Ruben and Clay Twenty Tour

Lately I have been trying to avoid shows that don’t fall during the weekend because it can be difficult to make work with my work schedule, however when the chance to see Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken from American Idol Season 2 on a Monday night arose, I took it.  As luck would have it, work was pretty hectic and I had to actually go into the office for most of the morning but we ended up making it to the show with time to spare to grab some dinner (at the appropriately named El Idolo).

The show ended up being the most fun I’ve had at a show maybe all year so far! They did a lot of the song that they had sung on the show and talked about some of their experiences while on the show and pointed out that Julia DeMato who was also in the top with them and from CT was in attendance.  (And Clay commented that the seats they got her were not so great and told her she could move up closer if she wanted as there were some open seats up front)

The best surprise of the night was when Ruben was making fun of Clay’s dancing (mimicking a woman in the crowd) and had him sing wake me up before you go go as that is the song his dancing is best suited for, which ended up going into a boyband medley!

Even though the show seemed to be quite scripted and teleprompters were in use, it was so much fun and I am glad that I was able to make it work.  I just wish that trying to find the setlist the next day didn’t result in the death of my computer (which is part of the reason why this ended up being so late and so short)

Clay Aiken Setlist Wall Street Theater, Norwalk, CT, USA 2023, Twenty

Haley Reinhart at The Kate

Wednesday night I made my way to the Kate for a show I initially was considering not going to because it would have been back to back with Gaelic Storm. At some point I ended up seeing that there was still decent seats left, “yolo’ed” and bought one in the second row. While it made for a busy week, she was even more amazing than the last time I saw her and I’m glad I made the trek.

She did a mix of originals and jazzy covers and quickly won the audience over. She seemed to enjoy the crowds energy and was sad to end the show. (Though I was glad it was an early one as I made it home by 10!)  There was a mix of originals and covers and I have to say my favorite was “I Put a Spell on You” she told us that the spell she put on us was that we’d all come see her again whenever she comes back, which I will certainly be trying to do!

After the show, I ended up riding the elevator with an older couple who first were saying “wow wasn’t that something” and I agreed, she was amazing.  After they asked me if she was from American Idol or The Voice as they watch both and couldn’t remember.  I told them American Idol. Then they said “and she didn’t win?” “No she only came in third”  They were mad.  As I have been since that season aired! 

Carrie Underwood at Mohegan Sun Arena

Saturday night Carrie brought her “Denim and Rhinestones Tour” to the Arena at Mohegan Sun.  The night started off a bit stressful, some my fault, some not.  I was in the zone with a coding project I have been working on so I ended up leaving a little bit later than I had intended because I was not about to stop when I was on a roll and fixing all the “why isn’t this working?” notes I had left for myself the week before.  The ticket said 7:30pm start time so I assumed 6:30pm doors time.  I ended up getting to the casino a little after 6 – only to find most of the parking garage floors were FULL.  I managed to get a relatively decent spot not too far from the elevators.  The casino was PACKED (which I kind of expected by the lack of parking) and once I got to the Arena, I expected doors to be open already. But they were not.  We ended up standing around with no one knowing what was going on until just after 7pm.  We got told they were “delayed” but no one knew why – there were rumors that Carrie wasn’t there yet and also something about a truck breaking down in New Jersey but I have no idea if there’s any truth to any of that.  Carrie did at the end say that they “had some snags” and she had appreciated us being patient.

When doors finally opened, they then had 4 or 5 doors open to scan tickets – but those with GA Floor tickets could only go through certain doors and no one else could go through those so everyone kept cutting everyone off to get inside and it was absolutely ridiculous.  A girl ended up getting fed up we kept getting cut off and stood telling everyone “the end of the line for this door is back there.”  My hero.  One old lady said “Sorry. I’m with her. She has my ticket” when her friend cut me off.  At least some people have common sense…

Then I got to the elevator only to see about 25 able bodied people waiting for it. I’m not sure if that’s the only way to get up to whatever suite they were going to… but I finally got on with a handful of them so I could go down to the main floor to get to my seat.  I had my walker with me, and they put it off to the side as I was front row of the lower level.  The DJ was already on and playing.  A couple of girls asked security if they could sit, I couldn’t hear why, but shortly after one of them threw up.  They both ran off to the bathroom and custodial was called to clean up – but it took FOREVER for anyone to show up and then there were like 5 staffers watching.  One of the seats ended up out of commission (#2) so as the people came who were supposed to be sitting there, they got moved.  Not only did 1 and 2 get moved (which made sense) 3 and 4 did too (also made sense, since 2 was bagged off and a mess) but then 5 and 6 demanded they get moved too.  Now, 5 and 6 were about as far away from the gross seat as I was – and I had no problem being 3+ feet away from it… but staff moved them elsewhere as well.

This was all going on during Jimmie Allen’s opening set – so I can’t really speak much for his performance and honestly don’t really know who he is or care for him anyway. I know he was an Idol cast off and on last season and that’s about it.

The DJ came back on for a bit and then it was time for Carrie. I was entertained by people with floor tickets not knowing what a pit floor and GA floor meant and wanting to sit somewhere or complaining that their legs hurt.  Carrie’s set was everything I was hoping for, and more.  Lots of sparkly costume changes and even a couple of swings that got her from the main stage to the B stage (which was very close to where I was sitting!)  A nice mix of good and old songs and I am absolutely obsessed with her new single – Hate my Heart.  Totally relatable.  She even had Jimmie come out for a song and they had a cute little dance break!  My favorite was probably the end, the part she said was the “sassy” part of the show – Last Name, Something in the Water and then the encore of Welcome to the Jungle and Before He Cheats.  Screaming those lyrics at the top of your lungs with a full arena is very therapeutic.

David Cook at Daryl’s House

Friday night I braved the rain and winds from Hurricane Nicole and made my way to Pawling, NY to check out David Cook.  He had been in CT for two dates over the summer but unfortunately it clashed with my Hanson shows so I wasn’t able to see him.  Before the show I did a M&G which was scheduled to start at 6:30 and the show at 8.  Well, the M&G line was quite long and David was quite chatty so the line was still going at 8pm. The show ended up starting at 8:30pm, for which David apologized but said he was a popular guy and it was the M&G that was taking up the time.  While the setlist appears to be rather short, he played for about 2 hours and threw some stories in throughout and seemed genuinely happy to once again be in front of a crowd and not in his basement doing streams like he had been doing.  As the show was on Veterans Day he spoke a bit about veterans and dedicated the song Light On to the veterans in the room.  I can’t wait until he comes back around again!

Kris Allen & Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

Last weekend I went to my 29th state- Arkansas. While I am trying to see Hanson in every state, they have never done a tour show in Arkansas so I figured when the opportunity came up to see *a* concert in a new state I would take it.  (Maybe I’ll have to modify it to a concert in every state instead of just specifically Hanson lol)

Thursday morning I had a ridiculously early flight out.  It was one of my worst travel days. I had gotten next to no sleep the night before, the flight attendant woke me to ask if I needed the wheelchair I asked for, only for it not to be there when I landed (or someone else took it, there were 3 that showed up and 3 that got wheeled away.)  When I went to find someone to push me, I ended up also being with a man and his seeing eye dog who my pusher barely got to his gate in time for boarding. (He also liked patting me on the shoulder every time he talked to me, which I am *never* a fan of) and when I got to board my final flight of the day I realized too late they “moved me closer to the front” but into an aisle seat which I loathe.

I got to the hotel 3 hours early and their app had no way of me telling them I’d show up any earlier than 4pm.  Fortunately, the girl at the front desk, though super annoyed I was there so early, was nice enough to check on the room I had checked in online with and found out it had just finished being cleaned so I was able to get in early. It was a rainy evening so while I had initially had plans to go to the Zoo for their GloWild event, I decided that would be better off happening the next night, ordered some BBQ and spent the night in my room and did no exploring.

Friday I decided to check out the Old State House Museum that was right next door to my hotel and their “Play It Loud” exhibit about concerts at a venue in Little Rock.  It was really cool and I probably could have stayed there for hours.  I would have, if not for so many without masks on coming through.  The museum even had a penny machine! I checked out some of the other exhibits they had as well and it was really cool.  I ended up going back to the room to order food but falling asleep and waking up in time to get to the Zoo.  Uber and Lyft were VERY slow and not a lot of cars available.  I don’t know if something else was going on this weekend or if that was always the case, but I had to wait 20 minutes for a car who did about 5 other drop offs before getting to me to get to the Zoo.  I also realized that I kept thinking the show wasn’t until 8:30 but that is what time it was EST and what had been showing up on my Facebook Events all week when I was home and doors were actually 6:30 for a 7:30pm start time.  Keeping this in mind, I raced around the loop of the lanterns at the zoo twice (they were so pretty and I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything!) and had to get a surge priced Uber for the way back to the concert – but managed to get to my seat 15 minutes before the show started.  (And paid about $2/min I was actually at the zoo, but I am glad that I did it and it all worked out!)

For the first night, I decided to get seats in the front row of the balcony for the show to get a full perspective of the show.  I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, just knew Kris was super excited about it since he played in the children’s orchestra as a kid.  The orchestra did about 3 songs without Kris and then 3 with Kris and then he left the stage and it was time for the intermission.  Since they were calling it the “Kris Allen Holiday Spectacular” I was expecting, well, more Kris Allen.  For the second half if was about the same – half just the orchestra/choir and half with Kris as well.  At the very end they did a sing-a-long and this was when I decided to order my dinner as I had eaten nothing but a cinnamon bun (which was delicious, I might add) all day and hope that it would have made it to the lobby of the hotel by the time the show was over.  My hotel was connected to the venue which made things nice and easy pre and post show.  Definitely worth the extra money I spent to be closer, hands down. And I only had to wait about 5 minutes for my dinner to show up from the Mexican restaurant.

Saturday I ended up being so wiped out from everything I did on Friday, I had no desire to leave my room at all. I watched some Disney+ and ordered a large late lunch that held me over (I thought I’d do a post show vending machine snack run only to find out it was change only so I was limited to just 1 item) and then headed over for the show around 7.  For the second show, I was front row orchestra seating, so I couldn’t see much more than Kris and the front of the orchestra.  Kris seemed to be a bit more relaxed this show having gone through it all the night before and had a bit more witty banter going on. I ended up enjoying this show much more than the night before – I am not sure if it was because I knew what to expect, or I didn’t have a giant maskless man taking over half of my seat, or because I hadn’t been running around all day or because I was so much closer.  I was glad that I decided to do 2 of the shows though and while Kris was going to be streaming Sunday afternoon’s show, it would be started just as I landed back in CT so I didn’t even attempt.

And it was a good thing I didn’t event attempt the stream.  I tried to get an uber at 4am as my flight out was 7:30am and I wasn’t sure how busy the Little Rock airport would be.  Turns out it is the smallest airport ever and I was off the hotel shuttle, through security and at my gate before 5:30am.  The TSA agent even complimented that I knew what I was doing and must have done it before.  (The first half hour I was at my gate was a steady stream of “who forgot their ID, phone, hat, etc at the checkpoint” announcements)  Upon getting to my gate there was a woman with a violin who proceeded AT SIX IN THE MORNING to play every Christmas song she knew for an hour.  (I kept track of the setlist)  We left Little Rock without a problem, a wheelchair was indeed waiting for me (after a nice pilot helped me get my bag up the giant jet bridge – he told me it was only C that had the long ones, A and B were much shorter) and I only had to go like 2 gates away (of course).  The gate across from mine was the earlier flight out to Hartford (what are the odds) but it was final boarding by the time I realized what was happening to even ask if I could get bumped on to it.  Then I realized all the flights around me were being delayed at least an hour and then I got an alert mine was delayed 20 minutes.  There must have been some bad weather that needed to be diverted somewhere, despite everything being delayed, everything did end up taking off and I landed just 23 minutes later than expected (but the pilots bragged we were 39 minutes EARLY? oh. no sir. that’s not how this works lol)

I’m glad I was able to find some outdoor and socially distanced activities to participate in and not stuck in the hotel room the whole weekend (although it did have a nice bridge view – when it wasn’t super foggy, that is) and cross off my 29th state!


Kris Allen @ Daryl’s House

Back in June, I purchased tickets to see Kris Allen at Daryl’s House and a M&G.  I remember saying to myself, “well, I’ll have to leave work early to get there in time, but that’s a future me problem.”  Future me then became present me – full of anxiety having no follow up information about the email.  But the ticketing website said that it was at 5:15, so I left at 4, got there at 5, looked around the parking lot and realized I was the only one there… and headed in at 5:15 to ask about the Meet and Greet.

“I wasn’t aware there was any meet and greet” the girl at the desk said, and went backstage to check. “Yeah, I just asked them and they said there isn’t one.” “Then what did I pay an extra $70 for?” I asked.  Someone else had joined and said “No, this says everyone paid $30.  There’s $30 and $20 tickets and it just means if you have a table or not.”  “I bought the table for $30, but I also paid $70 for a M&G. Let me find my confirmation email.”  I opened my confirmation and they were shocked.  Someone went backstage again and someone came out and said “Yeah… there IS a 5:15 M&G option.  It’ll probably start at 5:30”  I got to choose my table, a chair was placed on the stage right next to my table and shortly after Kris came out to say hello.

I had a question for him about a project I had heard he was involved with years ago, so we chatted a bit about that and it ended up evolving into a conversation about Hanson (go figure) and Jon McLaughlin (who I am seeing tonight!).  Kris told me he is a big Hanson fan but never really met them (save for one awkward interaction he told me about the night he won Idol) and so I said I’d have to put in a good word for him with them.  We also talked about his upcoming shows and how I am going to be going to Arkansas to see his Christmas show with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.  I had really been on the fence about going (my plane ticket is even the refundable option!) but hearing him so excited about it got me excited for it too! He is absolutely looking forward to hearing the orchestra play his original Christmas songs.  He then said he would play a song for me, but if I didn’t have a request it was ok.  On the spot, the first 2 choices I made he said would be in the set, so we ended up deciding on Monster.  Just before he was about to start – 2 more joined the M&G so they got to hear the song I had picked and we chatted a little bit more with them and then we took some photos before he left to get ready for the show!

I was able to have a 4 seat table up front all to myself, as they said there would not be many people there and Kris had mentioned some of the shows didn’t sell that well but it would be very intimate.  At one point I tried to count everyone who was there and it was about 30.  But Kris still gave it his all and played some older songs, some of the newer released songs and a few that had not yet been released but were contenders for future releases (one of which had the F word in it.) It was nice to hear the background about how he came about writing all the songs before he went into playing them.  (And he ended up not telling the story about Different Bridges Same River, but the other M&G girls had asked about that one.)  He had us sing some harmonies with him and considering it was such a small amount of people, I think we did a great job.

I think that having such a long gap without live music during covid really has made me appreciate it a lot more. All of the shows I have gone to since they have been back, have been some of the best shows I have been to.  I think that the artists have missed performing and I’ve missed seeing it and it makes things have a bit of a stronger connection.  I’m still really anxious before/during shows and I don’t take my mask off unless eating/drinking, but it is nice to be back to somewhat of a “normal” feeling too

Kris Allen Setlist Daryl's House Club, Pawling, NY, USA 2021

David Cook @ Infinity Hall

Saturday night, after several reschedules, David Cook finally made his way back to Infinity Hall in Norfolk, CT.  I had to show proof of vaccination once again upon entry and masks were required for the whole show.  This isn’t a problem for me as I would have worn mine either way, but it’s really frustrating to hear everyone bitching and moaning about wearing their mask all night as if the rest of us think it is a party.  (I don’t like wearing it, but I do what I think I need to do to try and keep myself and others safe, especially if it is required.)

Opening the show was Carrie Welling and I loved all of her songs especially the one about red flags (it hit home) and I don’t think I’ve ever seen an opener before where I felt like she was singing songs I could have written, if writing songs was a talent that I possessed.

Then it was time for David! I *think* the last time I saw him was an acoustic show, but the “before times” are beginning to be a bit of a blur.  Either way, it was nice to see him backed by a full band!  Everyone’s Saturday night needs a genuine rock show.  There was a LOT of banter during the show, which I always love and while he kept saying he wasn’t a comedian, he can certainly tell his stories in a way that makes us laugh!

I also liked how candidly he talked about getting help for his anxiety and going to therapy and how he kept it to himself for several years but ended up writing a song about it and is now much more open about it.  As someone who also (somewhat) recently started struggling with anxiety, it’s always nice to know you are not alone and what methods may have worked for others. Calm Strips became popular for those with anxiety after the founders appeared on Shark Tank.

I also liked how he told stories about how/why/when the songs were written. That’s always very interesting to me.  His set was full of my favorites as well as some newer songs off of his new EP, The Looking Glass, including his latest single FIRE which had a really fun audience participation piece that he kept until the end of the set.  While Infinity Hall can be a bit of a haul to get to, it’s a great little venue and always a fun time.

David Cook Setlist Infinity Hall, Norfolk, CT, USA 2021, The Looking Glass Tour

Carrie Underwood – Find Your Path

Carrie Underwood announced that she’d be doing a book tour to go along with her new book, “Find Your Path” and one of the stops on the tour was in Connecticut!  Since I was a fanclub member after her playing Foxwoods this fall, that meant I got to get the first crack at tickets when they went on sale at 10am.  Unfortunately a coworker called a meeting and by the time we were through, the fan club allotment had sold out and I’d have to wait for the general sale at noon.  Well, I was ready and within seconds they were once again marked as sold out.  I added my name to the waiting list and figured there’d be no way I’d ever make my way off of it, but just a couple of days before the event was supposed to happen I got the email that my name came up and I could purchase a ticket.  Tickets were cheap – only about $33 – and included a signed copy of the book, a Q&A with Carrie and a photo with her!

It was pouring rain when I arrived, but I got in line and shortly after they let us inside to sit and wait as the line was quickly taking over the hallway they had us in.  Carrie came out along with her trainer and her friend and there was a nice conversation about her working out, diet, etc.  I have recently started making some changes and trying to count calories to lose some weight and I have started putting some of the things she mentioned to work in my diet.  You can’t stop eating what you love, but make substitutions to make them healthier.  I am not much of a veggie eater (Carrie went on about how she loves them and you can eat whole heaping plates of them!) so when it was photo time I asked her what she suggested as a “starter veggie”  she wasn’t sure, she loves them all, but suggested I try carrots and corn on the cob to ease myself into them.

Little did I know, this was going to be one of my last events for the foreseeable future, as COVID-19 has taken over and social distancing becomes the norm.

Carrie Underwood Foxwoods Grand Theater

Carrie Underwood has been hitting up large arenas on her Cry Pretty 360 tour. When I saw she was going to be coming to Foxwoods but in a more intimate setting, I knew I had to try and get tickets. I didn’t think I was going to end up breaking the bank and landing myself a 2nd row ticket, but it is what it is! By the time the show rolled around – I was tired. I had Haley the night before and had to be at work bright and early the day after so I was very happy when they said not only would the show be starting at 7:30 – there would be no openers and it would only be running 90 minutes versus her usual 120 minutes. Yay! Even with grabbing merch after the show I ended up leaving the parking lot before 10pm! The first 3 rows ended up allowed to go up to the barricade but I opted to stay in my seat as I’d have been farther away down the barricade. I’m not sure what fancy tricks she has up her sleeve for the 360 tour but this was just her, the band and her voice, no fancy anything. And it was great! Although there was a string of songs that were a bit too sad to be all in a row like that! When the show was almost done, she called a fan up on stage to rap during The Champion. She was sitting just a few seats behind me and did a great job! From what I can tell, her set was very close to the 360 set – just missing the medley – which from talks from fans around me who had gone to other shows, she did those with the openers and they weren’t there! I’m really excited to scrapbook this show – in addition to some great pics I think I pretty much nailed the tour logo cut out and got some eye gems from the merch booth to really bring it all together. I know I haven’t posted scrapbook pages in years, but maybe I will catch up at some point!


Haley Reinhart Fairfield Theater

When I saw that Haley Reinhart was coming to the Fairfield Theater, I was pretty pumped.  She was one of my favorites that season of Idol (and the only one the whole house agreed on being great!) and I hadn’t seen her since I had gone to the Idol tour 2 times the year they toured.  When I found out that Tyler Hilton was going to be opening the show I was even more excited because I love any chance I can get to see Tyler!  Before the show I was in the parking lot and heard “When the Stars Go Blue” from a busker near the train station.  It turned out, Tyler heard too and stepped out of his RV to cheer (and later go see him to record some videos for Tyler’s Instagram)  How cool!  Tyler did a shorter set than I am used to since he was opening and is usually the headliner in Fairfield.  It is always interesting to see how artists change their banter based on if they know everyone is there to see them or if they are trying to win them over.  I don’t think I ever heard his story about his roommates in Nashville quitting their office job to pursue music full time and ending up forming Lady Antebellum!  I knew they had a connection but somehow had never pieced it all together!  Before Haley’s set I did the VIP M&G experience and she did 2 songs for us – Honey There’s the Door and Shook.  Then she signed merch for us and did photos.  Just as sweet as I remembered from when I met her on the Idol tour!  I was kind of mesmerized by her nail polish when she was on stage because it was red, but when the lights hit it, it had this iridescent chameleon color change look to it.  I don’t know if that was how it was supposed to react to lighting or just a cool thing that was happening.  This was Haley’s first show of this part of her tour so we got a couple songs that had never been done live before! She did a 14 song set and a 3 song encore! The majority from her latest release – Lo-Fi Soul (It is the Lo-Fi Soul Tour, after all) and a few from her other releases as well.  I just love how she re did several covers to fit with her bluesy/jazzy sound! Just an amazing, amazing voice and I am surprised she isn’t more popular and on bigger stages – but I guess her style is a bit niche.  Hopefully she will come back this way again soon!

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