Concert

The Mighty Tour 2

Friday night The High Kings and Gaelic Storm brought their The Mighty Tour 2 to Foxwoods Premier Theater.  We had seen the first part of the tour last year and were excited to see it again in a much larger theater.  The Waterbury PD Pipes and Drums opened the night at about 7:45.  The High Kings came out around 8 to open the show.  I didn’t keep track of the setlists for either band and can’t find them now, but I did write out what I could remember.  I am pretty sure that the 4 part harmony of 1845 was my favorite song they did last time, and it was this show as well.  After an intermission it was time for Gaelic Storm.

One of the band members, Twigger, has been recovering from a medical issue so he is not on the tour and they had two guitarists helping out to cover his parts.  While we did miss Twigger, the two gentlemen that they had on stage with them were wonderful as well.  Pat always makes me laugh – and Friday night was no exception.  During Darcy’s Donkey they often encourage fans to dance like they are riding a donkey in a race around the venue.  But Pat decided security at the front of the stage weren’t doing anything because it was an easy crowd and had them come up on stage to ride their donkeys for the crowd.

For the encore both bands came together to play a few songs together including John Denver’s Country Roads Take Me Home and then had the Pipe and Drums band come out and join them again.

Oh Maggie
Men of Aron
The Lonesome Boatman
The Fields of Athenry
1845
Chasing Rainbows
Whiskey in the Jar

The Night Pat Murphy Died
Johnny Tarr
Rum Runners
Darcy’s Donkey
Raised on Black and Tans

Joey & AJ – A Legendary Night

Thursday night Joey from *NSYNC and AJ from the Backstreet Boys teamed up for a legendary night at the Oakdale Theater in Wallingford, CT.  We had purchased Soundcheck upgrade packages and needed to get there early to check in for the 3:30 soundcheck.  The guys tried a couple of new things with the band and then answered questions from the fans that were in attendance.  It was absolute chaos, as expected.  After the soundcheck we waited for the M&G with Joey (AJ’s was before soundcheck) and then had some time to kill before doors for the show.

I opted to sit in the front row center spot I had snagged for my friends and I, and while I did have a couple of moments where I thought I might stand, seeing how close AJ was coming to the edge of the stage I knew I would never be able to handle it.  The show was more fun than I was even expecting – they started with some *NSYNC and BSB songs, AJ ended up doing some of his own solo stuff as well.  They did a medley of TV Show themes, a medley of “Girl Power” songs by female artists.  They also had and inflatable die and bounced it through the crowd and when the DJ’s music stopped whatever number it was on was the song they would sing.  This is also when the fans with couch passes were on the stage. They had intended to do 3 songs for this but ended up doing 4. They closed the set out with more *NSYNC/BSB songs.

Pop / I Want You Back
Larger Than Life
Tearing Up My Heart
Burning Up
TV Themes (Cheers, Duck Tales, Full House, Fresh Prince, Golden Girls, Knight Rider, Friends, Greatest American Hero)
If I Ain’t Got You
Hit Me Baby
Bad Romance
Always Something There To Remind Me
All The Small Things
No Diggity
Part of Your World
My Own Worst Enemy
Good Enough
Electric
Poison / This Is How We Do It
Space Cowboy
Everybody
I Want It That Way
Bye Bye Bye

 

 

90’s Con 2024 + Pod Meets World

When I was in 4th grade I had a hermit crab named Rider Taylor Keegan.  If you’ve seen the lineup for this past year’s 90s con, you will know that I was beyond excited that 2 of the 3 namesakes were in attendance. (Will I ever meet that elusive 3rd? I don’t know – but I’m hoping some day it will happen!)  I went for all 3 days this year, but due to some medical issues I tried to stay seated in the panels for as much of the con as I could.  This meant I met less celebrities, but honestly there were only a couple I was thinking about trying to meet in addition to the ones I did manage to see.

Friday there were no panels so that was the day I opted to do my Boy Meets World cast photo. There were 9 cast members in attendance – William Daniels (Mr Feeny), Danielle Fishel (Topanga), Rider Strong (Shawn), Will Friedle (Eric), Trina McGee (Angela), Betsy Randle (Amy Matthews), William Russ (Alan Matthews), Anthony Tyler Quinn (Mr Turner), Bonnie Bartlett (Dean Bolander)  I was the first one to enter the photo op with my “Best Is Grumpy” pod meets world shirt which Rider was really excited about and the rest of the cast applauded me.  We took the photo and they said it was good so I went to leave, only for them to say we were going to take a second photo.  This time Danielle yelled “RIDER! DO GRUMPY” so I was able to get 2 photos (BONUS! as screamed by Tony Quinn when they said we were taking a second) and have a grumpy Rider pose in photo #2.

After the photo op I met up with a friend, we went to see Jeff and Drew from 98 Degrees and then Andrew Keegan.  I cased out where I’d need to be for Geena Davis on Sunday morning and we ended up heading out to grab dinner.

Saturday morning first thing I went and lined up for the panels as they were kicking off with Boy Meets World.  I managed to get an ADA seat about 4 rows back in the center and stayed there through Sabrina the Teenage Witch and 98 Degrees.  The Boys Meets World panel had the same cast members as my photos – Bill Daniels came on stage to a wild ovation – the man will be turning 97 at the end of the month and is still doing these cons to meet the fans. Amazing.  He is a bit hard of hearing, but Bonnie helps him out by repeating questions and he will tell a story or two.  The Sabrina cast was without Caroline Rhea but did have Quiz Master Alimi Ballard instead!  To finish up my first shift of panels was Jeff and Drew from 98 degrees.  After that panel I left to have a quick snack and went downstairs for my Hollywood Darling Photo Op.  With some time before hand I managed to get a photo with the Golden Gays, which I had missed out on last year.

I was a little worried with a 2:50 photo op and a 3pm panel I wanted to see I wouldn’t make it in, but I was about the 3rd for Hollywood Darlings (Jodie Sweetin, Beverly Mitchell and Christine Lakin) and made my way upstairs for Dawson’s Creek with James Van Der Beek and Kerr Smith and a very kind volunteer found me an ADA spot in the 8th row.  I had considered leaving early, but decided since I had a decent spot I’d stay for the Full House panel with Dave Coulier and Jodie Sweetin – and good thing I did because Andrew Keegan showed up to apologize for his character on the show.

Then I had some time to eat dinner and relax before the After Party. They ended up letting ADA in “first” from a further door and then let the VIPs in as well and so it was pure chaos. I opted to just sit in the back.  Jodi Benson came out relatively early to perform “Part Of Your World” and said she had hoped to be in her PJs and in bed by 8:30pm.  Goals.  Jeff and Drew from 98 Degrees (or is it 49 degrees?) came out next and performed “I Do” and “Because of You” and then did a bit of “Because of You” with a fan.  I ended up leaving after that because I was exhausted and it was going to become a karaoke party.  I guess I missed out on some more Andrew Keegan fun, but I am pretty sure I made the right choice to get some sleep.

Sunday I had an autograph with Geena Davis at 10:15.  I got in line and had met her and gotten my baseball signed by 10:13 (thanks for being early, Geena!) and that gave me enough time to get upstairs and get in line for the panels.  They let ADA in first – which somehow was only me?! I got a spot in the 3rd row on the side and that was where I stayed all day!  The first panel was “And the Award Goes To” with Geena Davis, Susan Sarandon and Mira Sorvino and that was probably my most favorite panel of the whole weekend.  They were so real and honest with us – Mira even teared up about her career being stifled by Harvey Weinstein and they talked about how there are still people who knew what was happening and letting it happen in the business and that needed to change.  The next panel was 7th Heaven with Beverly Mitchell (Lucy), Barry Watson (Matt), Catherine Hicks (Mom), Mackenzie Rosman (Ruthie) and David Gallagher (Simon).  They talked a lot about their auditions, how they became a family and are still in touch with “Jessie” (Jessica Biel).  Up next was Disney Princesses – Jodi Benson (Ariel) and Linda Larkin (Jasmine).  There was originally supposed to be a couple more princesses in attendance but they unfortunately had to drop out but I think they handled the panel just the two of them really well and the kids had some adorable questions for them!  Next up was Step By Step – Patrick Duffy (Frank), Staci Keenan (Dana), Angela Watson (Karen), Christine Lakin (Al), Brandon Call (JT), Christopher Castile (Mark), Sasha Mitchell (Cody) and Jason Marsden (Rich).  They started off by talking a bit about Susanne Somers who was the Mom on the show and recently passed away.  The crowd went wild when Sasha spoke – and was exactly like Cody – and lost it again when Sasha laughed – and it was exactly like Cody.  It was interesting to hear what sort of jobs the ones who left the business have now – and they all seem really happy with where they are at! 3pm brought Hey Dude – David Lascher (Ted), Christine Taylor (Melody), Kelly Brown (Brad) and Josh Tygiel (Buddy) – the highlight of this panel was them all singing the theme song! Josh also brought some photos of when he visited the area the set was recently and showed what was left of it.  The final panel of the day and of the con was with the “core 4” from Roswell – Jason Behr (Max), Brendan Fehr (Michael), Shiri Appleby (Liz) and Majandra Delfino (Maria).  The most impressive part of this panel was how Jason was just rattling off the titles of all the episodes that they were talking about like it was nothing!

 

I then went to my room and had a bite to eat before grabbing an uber to the Pod Meets World Live show at the Bushnell, about 10 minutes away.  Mr Turner was walking out looking confused and when he showed up at the theater about 10 minutes after me, I slightly regretted not offering him a ride in my uber.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with the show compared to Boston – but they did manage to switch things up a lot.  Rider’s poem had some CT centric items in it, and of course some parts about Will Friedle being from here.  The skit ended up having Mr Turner, the Matthews parents and Angela in it and then all of them joined for the Q&A.  Will did some CT trivia with Danielle and Rider (which seemed to SHOCK them and I loved it) and there was a new skit added to the end.  Overall it was so much fun and I am so glad I went again! My only regret was that I didn’t get the M&G – initially I thought I’d be going home right after but opted to stay over another night instead so I definitely had the time for it. Oh well. Next time!

 

Peter Frampton at Oakdale

Peter Frampton was an artist my Dad and I enjoyed.  We had made plans to go see him together, but for whatever reason it didn’t end up working out.  My parents did end up going to see him as the last concert they went to together before my Dad passed away.  This summer, Peter was at the casino but I had a conflict so when I heard he was coming to Oakdale in March, even thought it was a busy month for me, I knew I had to go.  Of my concert bucket list – it basically consists of Peter and Aerosmith (who I had tickets for but that show is in limbo).

I wasn’t really sure what to expect – the only thing I was hoping for was that since Peter would sit, the crowd would too.  After he came out to a standing ovation, the crowd did end up sitting for most of the show (save for a few other ovations and a couple of songs on the encore).  The show seemed to go on forever – he came on a little later than the 7:30 start time and played until 10:15. (Which still got me home before bed time!)

The highlight of the night for SURE was the cover he did of Black Hole Sun that he sang through the talk box. I am not sure I will see anything as amazing for the rest of this year, if not longer. The guy sitting next to me and I completely lost it.

I do hope that Peter is able to continue touring despite his muscle issues – since he said when he sits down with the guitar he seems to be fine. Funny how music can heal like that, even if only for a short time.

Peter Frampton Setlist Toyota Presents the Oakdale Theatre, Wallingford, CT, USA 2024, Never Ever Say Never Tour

 

Back to the Island 2024

Last week was my 11th Back to the Island and my 10th trip to Jamaica. (One of the airport employees told me I am now officially Jamerican.)   I started by taking notes on my flights down and then promptly stopped doing that once I actually arrived and the activities started.  I don’t know why I always seem to think I am going to become a different person on these trips, but it hasn’t happened yet. We’ll see how good my memory is…

There

The Hartford airport was absolute CHAOS when I arrived, lines for Jet Blue and Delta were ridiculously long but I was able to sneak up to the kiosk for Southwest, scan my passport, and get my boarding passes really quickly.  Pre-Check was longer than usual and at 4am everyone was a little bit out of it and the women behind me were laughing at a woman who said she did have a shirt on under her sweatshirt only to take it off and reveal only a bralette, asking if security has gotten stricter since she last traveled. The TSA Agent just shook his head and said, “I don’t know what’s going on, its 4am. I asked her if she had a t-shirt on.”   The captain and flight attendants came by just as we were preparing to board and the captain was complaining that they went through luggage ‘with a fine tooth comb’ (isn’t that their job?) as a result, he said he was going to take as long as it needed for the security check which ended up with him yelling at a gate agent because the gate agent was concerned about how long it was delaying our boarding. He scolded him saying that safety checks were important and however long it took, it took.  Which is fair. But also, security lines are insane so maybe show up to work a little bit earlier?  Once we got ready to take off he said he was going to “fly it like he stole it from Delta” and we made up most of the delay time in the air.  My second flight was delayed 10-15 minutes because I guess Montego Bay was getting backed up and asked us to wait and then there was an issue with baggage, but we still got there about 30 minutes after we were supposed to.  I ended up finding a friend who arrived shortly after me and then we hung around watching the chaos that was baggage claim waiting for a 3rd friend to arrive before we boarded our shuttle to the resort – which took way longer than it was supposed to because a husband going to Ocho Rios went missing before we departed.

Resort

I ended up at some point before we left thinking it might be fun to try every drink they have at the resort on the menu.  Last year we drank the same thing almost the whole time, so I figured it was worth seeing if there was something else I might like more.  I ended up getting a friend to join me.  More on that in a separate blog post, but we did manage to finish all of them around 1am during Taylor’s dance party.  This was our 5th time at this resort and not much had changed – except there now was a mongoose?  I heard that some others had seen one, but of course one of the times I was going back to my room alone the darn thing hid under a structure and then darted out in front of me.  All I got as a photo was a brown blur running across but trust me.  There also were the usual lizards, hermit crabs, regular crabs, bats, and an assortment of bugs. (And loud frogs?)  I was pretty happy for the return of hermit crabs because one year there was a whole ton of them, but then I hadn’t really seen them since.

Night 1 

The first night was a Hanson show, followed by and AMMM Bonfire Set.  I started by teasing that the setlist was predictable – because for the past few years they have opened and closed with Back to the Island – but they shut me right up by then going into a cover of Weezer’s Island in the Sun followed by a cover of Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds and Stir It Up.  I was beginning to think that maybe this year was going to be different and maybe they’d actually put some effort into these setlists.  This show was relatively cover heavy – they also did Islands In The Stream, Kokomo by the Beach Boys for the first time ever and finished their set out with a cover of Feelin’ Alright, which while they have done it before, it hasn’t been done since 2009 so it might as well have been something new.  The Hanson originals were a bit more single heavy – but let’s just get all those out of the way early, right?

After Hanson’s set, AMMM did a bonfire set on the beach in which they wrote a three song set list and just took requests from the crowd for the rest for the most part.  Taylor ended up joining them on a cover of Whitney’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody and watched most of their set from the sound booth tent.   At one point he came out to the bar to get drinks for the band and I heard him tell someone that the last night setlist was going to be “Rockin'”  – a bit of a theme, but also super vague.

Zac Solo
Zac was up first for the solo sets.  Bonus points to him for doing 2 songs off of the latest Members Only EP – The Weight of Emotion and Where You Come From.  The rest was decent, but nothing new or any real surprises and I’ll be pretty happy when Seymour Better Times is off the list as he’s done it every year since he debuted it in 2018.  I think he gets a kick out of the kazoos though, so we might be stuck with it. This year we had birthday noisemakers we used as makeshift kazoos.  Also during his set the speakers we were sitting under decided to be problematic so there were a few songs where the crew was climbing the stage and trying to fix it as it was popping in and out.  If they were such a problem that they needed to be corrected during the show, they probably should have temporarily suspended the show as to not be such a distraction but, I’m not in charge.

Night 2

We weren’t entirely sure what to expect when it was time for Night 2 – but they pulled out major rare deep cut “Dream Girl” to start the show, and it became a Members song heavy set.  Trembling from White Rabbit was done for the first time ever, Working was done for just the second time (aside from Isaac doing it at his side project), So Lovely was full band for the first time since 2005, Grace Unknown full band for the 2nd time ever.  This was 63% Members Only which I didn’t do major research into but I think may be one of the biggest members setlists since the 2014 Members Only set. (81%)  They also had AMMM’s Zack Mack join them on harmonica for Dressed in Brown Eyes.  [Note: I have since done research: 2017 BTTI Members Only was 65% and 2017 MOE in Tulsa was 68%, BTTI Members Only was 84% beating out even the 2014 set and 2018 MOE in Tulsa was 71%, MOE Tulsa 2019 was 79%,  yet somehow that 2014 set is more memorable. ]

Isaac Solo 

Isaac loses so points for doing “River” but gains them for the 2nd time ever for Ordinary Words and live debuts (excluding his side project) of Mother of Exiles and The Gift Of Tears.  He also loses for not doing my request of Greener Pastures and also for doing Hand in Hand which ended up being repeated in the Night 3 set as well. Overall, he did a lot better with his set than he has in the past, even if he did bumble his way through a couple songs.

Night 3

Night 3 was AMMM’s set – which had Isaac joining them for a cover of One More Last Chance – which Isaac had been doing with Mother Road Sons and Taylor and Zac joined them for a cover of Forever and Ever Amen.  This set needed more Ingram Hill and less she who shall not be named.

Taylor Solo 

Taylor loses alllll the points for playing With You In You Dreams (even though we kind of expected it) and THEN doing 2 never before heard live songs that I couldn’t enjoy to its fullest because I was still recovering from crying.  He had been saying that Semi Hollow would never be played live – yet somehow managed to pull it off followed by the debut of We Belong Together.  Next time, Taylor, end on the sad one. (Even though I’d still be mad about it)  We now have all of Red having been played live – it’ll be interesting to see if We Belong Together makes it into the rotation more now or not.  I feel like Semi Hollow may end up back in the vault though.

Events

I am kind of over the events.  I did like that we got to sign up on paper to play video games with Zac and didn’t have to stand in line (which I always skip doing) but we sat there watching him play with groups of 3 through 4 Mario Kart races and never got called up to play.  Watching it is boring if you’re not playing and he probably should have done 2 races instead to get in more people.  Family Feud is old, yet Isaac still doesn’t understand the rules, and throwing Taylor in as a co-host wasn’t anywhere near as amusing as I had hoped.  Plus having the events at the same time meant we couldn’t linger in the back to watch the other Family feud session to see if it was any more amusing or not because we were waiting to play games with Zac.  If they’re going to stick to Family Feud they need to theme it more Hanson and maybe a bit more “raunchy” as half the answers seemed to be going that way anyway, but it’s a premade family version of the game.  I also don’t like staying up so late after the shows – but FOMO keeps me from going to sleep before things are over.  I’m also not big into the Pool Party – especially with it back to being on the last night because it went until 1:30 and I needed to be up at 6:45 to finish packing and catch my shuttle. (Which I knew when I booked the flight, but I wanted the buffer of there being a second flight out of Jamaica to Baltimore after being screwed last year by taking the last flight out)

Night 4

While we knew Night 3 was going to be “Rockin'”, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.  Would they continue the awesome momentum of the first 2 sets? Or would they fall back on the usuals for this last one since so much rehearsal seemingly went into the other two?  They started with Dancing in the Wind – which really could go either way – but once they busted out Speechless – that had never been played at BTTI before – I had a feeling they did their research. (Is that why hansonstage is broken?) They also followed it with Cried – although I feel like they made this setlist a little top heavy and went back into the regulars at the end – where I’d rather they start with that and then build up for the end.  They ended up throwing in A Song To Sing as the first encore – saying that it was probably the complete opposite of Rocking but we’d grin and bear it as it was a request. (Though I do wonder WHO requested it) and then finished out with Zach Myers on I Believe in a Thing Called Love and all of AMMM for “AMMMBop” and the finale of Back to the Island.

Year 11 was one of the best – but I am hoping for some tweaks for next year and looking forward to getting my post-event survey.  The gift for year 11s was a blanket – which took up nearly half of my suitcase.  As someone who tries to do carry on only, they really need to give us a heads up about the size of these items they are giving us so I can figure out how to pack!

Back Again

I ended up asking to be put on a shuttle 1 hour earlier than when we were departing because it can take quite some time to find someone to push the wheelchair at the airport.  My name wasn’t on the list, but the driver took me anyway (he was the same driver I had on the way in) but then we stopped at 3 or 4 other resorts on the way there – stopping at one for 15-20 minutes for no apparent reason as no one boarded.  While waiting in the wheelchair for a pusher, I saw the people on the bus an hour behind us show up – 15 minutes later than we did!  The kiosk also said my flight was delayed, but it apparently was not delayed enough to show up as delayed on the screens.  I made it to Baltimore without incident and used Global Entry for the first time – there was pretty much no one in front of me, it took a photo of me and didn’t even ask for my passport – then I went to the booth and he told me I was all good and could enter.  I was so fast that they hadn’t even opened baggage claim for those who had to transfer their checked luggage.  Fortunately carry on only I just kept on my way to the security check point which was forever away.  They had no cane to help me out so I managed to get them to let me use my own but how ridiculous.  1.5 miles later, I made it to the gate, and the flight kept fluctuating between on time, 15 minutes late and 30 minutes late.  In the end, the crew was late and we did end up taking off and getting in late, but I can take a 30 minute delay over being stuck in Jamaica overnight alone.  If you’re on the fence about Global Entry, I can’t recommend it enough, I heard of  a lot of people missing their connecting flights from customs being so long this year. It took me like 5 minutes, if that.  Here’s my blog post on how I got Global Entry last year after returning from Jamaica: https://blog.concertkatie.com/2023/02/global-entry-in-10-days.html

Year In Review – 2023

Fun concert fact: in 2023 I sat in the rain at 3 concerts – all 3 happened to be to see 3 brother bands. 3 different 3 brother bands in 3 different states. (GA, CT, NY – Hanson, AJR, Jonas)

Most expensive show:
Other than Back To The Island which doesn’t quite count, Jonas Brothers at Yankee Stadium clocked in at $320, plus we already had another ticket on top of that before we got there.

Least (not free) expensive show:
Virtual were in the $10-20 range but for actual in person shows, Eric Hutchinson was $37

Free shows:
2 days of the Cherry Blossom Festival, Hanson’s Members Only Event (we’ll ignore I had to pay for membership), Darius Rucker

# artists seen: 88
# unique artists seen: 30
# shows seen in CT: 16
# of shows out of state: 25

Show farthest away: I think Jamaica wins this year
Closest show: Fairfield CT
$$ spent on tickets: About $5k
Miles traveled: 20,296

Top 6 shows of the year? The 2nd Hanson show at Escanaba for sure. I think there was a BTTI show I was really into as well. And I saw John Mayer 3x so let’s give him 3 spots… and Ruben & Clay can round out the 6th spot.

Total number of shows in 2023? 41 (2 virtual)

First show of the year? Hanson

First show with actual tickets:  I’m not sure any have “actual” tickets anymore. 🙁  (My Ridgefield and Fairfield shows most likely had actual tickets, and then Darius I had one too because it was a comped will call ticket but they are coming fewer and farther between sadly)

Last show of the year? Darren Criss (because Aerosmith got postponed)

Most surprising show? Maybe Jonas at  Yankee Stadium

Most disappointing? Aerosmith postponement

Farthest traveled? Jamaica

States attended shows in? CT, RI, NY, NJ, TN, GA, OK, IA, AR, PA, MI [no new states this year but AR was a new Hanson state]

Venue most visited? I think Ridgefield Playhouse wins this year

Band seen the most? Hanson

Best new discovery? Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors

Bands seen this year that also broke up this year? None that I know of

Friends made at shows? I don’t think I made any, though the girls next to us at Jonas were super nice and helpful but we didn’t keep in touch.

Band members met? Hanson, Joey McIntyre, Hunter Hayes, Fresh Kids of Bel Air, O-Town, BBMak, Chris Kirkpatrick, Darren Criss

Best souvenir from a show? I’m not sure. Nothing is jumping out at me as being really cool.

Longest time in line? I don’t think any were GA that I had to wait at all for… which is impressive.

Shows seen from the barricade [front row]– Matt Nathanson, Haley Reinhart, Hanson (IA, CT, PA, MI, MI), Fresh Kids of Bel Air, Lindsey Stirling, Jonas Brothers and I had quite a few from second row as well.

Most shows in one month? 

January – 6
February – 4
March – 6
April – 1
May – 5
June – 3
July – 7
August – 3
September – 1
October – 2
November – 2
December – 1

Most shows in one week? Back to the Island and then the CT/TN/GA stretch where I did 2 concerts, flew to TN, went to a Broadway show (didn’t see the end), and then did 3 more shows 1 in TN and 2 in GA.

Biggest crowd? Sound on Sound was maybe like 15-20k? Not totally sure but probably the biggest as it was a festival 

Any drunk encounters? There were 2 separate occasions in which drunk people were standing *on top of me* at concerts.  How drunk do you need to be to not realize you are standing on another human?

Missed shows:

Had to sell my tix to David Cook to get some sleep for an early flight
Aerosmith postponed and no new date has been announced yet

A Very Darren Crissmas

Going to concerts during the week can be difficult with my work situation, and this week was extra complicated as I was in the middle of some training all week – but I managed to slip away a bit early to head to Ridgefield for Darren’s Crissmas show.  I had purchased a VIP pass which allowed me to meet Darren before the show as well as got me some merch – an adorable gift bag

featuring a hippopotamus on it containing an ornament, Santa had and signed booklet.  We were told to wear our VIP laminate from that point forward and then were able to line up for merch or just hang out.  The merch line was quite long so I opted to wait and try and buy things after – I found out that the booth was having issues with WiFi and card readers and that’s why the line was so long.  Then they had us line up and sent us into the M&G room 5 at a time.  Darren was very sweet and taking his time chatting with everyone, which I absolutely loved.  He saw my *NSYNC shirt as soon as I walked in and we started chatting about their Christmas album and Hanson’s and harmonies and song arrangements – and his handler was taking photos the entire time.  I was absolutely shocked when I left the room and was ready to post our photo together on instagram only to see that there were 30+ photos on my phone from our interaction.  Honestly, one of the best M&Gs I have done – and it really wasn’t that expensive! My concert ticket cost more than the VIP did ($120 and $144!)

We then were allowed to stay inside if we wanted, but if we went out to our car we couldn’t come back in until doors at 6:30, I didn’t want to sit in my cold car so I opted to stay inside in the lobby before theater doors opened.  I took my seat in the 2nd row and immediately noticed the “No photos or video” signs that were up.  The woman next to me was saying how she was going to break the rules and I told her I might just have to join her, but would probably wait until the end so if they were going to try and kick me out I wouldn’t miss much.  She opted to take photos  throughout from her lap but I was a bit too anxious to try that and didn’t want to bring more attention if both of us were doing it.

I had previously seen this show last year, but he did mix things up a bit.  A few of his stories about the songs were the same, but I didn’t really remember most of them anyway so it was fine!  He started by coming through the aisles singing Happy Holidays and The Holiday Season and trying to get us to do a bit of a call and response.  I remember last year the crowd being WAY more into sing a longs and it seemed like for this show the crowd was a bit more timid.  He talked a bit about how Christmas music is special and there’s nothing else where we have a specific time frame to listen to it.  March isn’t Sargent Pepper’s month, we can listen to it year round, but Christmas music we typically only listen to in December and Burl Ives kicks Taylor Swift’s ass on the charts every December.  I also still absolutely love his rendition of John Mayer’s St. Patrick’s Day. (He also mentioned that John is from about 11 miles from where we were. He knows his stuff. Why are we not best friends?)   After I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas he had his drummer help show us how he came up with the arrangement and put a hip hop spin on it – hip hoppotamus… which is another arrangement of his I love.  He also said that there are some areas that people don’t know that song and he gets asked often if he wrote it – and he wishes he did because he’d be living in a castle in the sky off that royalties money.

After Drunk on Christmas he mentioned how a father and daughter had left and gave him a wave and he hoped that it wasn’t too much for her to handle (as he swears and had just gone on about drinking – which he did say getting drunk didn’t have to be alcohol and it could just be having more chocolate or pie or watching TV or whatever else you might want to indulge in.)  And then was the time when I thought he was going to do a song he had just taught himself like he did last year – but he ended up doing Granger Danger from A Verry Potter Musical and spoke about how he doesn’t credit Glee with getting him where he’s at now, it was absolutely this musical.

He then sat on the bench on stage and asked a few people in the audience about Christmas songs they’d like to hear.  When voices started yelling out he teased about how the voices in his head must be back and then got the band to start up the song to not spend too much time letting everyone yell out.   He did a few more songs before heading out before the encore.

When he came back out, he sat at the piano and asked for a few artists from people in the audience which ended up getting us a medley of Fly Me To The Moon, Against All Odds (which the lyrics he didn’t quite know, but he tried!) and Cough Syrup.  Then he did Christmas Dance and asked us to stand and dance but told us we could sit and do it, too (Thank you.  I sat, but I twisted, shook and iced with the best of them) and ended up putting into the medley the songs that he had asked for earlier that he told us he absolutely wasn’t going to sing – and it was a Christmas miracle!

This show was so much fun – and I almost forgot – at one point he called out a woman who was on her phone saying that it was fine that she was and we could do whatever we wanted during the show – but that everything was dark except her beautiful glowing face.  Then he felt bad that he called her out and kept mentioning how guilty he felt throughout the whole show.

If this show is coming near you – definitely check it out – and if not – take a listen to the CD!

Hanson in Escanaba, MI

Back in May Hanson announced what ended up being their last shows of the year in Escanaba/Harris, MI in the upper peninsula.  We bought tickets and booked our flights. The airport there is tiny and there are only 2 flights in and out each day. Delta couldn’t get their act together and here’s what happened from the emails I saved (and who knows if I actually saved all of them)

May 17:
Hartford (9:35am) Detroit (11:29am)
Escanaba (4:00pm) Minneapolis (7:55pm)

May 24:
Hartford (6:00am) Detroit (8:54am) Minneapolis (1:45pm)  
Escanaba (4:00pm) Minneapolis (7:55pm)

May 24: (I made this change to not have so many flights)
Hartford (9:42am) Detroit (1:55pm)
Escanaba (4:00pm) Minneapolis (7:55pm)

July 3:
Hartford (9:42am) Detroit (2:37pm) 
Escanaba (4:00pm) Minneapolis (7:55pm)

August 28:
Hartford (6:00am) Minneapolis (10:25am) 
Escanaba (1:31pm) Minneapolis (8:00pm) 

September 23:
Hartford (6:00am) Minneapolis (10:01am) 
Escanaba (1:08pm) Minneapolis (8:20pm) 

September 30:
Hartford (6:00am) Minneapolis (8:50am)
Escanaba (11:52am) Minneapolis (12:47pm) Atlanta (9:40pm)

September 30: (I made the change to not have so many flights)
Hartford (6:00am) Minneapolis (8:50am)
Escanaba (6:01pm) Detroit (9:55pm) 

In the end, that September 30th email & update stuck, but I did get a couple more emails from Delta confirming it with what appears to be all the same info. (Maybe flight numbers changed?)  Of course, I bought a ticket to see David Cook the night before when I thought I had a 9am flight, but a 6am flight meant I had to miss out on the show.  Fortunately I was able to sell my ticket and meet and greet to a woman who really seemed to appreciate me helping her out, so that helped lessen the blow a bit. (She sent me her M&G photo with a “thanks so much!” message the next day and it melted my cold, dark heart.)

Based on the August changes,  I had been totally willing to wait the 8 hours in MSP if I needed to (I have friends there, they could have taken me and brought me back later!) but Delta was treating it as if it was 2 separate flights and not connected and I wasn’t sure what kind of issues that might cause or if it really would be as simple as just checking in 2 different times.  When I contacted them via the chat they told me that it was either the extra Atlanta layover (please, no!) or going to Detroit instead.  As we were trying to get that all settled… Pet Assistance joined the conversation? They asked if I’d be traveling with a dog, cat or bird.  Just get me to Escanaba and back, I’m not bringing a pet!

When I left my house there was dew/frost on the ground. I also almost hit a buck on the parkway on the way to the airport.  That’s one way to wake you up at 2:45am!  When I got to the airport, I added the plane tickets to my Google Wallet.  Then somehow it became a ticket from MSP to ESC (what I needed) and another one from MSP to LAS VEGAS?  Delta, what are you DOING?  Fortunately my app had the correct tickets in there and I made it to MSP without any issues.  I had about an hour layover in MSP on the way there and made it to the connection despite having to go through nearly all the gates to get there. I had a cart get me to the end of A but had to walk the last 9 gates myself.  I found my 3 friends waiting for me at the gate and then we needed to get defrosted before taking off.  Our luggage didn’t fit in the overhead bins and there were about 10 people on the flight so the flight attendant ended up just strapping it into the seat across the aisle from me.  Our casino shuttle driver was waiting for us when we got there and took us to the casino.  We couldn’t check in until 12:30 so we hung in the lobby, got our rooms and went to check things out and eat. Then we waited for 2 more friends to show up on the later flight. We had a free night and just hung out and explored the hotel.  I ended up doing a pull tab card from the gift shop that cost $1 and won $5. That was all the gambling I did all weekend.   I also apparently offended a local when I said “there IS stuff to do here!” when spotting the kiosk of local brochures. She said “of course there is, you’re not in the middle of nowhere”  except once I grabbed a few brochures that interested me, they were 2, 2.5 and 3 hours away.  I’m not sure that counts as “here” and yes, we are in the middle of nowhere.
The next day, 2 more friends were coming.  We had discussed getting pasties which is a hand pie that is commonly found in the upper peninsula.  I had checked Door Dash and Uber Eats but there was not ONE restaurant on there. (Not just pasty places, nothing at all!) And to uber from the casino back to Escanaba was $22 one way.  Fortunately one of our friends mentioned it to the shuttle driver and he took a detour to Gram’s (which is supposed to be one of the best spots) and she was able to pick some up for us to try.  I got a beef with potato and even a while after they were purchased they were still warm and perfect for lunch!  For dinner we did a nice outing to the steak house that was on the top floor of the casino.  At some point, I got an email from Delta wishing me a happy birthday and offering me a $25 eCredit.  Delta, what is going on over there? My birthday was in July!
Then it was time for show #1!  I had fully expected that we’d end up getting some combination of the 35 songs that they just had done at Disney and for this setlist, I was mostly right.  My friends however were not happy with me because they had said they didn’t want to hear “I’ve Got Soul” and I had said since it was done at Disney it was bound to happen and they ended up opening the set with it, which made me laugh. But hey, let’s get it out of the way early! This setlist was pretty typical and what I was expecting.  What I was not expecting was for security to just be done doing their job during MMMBop and allowing everyone to rush the stage.  They had taken my walker away and I was happily sitting in my chair so I opted to not have my friends help me get up there because walking with just the cane while a sea of people were coming at me didn’t seem safe.  Turns out sitting in the chair wasn’t too safe either. I ended up with 3 men standing on top of me (actually ON TOP OF my feet) and then almost got run over by a wheelchair who decided to back up right on top of me.  I kind of expected this might have happened at the encore, but I missed out on the last 3 songs of the set *and* the encore.

After the show we hung out in the hotel since the 8 of us wouldn’t fit comfortably in either of our hotel rooms. We did a snack run to the gift shop in the hotel, which somehow was incredibly cheap and had some pickle flavored chips and “Yooper Bars” which were just chocolate bars with the upper peninsula on them. (I stuck with my baked lays and cream and dr pepper soda)

The next morning we had a late breakfast and just hung around doing more nothing. My friend did contact the GM of the theater and was told I could keep the walker with me for the 2nd show so I was already feeling a bit better about how it would go since I’d be able to have a bit of a barricade around myself.  Isaac had posted on instagram they’d be mixing the setlist up, which we did figure would happen to some extent – and we thought they might go all out being the last show of the year, but also didn’t want to get our hopes up.  When we finished eating a late lunch/early dinner we heard Hanson doing soundcheck of With a Little Help From My Friends and we hoped they weren’t just teasing us.  Some other fans nearby informed us that World Goes Around was sound checked earlier and the day before.  Then they went into Give a Little and I Don’t Want To Go Home but we still weren’t sure if they had plans to put all those songs in the setlist or not.

When they started the show, they mixed it up by starting with Fired Up but then did 2 repeats – A Minute Without You and Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’ so I wasn’t really sure where we were headed. But from there things went off the rails, in the best way possible. Instead of an acoustic set we got a solo from each brother and all the sound checked songs made the cut.  In the end we had 44 songs over 2 nights and 39 of them were unique – and I had thought they’d be pulling from 35 that were rehearsed!  Except now that we know they are capable of doing such a massive shake up and not at a members only event, the bar has been raised!

After the show we got a boozy ice cream drink and hung out for the time change. On top of the daylight saving time confusion, the casino was situated right smack in the middle of the Eastern and Central time zones. The airport was in Eastern and the hotel operates in Eastern so I had forced my phone to not auto update. For some who didn’t make that change, depending on where they were in the casino, the time would change back and forth. We made it to 2nd 1am but didn’t last much longer than that – and the delirious giggles had hit most of us at one point or another.

Sunday all my friends were on the MSP flight and I was alone on the DTW flight so I stayed in the room as long as I could before check out, took myself to breakfast at the restaurant in the casino and then hung out in the lobby watching videos until my 3:30 shuttle.

The Escanaba airport was so tiny, yet has 5 TSA agents for our flight. We ended up having to board the plane using the stairs which did not go very well for me (I’m ok, just a skinned knee) but it was smooth sailing and no flight issues. If Delta wants to just keep up with the drama before the actual travel days, I’ll take it!

Eric Hutchinson at Stage One

The last time Eric Hutchinson was in town I didn’t end up making it to the show because I was sick.  The first time I saw him was a couple of days after the shooting at Sandy Hook and I wasn’t sure if I was up for the concert.  Saturday night my anxiety was acting up and there was some sort of town trick or treat happening and parking was scarce. I almost turned around and went home to watch the livestream the venue was doing.  Maybe the universe is telling me not to see him anymore.  When he came out and said “Good evening, I am Taylor Swift” my suspicions were confirmed.

The tour he is on is the 15th anniversary of his album Sounds like This.  Every night he will be playing it in its entirety but he started with a song from 2014 that was not on the album.  He explained that he couldn’t just start in 2008, it would be too much for us, so he was going to work his way backwards and ended up doing a song from 2023 next – but explained it’s actually much older because Sounds like This is only 36 minutes long and he needed to add songs to his set when he was first touring because the set being 36 minutes long wasn’t enough and he wasn’t going to play everything twice.  Slowly we went back, 2023, 2022, 2016, 2014, 2012 and then into 2008.

To set the scene, he tried to bring us back to 2008 and remind us of what was popular then.  He went through a whole story about how we probably would have been at Best Buy and saw his album there to buy and got it and then a whole story about how we may not have even had a CD player in our car.  There were a lot of young kids in the audience so he needed to make sure that they fully understood the time period.  He also then went on to explain Perez Hilton and how he and his blog helped make the album as big as it was.

He then played the album in its entirety, in order.

To finish the night, he didn’t end up leaving for an encore but stayed on the stage. Then he explained about how once, in San Antonio, he left the stage and was getting ready for an encore and the audience left so he was no longer going to do that and he saved us all 40 seconds and we’d wake up tomorrow 40 more seconds refreshed.  He did also note that it is true that him explaining that he wasn’t going to do it just wasted all the time he otherwise would have if he left the stage and came back.

He said he would be out at the merch table once the show ended but as I mentioned previously, my anxiety has been awful lately so I wanted to do nothing more than just get back to my car and get home.  As I was leaving, a couple of women behind me were excited that the show was over before 10pm!

Eric Hutchinson Setlist StageOne, Fairfield Theatre Company, Fairfield, CT, USA 2023

Sound on Sound Sunday

Sunday October 1, after months of being nervous over it, I attended Sound on Sound in Bridgeport, CT.  I was out of town during the festival last year, but all the comments on facebook I was reading said that it was absolutely horrible and that worried me a bit for this year.  But John Mayer was headlining, in his hometown, (where we both were born) so I was going to do everything in my power to attend.  I had emailed as soon as it was announced about ADA accommodations and they kept saying that they’d be announced “closer to the show”.  Almost every other festival I’ve attended (though there hasn’t been many as I acknowledge I am not made for them) typically has what they’re going to do laid out when it is announced / before tickets go on sale.  I ended up spending $110 on the closest parking passes, which weren’t even all that close, and the weekend before got confirmation I could park in the ADA lot (I’m curious how much they were charging for that lot as I’m pretty sure I paid too much, but I had to hedge my bets that I’d be as close as possible – especially with the other parking / uber drop off being a 2 mile walk away – something I absolutely would not be able to do!)  Fortunately, waiting to find out if they’d have an ADA Platform only in GA or in VIP as well ended up allowing me to take advantage of a $99 ticket offer for the day for GA tickets when I think they were initially selling for $179.  They ran a LOT of $99 promos so I figured it was not selling as well as they expected – probably due to so many being hesitant that had attended the year before.

We opted to show up a bit after doors opened to try and lessen the lines and the crowds and getting there was pretty smooth.  Of course the accessible entrance was as far away from where we parked as it possibly could be.  But when were able to quickly get our wristbands for access to the ADA platform once we got inside and then went to check it out.  The Friday before we had gotten more rain than the ground could possibly handle (NYC was beyond flooded) and the crew spent half a million dollars adding gravel, hay, and really awful tiles to the ground to cover the mud.  Granted this was probably a whatever they could get last minute – but the “tile” that was on the ground to cover the mud – every single one had a different texture (to trip on) as well as holes in them that my wheels of my walker got stuck in several times.  This was also the only path to get to the ADA platform.  It may have been better than trudging through mud, but not by much.

We watched the tail end of the Gin Blossoms set from the ADA platform and then went to find food.  We also watched Cautious Clay, Margo Price, Mt. Joy, Dispatch and Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals before it was finally time for the acts that we had came for!

Hozier came out and was super adorable with his accent. Through most of his set a drone was going around and a bunch of people were also bouncing beach balls around and he teased that it might be a fun game to try and knock the drone done with the beach balls.  I didn’t see the drone again once he said that so maybe someone was concerned that it might be taken seriously!  He did a 12 song set closing out with his biggest hit, Take Me To Church which obviously got the biggest reception from the crowd and had the most cell phones in the air.  I really enjoyed him and may have to start listening to him more regularly!

Next up was Alanis, whom I had previously seen.  Her intro video appeared to be the same from the last tour I saw her and her set was still predominately Jagged Little Pill songs which was great since that’s really the only album of hers I am super familiar with.  Of course for her, the biggest crowd reactions were for Ironic and You Oughta Know. She paced back and forth across the stage through most of the songs and when she was standing still she was playing with her hands and it was making me very anxious. She also ended up doing a 12 song set.

Then it was time for John! (He told us to call him just John)  He somehow managed to make his stage banter about how every song was somehow about Connecticut. He claimed he wasn’t pandering but I’m not sur I believe him! He commented that the hospital he was born in was “a mile up the road” and while I think it was a bit further than that, you could sense the pride and emotion that he was “home”.  He even told a never before told story about how he got his music education from Bridgeport and when his Dad was principal he would confiscate walkmans and then he and his brothers would check out all the cassettes of the walkmans that weren’t picked back up by the students at the end of the year.  He seemed to fall back a lot on Room for Squares and at one point was feeling a “vibe” with us and swapped out a song for “Why Georgia” and he said it was about how he was in Georgia but not back home in Connecticut.  I was hoping that he’d play No Such Thing early so whoever was there just to hear it would clear out making for less traffic and he did it 3rd. A lot of people also left after he did Your Body is a Wonderland.  He also mentioned that Walt Grace probably was from Groton and worked for Electric Boat and that’s how he decided to make his submarine. (Groton is home to the sub naval base and Electric Boat is one of our companies that makes subs)  A request for 3×5 was done during the encore… and I thought I might have finally been free of a show with Free Fallin’, but nope. It ended up being the final song of the night.

Overall the event was a lot more fun than I was expecting, but not without its challenges mostly due to my disability.  I would consider going again another time, but it sounds like the promoter can’t handle the criticism and is letting a few loud people get to him and doesn’t know if he wants to do it again.

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