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Backstage with Baldy

Sao Paulo – September 26th

We were walking from the ticketing desk to the departure terminal in the Sao Paulo airport when we were accosted by two dudes wearing flight suits, old school leather aviator hats, and clown makeup.

I’ve seen a lot of things in airports over the years, but never a pair of clowns greeting passengers.

They were entertaining passengers and generally acting like clowns do, which is creepy enough on its own, but then when you factor in some clown gibberish in Portuguese, it goes to a whole different level.

One of the clowns spotted the guys, obviously knew who they were, and broke into a weirdly wordless growled version of Man In The Box, then he began throwing the horns and playing air guitar.

This is not something you see in an airport every day, and while I don’t begrudge anyone for making a living where they want, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the TSA in the Untied States for keeping our airports clown-free.

This all occurred on our way out of Sao Paulo, so I should backtrack and talk about the time we actually spent there.

First and foremost, Brazil is all about the fans. There are very passionate fans here, not just of Alice In Chains, but of music in general.

There were fans in the airport when we arrived, fans in the airport when we departed, fans at the hotel, and fans on the street.

They’re all very polite, and some of them even get a bit overwhelmed when they meet the guys.

Which brings me to the meet & greet.

We had about 25 fans come back before the show to meet the band, and some of them brought gifts for the guys, which was very cool.

Two of these fans brought Brazilian soccer jerseys with the band member’s last names on the back, and they even brought one for Layne & Mike Starr as well, which was extremely cool.

Whenever Nutshell is played, Jerry usually takes the opportunity before the song to introduce the band, then he proceeds to dedicate the song to Layne & Mike.

That happened again in Sao Paulo, but as he did that, Layne’s & Mike’s jerseys were brought out and hung from the video screens on stage.

That was a pretty nice moment.

There were plenty of nice moments during the Sao Paulo show, although nice is too bland of a word to properly convey the scene.

Controlled bedlam. Borderline hysteria. Pants-wetting enthusiasm.

Those are better words.

What I’m trying to say is that the fans in Sao Paulo (and anywhere in Brazil for that matter) are some of the best you’ll ever hope to see.

And since I started with the finish, I think I’ll end with the start.

We arrived in Sao Paulo in the afternoon, and when we came out to the baggage claim area, there was a small cluster of fans there, who informed me that they’d been waiting since 7:00 A.M. for the band to arrive.

I had the unenviable task of informing them that the band had already exited the airport through a back exit, and one them said to me in crushingly broken English, “I’m sad now.”

I gave them all guitar picks, but that didn’t really help much though, and then I became sad too.

That was a gloomy way to start our stay in Sao Paulo, but I’m pretty sure that if I had found that group of fans after the show, they would have been very happy.

It was another amazing show, and a perfect end to our time in Brazil.

Unfortunately the actual end came the next day in the airport with the clowns, but I’m choosing to forget that part.

Obrigado Brazil.

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Backstage with Baldy

Yokohama – March 9th

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