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Spending Father’s Day with John Carpenter

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Nerds, geeks, fanboys, weirdos, stoners, thrill seekers, flippers and yes, even strippers were all present at the June 19 Father’s Day concert spectacular featuring the one and only legendary filmmaker, musician and horror icon John Carpenter. No, despite what you may have heard…he’s not dead! John has been on tour promoting and playing his two new records of original works Lost Themes and Lost Themes II, as well as his iconic scores from some of his most memorable films.

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Taking place at the Mesa Arts Center in sunny Mesa, Arizona on one of the hottest days of the year, you could smell the excitement of moist taint as we lined up for our early entry into the VIP line for our meet and greet with the man himself. My partner in crime, Nerdlocker’s very own Aaron Rainbolt. Fresh off a plane from Austin, Texas where the stars are bigger and brighter, but not tonight. It was very cool to see such a diversity of Carpenter merchandise in the hands of what appeared to be true fans. Along with a swag pack including JC tote bag, t-shirt, hologram laminate, signed poster and photo with John, each person was also allowed a signing of two personal items.

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Just the facts ma’am.

As we got closer to the man, I honestly had a moment of pure excitement. No need for Viagra here. Having been fortunate to have grown up in what I consider the best years of cinema, I had the privilege to see some great films in theaters when I was a young kid including Star Wars, Dawn of the Dead, Alien, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it wasn’t until seeing Halloween (My all-time favorite horror movie) that really started my love and appreciation of Carpenter films.

My mother was a big movie lover and she passed the love to me as we saw other Carpenter classics in the theater together including The Fog, Escape From New York, The Thing, (Yes!!!) and Christine. A favorite moment was seeing Halloween II with my mother and younger brother Nick who was almost four years old at the time (great parenting ma!). As the end credits rolled and the lights came on, I turned towards Nick who was still frozen in his seat. Eyes locked forward, face flushed, bowl haircut damp, sweat trickling down his face. JC produced terror at its finest.

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John was seated at a table in the hallway of the venue. The guy in front of me was finishing up getting his They Live poster signed and photo taken. I was up next…Holy Shit!…It’s John “Fucking” Carpenter!!! Be cool…thoughts flooded my mind on what to say…I approached with a facade of confidence…Hey John, nice to meet you. May I lick the inside of your ear canal? Wait, what??? You have lovely skin, I can’t wait to wear it later. Did MacReady give Childs a bottle filled with gasoline to drink? Will you adopt me? No, no, maybe and hell no! Ok, can you please sign my Tyler Stout The Thing poster (Boing!) and this other The Thing poster I designed (Double Boing!!)… thank you John. Here’s a tube of some posters I designed over the years of some of your films. You have been a big inspiration. Have a great show. As I turned to leave, one of the assistants reminded me about my photo opportunity with him. I scrambled back behind the table and squatted down next to him like I was going to drop a deuce…click…handshake…done.

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It’s like looking in a mirror!

As I walked away, I thought… Wow! I just met John Carpenter. The man responsible for so many of my favorite films. As Rainbolt finished up his meet and greet and joined me…the chant of we’re not worthy began. It was cool to see all the smiling faces of the other fans getting their time with John. Soon after, he wrapped it up and headed out to get ready for the show. We checked out the merch booth, got a great deal on a VHS copy of Village of the Damned, grabbed a couple of beers and mingled a little with some very interesting characters. As Aaron and I spoke with a dude who was bitter because his buddy tried to sneak into the VIP area with his laminate and got busted, a random guy wearing a Captain America hat walks up to us and states “My friend wanted to be here tonight, but he has cancer… just kidding!” and then walked off. Uh, ok?

Egg Shen has the next round!

Egg Shen has the next round!

As part of the VIP experience, rows one through five were available to those who chose that option. We ended up in the third row. Rainbolt stated that John was going to sweat on us and he would bathe in all his salty glory. I excitedly called sloppy seconds. As the lights dimmed and the curtains opened, there was silence… then the silhouettes of the band began to move across the stage single file wearing all black including Lost Themes composers Cody Carpenter (John’s son) and Daniel Davies (John’s godson). Lastly, the man himself came on to get the evening started.

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The band kicked the audience right in the nuts opening up with the “Main Title” theme from Escape from New York followed by Assault on Precinct 13, and other classic Carpenter scores. Images from his movies played in the background. The band was on point and sounded amazing! My only critique was that during the new original material, other than one song towards the end which had some purple buzzing lines, there were no visuals playing in the background other than mood lighting. I think it would be cool to have some new visuals to go with the amazing new material. At one point in the show, a heavy set balding man in his sixties wearing a Michael Myers shirt stood up and yelled he wanted to have John’s baby… Ok, maybe that didn’t happen… or did it?

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OBEY

The highlight of the night for me was seeing the all-time classic Halloween theme played live. Drummer Scott Seiver gets the nod here staying solid with the rapid fire drum beat. After performing a couple of songs for their encore, the set closed with music from the underrated car thriller chiller Christine. Unfortunately, there would be no performance of the ultimate 80s synth pop rocker Big Trouble in Little China made famous by The Coupe De Villes. After a final bow to an appreciative audience, the band departed the same way they entered… silent, or as John would have it… like ghosts in the night.

Enjoy a few photos from the show.

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Cake Blissken AKA: James Rheem Davis is a part-time Graphic Designer (www.giantsumo.com), Film, Music and TV lover, holder of useless information, Condom user and Defender of the Night.