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Angela and her friend attended the meet and greet at the Ontario, CA American Idol Live! concert in Ontario, CA last week. Here is her account of what went down. Added bonus: Video of Colton Dixon singing Happy Birthday to his dad! Plus a link to photos.
My friend and I went to 4 of the AI11 concerts in California; the Ontario show was our third. We splurged for the $200+ meet & greet tickets to this show because the venue’s website let us see our exact seats (not just “in the first 15 rows”) before purchase and we got front row stage left (as we came to call “Colton’s side” because he spends so much time there). When we arrived for the m&g around 4:30 pm, we saw 3 people rushing through the nearly-empty parking lot towards the venue, and my friend recognized that one of the people was Erika. Then I noticed that the other two were Skylar and Joshua. I said, “What are you guys doing here?” and Josh smirked and said, “In trouble.” Skylar said they were trying to figure out how to get back into the arena. They walked to the side doors and were literally banging on them for someone to let them in. We found out later at the m&g that they were given an hour of free time to go to the nearby mall, but they were late returning and got in trouble. Josh & Skylar said they’d probably never be allowed out again, but Skylar said she apologized.
Before the m&g started, Ray (the tour manager/head of security?) gave us a heads up about what to expect. First he said Jessica wouldn’t be there because of a scheduling conflict. Based on her tweets it seems like she’s missed a lot of m&gs lately, hmmm. Then Ray said that as fans of the show we should already know about Phillip’s medical condition and we needed to be gentle with him (no bear hugs) because he just had a procedure the day before (Tuesday 7/24). I thought PP was all better but I guess he’s still having health problems, poor guy. When we met him my friend said, “I’m not supposed to touch you,” but Phillip laughed and just told her not to squeeze his side. He didn’t seem to be in pain on or off stage, but I guess he’s become good at adapting.
Let me just say that I have been to MANY m&gs for different musicians and actors, some free and some twice as expensive as the AI ones, and this was BY FAR the best I have ever experienced. We were supposed to get a group pic with the Idols (6-8 fans at a time), a program, and a pre-autographed picture of them, which is pretty standard and is exactly how the m&g started. It was awkward because my friend and I were in the first group of 6 and the handlers just told us, “Go stand by your favorite,” but we both wanted to be next to Colton. The Idols were seated in two rows of chairs and Phillip was behind Colton, so when I stood next to Colton I blocked Phillip. Colton told me, “Just go where ever you want,” and I said, “I want to be next to you!” One of the other fans told me I should sit on his lap. lol Eventually I switched with my friend (who is shorter than I am) so Phillip could be seen and I was kind of off to the side. I have no idea where the other 4 fans were standing for the pic, somewhere on the other side I guess. I haven’t seen the pic yet but I’m sure it’ll look weird. I think it’s silly that they have you take pictures with other fans who are strangers rather than just with the people in your party, but like I said, that’s kind of standard for these types of m&gs.
But THEN after all of the group pictures were finished, there was a 30 minute “mingle” where we could take individual pictures and get autographs and have conversations. There was no rush, it was totally casual, I didn’t feel pressured to move along, it was GREAT! Each Idol (sans Jessica & DeAndre, who were no shows even though we saw both of them walk by minutes before the m&g started) was assigned to a place in the room with a tall bar-style table, and we could line up to meet whoever we wanted.
My friend and I started with Colton’s line because he’s our favorite and we had brought him a gift. He was SUCH a sweetheart and so down to earth, it made us love him even more. He even asked us where we were sitting and made sure to give us special attention later during the concert. After our talk with Colton we still had plenty time to get to everyone else. Phillip was kind of tucked behind a wall, so it was hard to see him or his line; maybe that was intentional because of his medical condition? He’s the only one who had a handler (Ray) helping out with pictures and keeping the line moving, although Ray let us take as much time as we wanted. They were all friendly and happy to sign/pose for everyone, but Heejun seemed really quiet, which was surprising. It was nice that we had already seen the show twice so we could compliment them on certain songs, like Erika’s stunning rendition of Glitter in the Air. Heejun and Erika were paired together so they just had one combined line, as were Joshua and Hollie, though considering that theirs was the longest, I think each of them was popular enough to warrant their own line. Maybe TPTB had to combine some of them because of space limitations in the room, or maybe “Jollie” just likes doing the m&gs together. Colton seemed the chattiest, but that’s probably because we had the most to say to him. We were even able to talk with him a second time towards the end of the m&g because we forgot to have him sign our programs the first time. He graciously welcomed us back. As things were winding down, I literally bumped into Schyler Dixon, who waiting for Colton (the whole Dixon family was in town to celebrate their dad’s birthday). We had chatted about her family’s visit to LA, the tour (they hadn’t seen the show yet), her Idol future, etc. She was very friendly and talkative, just like her brother.
Eventually when their lines died down all of the Idols left; actually they kind of disappeared – the only ones I actually *saw* leave were Joshua, Hollie, and Colton, who were the last three in the room. As he was about to leave, without saying a word Colton gave Schyler a look and a nod, which apparently meant, “Come over here and help me carry this stuff.” I can totally imagine my brother doing that to me. Typical siblings!
Overall the casual, stress-free m&g plus the front row seats were definitely worth the price. Really the only disappointment was that Jessica and DeAndre weren’t at the m&g. But we had such a great experience in Ontario that we’re contemplating doing it all over again for another show later in the tour.
I uploaded all of my pictures from the meet & greet as well as from the 4 concerts I attended here. They’re jumbled up because there’s a mix of cities and of camera/iPhone pix, and the are probably some duplicates because the phone pix wouldn’t upload very well so I had to try a few times. The pictures are mostly of Colton, but I think I got shots of everyone at some point.
I also took a small video clip of Colton (and the crowd) singing Happy Birthday to his dad during the Ontario show. It was a cute moment.
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