On a recent trip to Washington D.C., we saw a billboard for the Global Citizen Earth Day event. Whatever the cause was supposed to be about, it was lost on the poster and the focus was on all the great talent performing. So, on April 18th, The Nomads went to DC for The Global Citizen Earth Day concert. This was an all day event. So, this post is a long accounting of the day and pix. So, sit down with a glass of water or a cup of coffee, take your time and enjoy.
We laughed when we looked it up and we saw that it was not “officially” called a concert because it was being held at the National Mall around the Washington Monument. All of this is run by the National Park Service. They do not allow concerts at National Parks. I am chucking as I write this.
When we checked, we saw that there was an estimated 250,000 that were going to show up. (Side note, we were told that over 270,000 people showed up and more than 2 million watched live on YouTube.) Since we had nothing to compare that amount of people to in a small amount of space like that, we looked up the Cherry Blossom Festival that we just went to and ran a comparison. From what we saw and could deduce, the Cherry Blossom Festival had about 50,000 people per day. And they were spread out from the Washington Monument all the way around the tidal basin. From past experience and reviewing this data, we smartly decided to take the Metro.
The event was supposed to start at 11am. So, we got up early and headed towards DC. We boarded at the Vienna/Fairfax Metro Station. It was the furthest one from DC that we could board on. We figured it would allow us to miss a significant amount of traffic. When we arrived at the Metro parking, it was unlike we had ever witnessed on a Saturday morning. The parking lot was almost entirely full. We finally found a tight spot between two other cars and wiggled Ebony into it.
The closest station, The Smithsonian, was actually closed. We found that the Federal Triangle is a pretty good stop to exit the Metro. It drops you off a few blocks away from the Washington Monument. It’s not a bad walk at all. As we approached the event, police officers were directing traffic and some of the streets were closed off. Food vendors of all shapes and sizes seemed to line the area around the monument.
The event was completely encircled by these 4 foot temporary barriers with 8 foot chain link in some areas. There were 3 entrances to the event grounds, each with a tented area for you to go through security. We all had bags with water and snacks in them so we entered one of the longest lines. However, I will say, the line moved pretty quickly. In a few minutes we were in the event grounds and on our way to look for our spot to camp out on.
The youngest Nomad, Trevor, wanted to get as close as he possibly could. Of course, the closer you are the more crowded it became. We walked around until we found a spot that was close, by one of the many Medical Tents. The view was a little obstructed by equipment so you had to crane your neck in unnatural ways. I knew this was not sustainable all day, so I told the group to stay put and Daddy Nomad went to do some recon.
After about 20 minutes, I found a great spot. It was closer than where we were, had a better view and was less crowded. It looked like an area that was for VIP because they seemed to close it off at times. When I found it they had it opened up. So I rushed back, got the group and we moved to our new spot to camp out for the day.
One thing about taking the Metro instead of driving Ebony is that we could not just run back to the car to get things we may have needed. We did not bring a blanket and our water was running low. So, I took our eldest Nomad son, Noah, with me to do some scouting outside of the event grounds. Just as we were leaving, Train took the stage. We walked away while listening to “Angel in Blue Jeans.”
We went to some street vendors asking if they sold blankets or towels. We found one that sold towels. They were $100 bill towels for $12 each. They were pricey, but we were in a bind. I asked for two and handed her my card. She wanted to charge me extra for using the card and would not negotiate. So, I said “no thanks” and went on our way.
The next vendor had the same type of towel and an American Flag one. I was going to purchase from this one and they only accepted cash, which I do not carry. It seemed that the Universe was trying to tell me not to buy towels from street vendors. So, I regrouped and thought about things. Finally a thought hit me and I searched for a pharmacy. There was a CVS about 1/4 mile away. Noah and I hiked to the CVS where we found the perfect folding picnic blankets and a 2.5 gallon jug of water for less that the street vendors wanted to charge for two towels. Score!
We hiked back to the event and arrived to the sounds of Mary J Blige. We were able to go through security in the “no bags” line. After a quick check of our picnic blankets, we were in and headed back to our spot. When Noah and I arrived we were greeted with smiles and looks of relief because the group had ran out of water. We plopped the blankets down, cracked open the water and we were set.
Mary J rocked the stage bringing life and meaning to songs they way that she does. When she was finished, various other speakers came out. The even was hosted by Soledad O’Brien and Will.I.Am. with special guest hosts like Don Cheadle popping in and out introducing people from non-profits, NGOs, politicians, financial organizations and dignitaries from other countries. We heard from people like Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, the President of the World Bank, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and many others.
The event was supposed to bring awareness to poverty around the world and the environment, namely climate change. During the course of the speeches, they seemed to deviate off topic and covered everything from education to feminism. Honestly, it felt more like a political rally where each speaker covers their individual agenda rather than the overall stated one. Since we do not discuss political standpoints within our writings, we will simply say that we definitely support a Healthy Earth and a Healthy Population. The methods to achieve these are viewed differently by many. But, the underlying support and intent, for those who truly mean it, is the same. Finally, it appeared that the main motivation for most of the people there, including The Nomads, was the great concert talent. And they did not let you down.
With that being said, after Mary J and a few of the speakers came and went, the group our youngest Nomad was waiting for finally came on stage, Fall Out Boy. Man oh man was that little guy excited. I took him to be as close to the stage as possible. Or, at least as close as I felt comfortable taking a 10-year-old among a group of grown men and women jumping and thrashing about. I put him up on my shoulders for a little while. I call him our little guy only because he is not as tall as his brothers. But, after a few minutes of being on my shoulders, he is either growing up, I am getting old or both. I put him down, we backed up just a bit and continued to rock out with Trevor singing and dancing. I’ll admit, when their last song “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark” came on, I was dancing and singing a bit, too. Thank goodness the music drowned me out.
We returned to our spot and sat down. As we did, droves (thousands) of people got up and started to leave. I guess they were only there to see Fall Out Boy. I felt a little bad for the speaker up on stage. Could give you a complex to get up to speak as a mass exodus is taking place. Can make you think they are leaving because of what you are saying. It wasn’t the speaker because people left as soon as Fall Out Boy was finished.
In a short while, the next performer came on. It was Usher. To our surprise, his foot was in a cast of some sort and he had one crutch. But, he still performed hobbling around on one foot! Usher’s performance was still amazing and he got much respect for performing while partially disabled. The rapper and actor, Common, came out during Usher’s performance and performed as well. He jumped out into the crowd and got the audience going. I had to go in for a closer look so I could grab some better pictures. Mission accomplished.
I returned again to our spot. By this time the afternoon sun and getting up real early were taking a toll on me. So, Daddy Nomad went night night for a bit. I have no idea what transpired while I was counting Zzz’s. But, I woke up a bit later to some singers and rappers from the African Continent. It was interesting to see the contrast between their performance and style and the performance and style of US rappers/entertainers.
About another 30 minutes passed and then Mama Nomad lost her mind! Let me give some background here. As a teenager, she loved this group, especially the singer. She wanted to see them in concert, but when the lead singer began to sing some solo songs, the group stopped putting out as many albums and consequently less concerts. Mama Nomad was disappointed, to put it mildly. She thought that she was never going to be able to see them in concert. That is…until…today. For the first time since Mama Nomad was a teenager, the group was performing in an area where she was. So, when Mama Nomad saw the group, No Doubt with Gwen Stefani, hit the stage, being excited was an understatement! I saw the teenager come back to life in her as she yelled and cheered. It was great. I, again, made my way closer to the stage to grab some better quality pics. Mission accomplished.
After No Doubt performed, they just walked off the stage. Mama Nomad thought that was odd. She said they have to come back for an encore. They love their fans too much to just leave like that. Again, just like after Fall Out Boy, thousands and thousands of people began to leave as soon as No Doubt exited the stage. The next speaker came on and then more speakers came to the stage. They continued to rotate out for 15 to 20 minutes. And then it happened, it was announced that No Doubt was coming back for an encore performance. With a look of satisfaction and excitement on Mama Nomad’s face, she and Trevor ran up to the stage to get as close as they could comfortably get. I stayed at our spot with Noah and Ethan. It was funny to watch part of the exiting crowd do a 180 and head back to the stage. We laughed.
No Doubt came back and tore that stage up. Gwen went out into the crowd and sang. The crowd, of course, went nuts! Mama Nomad and Trevor sang, danced and waved their arms around. When they finished, they came to the end of the stage and did a group bow. That is the type of exit Mama Nomad knew they would perform. The encore performance was a perfect ending to a great day. The hosts came to the stage and thanked everyone. Then the concert, I mean event, was over. We packed up, walked back to the Metro and headed home. It was a Nomad day to remember. Safe Travels.