He’s an awesome solo guitarist and performer, got one heck of a voice and plays his guitar really well. So much power, and I loved his Britney Spears cover. Juliet Simms has mad PIPES! She was my one of 2 faves this past season, and her rock ‘n’ roll spirit was shining. Loved “Roxanne” and “It’s A Man’s World”. Chris Mann was looking especially handsome in his suit and pumped out some great ballads. After the concert, about an hour or hour and a half later, we saw Vil and Albert (fellow OG boardies and friends of the band). They came just 10 minutes before and missed the set… I felt bad for them. Suddenly, I see a huge crowd of people surrounding the exit of the stage… Seemed that people were mobbing the performers! It wasn’t exactly the greatest sight to see, since I haven’t really been around that. It was kind of… Sad, in a way. (Side note: Having met so many “famous” people lately, it’s kind of made my experience more ‘humbling’, in a way, of meeting those people… We are all just one and the same, and we are all just normal people getting by through the day! This is their work, just as we do work.)

I tried to see if I could find Carlo or Dia, just to say hey and good job on the show… I also wanted to congratulate Carlo on his “big news” Dia revealed onstage! 😉 Carlo was nowhere to be found, so I went up to the mosh pit, and saw people mobbing Juliet Simms. There was one point she was right up in front of me, but she really didn’t look happy or comfortable to say the least, and she was only getting to a couple of people. Everyone was yelling out their names, trying to grab their attentions… Juliet was looking every which way, signing autographs, taking pictures… I wanted to go up to her and say, “Hey, I just wanted to say I really admire your perseverance in all this. It’s really inspiring to see.” Unfortunately, didn’t get the chance to and I just let her go… She didn’t look too happy!

The rest of the performers left after about 10 minutes, but Dia, being the nice person she always has been at meet-and-greets, stayed up until the very last person. As they kept going down the line, the security would take the fence/beams off, trying to put them away. I caught Dia early on and some girl asked me to take her picture with her. Dia said to me, “Oh hello again!” The picture was kind of shaky since it had a late reaction after the flash, so I had to take it again. I then asked Dia, “Dia! Can we get a quick photo?” She said, “Sure” and I called my brother, he was saying, “I don’t wanna take the picture!” We signalled someone else to take it for us, and Anthony obligingly comes over (he knows he wants the photo!!!) and Dia says to him, “I like your jedi braid”. Anthony, while smiling, replies, “Thanks!” (I swear she ALWAYS compliments him!!! It’s because he doesn’t fawn over her, when he secretly does… the secret to getting celebrities to like you!) Here’s the photo (sad we didn’t get one with Mr. Car-looow!) (too bad my camera died as well):

Dia ended up staying for about a whole half hour just talking and meeting every person… Such a doll! I’ve always had a lot of respect for the band for doing that (and I think under their contract, only “Dia Frampton” can come out and say hello…. the band isn’t allowed). We ended up just sitting on the edge up until she left. Soon enough, all the beams were gone and she was just a normal person in the crowd, talking with the people… Always been such a personable gal! (I’ve realized that when it comes to seeing the band perform, it’s become more for the experience… Being able to interact with them, making all “this” seem that much more feasible for me… Just having fun at a gathering made in music… That’s the real experience.)

After that, I wanted to take the concert poster, so I tried finding security and shop workers asking if they knew I could take it… None had an answer, and a cop was going to give it to me but was reluctant to since he wasn’t sure and didn’t want to get in trouble. Matt ended up pulling out his guns and just took it for me. But hey, they already took the other ones down and it’d be useless after that night! A memoir for sure:

After that, we headed back to SLO for a 2.5 hr drive and spent the night there. I ended up writing about 2 or 3 entries in my phone about random ponderings on dreams, artists, and anything else that crossed my mind… then I hit the haysack!

The next morning, I finally ate that second taco I never ate… ha ha! Can’t believe I lost my appetite… Oh the things I go through… Man, the weirdest feeling is waking up the next morning after a concert and feeling as if everything that happened the day before was a dream. I don’t really believe all that happened… It was all so sudden but so funny. My pathetic-ness makes me laugh! And so, we got back to San Jose around 3:30 or so. A part of my excitement had died, of course…. seeing to it that what he had gone there to do was done… Success, to say the least!

I realized something on that trip back up North. Being down there, in that environment, for some reason, really makes me feel… Alive. It may sound corny to say, but I feel as if I’m worth something down there. That I serve a purpose, like I can do something, and I have potential to make things happen. Whereas back home, it feels like I’m looking over miles and miles of dirt roads and dust bowls. My traveling soul. Hmph.

Also, spontaneous, short trips like this always reinforce my love for being on the road. I’ve realized that I’m not much of a vacation kind’a gal. I could do without the Bohemian vacations or cruise ships to nowhere… I’d much rather sit, chat, and take in different environments, people, and cultures. I love embracing different places… It also makes the world seem a little bit smaller. I’ve always grown up thinking I wasn’t a traveling kind’a gal… but, with actual experience living in different places, sleeping in different beds, and not being able to shower for a couple days (life on the road, I tell ya!), I could get used to all of this. And, I guess it just goes with my nature…. I was born under the sign that never liked remaining in one place. We constantly drift, we’re constantly moving… We’re exceptionally mutable… and I guess everything else becomes “boring” once in a while… There’s gotta be something that metaphysically hooks to keep us locked in. That’s what I’ve found on the road, and down south where my hope feels feasible…

Back in San Jose on Thursday, I was able to talk to Matt for about an hour about our 6-year Meg & Dia history… It’s nice to actually talk to someone in longevity who has the same level of understanding and appreciation of the band, from the littlest things to the biggest inside-stories of the band, to those tidbits from years before that are “treasures of knowledge” today. I’ve had friends who have acknowledged my love and appreciation for this band, but none who I could talk to about the little things. It helps me to really digest my understanding and thoughts of the band as well! “Meg & Dia”, in their days, have been so successful and wonderful to us because Meg was the mastermind behind everything–lyrics, melody, music. She made Meg & Dia who they were. Dia, with her natural charming persona, ability to converse with the crowd, interact, make silly banter, created their likability. Just minutes into watching her perform, you’d fall in love instantly. Dia did her thing while Meg did her magic–and that’s one powerful duo, and the perfect mix. Doing this thing for almost a decade? It’s the end of an era… but we can’t be stuck in the past. These times are a’changin…

After my brother got out of his class, I was able to visit Barefoot Coffee for the first time. I’ve been wanting to go there for a while (it’s this cute little hipster cafe–hah!–that my brother told me about)… He was right. Their “Voodoo” is SO good. I thought that Chai latte I had from La Scalla a couple weeks ago was wonderful… but this was AMAZING. I have to say, it’s the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had up until now. My brother and I have become quite the coffee-shop buddies this summer…

And so, I apologize this post is terrifyingly long. I don’t mind if you skip it, skim it, ignore it, or even avert your eyes from the text and look at the photos and videos (if you do, you probably aren’t even reading this…) but, this is a post for my keepsake of the trip. Online journals…. Were they ever any good? Oh well, more reflection of the trip shall come soon… but, at least the band is becoming familiar with us, and talking is getting… a little better? Baby steps yo! (Hey, if it was easy enough to get one famous person’s number, how hard can talking to them be? HA! Should I even ask….) The things people do.

So, I guess my “moral of the story” is… If your heart has an inkling for something… Or you’ve a yearning to go somewhere… Or you’ve got something to say you can’t refuse… Go ahead and do it. Too often we convince ourselves to get out of an awkward situation, but… LIVE on the awkward situations!!! How else are you to grow? We’re all awkward in the end. And you’d be more than glad you took the risk than not. If you like being on the road, get on the road as much as you can. If you want to go or be somewhere… Go there. Miles don’t matter. Distance doesn’t matter. As long as you’re there, and as long as you’re young (I say this because this is the only time we’re allowed to be crazy….), nothing’s stopping you but yourself. Live wild. Don’t think so much. Spend a moment where being alone is something you look forward to. And spend another where you feel entirely awkward in a sea of people you don’t even know. Meet people. Make friends. Heck. We’re all in this dying economy together! (I think I may be getting off-topic now…) Just, live without feeling ashamed of yourself. Stop setting so many rules for yourself. Forget that you know yourself, or know of how someone should be. Make a habit of telling those you love or hate how you feel. Say what you want. And, most of all, Have courage. Nothing’s gonna fail you at this moment, unless you keep failing yourself. “Time goes so slowly, when hope is naive…” Getting a little sunshine once in a while never hurt.


One response to “Through the Grove (Dia & the Gang Encounters)

  1. Pingback: A UNIQUE LA Experience, from the Eyes of the Music Fan (May 11, 2013) | rachelannc·

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