August 4, 2010

Raleigh 7/31/10

We arrived around 12:45 PM and I was #44 in line. Since we went all out for Asheville, we decided to take it easy in Raleigh and aim for a good spot in the balcony. I helped with the walk table again, and though the walk looked smaller to begin with, I think we ended up with more cards filled out than in Asheville. I also noticed a good bit of children on the walk, and it was so cute getting to stamp the hands of a pair of brothers who must have been around 4 and 5. I said "Hey, you guys are going to get some stamps. Would you like that?" They nodded shyly, but then shouted "Look, mom!" and showed them off as soon as I was done. So cute! I even stamped the hand of an infant asleep in her mother's arms.

Instead of the blistering heat from the day before, this walk had clouds and a little rain. It still seemed to be shorter than any I remember going on, but I forgot to check my watch this time.

Isaac was one of the first ones back from the walk, (I recall someone shouting "Isaac won!") and he came up to me and complimented me on my dance moves. I joked with him about how those dance moves were pretty nonexistant and told him I was slightly mortified, but he was really nice about it and I thanked him for having me up there anyway.

The line was dramatic again, but I tried not to worry about it since we were headed for the balcony anyway. It was a little nerve wracking because once again, they didn't open the box office or will call tickets until the same time doors opened. One friend had a will call ticket, and one had to purchase one.

Let me say that the Lincoln failed as a venue in my eyes. We were told different things by different people all day long regarding camera policies, the number system, and even box office times. When we got inside and my friend tried to buy a ticket (after waiting in line for ~6 hrs and being told the box office would open with doors), she was told "I'm sorry, but I'm not sure we have any left to sell." Really? How can they not be sure if they have tickets? I got pretty angry though my friend seemed pretty composed. I think I mentioned to the employee that it was completely unacceptable that we had been waiting in line for 6 hrs and had specifically asked about tickets, and no one told us it was sold out. Another employee tried to get her to just sell us the ticket and let us in (since we were clearly mad), but the first employee was adamant that they get permission first. She said something along the lines of "But we've oversold already!" Yikes! In the end, we all went inside without the one friend and saved her a spot. She was able to buy one from someone outside and get in just fine, but I'm beyond disappointed that the Lincoln would open the box office without knowing whether or not they had tickets. Completely incompetent!

We ended up with good spots at the front of the balcony as planned, and the show was great. It was indeed packed, and I'm glad I was upstairs rather than in the crowd. I was so tired at this point that I actually fell asleep sitting on my stool leaning against the railing between Rooney and Hanson's sets. Pitiful, right?

The setlist was great and the energy was great, but I think my tiredness and the epicness from the night before made it seem less amazing than it really was. They played a new cover for the first time called "Roll With It," and once again invited girl on stage to dance--this time with Robert from Rooney.

One song that got me excited that I had no idea would have such an effect on me was "Hey." I guess I got so used to hearing it in 2007/2008 that it turned into a staple, and I didn't realize when it was gone. I definitely noticed its presence, though, and it really stood out to me for some reason. We also got "A Minute Without You," "If Only," and "Lost Without Each Other," the three songs that I could hear over and over and over and be happy. LWEO was made to be an encore song and it always ends a show on the perfect note for me.

Afterwards, we went out to the busses because I wanted to get a picture with Taylor since it was my last show. Somehow, it just seemed right that I get a picture and a chance to talk to him after the whole crazy dancing thing.

It rained and we got split up and I seriously considered giving up and going to the car--especially since my umbrella was inside it. Unfortunately, I realized I gave my keys to friends who had to walk several blocks, so my options were pretty limited after that.

Isaac came out first, and a few friends and I got a group picture with him. He was pretty talkative and extremely nice to all of us. Points for Isaac!

It started raining a little harder and my keys were still MIA, so we all huddled under a tree to keep the rain off a little. I also met a really nice fan who hadn't been to a show in years that shared her umbrella with me. I don't rememer her name or have any way to contact her, but whoever you are, thanks!

Taylor finally came out and announced that Zac wasn't feeling well, but he took the time to sign autographs and take pictures. My friends and I got a group picture and I got an individual picture as well since I didn't have any. We talked a little about the whole dance idea and I asked if it was something he was going to start doing regularly. He grinned and was cryptic and said you could never really tell.

We finally left after he moved on, and as exhausted as we were, we went in search of a hotel. We turned down two due to the price, but finally found one that was pretty cheap. Strangely enough, as we checked in (around 2:30 AM), a few guys standing on the balcony asked us what brought us here. We told them Hanson, and one of the guys told us he was good friends with one of Hanson's good friends (Shannon Curfman), and he said he had been offered the opportunity to play bass for Hanson 9 yrs ago but had declined. He joked about how if he had taken them up on the offer, he wouldn't be staying in a motel like that now. No kidding! Small world, though.

Inside the room was grosser than the streets I've slept on for Hanson, I'm not even kidding. There were scuff marks on the walls, it smelled bad, and the comforter on the bed felt a little damp to touch. We quickly decided we'd be sleeping on top of the beds in our sleeping bags, and joked that we'd rather be back at The Orange Peel.

As tired as I was, I was even dirtier, so I opted to take a quick shower. I took off all my clothes, jumped in, pulled the curtain shut, and promptly screamed and jumped back out. The largest roach I have ever seen in my entire life--and I live in Charleston--was staring down at me from the top of the curtain. I swear it was about half the size of my open hand, and I'm not exaggerating at all.

We packed up all our things and packed them back up, and when I "demanded" a refund, the clerk didn't so much as ask any further questions. She obviously knew how gross it was.

We ended up at a Wyndham for a higher price, but that's probably the best sleep I've ever had in my life and the beds were great. I'll definitely keep that chain in mind for future Hanson trips. :)

August 1, 2010

Asheville 7/30/2010 (a.k.a. I danced with Taylor Hanson and all I got was this stomach ulcer)

Before the Show

I was extremely excited when I found out Hanson was playing at the Orange Peel again. The concert there in 2008 was hands-down the best Hanson show I've ever been to, so a few friends and I decided to go all out for this show and get there early enough to be up front.

The camping part was actually pretty fun. One of my all-time favorite camping moments has to be when I woke up to hear a pedestrian telling someone "Tell them they don't have to camp to see Jesus!" in a very serious voice. I considered getting up and telling her not to worry, that I was totally capable of seeing both Hanson and Jesus one day.

There was this neat little locally owned organic grocery store across the street and their ice cream freezer had broken down. It was horrible for them, but they started selling all of their ice cream for $1 regardless of size/price/brand before it was all melted. We picked up several and sat around sampling them. I have to say the chai vanilla was my favorite.

There was a pretty big turnout for the walk, but it was also the shortest walk I've ever witnessed. Not counting the beginning or ending speeches, the walkers were gone for a total of 20 minutes! I hear it was pretty blistering, so maybe that's why.

The line was intense closer to the show because there were a lot of M&Gers and the will call tickets weren't released until 30 min. before doors, meaning there were tons of people milling around the front of the line. Thankfully, everything turned out okay for us. My friends and I all ended up in the front row, and I was just a little to the left of the center. I didn't have high hopes for Delta Rae because I had listened to their demo while voting for the opener, and I just didn't like it. I'm SO glad they won, though, because they were pretty amazing. They had very strong voices that blended well together. I've loved Rooney for years, so I was excited to see them too. They rocked, but it felt so short. I guess I got used to a long wait for Hanson during the Use Your Sole Tour.

It was so hot waiting for Hanson to come on. The staff kept spraying the crowd with water bottles to cool us down, and it was much appreciated. I didn't even care that I got sprayed directly in the face at one point. The show itself was amazing and has definitely replaced the last Asheville show as my favorite show of all time.

The setlist was awesome. We got to hear Dancing in the Street for the first time, and I was really excited to finally hear Man from Milwaukee. The crowd was pretty energetic and the guys seemed really on as well.

Give a Little

At the beginning of Give a Little, Taylor walked off the stairs on the side of the stage and came back with a guy dressed as one of the Blues Brothers. The guy proceeded to dance to the whole song. It was so fun and unexpected; a nice surprise to throw in that none of us saw coming. After the verses ended, the guys kept playing in the background while Taylor talked. He said something to the effect of guys needing a little encouragement, and he moved around and mimicked how one should dance for the right effect. Then he pointed at me and motioned for me to join him on stage, and at that point, I knew it was going to be my favorite show forever. This could never be topped for me, and I'm okay with that.

For some strange reason, it didn't occur to me to turn him down. When Taylor Hanson is asking you to get on stage with him, you don't stop to weigh the pros and cons (or at least my adrenaline rush prohibited me from doing just that). I used my arms to boost myself up on the barricade (which came up to just a few inches below my shoulders--I'm 5'2" as is evident in the giant gap between our heights), and with a combination of my arms, my friends around me shoving me upwards, a security guard spotting me, and Taylor pulling me from the stage, I managed to get up there without falling and breaking anything.

It was completely unplanned (on my end, at least), and I had no clue what he was wanting me to do. I assumed he was about to teach the crowd a dance or something and use me to help lead. I thought that was doable since I did live through the TBS video shoot. Once on stage, I couldn't hear a word he was saying into the microphone. I can't tell you how nerve wracking it was to be standing up there, watching Taylor talk and point at me, and having no clue what he was saying. I got really worried that he was somehow explaining what I was supposed to be doing and was completely unaware that I couldn't hear him. I got even more nervous as I heard the crowd respond to whatever he was saying. They would intermittently erupt with cheers and screams in response to something he said, which was both exciting and worrisome. I knew SOMETHING exciting was happening, but had no clue what, and it suddenly seemed like I was the only one in almost a thousand people left clueless. I was shocked when he came over and started dancing with me. It was just so sudden--no explanation, no time to react--and there was no easing into it.
If you've seen the videos, you'll know I can't dance. My apologies for any awkward second-hand embarrassment. Had I known what was going to happen or had enough common sense to outweigh the adrenaline rush of the invitation, I might have just declined. It was the first time they pulled a fan on stage for "Give a Little," so I just had no idea what was going on; there was no precedent set for what I was doing. But as awkward as it was, I'm glad it happened.

Speaking of awkward, have I mentioned what a bad dancer I am? I'm talking sat-glued-to-a-chair-to-avoiding-dancing-at-prom bad. Or maybe it's not that I'm so terrible, but more of a mixture of moderate terribleness and severe lack of self confidence in that department. I'm going to blame part of the awkwardness from this particular occasion though on the whole taboo of getting into a Hanson's personal bubble (that and, you know, being in front of 900 or so people). Why else would people get so excited over having him shake their hands, or put a hand on their shoulder in a picture? He's off-limits. Even with him clearly trying to dance with me, it felt wrong or dangerous to get too close, like I might be misinterpreting his actions and do something wrong. I remember pulling back at one point when he spun me and tried to pull me into him again because my brain was still shouting at me that I was getting in his personal bubble.

So Taylor tried his best to lead me, and I tried my best to follow. I'm not sure if anyone could tell, but I forgot to change shoes before the show and was wearing Rainbow flip flops. How I managed to step on the slick barricade and not fall on my head is something I can't explain. Seriously--one wrong step would have been the difference between becoming "that girl that Taylor pulled on stage" and being dubbed "that girl that pulled Taylor off the stage." Let's not even think about how badly that could have gone. Anyway, I actually lost one of my shoes while we were dancing and had a fleeting thought about how this was taking the whole barefoot thing a little too far. I debated trying to retrieve it, but thankfully realized how awkward it would be to stop dancing to get my shoe.

I was more comfortable with "Elwood" because he wasn't trying to do anything too complicated, thankfully (maybe wisely learning from my ineptness with Taylor?). There was an awkward moment where I tried to twist down (during the "oh oh oh" part), only I didn't realize we were so close that his knee was directly underneath me. So instead of doing a cute twist, I created a pretty awkward PG-13 grinding motion down onto him by accident. Oops! When it was over, there was lots of hugging and general happiness on stage. I was directed to the stairs to leave because it would have been too difficult to get back in my spot over the barricade. On my way, I was congratulated and high fived by a few women standing off to the side near the stage, and no one gave me a hard time about getting back in my spot up front.

The whole "what the heck did I just do?" mentality didn't set in until way later, and I went through the rest of the show kind of dazed. I'm generally a calm person, so I can honestly say there was no crying or screaming on my part (thankfully, right? Just how awkward would it have been if he pulled a screamer up there?). Instead, I couldn't stop thinking about it, and I still can't. About halfway through Dancing in the Street I realized I had been replaying the whole thing in my head and not enjoying the awesome new cover, so I snapped back into it a little and was able to enjoy the show in front of me again.

I've also got to say that as shy and nervous as I usually am (I used to literally shake when I had to give a presentation in front of a class of 20), I wasn't nearly as nervous as I should have been up there in front of so many people. I think knowing that the crowd was just as shocked as I was made it a little easier. I also knew most of the people in the front row, so when I looked out into the crowd, really all I was seeing was my friends being excited for me (side note: the handful of goofy faces I made were in response to people in the front row giving me that "can you believe this is really happening right now?" face. I should have saved my "no, I really can't" faces for later, but what's done is done).

The day ended with my friends and I sitting in a parking lot taking pictures with each other, and a horrible moment where I borrowed one of their SD cards to upload to my laptop and in a rush of excitement, stuck it in my disc drive. With some tweezers and a hairclip, we were able to retrieve it. It's kind of a miracle that I was able to operate a car after that, but none of us lasted too long and we had to stop to sleep after hitting up a Waffle House.