There's little that I enjoy more in life than good music and roller coasters, so when I was asked if I wanted to spend the day hanging out with a few of my favorite bands, there was no way I was saying no. On July 28, I drove out to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ, and hung out with some of the most genuine and talented performers that I've ever met -- We The Kings, The Summer Set, Hot Chelle Rae, The Downtown Fiction, and Action Item were in town on the Friday is Forever Tour and they weren't about to bypass the opportunity to check out the park before and after their show (with me in tow!).
The fact that it was hot and we were occasionally caught in the rain wasn't going to stop us from riding some coasters and enjoying our afternoon and evening. The majority of my day was spent with The Summer Set, the main supporting group for We The Kings. I've been told how down-to-earth and talented these guys were but I had to see for myself to really believe it 100 percent. And it turns out, vocalist Brian Dales, drummer Jess Bowen, bassist Stephen & guitarist/pianist John Gomez, and guitarist Josh Montgomery are five of the most chill kids I've ever had the pleasure of hanging out with.
As someone who grew up going to the park, the band quickly deemed me the "unoffical tour guide." After figuring out which rides we needed to hit, we were hopping in a van to take us to our first coaster (one of my personal favorites!), Nitro. It was the perfect warm up coaster before we were heading over to Kingda Ka, the world's tallest coaster that launches you at 128 mph in 3.5 seconds! Brian, John, Josh, and their friend/radio show host Gunz had their brave faces on but you can bet we all screamed as we plunged in to the sky and flew back to the ground. Afterward, we caught up with Jess and Stephen at the boardwalk/games area to take some photos we headed back to the arena so they could get ready for their set.
While they got ready for the show, I caught the end of The Downtown Fiction's set before catching up with NJ's Action Item, who were excited to talk about the tour, their new single "Learn to Fly," and how they were there the first time Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber met. Cute! With plans to catch up with them later, I headed backstage to check out The Summer Set's performance. The band definitely knows how to wake up the audience and get the crowd involved -- their fans danced, screamed, and cheered along to a set filled with songs off their latest album Everything's Fine, and of course, their big hits including crowd favorite (and one of mine) "Chelsea."
After their set, We The Kings took the stage while I sat down with one of my favorite bands The Downtown Fiction to chat about their life on the road, their new music video/single 'Thanks for Nothing', and their plans for the future.
With some time left to kill, I joined The Summer Set, Action Item, and The Downtown Fiction to jump on some more coasters before the park closed that night, but not before numerous members of the groups all took the time to sign and take photos with fans that were waiting outside the arena to talk to some of their favorite performers. Even as we walked to Bizaro, an upside-down floorless coaster, Brian took a few moments to greet his fans and take pictures. It's always great to see how much some people appreciate their fans and these three bands are just that -- gracious, appreciative, and genuine.
After Bizaro, we all jumped in to vans and went back to Nitro, which I proceeded to ride two more times with Anthony, Dave, and Dan of Action Item. After saying our goodbyes, I headed back with the guys to Kingda Ka for one last rush of the night. Unfortunately, it started to rain and as soon as we got there, it broke down. Bummer! A bit disappointed, we all headed over to El Toro, my favorite ride in the park. The disappointment didn't last for long though. As much as the rain hurt hitting you in the face while speeding around 80 mph, it was still a blast and David Pavluk from The Downtown Fiction was the perfect El Toro partner -- hands up for the first drop! The ride op even let us get one extra ride of the night in (after stopping our train on the lift to give us all a bit of a scare!).
It was almost 10:30 p.m. by the time we got backstage behind the arena when Brian and I finally sat down to unwind after the long afternoon/night and discuss the new album Everything's Fine, life on the road, and how that day had been a standout for him.
"I am bleeding out of my elbow! I got a battle wound with J-14 riding El Toro today," Brian laughed while proudly showing me a bleeding scrape that he had somehow managed to get on El Toro. "That ride was intense... but it wasn't Kingda Ka." He said. "I think that in the almost twenty-two years of my existence this is going up there as one of the best days of all time. Something today just really made sense in the universe for Brian Dales."
From riding some amazing rides, watching The Summer Set bring down the roof (metaphorically... it was outside, there wasn't one!), and hanging out with a crazy cool guy named Brian, I left that night exhausted but thrilled that I had been a part of it.
Nicole - J-14 Photo Assistant
Photos: Courtesy of Nicole Mazza for J-14