Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Green Team Opener: It's Not Easy Being Green

USANA Amphitheater, West Valley City, Utah, the site of the 2010 Country Throwdown
WARNING: This post is considerably longer than the Deseret News article on Country Throwdown at USANA Amphitheater. As a suggestion, you may want to take your bathroom or cigarette break now.

Last Saturday night was the most anticipated event of the Utah outdoor concert season: the Green Team Opener. Since it was the first Green Team event of the season, all three of the Green Team captains were present to get oriented to any changes from the previous years. Although I'm not one of the captains, I'm not a bench warmer either.
Two of the three Green Team captains
The giant bull greets us for all of the country western concerts
When I left my house, it was raining buckets, but by the time we arrived at the giant blow up bull, there wasn't even a drizzle. I'll take cold over cold and rainy any day. Needless to say, we saw lots of blanketed and tarped cowboys in the exceptionally sparse crowd. I started with four shirts and a jacket, and I eventually went to six. Some wore gloves and hats. I wish I had brought them.
Entarped concert goers relax and listen on the grass
Green Teamers are Salt Lake Activities Group (SLAG) members and sometimes their friends and family. The Green Team scores points with USANA and Rocky Mountain Recycling by encouraging, facilitating, boosting, and promoting recycling during USANA Amphitheater summer (using the term loosely) concerts. At the recent Green Team appreciation lunch (held on the greenest day of all, St. Patrick's Day), USANA in coordination with the Green Team were recognized as one of Rocky Mountain Recycling's top contributors.

A spectacular vista for an evening of country music
The Green Team is an all volunteer group with no paid participants. We aren't part of the USANA staff, and we don't receive adequate training to field questions such as “where do you buy the 'I love boobies' hats and t-shirts that everybody's wearing?” but we try. Oh, and in case you were wondering, no, we cannot drink beer on the job, although a Green Team member tried once. I'm not sure, but I think he was banished from the team thereafter, as we don't have a time-out-let's-sober-up-shall-we corner.

No recyclables here
When folks put recyclables in with regular trash, the Green Team uses grabbers to remove them and put them in recycling bins.
To score recycling points, throw the can in the little hole
I brought my camera and got everyone to cooperate with picture taking, in large part because they learned that my blog has an international readership. I don't know entirely why, but based upon my analytics for the past 75 days, readers from Paris, London, Seoul, Givatayim, Cologne, Cochabamba, Louviers, Mumbai, Walton-le-Dale, Hong Kong, Panama City, Zagreb, Victoria, and Richmond (Canada) are stopping by my blog to see what I'm up to. My real goal is to get someone from Mona, Utah to read! And no, it hasn't happened yet.

Every team has equipment and the Green Team is no exception. We wear chic neon green mesh vests and we carry mechanical grabbers. Some wear blue surgical gloves to avoid direct contact with used beer.
Pre-event grabber training in process
The mechanical grabber is an innovative, multi-purpose tool that acts as extension to your arm. Grabbers are made of aluminum with rubber, powerful over-molded steel claws. The primary use of grabbers is picking up bottles, cans, and debris, but my research has unveiled that they are also suitable for cleaning urinals and retrieving out of reach items. Our team captains have stern words for those who would use grabbers to snag someone's hind quarters, but yes, it's happened. If you would like to buy a grabber for personal use, click here. What you use your grabber for is your business, and please, I don't want to know.

Beer cans are a primary recycling target for the Green Team
Perhaps because of their varied utility, grabbers are a hot item and we have learned to guard them fiercely. At the Journey/Cheap Trick/Heart concert a couple years ago, we met Luke (you might as well know his name, in case he pulls similar stunt on your watch). Luke was an extremely late-arriving, not-at-the-pre-event-training meeting, not-on-the-Green-Team-list, irregular-neon-green-vest-wearing, no-wrist-band, imposter wannabe Green Team member, who convinced a Green Team member that he was on the team and needed grabbers. I stood there in horror when the Green Teamer gave Luke his grabbers and a trash bag. I informed the Green Teamer he'd just given away his grabbers to an imposter, and I suggested he follow Luke until I could get the Green Team captain on the phone to report this grabber theft. As Luke headed down the aisle, it was clear he did not have a flying clue about recycling, because he mixed half empty baskets of catsup-covered, french fries with beer cans. Our captain caught up with her USANA contact, and soon, Luke was being interrogated by USANA security. And we got the grabbers back. But this legendary Green Team crisis is discussed regularly, in not-so-hushed tones.
Luke did not have one of these nifty wristbands
Anyway … when we arrived Saturday night, one of the grabbers was missing. Eight of us were functional with seven grabbers, as two of the team members did “tag and bag,” a sophisticated two person move where one holds the gigantic plastic bag while the other uses the grabbers to retrieve cans and recyclable plastic.

Tag and bag training
Our pre-event training included full training for two new Green Teamers, plus plastic bag bow tying for me. We don't really use the plastic bags much until after the concert is over, when we are fetching cans and plastic off the lawn, but we like to have them, just in case there is need during the concert. The bow tie reduces the long plastic bag to a sophisticated hip side bow for portability and a splash of fashion. 
Plastic bow step 1: fold plastic bag in half
Plastic bow step 2: neatly slip folded plastic under vest side straps
Plastic bag step 3: tie ends into bow and voila, recycling fashion! Well, sort of.
As if my custom made, Green Team earrings weren't fashion enough.
Official and lively playful Green Team earrings
The event was Country Throwdown at the USANA, not to be confused with Bobby Flay Throwdown, Cage Boxing Throwdown, or the definition of "throwdown" in the Urban Dictionary (now that's an education!). It's also totally different than throwing up. Headliner names at the concert were Montgomery Gentry, Jack Ingram, Little Big Town, and Eric Church. And lesser known groups performed in between bigger sets.
My official ticket in the front of the middle section - yippee!!
The bonus of being on the Green Team is that we get to stop working when the bands are playing. If the concert isn't sold out, we get tickets with assigned seats. Saturday, we had seats, albeit wet ones.
Unseasonably cold weather kept the crowds at home watching World Cup Soccer
People watching is always fun. A female couple making out on the aisle got scolded for public display of affection. Sequin denim housewives shook it fast and furious in front of our seats during one of the sets. Amazing lioness hair woman a couple rows up had wavy dark brown hair down to her waist with layers of “almost yellow” on the top. If you, lioness woman, are reading, send me the name of your salon, and I'll be sure to make a note of it.

And there were plenty of cowboys, who I'd rank only second to Italian men in terms of overall sex appeal. To all the Irish men I have loved, sorry.

The cowgirl boutique was not to be missed
I had a smidge of time to shop at the cowgirl boutique and the Down N Dirty Hat Company. I was salivating over the pink hats, but, you know, the austere budget kept me in line.
The pink and white lacy hat design immediately caught my eye
Where are my pink cowboy boots and horse with the pink saddle?
As always, the view from the USANA Amphitheater is a unique west-of-the-valley vantage point to see the city and Wasatch mountains. Saturday night, it was a particularly stunning sight: clouds collided with my favorite mountains in the distance. We were treated to a clearing skyline as darkness fell. And for some reason, sea gulls were a fixture at USANA, well as much as birds can be fixed in one place. I wished I could've captured their chatter on audio. A reminder if you haven't been, you should visit Utah – the scenery is spectacular.
We were lucky the clouds broke by 6 pm
Seagulls perched in dozens on the restroom buildings
Breathtaking view of downtown Salt Lake City from the back of the USANA amphitheater
It's unfortunate, but I don't remember much about Eric Church's performance. I think he was onstage when about when we took a break to eat dinner. USANA gives the Green Team free dinner: hot dogs, hamburgers, or Tuscan Chicken sandwiches, plus a snack and drink. A couple of us went for dinner at a Souper Salad before the concert, because we wanted to be sure to get our fill of veggies, but we sat with the group and ... it's amazing how quickly veggies burn off.
Jack Ingram onstage
Jack Ingram connected with the crowd in every way. His music has a strong blues back beat, but his work also combines country and rock. He had the crowd in shouting mode while he sang “Barbie Doll,” about a high maintenance, conniving woman in the dating scene.

That girls’ a Barbie doll
A Barbie doll
She’s real good-looking but she’s got no heart at all
Barbie dolls, princess wannabes, ladies in waiting, and prima donas would not enjoy the Green Team, fyi.

If you don't know Little Big Town, and I didn't, I am sure you will. This quartet's style is a class act defined by four part harmonies featuring Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook, and Phillip Sweet. It was almost as if someone decided to merge Diamond Rio with Celtic Woman.  Awesome sounds!  The backdrop for their stage set up was huge black and white ornamental printed “curtains” atop a black background, instead of the usual logo with the group name. Even if you aren't a country music fan, you may want to give Little Big Town a listen.

Montgomery Gentry (Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry), perhaps the most widely known, played last and had the crowd on their feet almost the entire time with favorites such as “Something To Be Proud Of,” and “If You Ever Stop Lovin' Me.” It was nearly 10 pm and we were getting a bit cold, but not in the least bored.

Some of us sat in front of the Odd Triple, two guys and their friend's girlfriend. “He's a loser,” said one of the guys about the girl's boyfriend. If you, loser, are reading, please be aware your very cute, sweet girlfriend deserves better than to have to hang with your friends on a Saturday night.

Anyway, one of these guys knew every song as soon as the introduction was played, and the other guy was Mr. Dancer. He got after me when he didn't feel I was clapping or cheering (as in “ya hooooo”) enough. Mr. Dancer had hypergyrating dance moves. Yes siree Bob, we have freedom of expression here in America.

About then, Montgomery Gentry began to play “What Do You Think About That.”

Some people care about what other people think
Worry about what they say
Let a little gossip
Coming from a loose lip ruin a perfect day
Say, blah, blah, blah, just a jacking their jaws
Got a letta roll offa my back
I don't give a dern what other people think
What do ya think about that 

Obviously, Mr. Dancer didn't care about what we might have thought, but we enjoyed his performance immensely, so much that we sent him up a few rows to perform for our fellow Green Team members.
Mr. Dancer makes his entrance
Mr. Dancer greets our fellow Green Teamers
Mr. Dancer continues his act
Not quite lap dancing but almost
Mr. Dancer's parting move
His in-their-face dance style was far from the karaoke disco scene I'd experienced the previous night. Mr. Dancer may have had a few too many beverages, but his coordination and energy weren't suffering much. We eventually joined Mr. Dancer in the aisle and did cowboy moves such as horse galloping and lassoing. I realized the error of my ways when I could barely walk the next morning. But it was fun at the time.

Because of the sparse crowd, trash – recyclable or not – was hard to come by even after the concert. We normally spend at least 30 minutes on the lawn and easily fill several bags with cans and plastic, but since there were so few concert attendees, the lawn was remarkably clean by comparison to other concerts we've worked. I think I filled a half bag.
Note to all the single ladies: according to Montgomery Gentry, Jim Beam is single. 
After we washed our grabbers and stowed all the equipment, we headed for the parking lot. The front gate was locked. Climbing the fence was contemplated but not for long. We instead went to the back of the arena site and exited at the side entrance. On the way to the lot, we discussed the relative merits of smelling used beer, an occupational hazard of being on the Green Team. I think I was the only person who admitted to liking the smell. Normally we're quite hot and sweaty, not to mention dusty and tired, but we were simply cold and tired when we pulled out of the empty parking lot.  It was the end of another night of unparalleled entertainment value ... the next USANA concert, Lilith Fair, is less than a month away. {yee haw!!}

Disclosure: I was a volunteer at this concert so did not pay for admission.  I received NO compensation for this review.

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