I love the long recaps, and there is no concert tonight, so I am going to give myself permission to write a LOT! Pick and choose and read whatever you like, and skip the rest. I tried to give my perspective of the concert that I saw, from the place in the arena that I saw it. I love Baltimore with all my heart and was so happy to go ‘home’ for this concert. Just got back to Virginia and quickly read the other Balto recaps ‘ they are very different from this one, which just goes to show that everyone’s Idol experience is different.
My backstory : I have never seen AI on television, except for the finale of season 8. My son is gay, and was so excited that someone like him could be the American Idol! Because of that, I watched the finale with my son when Adam was one of the last two standing, and consoled him when Adam ‘lost’ . The RS article and the public acceptance of Adam’s orientation has really been validating for him. So even if I didn’t love Adam Lambert as an artist, I would love what he represents for my son.
But I was BLOWN AWAY by the haunting Mad World, and have watched almost everything Adam on youtube and the concert videos that are so generously posted. Came across this blog and found its denizens to be thoughtful and funny, so I stayed. I have learned a lot about the other idols, and was very excited at the idea of finally seeing them, even though I came late to the party. I did not watch videos of the other idols before going to the concert, because I thought that the videos would not do justice and I wanted to keep an open mind, but I have read the recaps and seen still photos.
So for me, this was really a stand-alone concert in isolation from the television series that I didn’t watch, and perhaps my perspective has value in predicting (with a very narrow focus group of one person!) how the idols might fare in the future. They all need to gather love from outside the Idol bubble if they are to be successful after the tour.
My husband ‘ a big AI fan! ‘ and my son bought tickets for the concert. After I found this blog and read the other recaps, I decided to join them, but bought my ticket a month later and my seat was apart from husband/son, so I can report on both floor and upper level perspective.
We took the light rail to the arena and so did not have any parking issues (every city should have light rail, wish mine did), arrived at 6 pm and had plenty of time to check out the barricade situation before going in. Surprise! Matt was there signing and chatting and doing photos, and there were only a few people. He even talked on the phone to a woman’s boss who was a big Matt fan! He was very gracious and relaxed, and I was surprised that he looked much more slightly built than I have seen in photos. Not sure about the curly mohawk, but he wears it well. I got his autograph and then we went right in and took our seats after scoping out restroom and concession options. I have only been to two other concerts in my life, so I was unsure what to expect and did more reconnoitering than was probably necessary, but it turned out to be a good idea. I bought an enormous pretzel as provisions to get me through the concert and avoided beverages to avoid restroom needs. That was a good idea, too. In line at the concession stand, people were discussing which set to skip for restroom breaks. Scott won that survey, but I didn’t see people leave during his set.
I was frankly nervous at the idea of people screaming and dancing. (Note: I studied the harpsichord in college. Not too much screaming and dancing for chamber music, gotta say.) I enjoy all sorts of music, though. I have just never felt the need to go to a concert. There was totally no need to be nervous! The audience was great and there was really the feeling of all of us working together to make the concert fun for ourselves and for the idols. Energy has to come from both sides and I felt like we did our part. Concessions, restrooms, the barricades after the show: people were courteous and generous and nice to be with. ‘Charm City’ lived up to its nickname!
Note: My seat was on the floor. My husband said that in the stands, there was less of this sense of group dynamics, it was a little bit more ‘each his own’ , but still very friendly and people were very courteous to each other.
About seats: my seat, purchased, late, was WAY in the back on the floor. I almost didn’t go because of that; I thought that I wouldn’t really be able to see anything, and the long trip to Baltimore would be disappointing. I am so glad that I came to my senses! The arena seats about 19.000, I think, but it is surprisingly small in square footage. My seat was not too far away at all, I could clearly see the stage, and even facial expressions (and the screens filled in the details). After talking with my husband and son, I would say that even bad floor seats are better than closer upper level, unless it is MUCH closer. I felt more a part of the concert, and husband/son felt more like spectators. They loved the show just as much! but the dynamic is different. Something to take into consideration when choosing seats.
Audience: every age and stage. More women than men, but lots of men. Floor and first two levels basically completely sold out; some people in the third level but it is seriously in Anoop’s clouds up there. Not much ‘glambert’ action, very few bedazzled in the audience. I wore a linen top with sparkly clear sequins on the v-neck, as subtle as sequins are able to be, but OTT isn’t really my style. Still, I wanted to ‘represent’ for BB Adam! Husband (hereinafter referred to as HB) tried to glamorize: he wore a pink polo shirt instead of a navy blue polo shirt. LOL!
HB saw a young man who looked SO much like Adam; his dyed black hair was styled in the emo/woodpecker, he had guyliner and glitter, black nail polish, dressed like Adam, same general build. HB said it was a little bit spooky, but there was the striking difference that this person seemed almost inanimate, almost like a shell of Adam without the personality. Hard to describe, but it underscores the fact that no one is Adam but Adam!
Before I continue, let’s talk about Baltimore to put the concert response into context. A long time ago, when I was little, it was the sixth largest city in the US and there is still a sense of importance that is not matched to its present size. It has always been a beer/brats/crab town, with lots of sprawling blue-collar neighborhoods, and sauerkraut is a standard condiment with the Thanksgiving turkey. Baltimore (and Maryland in general) has hung on longer than most places to a passion for hard rock and electric guitars and the whole rock star hard-living hard-drinking image thing. Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Queen, Janis Joplin, Hendrix ‘ all are still huge here, along with Mellencamp, Springsteen and the ‘regular guy’ performers. It is a very masculine town, in a way.
Before the show, the screens contained fairly random things. Music videos of Carrie Underwood and David Cook, ads for Disneyworld (oh, Adam, shilling for Disney! Hard to watch but he did it with more style and more convincingly than the other idols) and Coke. One thing I loved was a montage of the idols faces cut into three and switched up (eyes of Adam, nose of Lil, mouth of Scott, for example) that changed every second or so to make three new faces. Very entertaining! I would like to be able to download that, actually. Whenever a face part of Adam appeared, the crowd instantly recognized it and responded appropriately! The audience was busy during the pre-concert period, no one was just sitting and waiting. People were testing cameras, sharing food, and some even exchanged seats so that tall people would not be sitting in front of shorter people. I saw that several times, as did HB. This was so gracious! HB was amused by the ‘feed boxes’ as he put it. People settled in with large cardboard trays of tons of food, enough to get through a natural disaster, according to him. There would be no lack of loaves and fishes for Adam to bless if there were need for it’ ¦
The girls down the row from me had bought pictures of Adam and Anoop, and were posing with them next to their faces and taking pictures of each other. Too funny! People weren’t buying too much of the Idol merchandise, although the hawkers tried hard. It was expensive ($35 for the t-shirts) but very nice quality. Nothing came even close to selling out.
Okay, now the concert. Loved every single part of it! The three hours went so fast! I was amazed by how much I loved and related to every single idol who performed. And at the end, I was totally satisfied with the overall experience ‘ ditto for HB and son. (But son crossed arms and refused to even pay attention to Danny Gokey. HB sat between anti-Gokey son and a rabid Gokey fan on his other side, he said he felt the energy flowing through him as the anti-Gokey fought to canecl out the Gokey. Epic battle!)
Michael Sarver: Shouted ‘Hello Baltimore!’ and Baltimore loved him. Everyman, singing his heart out on that stage. I wish he had not been wearing a suit for his set, and his pacing back and forth across the stage was more distracting than not, but I totally loved the music. At the barricades, when he signed an autograph for me, I told him that I truly enjoyed his set. He stopped, seemed almost surprised, looked into my eyes, and said with that Gulf accent ‘Thank you very much, ma’am’ . Okay, puddle of Sarver goo. Who would have thought?
Megan: WTF? a new dress that looks like a wad of bubble gum wrapped around her. Like the first one, but strapless. What does the wardrobe person not get about this? She has a tattoo sleeve’ ¦give the girl a one-shoulder top to show it off! And not a Bubble Gum Barbie dress! And the heels’ ¦this girl is not used to heels, and she already has legs that go on forever, she does not need to teeter around on those things that make her walk like a guy who had a sex-change operation and hasn’t figured out the shoes yet. At the barricades, she had on flats and short shorts and had a confident stride ‘ that stride would be so hot on stage!
Okay, the background. Yes, it was weird. Yes, it was restroom M/W symbols. But mostly it was just too BIG and out of scale, and made her look tiny and diminished. The other backgrounds were geometric, scale was less important ‘ but the elements of this background are the things of life ‘ houses, animals, etc. ‘ and the scale just did not work. And it was manic and distracting. Massive fail.
Have to say, though, the girl can sing. I thoroughly enjoyed her set, even the second song that has been criticized. (HB agreed, but I think he was definitely influenced by the legs.) Son was not influenced by the legs and also loved her, even though he planned not to be (he wasn’t impressed by her on the show). Will people hate me if I say I enjoyed her set way more than the Carrie Underwood videos at the beginning? Idol has done her wrong. At the barricades she seemed much shyer and less confident than the others ‘ perhaps she wasn’t able to assert herself, or maybe she is less confident because she is less sure of who she is and couldn’t battle the Idol shapemeisters.
But I would so go to see Megan in a smaller venue while she develops her talent, and I hope she continues to work this dream. (BTW she autographs with a pink sharpie. No comment.)
Lil: uh, oh. What is she wearing? Shapeless wide-leg pants with a bulky double-breasted knee-length dress with a too-wide rhinestone belt. FAIL. Chairman Mao with bling. Rhinestone shoes. Dorothy, come get these, honey, and see if they can take you somewhere that isn’t Kansas’ ¦Lil got some raised eyebrows for her party dress over skinny jeans, but I loved that look on her. This? Apparently the girl bus has no mirrors. That would explain a lot, including Megan’s birdnest hair the other day.
Music? Have to say, she was okay but only okay, and I love the music that she was covering. She just isn’t anything special, although I don’t have any technical objections. This has been said before, so I won’t belabor it.
Have to say, though, that the crowd on the floor really got into the karaoke song (Single Ladies)! HB loved it too, said he always wondered about the lyrics. I thought it was great fun, but again the wardrobe interfered, but this time in a funny way’ ¦Lil changed into a very low cut top, and the bouncing boobage sort of replaced the bouncing ball for the lyrics’ ¦there is a lot to be said for a supportive foundation undergarment for the well-endowed’ ¦
ANOOP! I paid particular attention to this, because of alison8701 (from memory, might have the numbers wrong’ ¦) and her Anoop advocacy.
(Quick note: didn’t mind the clouds, but the background with the big plopping raindrops was very annoying to those who were trying not to think about needing a bathroom break. Just sayin’.)
Baltimore loved Anoop! The ushers and security at the show were wonderful, very personable and friendly, pretended not to see video filming (the guy behind me stood in the aisle and basically filmed the whole show after the intermission and was never molested). I insert that here because the usher at my end (a middle-aged African-American woman), who spent the rest of the show seated or walking her beat, really got into Anoop ‘ stood, danced, waved her arms! I looked over at her and we met eyes and laughed together ‘ Anoop has that effect! He is so smooth ‘ love when he crouches down and swivels on the balls of his tennis shoes! and the occasional thrust is like an unexpected little gift to the audience. Love his voice, would definitely go to an Anoop concert and buy Anoop music. The drawn-out ‘Anooooooop’ calls after his set were like a low moan from the crowd, so nice!
Really enjoyed Scott’s set! (My son plays the piano, and was totally caught up in Scott, to HB’s surprise. Son came for an Adam concert, BTW, and was totally prepared to only endure the others. He was a tough audience and was won over by almost all the idols.)
I have read that Scott can seem arrogant, but at the barricades he could not have been nicer. His brother was with him as usual, helping him to sign autographs, and the two of them obviously have such a warm and close relationship that it was a pleasure to watch them working their way down the barricades. He can totally do a Billy Joel style set (and Billy Joel is still very popular in Baltimore) and Baltimore was enthusiastic. HB loved his patter (yes, we have read his jokes for each concert recap, but they were new to HB and he totally ate it up).
A note about my autographs: I hadn’t been planning to do the autograph thing, even though I did plan to be at the barricades just to see the idols. But my son came into my room the night before the concert and very diffidently asked me if I would be taking my Idols CD (the Walmart one) to the concert for signatures. Hmmm’ ¦he obviously wanted me to, so I did. As it happened, what a great idea! The photos of all the idols are in boxes on the CD insert, almost like a bingo game (or Hollywood Squares’ ¦) and the autographed insert is protected by the plastic CD cover. Small, easy to transport, and the idols probably appreciate signing something that was actually purchased and benefited them. Scott’s brother told him it was the CD case, and he felt it and signed exactly over his picture, allaying my concern that he would sign over someone else’s photo and break the system’ ¦Scott’s is also the only signature that is actually a signature, and not a scrawl. Anyway, I recommend my son’s idea of using the Walmart CD for autographs. It is a wonderful souvenir of the concert.
Matt: really knew how to work the crowd! Shouted out ‘Baltimore’ FOUR TIMES during his set and the crowd was totally his. (Note: not all idols even named our city ‘ Anoop said something generic about liking to be on the east coast ‘ wtf? ‘ but every mention of Baltimore got a roar of approval from the idols savvy enough to call us by name!) Loved the sleeve garter, loved how he worked the fedora, loved the way he moved all over the stage and marked it as his own (only temporarily, of course, until the HBIC showed up and took it over). Great set.
Dueling pianos with Scott and Matt: totally worked. Scott’s matching fedora was adorable and the guys really beat those keys into submission! My son was entranced, really moving to the music and loving it (BTW, he is almost 17), even though this is not his music preference at all. The whole audience was into this and the group number, a great way to get to intermission.
Note about audience reaction: this is Baltimore. We are known as an audience that is hard to get on its feet. A standing ovation? Rare. When I first left Baltimore and went to a theater performance in another city I was amazed to see everyone getting up at the end of the show to stand and applaud ‘ huh? But this floor was up for all of the second half and a lot of the first half ‘ the tiers not so much, but even the tiers were on their feet for Gokey, Adam, and Kris. A lot of recaps have said that the tiers did not get up to show their love in other cities, also, and I have been thinking about this. Maybe it is because idol starts out for most people as a TV show, and sitting in the tiers might feel more like watching TV than being on the floor? Most people don’t get up and dance to Idol on the TV. Just a thought.
Intermission: dash to the restroom! Note that my aisle seat near the back afforded a quick and direct route, almost no one ahead of me, in and out in only a couple of minutes ‘ but when I came out, the line stretched into infinity. One of many things to think about when choosing a seat if being on top of the stage isn’t critical to you.
Getting butterflies in tummy for Adam’s set coming soon’ ¦thinking of butterflies in other places on Adam’s jeans’ ¦oops’ ¦
Allison: Baltimore is Janis Joplin territory, and Allison got the love she deserved and the most love for the Joplin cover, and roars for Barracuda. But I have to say that she is not 17. Seeing her in person, and her face enlarged a billion times on the screen, and her body ‘ I am thinking she is 30+ and we need to check out her birth certificate at the same time the crazies search for Obama’s. (Just kidding.)
When she called out the names of those who come after her, I listened carefully to the audience response. Wow, Gokey! Adam definitely the most vociferous response, but Kris a close second (Baltimore will groove on a plaid shirt, hon :D ) and Gokey right there, too. I don’t love her music but it is easy for me to say she is terrific at what she does, a total dervish who took the stage over from Matt and kept it warm for Adam.
Gokey: totally the surprise of the evening for me. I never saw him on the show, remember, only knew him from recaps and twitter (and twitter IS the devil). Don’t hate on me for saying it, but I allowed myself to forget that Adam was next and I got lost in Gokey world. (Son is definitely hating on me.) But the man can sing and the crowd loved him, the floor and even the tier dwellers were up on their feet. The tragedy patter was okay, a little bit incoherent to HB but I have read about and knew where he was going and was able to get there unassisted. End of set, feeling the Gokey love’ ¦damn, I was cheating on Adam’ ¦mea culpa!
Adam’ ¦I am going to violate the rules against sacrilege, and I risk excommunication, and some people are going to hate on me, but here it is.
Adam had the Elvis hair going on, and I don’t like it, but Elvis is definitely the Baltimore demographic, so whatever. The rest of him was his gorgeous self (Washington Post said he got a facial in DC yesterday, his skin was much smoother, just mentioning that because so many of us drool for details) and I was totally prepared to be scraped up off the floor and reassembled in whatever room in the arena is used for that purpose. But it didn’t happen.
The evil sound system gremlins did something that pressed the ‘add chipmunk element’ key on the soundboard. I don’t know how else to describe it. It was almost as though Adam was doing his voices (‘cupcake’ ) but of course he wasn’t. This was more noticeable on the slower songs (Mad World, especially) but it infected the whole set. NOT Adam’s fault. Clearly this was a sound issue.
Slow Ride was wonderful ‘ I saw the red bra, there was apparently also a pink one ‘ their performance is such symbiosis! In light of recent comments, I watched their interaction carefully ‘ looks totally nonsexual to me, guys, just two people totally enjoying each other and the epic fun they are having, with a good healthy hug at the end. Let’s put those rumors to ‘ ¦ uh’ ¦ bed. Really.
But Adam’s voice was definitely tired ‘ he was working in a narrower range, avoided glory notes. This tour is brutal, and I frankly didn’t expect his best in Baltimore. He is wise to pace himself, and as much as I hate to admit it, Baltimore is not a terribly important market. But in conjunction with the sound issue, the vocal part of the Adam package was a disappointment. Time for everyone to start making piles of glittery stones. I’ll try not to flinch as they are thrown at me.
The mic stand went almost unmolested, and his hands maintained a surprisingly respectful distance from his crotch. Get up and dance, everyone’ ¦and ‘baby’ , you need me. (I love ‘woman’ , the vowels are so much better and’ ¦uh’ ¦deeper). Another recapper said that she heard ‘woman’ , but I didn’t. Wish I had. Baby was all too clear.
Later, at the barricades, much discussion. The sound issue was worse in some parts of the arena than others. As to the subdued performance’ ¦much sorrow. He didn’t trust us.
But we are still his bitches forever.
Okay, on to Kris ‘Kris loves him some guitar ‘ and when he switched over to his electric guitar, the audience collectively peed itself. I was surprised by how animated he is on stage ‘ comments I have read gave the idea that he was more static ‘ he is hugely fun to watch, he is having such a good time that it is infectious! And at the piano, he literally bounces up and down ‘ his head bobbing up and down at the top of the spinet’ so adorable! The boy is on springs during his whole set and so energetic, gives the impression that he has been sitting backstage for 2 ½ hours just waiting for this moment (as probably he has)! Didn’t love all the songs he did but loved the energy of his set, and then of course there is the adorable quotient.
Hey Jude’ ¦have to say it worked in this context, but have to say I hate the song. It is right up there with Kumbaya. But it worked because Kris took it seriously and we took him seriously, and it segued fine into DSB.
DSB ‘ lots of fun, a terrific end to the show. When those pianos come up out of the stage, and there is so much going on, and all the idols take their places, it is so cheezy and so wonderful. Idol at its best!
From my seat near the back of the floor, I can attest that very few people left during Kris’ set or early during DSB. Even at the end of DSB, most of the audience stayed put for a minute, which surprised me, before making a beeline for whichever hive they had in mind.
I went to the barricades, where my HB / son met me at a good position to see the stage disassembled and put into the semis ‘ that alone was worth a ticket! Really interesting to watch that while we waited for the idols. Megan came out first, then Michael, then Anoop, then the others except Lil (who I have read almost never comes out), Kris, Allison, and Adam. I was told that Kris had come out that afternoon, which is unusual, and had stayed out for quite a while, so the popular wisdom was that the triumvirate would not be out after the show. We stayed until 11:50, when we had to catch the last train out of the city, and had an opportunity to interact a little with each of the other idols, who were uniformly gracious and generous with their time and attention.
The barricades were calm and polite. People were helpful about putting things forward from other people for the Idols to sign and accommodating photos. No real screaming for Adam ‘ a couple of times that a couple of dozen people chanted briefly for him, that is all – (but that would likely have changed if he had come out!), and everyone gave a lot of love to the idols. As each idol appeared, he or she was cheered and applauded. I didn’t see any pushing or shoving or unpleasantness, except for one awful woman who said out loud that Megan sucked, and that she knew good music, she had partied with Aerosmith and where the hell was Adam? I didn’t hear her but HB did, and he was disgusted. Fortunately, she was in the back and Megan probably didn’t hear her, either. The evening temperature was comfortable, and I enjoyed waiting with the peeps; time passed quickly. It was interesting to see what people wanted signed. The purse made sense, a nice idea. Lots of RS and Entertainment magazines, but I don’t think it is nice to ask the other idols to sign the Adam covers. Random small scraps of paper ‘ if I were an Idol, I would wonder what the point of that was, and if it were going to be just discarded. One man who was there with his partner had a round clear plastic lid sort of thing, about 18′ diameter, with a silver metal rim. No idea what it was, but glare from it really interfered with a lot of photos.
After reading about bad situations at other shows’ barricades, and reading the opinions about the idols not owing autographs, etc.’ I agreed with this and had not planned to ask for autographs, but my son changed my mind at the last minute. At our concert, the idols genuinely seemed to enjoy interacting with the peeps, it was very low-pressure and calm, so I felt good about it. Had things been crazy, we would have left and I would not have added to the unpleasantness.
I had a nice conversation with someone who sat next to a couple who had flown from Northampton England just to see Adam! Another woman was planning to drive to NYC for the Good Morning American concert in Central Park ‘ planned to arrive at 1 am to get in line for the gate to open at 6 am for an 8:30 am show! (With her grandchildren!)
So that was my idol concert experience. I really loved the concert, had a great time, and so did HB and son. I didn’t bring a camera or take video, because I assume that others who were seated closer to the stage will provide much better visuals that I could have. Knowing that I was going to write a recap, I really paid more attention to the show and everything about it, so that I could write in better detail, and that really enhanced my own enjoyment. I hope you enjoyed whatever part of this you took the time to read.