I’d never heard of Red Rocks before I moved to Colorado. But everywhere we went, people kept telling us, you have to go see a show at Red Rocks. It’s one of those things you can’t miss. A few weeks ago, Connor said that his favorite band, O.A.R., was playing at Red Rocks. I’m a huge Coldplay fan. And O.A.R.’s style is similar, so I’ve listened to some of their music. So I decided to go. A good band and a venue I wasn’t supposed to miss? Count me in.
After touring the Coors Brewery, we made our way to Red Rocks, and were stunned on the drive in by the sheer size of the, well, red rocks. We off-roaded into a dirt parking lot with the Land Rover, and sat down in line for two and a half hours for the concert we’d been looking forward to for a while. As we rounded the corner at 6:30, we caught our first glimpse of the huge monoliths on either side of the famous amphitheater, Ship Rock and Creation Rock. I was in absolute awe of the beauty of the place and couldn’t believe over 9,000 people would soon be crowded in between the two rocks.
We were one of the first twenty or so people in line, so we were able to snag seats in the 3rd row. While waiting for Rebelution, the opening band, to perform, Connor received a call from someone he’d given a tour of the OTC to the day before, and darted off, returning with two backstage passes to meet the band. I was in absolute shock as he handed me one and I realized what they were, but the best part was the look on his face. Meeting his favorite band at his lucky 13th show? His face lit up like a little kid on Christmas morning. It was nothing short of priceless.
While we waited for the magical moment of 7:25pm to arrive, Connor spotted Hunter Kemper, a triathlete who trains at the OTC and we’ve seen around. He pointed to him and gave him the thumbs up, yelling that we worked at the USOC. He also had backstage passes, so we all made our way to the stage door to meet O.A.R.
I haven’t been to many concerts, and I’d certainly never been backstage, so this was definitely a first. Each member of the band took the time to meet with us, and each one was in awe to hear it was Connor’s thirteenth show, which Hunter proudly pointed out. They were exceptionally nervous, as the show was broadcast live on DirecTV and being filmed for a DVD and live CD. It was so awesome to see the behind-the-scenes and to meet the band before they went on.
Afterwards, we left to go sit in the 15th row in O.A.R.’s VIP section near Hunter and his group, which was cool, not just because it was VIP seating, but because I could actually see the stage! We missed half of Rebelution’s set to go backstage, but it was totally worth it. When O.A.R. came on at 9pm, the place absolutely started rocking. The sound at Red Rocks is exactly like people described it to us — loud and magical.
I hadn’t heard about half of the songs that they played, but each one was really well done, and I was able to sing along and dance to their big hits, which was so much fun. But watching Connor sing and dance to his favorite band was almost better than watching the actual band play their set, although he’ll deny public singing and dancing ever occurred.
About halfway through O.A.R.’s set, Connor turned to me in the middle of a song and asked, “Is Hunter Kemper’s bio on our finished list?” I laughed, knowing that out of our 529 qualified Olympians, the chances of Hunter’s name being on our finished list was slim. Needless to say, updating his bio was our number one priority this morning.
One of my favorite moments in the concert came when O.A.R. played their hit, “Crazy Game of Poker,” and the crowd starting flinging playing cards into the air. I turned around, as I did during every song, just to take it all in, and the 9,000 people, on every level, were flinging cards. It just looked incredible.
As O.A.R. came out to play their encore, I was getting really nervous, and Connor knew it. They still had yet to play my favorite O.A.R. song, “Hey Girl.” So as Marc put on an acoustic guitar, Connor turned to me, saying, “This could be it…” and sure enough the familiar notes of “Hey Girl” came on, and we were dancing and singing like fools, once again. It was the perfect song to end an impressive, two and a half hour set.
Afterwards, we again met up with Hunter and walked down to the afterparty the band was throwing for their VIPs. We stayed only for a few minutes, knowing that we still had an hour and forty minutes drive back to the Springs. It was a long drive back, and we were exhausted when we pulled into the OTC at 2:30am, but it was totally worth it. The concert, the weekend, it was all incredible, and one of the best I’ve had.
More pictures to come!