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Stephen Kellogg Stage One Fairfield, CT

My last show of the year as I believe it has been for the past couple years, was Stephen Kellogg. For this show he was accompanied by Eric Donnelly on guitar and Taylor Carson opened.  The show was promoting his latest release, “Objects in the Mirror” which I unfortunately didn’t have a chance to fully listen to before the show.  (In an effort to remedy this I have purchased a discman for listening to CDs at work now – so expect more CD reviews in 2019.)

During Song for Daughters I started to tear up a bit and thought to myself… how can he perform these songs that are so emotional and probably mean more to him than me, and make it through without crying?  Well… I got my answer on the next song – he can’t.  By the end of Objects in the Mirror he was crying and talked a little bit about it before playing Prayers on the keyboard.

The second half of the setlist was requests shouted out from the audience and I am not sure how he understood what anyone was saying… and maybe he didn’t and just picked what he wanted to play pretending it was a request. *shrug*

For the last song of the main set, Last Man Standing, 2 of his 4 daughters joined him on stage and for the last song of the encore he did See You Later See You Soon on the “b stage” like Taylor Swift would do (ugh) and kept yelling for us to sing THREE MORE! and was joined by Taylor Carson.  A great show for the last show of 2018 and looking forward to seeing him again in 2019 even though at the moment his tour is not returning to CT.

Year In Review 2018

Most expensive show:
Other than BTTI – Backstreet Boys in Vegas

Least (not free) expensive show:
Hanson’s Storytellers show in Tulsa at $30

Free shows:
O-Town, The Last Bandoleros, Ruben Studdard, Hanson, The Hop Jam, 5SOS, Jon McLaughlin

# artists seen: 53
# unique artists seen: 8
# shows seen in CT: 18
# of shows out of state: 20

Show farthest away: BSB in Vegas
Closest show: O-Town and David Archuleta in Fairfield
$$ spent on tickets: $4,666
Miles traveled: 13,872.5

Top 6 shows of the year?

 

Total number of shows in 2018? 38

First show of the year? Hanson in Jamaica

First show with actual tickets: Walk the Moon

Last show of the year? Stephen Kellogg

Most surprising show? Evanescence and Lindsey Stirling w/ a orchestra

Most disappointing? I didn’t really have any bummers of shows this year

Farthest traveled? Las Vegas for BSB’s residency

States attended shows in? Jamaica, CT, NV, FL, OK, NY, PA, CO, MA, GA, TN, MA, VA

Venue most visited? Probably the Wolf Den at Mohegan Sun

Band seen the most? Hanson at 16 times.

Best new discovery? The Last Bandoleros

Bands seen this year that also broke up this year? I don’t think any.

Friends made at shows? Maybe? I’m a little anti-social lol

Band members met? Hanson, O-Town, The Last Bandoleros, Andy Grammer, Tyler Hilton, David Cook, 98 Degrees, David Archuleta, Jon McLaughlin

Best souvenir from a show? My life after Hanson in VA

Longest time in line? Probably for O-Town VIP in Fairfield. Didn’t wait too much for anything else. Most were seated.

Shows seen from the barricade [front row]– Hanson BTTI, O-Town Fairfield, Hanson in Nashville, Hanson in Denver (kind of)

Most shows in one month?

January – 4
February – 1
March – 5
April – 1
May – 4
June – 1
July – 2
August – 3
September – 3
October – 4
November – 5
December – 5

Looks like a 3 way tie with 5 shows in March, November and December. (No wonder I have been so tired lately)

Most shows in one week? November 10/11/13/16

Biggest crowd? Probably The Hop Jam in Tulsa. Or one of the Arena shows.

Any drunk encounters? None that are standing out to me!

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David Archuleta – Winter in the Air Tour – Fairfield, CT

David Archuleta brought his Winter in the Air tour to The Warehouse in Fairfield, CT recently. I decided to buy the VIP ticket option for this show so I was able to hear David soundcheck a couple of songs before the show as well as do a Q&A with the audience.  I thought it was interesting that David had a staff member choose who got to ask the questions rather than let David choose himself. I am sure there was a good reason for it, but it just threw me off a bit.  He talked a bit about going to therapy, forgiveness… and commented that a lot of the questions were very deep at this Q&A.  After he took photos with us and gave us a Christmas gift! (A signed photo and cookie cutters!)  We were able to snag a good spot before the general crowd got let in and then waited until 8pm when the show began.  David now has 2 Christmas albums out – he played 8 from Winter in the Air – including the 3 originals. (Of which I believe he said he wanted a ballad, a fun up beat one and one that made you feel like it was a winter wonderland) and from his first Christmas album only 3 songs.  The kid can sing and I loved how he kept chatting with the crowd and getting distracted. He liked the venue because he said he could see everyone up front and wanted to give them all high fives but that would take too long.  And he couldn’t have a show without throwing in his first single – Crush – into the setlist.  Everything else, however, was Christmas tracks.

Jon McLaughlin – Mohegan Sun Wolf Den

After an exhausting weekend of the Hogwarts Running Club Yule Ball and Time Turner medal pack I decided what better way to continue to get no sleep by heading up to Mohegan Sun to see Jon McLaughlin’s Christmas tour in the Wolf’s Den.  As tired as I was, I knew I would kick myself if I had to miss out.  The casino was pretty slow, I guess because it was a Sunday night and my friend Liz was able to snag us a couple of 3rd row seats with a nice view of Jon and his piano.  While it was considered a Christmas tour – Jon noted that the set would only be about 25 minutes if he did only Christmas songs, so he mixed in some of his singles as well.  Before Jingle Bells he teased that *everyone* has done a version of this song and we have probably recorded a version as well and his way of making it his own was to try and play it as quickly as possible.  I guess he had practiced in sound check with his bassist and was bummed after all that work they only got to play it once! His set lasted about an hour with a lot of talking to the crowd and call and response (I guess he really liked how we sounded singing back to him) and after he stayed to sign and take photos with everyone who wanted to say hi!

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98 Degrees at Christmas

For the second year in a row, 98 Degrees did their Christmas tour.  This time they came to the Ridgefield Playhouse instead of to the casino.  Tickets went on sale as soon as the tour was announced and since May (standing in line to see Hanson) I had been wondering just where my VIP Ticket was going to be – since some of the tickets were going to be on the side and I generally prefer to be in the center section.  Christine and I also bought our tickets separately but ended up side by side – 2nd row – center section.

Part of our VIP Package included Soundcheck.  There were not that many of us with that ticket level so we were in the front row.  The guys did Because of You and The Christmas Song and then did a Q&A where they talked about what it is like to be away from their families, working with Mariah Carey and recording songs with other artists – sometimes that they never even get to see in the studio! Their “nefarious” tour buses and Nick kept teasing that Drew was ready to TELL ALL. (Fun fact – in 20 years Drew has never had a bottom bunk on the bus.  Also – Jeff’s wife puts all his outfits together and will send him messages if she sees he paired the wrong clothes together in fans instagram photos!)

Next up was time for the photos.  I wasn’t sure how to logistics would work with the lobby being so small but the VIP Nation did a great job getting us through the line quickly and efficiently!

They did mix up the setlist from last years tour, which I certainly appreciated but I had to laugh that the whole second half of the show was essentially songs that Hanson had done on their albums.  (When I arrived I said “I haven’t listened to their stuff lately but I am probably ok because all their songs Hanson does too” and I was right)  In addition to Christmas classics they also threw in the 98 degrees singles – I Do, Because of You, True to Your Heart, Invisible Man, etc.  I LOVED how they did you’re a mean one mr grinch last year so I was happy to see that that one was still included as well!

The show was a ton of fun and Jeff Timmons making eye contact with you make you think that he is looking into your soul.  Sheesh!  This is a yearly tour I could really get used to – I just hope that they continue to include Connecticut after their buses were kicked out of a Stop & Shop parking lot in Norwalk for looking shady. hahaha.  (Turns out the guys weren’t even in town yet, it was the crew and they were all making quick pit stops back home!)

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Hanson: Snowed In: Virginia

Hanson was scheduled to play the Uncorked and Unplugged event in Williamsburg, VA on December 9th.  At first I wasn’t going to attend because it was on a Sunday and 7-8 hours away, but my friend and I tried to figure out a plan and decided if we could get the VIP Meet & Greet tickets we would make it work.  After one of the most stressful ticket on sales that I have had to deal with in a while, the site crashed, we thought we may end up with multiple pairs of tickets and then finally finding a 30% off coupon that saved us some decent money our M&G tickets were confirmed!

About a week before the show, weather reports started saying that a storm might be coming through. We kept an eye on it and it moved south and we were only supposed to get rain in that area.  Then a couple days before it shifted again.  We headed to the Richmond, VA area the night before and the weather report said a dusting to 2 inches in Williamsburg, turning to rain.  Richmond was due for 4-8 inches.  With that information, we decided we could handle the trek and made our way to the winery.

Our tickets included a pre-show reception with champagne, oysters, a wine tasting and other snacks. I am not a wine fan but I did try a couple and was not impressed.  There was a string quartet playing a mix of Holiday tunes and pop hits (we walked in to them playing Taylor Swift. Yuck)  In addition to meeting Hanson we also got a M&G with Brynn Elliott, who I wasn’t sure any of her songs until she sang one during the show and I realized I had heard it on the radio.  The Hanson M&G was photos only and a quick hello, but we weren’t expecting anything more than that.

After the M&G we headed down to the tent where the concert would be held and waited for them to let us in – both times entering we were subject to incredibly intense security checks. It was not that easy to figure out where we needed to go for our seats – but we ended up making it to the front row.  Hanson had their acoustic set up so we were in front of Zac.

The “heated” tent was not that heated, I took my coat off for a bit just because it was soaking wet from being in the snow for 30 or so minutes waiting to be let inside, but ended up putting it back on for the rest of the show.  Heather Murphy was up first, I guess she is a local singer and did 1 original song and a whole ton of covers.  I kind of wondered why her set was so long, but it is what it is. (She did have a nice voice, I’m just not one to want to sit through a bunch of covers)  Brynn was up next – the radio station had to “stall” for 5 minutes before she was ready to take the stage and that was pure torture.  Her set seemed much shorter than Heather’s but was much more enjoyable.

Then it was time for HANSON!!! The set was a pretty generic festival set with most of the singles.  They did end up adding I Will Come To You based on the request of one of the radio DJs. (Who apparently asked them for it by the wrong name and Zac called her out on it before they started playing it.)  Near the end of the set, we could see a lot of commotion off to the side of the stage and then the guys were being yelled at to do just one more song – but they hadn’t gotten to MMMBop yet.  I did notice that the snow that was supposed to stop and turn to rain had not. (I always was told once the flakes started getting bigger it meant that the snow was going to stop soon – which was not the case.)  They ended up doing a shortened version of MMMBop and then Taylor was *determined* to fit in one more.  They were calling for the guys to come off the stage and it looked like they cut power to Taylor’s keyboard but he was still trying to play something.  In the end, they did White Christmas acapella and then told us we had to go because the tent had too much snow on it.  A lot of people came up front to try and get setlists, etc.  We were able to snap a photo of it just before one of Hanson’s crew got on stage and said we had to GO.  At that point I hadn’t turned around yet, and once I did I knew we had to get out ASAP because the roof was definitely being heavily weighed down by snow. We started throwing chairs out of the way to get out at that point since people were still blocking the way up front and got outside.  According to some of the radio DJs about 20 minutes later the back of the tent started to cave in.  We got to the car and started to clear it off and heat everything up and decide what we wanted to do.  It took us about an hour and a half just to get out of the grounds of the winery because cars were stuck, trees were down and the roads were a mess.  The dusting to 2 inches was more like 4 – and still coming down.

We decided to try and make it back to PA, but had a heck of a time once the GPS rerouted us off the highway and everywhere we went trees were down and the situation just was getting worse and worse the further we went.  Props to my friend who was able to navigate the roads and keep us safe – I am sure I would have had us in a ditch trying to weave around the trees. (And we did see a car just like mine in a ditch at one point.) After being forced to turn around because of a tree only to go back the way we came to be met with ANOTHER tree, we didn’t know what to do. Visions of being stuck on that road for the night in the snow were dancing around in my head. Fortunately 2 angels were in the cars in front of us and were able to pull the tree down so we could pass.  We stopped at a gas station to use the facilities and regroup – and decided the best thing to do was to turn around and go back to Williamsburg.  We had gone 20 miles in 2 hours and still had 30 miles to go to get back to the highway – and head to the Richmond area which had a FOOT of snow.

I booked a room at a Holiday Inn via the app… only to arrive and be told they didn’t have our reservation and that they were fully booked. (And then I was charged as a “no show” – how you gonna charge me for a room that didn’t even exist? But a refund is in the works now – they had no internet access to connect with the app system so the app didn’t know they were full to not allow me to book.)  We ended up calling a Hampton Inn and they had a room and power – apparently half the town lost power.  I’m not surprised, all the trees were getting weighed down and I’m sure many a tree came down on a power line.  We made it to the hotel, and the next morning everything was much, much easier to navigate and we made it home in good time.  Instead of working from the office a half day I worked from my friends place and ended up making great time back home as well. (So glad I have an understanding boss!)

Hindsight is 20/20 – I’m sure there are a lot of things we would have done differently had we known that the forecast was going to be so off base.  I am sure that the winery, event coordinators and radio stations would have as well.  And I am sure that if Taylor knew the tent was going to start caving in 20 minutes later (just before their set was supposed to end) he wouldn’t have fought so hard to try and squeeze in one last song. By the time we realized the snow was out of control – it was way too late to move on to a plan B.  I am just glad we ended up safe, were able to maneuver the car when it almost got stuck and didn’t end up stuck overnight in the snow on a road barricaded in by trees.  Things were not ideal, but things could have been so much worse.

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O-Town Long Island

O-Town recently had a show on Long Island that happened to be on Trevor’s birthday.  I decided I would make the trek to go since it was a special day and also because it was at Mulcahy’s which is home to the boyband tribute group Larger than Life and I had wanted to check them out.  Ryan Cabrera was also on the bill and Lance Bass would be hosting.  Since I couldn’t get an answer on if Lance’s M&G would interfere with O-Towns I only did VIP for O-Town. (Turns out, I could have easily done both, but was happy to save some cash)  Traffic was horrible and I ended up getting there about a half an hour late only to be told that I had missed nothing and that VIP had been delayed.  Part of VIP was a soundcheck – which couldn’t be done because the venue’s sound guy was MIA.  We ended up doing photos first and then hanging around until we could see some of the soundcheck.  Unfortunately the venue said I could ge a seat but didn’t inform me it would be in the way, way back of the venue (when my fellow VIPers were able to snag front row) but fortunately O-Town’s team is awesome and worked with security to get me a good spot. (And then had the nerve to tell me not to try to jump on stage.  Um, dude, did you see the trouble I had just getting onto this high chair you gave me to sit in? You have *nothing* to worry about)

Larger Than Life was on first and while the crowd seemed to be into them – I’ll stick to the real deal. Thanks.  (They kind of blew it when they totally butchered MMMBop.)

Ryan Cabrera was up next and I am pretty sure I have been hearing him tell the same stories for the last I don’t even know how many years.  Security ended up giving me his setlist which he kind of drew out all of the songs so that was a pretty cool thing to have.

Finally it was time for O-Town – they ended up playing until almost midnight (or maybe later? That’s the problem with taking so long to write these reviews lately!) and put on a great show, as always, and we even got to sing happy birthday to Trevor.  Just like in NY – Lance joined them for Bye Bye Bye and the crowd went wild.

I ended up skipping the selfie line so I could get a head start on the trip back home. I was exhausted so as much as it stunk not getting to see the guys again, I made the right choice.

Not sure if this setlist was right as I went off memory instead of keeping track…

Hanson String Theory: Boston, Philly, NYC

Recently I had my last 3 US String Theory shows for the year in Boston, Philly & NYC.  Since they are all big (obnoxious) sports towns, I was a bit curious to see how that might transfer to the catcalling during the shows since Zac had to write a blog post on Hanson.net about how to behave at the shows (that were probably just preaching to the choir.)

For Boston we were 3rd row in front of Zac, which may have skewed the sound just a bit and made the drums a lot louder than intended.  Crowd wise there was some catcalling but everyone at least in our general area followed the “don’t stand until the last 3-4 songs” rule.  Boston gets a bad rep for being overly obnoxious but my eye rolls were limited.  The seats however must have been original to the 1800s – next to 0 leg room (and I am SHORT! A guy in front of us had to be 6’4” OR MORE and I felt so, so bad for him) and were practically on the ground.  Once I sat I had no idea how I was going to get back up – it definitely took effort towards the end of the show!  Zac was super smiley and looking at us a lot – I think because he is so used to being so far away and blocked from everyone, this tour he really got to goof off a bit with the people up front! He seemed to be having a blast!

For Philly we were 3rd row in front of Taylor, which honestly may be the best angle to get.  Positioned correctly, mics won’t be blocking the piano and cymbals won’t be blocking Zac. (I had a few shows this tour where I fell victim to ‘cymbal face’) If I had to guess before the show I’d have thought his crowd would be the worst (they are known to boo Santa!) but honestly I think this was the best crowd – despite many not being even let inside the doors before Hanson had already started. (I love that there’s no “Hanson Time” this tour – but when there is a line of people nearly around the block, you can’t push things back 5-10 minutes?  They didn’t come on until 8:10 in Boston!)  I knew something was up when the 3 didn’t take a bow after bowing with the maestro and backup musicians.  Since it was Veteran’s Day the 3 came back out and did the National Anthem.

New York City was back at the Beacon after 21 years! (Not 20, the first show was August 1997. It’s math, people.) I had not won my way in back in 1997 (not for lack of trying!) so it was awesome to finally see them there after wishing it would happen for so long!  This crowd was by far the worst, standing wise.  A few people here and there would pop up during the songs they knew (ie MON songs) and by the 2nd act everyone was up from the start.  I knew that the mood of the songs would lead to an up-down-up-down reaction so I opted to sit until I knew we were supposed to be “up”, per Zac’s post.  This show we were around 8 rows back on Zac’s side and you know I had seen it “too many times” (no such thing) because I started watching the orchestra more than Hanson (and maybe because we were a bit further back and I could see them pretty unobstructed without the guys right in front of me) and found myself a fun, cute violinist to watch and also a cute clarinetist (when he wasn’t blocked by Isaac.)  This show I also finally “got” MMMBop being included – at my 6 previous shows it just didn’t seem to fit in with the orchestra but somehow it sounded totally different at this show.  Being further back + a venue made for really great acoustics may have made the difference. (My first show I was the furthest back, 10 rows, but I may not have picked up on everything since I was taking it all in for the first time.)

 

There is still one more (non string theory) Hanson show for me this year, then it is off around the world to see them in Jamaica and Australia in 2019.  I am getting so close to my 200th show… I currently have tickets for up to #199!  Where will #200 end up being? I’m guessing Tulsa but we’ll see!

David Cook Ridgefield Playhouse

David Cook returned to the Ridgefield Playhouse – which is apparently where Idol winners go after breaking their hand/wrists and are unable to actually play guitar. (Kris Allen played there just after his accident!)

Before the show I had a meet and greet and before David’s injury I had bought him a mini Kansas City Royals corn hole game.  I told him I wasn’t trying to be a jerk and had bought it before he was injured.  He assured me he would still be able to play it and he would win because no one else on tour would play with him.

During the show David was chatty as usual and made me crack up – as usual.  He talked about how if you were single maybe you could meet your signifigant other at his show (I’m listening…) and then went into this hypothetical story about how you would leave the show together in your RAV4 (uh, wait, that’s MY car?) and go to your apartment in what used to be a lighthouse and run up the spiral stairs (ok, you lost me) and quickly clean up the place before bringing the date upstairs…  He also told a story about how Chris Cornell had written one of his songs and how he met him at the ENT and then spit into the sink. He said he should never tell the story again but they decided just the spitting part had to go.

When he first came out on stage he said that he thought his shirt was a little bit too aggressive for the show but he doesn’t do costume changes – of course someone yelled for him to just take it off and he said we wouldn’t like that because it is a “dumpster fire under here”.

He told stories about both of his brothers – about Adam before Goodbye to the Girl where he explained about how he never really properly dealt with his death initially and took a couple days off for the funeral but just continued on his tour and later ended up going to therapy and kind of sorting things out and thats what led to him writing Goodby to the Girl.   Before a cover of Day is Gone he gave props to his brother Andrew who had mentioned Noah Gundersen and thought that David would like him, but he never really gave it a second thought until he heard the song in Sons of Anarchy and said if he could make the arrangement work for the acoustic tour he would give Andrew props – which I think kills him a little bit inside every show.

The set was a little bit short and since David was injured he did not play anything at all. (And he could not sign during the M&G either, bummer.) It was also interesting that there were two different songs titled Heroes in the set and I was glad that I was not in charge of the database for that setlist!  I am totally loving David’s new single Death of Me and as always am looking forward to seeing him again soon!

Hanson String Theory – Atlanta & Nashville

Near the end of October I made a trip to Atlanta and Nashville to see Hanson’s String Theory Tour.   We had Friday in Atlanta to sightsee so we hit up World of Coke (pro tip – if you have a free ticket in your coke app, screen cap it because it will eat it before you get to the museum to redeem it!) and the Georgia Aquarium.   World of Coke was fun – we had a lot of fun in the tasting room trying all the different sodas from around the world and trying to not stick to the floor.  I really liked the blue raspberry Fanta and of course SURGE… both from North America but I think I did try at least 1 from each of the areas available.  The aquarium was a lot of fun too, we hit up the dolphin show, saw some otters, lots of fish, penguins… and finally found Nemo in the last place we looked! Saturday we took it easy until it was time to leave for the show, found a spot for dinner and headed to the Symphony Hall.  We had 3rd row center for this show and it was my closest show yet, we were between Isaac and Zac and the show was a lot of fun.  Not as great of sound as Denver, but good!  After the show we hung around for a bit to see if we could catch a glimpse of the guys getting on the bus (we did) and then headed to Chattanooga, halfway to Nashville, for the night.  When our hotel breakfast had the tiniest cinnamon rolls and “bagels for babies”, we hit the diner across the street for a real breakfast before heading to Nashville.  We got ready for the show, ubered to the wings mural and took some pre-show photos before grabbing dinner and heading to the venue.  It was FREEZING in Nashville. I had brought my winter coat and was glad I did!   For this show we had front row, all the way over to the side and it turned out to actually be a really great view – no symbol face for Zac and not as far over as the seating chart on the website had led us to believe.  I spotted “Slim” who plays guitar for Lady A (but used to play for Curtis Peoples) and Paul McDonald in the crowd and I’m sure there were more familiar faces around as well.  While the setlist is the same every night the show is not – and Zac sang “now that I’ve started…” at the beginning of chasing down my dreams but… no one else had started so he had to start again.  In addition to the mishaps, there is also a different feel with each orchestra and each maestro. (And Nashville’s happened to be adorable)  talking to Isaac after the show he said that he could notice a difference with each orchestra, their timing, loudness, etc.  I think my favorite shows in order are: Denver, Nashville, Atlanta, Pittsburgh.  I probably won’t be able to keep a ranking up with like 9 or 10 more shows to go. (Though I bet the Sydney Opera House will be up there. Yeah… I’m going back to Australia!)