Hanson String Theory Pittsburgh

If you are trying to stay spoiler free for Hanson’s latest tour, String Theory, then this is a post you are going to want to bookmark and come back to after you have seen the show.  I will be discussing how the show went and include the setlist so this is your warning to leave the page now…

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The Pittsburgh String Theory originally appeared to be the first show of the tour which is why I tried really hard to be there.  Then they added Columbus before hand but that show ended up being a shortened set, so in a way this show was kind of sort of the first show.

Heinz Hall was a beautiful venue and it was fun to see the varying degree of outfits for the show.  Some were dressed to the nines and others had on Hanson tees and jeans as if it was a regular concert.  I was hoping that everyone would sit for the entire show, and while some did try to stand at various points throughout the set (and some opted to dance along the side walls so as not to disturb everyone else) a few songs before the end we were encouraged to stand.  I still opted not to because the seat was LOW and I wasn’t even sure I could get up – and could still see Zac while sitting anyway 😛

Most of the show I was just in awe.  Some of the songs sounded as if they belonged on a movie soundtrack with the addition of the symphony.  Some songs sounded very different than what I was used to, while others just seemed enhanced with the symphony, and others the band almost seemed to drown the symphony out at times.  It was fun to “ignore” Isaac, Taylor and Zac at times and just watch the musicians behind them at times – how they waited for their cue and all started at just the precise right moments.  I didn’t sing along too much, because my jaw spent a lot of time on the floor.  I am glad that I am seeing it several more times throughout the rest of this year and next because in addition to each different symphony putting their own touches on things, I am sure there are little intricacies in the music that I will only pick up on after seeing/hearing it a few times. (And I am very much so looking forward to the CD release in the fall – including an instrumental version!)

The show starts with Reaching for the Sky Part 1 – a new song that was supposedly written for Anthem but didn’t make the cut.  This show gave me 4 new songs on my “songs heard live list” – Reaching For The Sky Pts 1 and 2 (Zac counted them as 2 separate on Hanson.net and with Pt 2 being cut in Columbus for song counting purposes they kind of have to continue to be considered separate), Dream It Do It, and Battle Cry.

After the set was done, the crowd gave Hanson a standing ovation and they came back out for an “encore”, but not having anything else scored, they gave us a little bit of This Time Around acapella.

The guys also changed their usual positions on stage – “Isaac’s side” is now “Taylor’s side”, Zac being in the middle is now Isaac in the middle and “Taylor’s side” is now “Zac’s side”.  This may be something to keep in mind if you care where your seats are near when purchasing tickets!

Reaching For The Sky (Part 1)
Joyful Noise
Where’s The Love
Dream It Do It
MMMBop
Chasing Down My Dreams
Tragic Symphony
Got a Hold On Me
Yearbook
Siren Call
Me Myself and I
INTERMISSION
Reaching For The Sky (Part 2)
This Time Around
Something Going Round
Battle Cry
You Can’t Stop Us
Broken Angel
What Are We Fighting For
Breaktown
No Rest For The Weary
I Was Born
Sound of Light
Tonight

Encore:
This Time Around (Chorus acapella)

5SOS Meet You There Tour

On August 29th, 5SOS kicked off their North American tour (or at least the US portion) at Mohegan Sun Arena.  My Mom ended up getting offered free tickets so she tagged along with me for the show.  It was the evening before my 20th anniversary of my first concert – Hanson.  It was funny to see that even though 20 years have passed, the way the teenie boppers act at shows has not.  Singing along in line waiting for the doors to open, screaming when the doors do open, freaking out when the band members remove jackets.  Although there were some noticeable changes with technology – cell phones were barely a thing 20 years ago and if you wanted to take photos it was on a film camera so you had no idea what you had taken until the next day  – IF you were lucky enough to go to a one-hour photo place and not have to mail your photos out to be developed.  And videos? Forget it. No snapchat, no instagram.

I really was only familiar (or so I thought) with 2 of 5SOS songs – and of course they were the two that I saw on the setlist were going to be for the encore.  2 girls ended up being the only ones standing in our area and completely blocked us – but slowly the older “high rollers” who also had tickets in our row started leaving so we scooted down after about 5 songs and were able to see the band on the stage and not just the girl in front of us singing into her cell phone as if it was a microphone.  (I mean, at least if you can’t see the band the girls you can see were mildly entertaining?)

I found it funny that when the show started I noted that security was at the bottom of every section making sure that people weren’t going to sneak down to the GA Floor – and then a few songs in one of the band members told anyone who wanted to come down to the floor to come down.  Massive amounts of girls made their way down the stairs only to be turned back around once they got to the bottom by security.   Perhaps security and the band should have been put on the same page before the show! lol

The Aces opened the show and they were an all girls band from Utah and they actually were not that bad at all. I enjoyed them.

It was a fun show, it was fun to watch the crowd when I couldn’t see the band, but I definitely had to have my earplugs in the whole time. It’s been a while since I had been in the middle of such a young, loud crowd!

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Good Vibes with Jason Mraz

Saturday night Jason Mraz brought his “Good Vibes” tour to Mohegan Sun’s Arena.  After an exhausting trip back home, I was glad that Jason said that if we wanted to yawn or sleep that was ok and that he’d still get the music to us somehow.  He started off with some of his older material which was nice since that is what I am most familiar with as I got into him in college when he was waiting for his rocket to come.  He and his backing band were all dressed in painter jump suits and Jason spoke about love and how important it was pretty much every time he spoke to the crowd.  He said how those who want love the most are often angry and the lack of being loved causes them to do dangerous things.  He also suggested we replace the “f-word” with “love” – especially when we are driving – “lovin’ A man. Lovin’ A!”  The setlist was a lot of fun and Raining Jane as his backup band was amazing.  Loved all the dancing that they threw in throughout the songs and I absolutely loved the mashup he did of Jackson 5’s I Want You Back with his song Unlonely (which is one of my faves of his new tracks, we’ll see if that holds up at the end of the week when I get to hear the full new album, Know)

Despite the fact that I absolutely wished I was in bed and sleeping during his set, I am glad that I didn’t end up missing out and got a chance to get some Good Vibes from Jason.

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Pittsburgh – Travel and Sightseeing

I am going to split my Pittsburgh post in 2 because if not it will be a post of travel woes with 2 sentences about the Hanson show and the Hanson show deserves a bit more recognition than that.  If you are trying to remain spoiler free for the Hanson String Theory tour – this post is safe! (The next one will not be.)

My flight to Pittsburgh was taking off just before 6am and I wanted to leave my house at 2:30am to give myself plenty of time to get through security.  Well, I set 3 alarms and slept through all of them and ended up waking up at 3:19am, essentially ran down the stairs and sped the whole way up to the airport, getting to the gate with about 15 minutes to spare before boarding.  I know a lot of people do this as their norm, but I think I’d much rather stick to my “I have an hour or more to kill sitting here” routine.  The other downside was both of my flights (Hartford to Baltimore and Baltimore to Pittsburgh) were less than an hour so getting to sleep was made difficult because by the time I actually fell asleep we were landing.

As I jumped into a Lyft at the airport, Zac posted on Instagram that they were doing a TV appearance and the station was right behind our hotel. I dropped my stuff off and we went to wait outside, but after waiting about an hour or so and no sign of them we decided it was time to get our sightseeing on.

 

Our first stop was the Andy Warhol museum.  The admission price of $20 seemed a bit steep for what it was, but we had a lot of fun exploring the several floors of artwork (and waiting 8 years for the elevator in between) and checking everything out.  There were some String Theory appropriate artwork, some not appropriate artwork, and my favorite was “Flowers”.  We had hoped to be able to do some screen printing but they didn’t open until 1:30 and we were ready to go and eat about noon.

We stopped at a local brewery for lunch across the street from PNC Park (a bucketlist venue, I was hoping for a Thursday afternoon game so I could check it out, but it was an off day instead) I got 4 cheese mac & cheese with chicken and it was not as tasty as I was hoping!

Next up was Randyland which is a home that was purchased by an artist named Randy who painted and adds all sorts of different objects to the house and yard.  It’s hard to explain but vibrant and colorful and you really can’t help but smile when you visit.  The problem of this trip was that I did not have any small bills so I couldn’t leave a donation for Randy.  He needs to accept some online or have a credit card swiper!

 

Next up we decided to ride the Duquense Incline.  Because riding it from the bottom has stairs, we started at the top and the observation deck (and 2 penny machines I was not prepared for, but managed to get 1 design from each) and rode it down and then back up.  The reviews where they say the person taking admission is rude are true… not sure why that was needed to add to the “experience” but after some confusion we made our way back up to the top again.  The car was cool and it was a neat experience but really… a little politeness to confused tourists goes a long way.

–Then we took a break to go see Hanson… see next post for the details there—

Our post show meal was at Primanti Brothers, where they put French fries on their sandwiches. Those of us who opted to go for sandwiches all got the corned beef.  It was good, it was messy.  Then they completely charged our credit cards for the wrong orders and had to get everything resorted lol

Friday we continued our tour and headed to Pamela’s Diner which was difficult to get to due to construction, but worth the effort. There was about 8 people in front of us for tables but it moved quickly and I think we both enjoyed our brunch.

Next up we went to the Center for Learning which looks like Hogwarts inside and explored, attempting to cast spells, and got stuck in an elevator.

We went back to the hotel to relax and then my trouble began.  First, my Lyft couldn’t seem to get to me. They ended up finding someone else who was close by to grab me, and I fell down the curb cutting myself up on the way to the car.  The driver handed me some napkins and all was well… then his glasses fell from the visor on to me mid ride scaring the crap out of me and then cracking me up.  I got to the gate with 1 hour to spare before boarding and was getting ready for my 4 hour layover in Baltimore…

All morning the flight time was jumping around from 5:55 to 6:20 to 6:10 to 6:05.  Shortly after I arrived it got bumped to 10:55 which meant I would miss my layover. I was put on an 8am flight back to Hartford but I started looking for cars since I didn’t have much faith that the flight would EVER take off.  Most did not have any one way rentals available.  Finally I found one and was heading down to the rental counter.  I checked my phone and it said that the flight would now be taking off at 6:30 PM.  It was 6:15 PM.  I raced back to security, managed to be one of the only ones at pre-check, hustled to the gate, asked if I missed the flight only to be told it was now leaving at 8:30pm.  Well, now I WOULD make my layover… got in line again and was told there were no longer any seats left on that flight and I’d have to try and fly standby. I tried to cancel the car rental, assuming we would be leaving at 8:30… grabbed a snack from Auntie Anne’s Pretzels only to hear a collective “UGH ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” and the flight had once again gotten bumped to leaving at 11pm.  I confirmed with my friend I could crash at her house for the night in PA and made my way to pick up my rental car.  I left the airport at 8pm (when I probably could have left at 6pm if they’d stop… stringing me along…) and pulled into my friend’s driveway at 11:04pm.  The flight ended up taking off. At 11:04pm.    So I had to drive 8 hours home but was able to spend the night with a friend and in a bed instead of in the airport on the floor or in a chair getting home about 10am versus having to head straight to the casino for Jason Mraz… but I think taking my fate into my own hands was the right decision since the weather and Baltimore couldn’t seem to make up their mind…

I’d love to go back to Pittsburgh because I really want to see a game at PNC Park but I am not sure it will be this baseball season… and maybe next season will be out as well until I forget about this nightmare of a trip home! (Or maybe I’ll just have to suck it up and drive the whole way instead)

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Evanescence and Lindsey Stirling

A concert on a Wednesday was not one of my brighter ideas… but I couldn’t pass up the chance to see Lindsey Stirling and Evanescence with AN ORCHESTRA!

Wednesday July 25th Evanescense and Lindsey Stirling brough their orchestra tour to Mohegan Sun Arena.  I had seen both artists before and thought that seeing them backed with an orchestra would be amazing, plus it would be a good “trial run” to see how it worked with Hanson’s orchestra tour starting up!

I knew things were a little different when they wouldn’t let me have my water bottle, it had to be poured into a cup.  That had never happened to me before at my “usual” shows and I was wondering what kind of crowd I had gotten myself into… Turns out a crowd of adults who didn’t know how to adult.  Pre-show “highlights” included a woman who lost her cell phone at the casino but was talking to the arena security about it and apparently asking them to call Verizon for her to help find it and the dude who was double fisting beers that threw up all over himself, at least 2 other people and 2 chairs which led to the janitor needing to  clean things up and replace 2 chairs in between the opener and Lindsey which led to the house lights being on a bit longer than they should have so he could quickly finish up. (And to the dude who walked up to him and stuck some cash in his pocket, I salute you)

From what I hear, they have been co-headlining and alternating who goes on first at each show and for my show Lindsey was on first. She mentioned this was a show they were all looking forward to as it was the only one that was INSIDE and with her wearing several layers of costume and makeup she appreciated that.  As to be expected, Lindsey was all over up and down and around on the stage and had some dancer as well to help round things out.  I still want to give her my fitbit before she hits the stage…  Amy Lee of Evanescence joined Lindsey for a song as well.

After an intermission, Evanescence took the stage and I didn’t realize just how much their songs NEEDED to be performed with an orchestra. Holy crap. It was nothing short of amazing and  I had been considering leaving after they played a song or two that I knew in an effort to beat traffic and get home a little bit earlier since it was a Wednesday night and I had an early appointment the next day – but there was no way I could leave in the middle of something so amazing! Lindsey also came out and joined them for a song.

Some things I noticed, no one stood during Lindsey’s set until she told us to. No one stood during Evanescence’s set until they bowed at the end.  No one held their phones over their head to take video / photos, but I could see a lot of eye-level phones/cameras out in the crowd.

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Britney Spears Piece of Me Tour

I had wanted to see Britney Spears’ Las Vegas residency, but it just never worked out coordinating a trip out there.  Fortunately for me, she brought the tour on the road and ended up coming to Mohegan Sun. I joined her “tour club” and was able to do the impossible – get 2 lower level tickets together for the show! They were straight back from the stage which gave us a great vantage point to be able to see everything going on on the stage (I just wish she had a catwalk!)  From what I’ve heard, the show was very similar to the Vegas residency (though I still wish I could have made it out there)

The show was very entertaining but made me realize just how early I had dropped off from her career – a lot of the later stuff were songs that I didn’t really know all that well. But being able to sing along or not wasn’t an issue – the show was a pretty much non stop dance party either way!

Britney Spears Setlist Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT, USA, Piece of Me Tour 2018

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O-Town at Resorts World Casino

A Saturday at the end of June we made the trek to Resorts World Casino “New York City”.  It was more like Middle of Nowhere Queens… This was the Pop 2000s Tour – hosted by Lance Bass of *NSYNC with performances from Ryan Cabrera, Aaron Carter and O-Town. We went for the VIP M&G which was supposed to be a photo with Lance *and* O-Town as well as VIP table. We were a bit disappointed to see that the tables were behind the GA tickets, but of all the tables we had what seemed to be the best one, at least.

We lined up and did our photo – and were disappointed to see that Aaron Carter had joined in as well.  Boo. They took 2 photos on our phones and 2 on a professional camera which made for a lot of people looking at the wrong cameras in photos which was frustrating. They should have said they were first taking them with one camera so we knew where we were looking…

Then it was time to start drinking in order to make it through Aaron’s set.  Lance kicked things off introducing Ryan Cabrera, who came out in an *NSYNC shirt. Lance then introduced Aaron and in the moment I didn’t think there was actually enough alcohol to forget his set but that plus the fact that it was like a month ago and I am just writing this now… highlights did include when he “played” the piano tattooed on his arm.

Then Lance came out and read from a piece of paper his “intro” for O-Town all about how he looks up to them and they are the greatest boyband 😉  Their set was pretty similar to the ones they had done earlier in the year and since we weren’t close enough for phones to be grabbed and I’m still bitter mine had never been grabbed I opted to take a bathroom break during “These are the Days” – only to have to run back to my spot when I realized they started singing “It’s Gonna Be Me” next! And I made it back in PLENTY of time for Lance to join the guys on stage for Bye Bye Bye!!!!

As usual we jumped in line for post show selfies with O-Town and they were wonderful, as always!

When Jake mentioned the summer tour to us earlier in the year he said he thought we would like the lineup and while I’m kind of sick of seeing Ryan Cabrera and would never willingly see Aaron Carter if not “forced”, giving me the chance to go 3/5 on my *NSYNC quest was most appreciated! (Can they take JC out with them next tour?)

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Book Review: Hacking IT

Hacking IT is about a smart software developer named Kylie.  It all begins when she notices that the lights in her office are not like they used to be.  She talks to one of the other women at the office she shares and gets admin rights to the control panel and finds that there was a hacker in the system and tries to follow him to undo what was done.  Of course, the chief security officer is then alerted that there was a hacker in the system, and believes that it was Kylie.  Finally she is able to explain that she was just trying to HELP, not hurt and that maybe he should figure out a new staff to keep control of his IT stuff since they let a hacker in and mistook her for the hacker instead.

And this is a romance novel so of course, Luke and Kylie start a little relationship.  Which complicates things a bit – but as they begin to realize that someone seems to be after Kylie, Luke ends up being her personal security as well.  Luke has been looking into her background and thinks that he has discovered a BIG secret about her – but is it true? Well, you’re just going to have to read to find out…

My favorite quote from the book: “There was only so long a smart person could bang their head against a closed door before simply climbing a fence.”

I received a free e-copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

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Book Review: Grump

Snow White is my favorite Disney Princess and has been since i was a kid and Grumpy has recently become my favorite dwarf, since a great interaction with him at Disney World!  So I was pretty pumped when I saw this book that seemed to be about Grumpy.

This book is told from the dwarves perspective – they are usually born way, way underground but this dwarf in particular was born close to the surface absolutely hated being down far in the ground.  So then he was NOT happy when he was added as the “seventh” dwarf – the one that everyone can boss around – working down almost as far as you can go.

But somehow, the crew ended up at the surface and interacting with the Queen and her step-daughter, Snow White.  He and the Queen are fast friends because they are both outcasts, but he also has a special spot for Snow White – and ends up saving her life.  This is all the story of Snow White and the 7 Dwarves from “Grump’s” perspective – but years later after Snow White passed away, humans continued to tell the story and forgot/decided that the dwarves all didn’t have real names – and more and more of the story got changed to be more about the humans, because humans always need to be the center of attention!

This is a really nice and different perspective on a story you’ve probably heard over and over again.  My favorite quote from the book was: “I just wish I’d known that getting your wish comes with its own load of rubble”

I received a free e-copy of  this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

From the New York Times bestselling author of Rump, comes the true story behind another unlikely hero: a grumpy dwarf who gets tangled up in Snow White’s feud with the wicked queen.

Ever since he was a dwarfling, Borlen (nicknamed “Grump”) has dreamed of visiting The Surface, so when opportunity knocks, he leaves his cavern home behind.
At first, life aboveground is a dream come true. Queen Elfrieda Veronika Ingrid Lenore (E.V.I.L.) is the best friend Grump always wanted, feeding him all the rubies he can eat and allowing him to rule at her side in exchange for magic and information. But as time goes on, Grump starts to suspect that Queen E.V.I.L. may not be as nice as she seems. . . .
When the queen commands him to carry out a horrible task against her stepdaughter Snow White, Grump is in over his head. He’s bound by magic to help the queen, but also to protect Snow White. As if that wasn’t stressful enough, the queen keeps bugging him for updates through her magic mirror! He’ll have to dig deep to find a way out of this pickle, and that’s enough to make any dwarf Grumpy indeed.

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Book Review: I’m Keith Hernandez

Keith Hernandez was the Mets 1st baseman in the 80s.  Prior to that, he was a Cardinal.  Currently, he can be heard in the booth for Mets broadcasts and has been a bright spot in an otherwise pretty meh season so far from the team.  Last month he released a memoir titled “I’m Keith Hernandez” which is his line in a Seinfeld episode.  Although the book cover features him in Mets garb, most of the book focuses on his life growing up and making his way through the minor leagues and to the Cardinals team.  It was extra interesting for me because most of his minor league time was spent in Tulsa, OK – a place I have been visiting yearly for the past 10 years.  He bounces back to present day as well, as an announcer and how he was preparing to write the book and trying to figure out what he should include.  (He opted to not touch as much on the Mets because he said that era has been written about a lot.)

Keith ended up doing a book signing tour and one of his stops was in Madison, CT!  Keith is one of my favorites in the Mets organization so I knew I had to go.  As luck would have it, I ended up having a business trip just before the signing and so I ended up getting an audio version of the book – which was read by Keith himself.  The book was 9 hours and 45 minutes long – my trip was supposed to be round trip 8 hours. (I did listen to a couple chapters while eating dinner during my trip) I ended up finishing the book just as I was pulling into my driveway – got changed into Mets garb and headed out to meet Keith.

I have to say, the book is great, but if you have the chance to have Keith read you the audio of the book – definitely take it.  It was great to hear his words in his voice and he even laughed sometimes if remembering a particularly funny moment or anecdote.  I felt like I had Keith sitting in the passenger seat with me on my way there and back. When I met him he told me it took him 1 week to record it and asked me how I thought he did, “Oh it was great! I felt like you were in the car with me!” “Well, I was!” he replied.

If you are a Keith fan, a Mets or Cardinals fan, or even just a baseball fan – this book is for you! I definitely recommend it.  I received a free e-copy of this book, purchased a hard copy and audio book version in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Legendary first baseman Keith Hernandez tells all in this gripping and literary memoir.
New York Times Bestseller
Keith Hernandez revolutionized the role of first baseman. During his illustrious career with the World Series-winning St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets, he was a perennial fan favorite, earning eleven consecutive Gold Gloves, a National League co-MVP Award, and a batting title. But it was his unique blend of intelligence, humor, and talent–not to mention his unflappable leadership, playful antics, and competitive temperament–that transcended the sport and propelled him to a level of renown that few other athletes have achieved, including his memorable appearances on the television show Seinfeld.
Now, with a striking mix of candor and self-reflection, Hernandez takes us along on his journey to baseball immortality. There are the hellacious bus rides and south-of-the-border escapades of his minor league years. His major league benchings, unending plate adjustments, and role in one of the most exciting batting races in history against Pete Rose. Indeed, from the Little League fields of Northern California to the dusty proving grounds of triple-A ball to the grand stages of Busch Stadium and beyond, I’m Keith Hernandez reveals as much about America’s favorite pastime as it does about the man himself.
What emerges is an honest and compelling assessment of the game’s past, present, and future–a memoir that showcases one of baseball’s most unique and experienced minds at his very best.

 

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