Top Concert Countdown – #3

I’m about to throw ya’ll for a loop with #3.

November 2nd, 2011. I was 19 years old, living in New York City, completely and totally lost in life. I didn’t know it at the time, so that’s the plus. But thinking about where I am now in my life it’s almost laughable how much of a mess I was back then. But that’s neither here nor there – this post about a concert that, until recently (see posts #2 and #1) was the absolute best concert of my life. You’ll see that I don’t have a single picture or video from the night, and outside of this really annoying Facebook post, nothing to look back on and remind me of it other than my memories. As I write this, though, I’ve started shuffling through all of their songs on iTunes to put me back in that place. Other people have videos (below) that when I watched them before I started writing this put me right back in that place.

So who is it? Yellowcard, obviously.

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Wait – Yellowcard is NOT my style, you say. Well, you’re wrong. My music taste is actually really weird and I can get down to pretty much anything, I’m just choosey when it comes to who I’ll pay money to see. I’ve seen Journey & The Doobie Brothers, okay? Point being, I like to switch it up sometimes; therefore, Yellowcard.

Now we all grew up, seemingly being born knowing the words to Ocean Avenue, but it wasn’t until the Paper Walls album came out that I really fell in love. I was an angsty pre-teen and there is one vivid memory that I have of making my parents take me to a Jesse McCartney concert (YUP) at Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven and I rocked out in the backseat on the way there to my Yellowcard CD on my CD player. I’m really trying to help you imagine what it was like being me growing up, hopefully this is working – it was a disaster.

So fast forward to my college years and I still never let go of Yellowcard. They did a cover of Don’t You Forget About Me at the MTV Movie Awards for the 20th anniversary of The Breakfast Club when I was in high school and I probably played that song on repeat for months. So that carried me into college. Then they released When You’re Through Thinking Say Yes and all of the songs were so clever and catchy that I in turn listened to THAT on repeat, but don’t worry we had moved onto iPhones by this time so the CD player was laid to rest. RIP.

My sophomore year at NYU, I actually lived directly across the street from a really cool concert venue, Irving Plaza. I found out that Yellowcard was coming and even if I had to go alone, I was going. I did and I was essentially alone; my friend was a crowd mosher and I certainly am not, so I stood up at the top of the venue and rocked OUT to some Yellowcard all by myself. I couldn’t tell you what it was about that show or that night or that music but I walked out of the venue into NYC fall weather and I was electric. It might have had a lot to do with the fact that I was a lost soul during that time and when you’re so trapped in a moment you don’t feel anything else. There’s not a lot to say about this one because it’s really hard for me to articulate just how that experience made me feel, but I’m hoping you’ll watch these live performances below and see what I’m talking about.

Top Concert Countdown – #4

Now that we’ve established that Old Dominion is fabulous, and you most certainly bought their album on Friday, RIGHT?!, we can move on to #4.

This story starts out what could be considered a bit strange, but if you know me and those involved, it’s not very strange at all.

Back in March of 2013, here I am at work on a Friday and I get a text from a friend that says, “hey – my mom won tickets to Kenny Chesney/Eric Church tomorrow and I can’t get off of work…do you want to go?” Now back in 2013 I wasn’t this radical fly-by-night you all know today, but this might be the moment I can look back at that turned me into that girl. I thought about it, I knew I had to work, and I said “YES; I’ll figure it out and I’ll be there.” Somehow I got off of work, I really don’t know what I told them but I’m 99.9% sure it wasn’t the truth and it’s doesn’t really matter because that job was the worst and I quit a couple months later anyway and long story short GIRL I went to that concert. Big shout out to Mary Lou & Jamie Gibson, ya’ll are my people.

The next day Mary Lou & I took our happy little butts up to Tampa and Raymond James Stadium. She packed a cooler, it was the cutest, and we had so much fun. The openers were Eli Young Band and Kacey Musgraves, but we missed them. UGH – I know right? Both great acts, both artists I’ve not seen again, how could we be so careless? HA, I’m sorry – we weren’t careless – we were quite early. Did I not mention that these tickets Mary Lou won on the radio came with a meet & greet for ERIC MF CHURCH!? Oh, well, IT DID. Did I mention that I have the coolest friends?

So here we are, tunneling our way through Raymond James – which, also cool, because I like football and it was awesome – going to meet Eric Church. Outside of bands only I and like three other people like, I don’t think I had met anyone “famous” in that capacity. Seriously – this concert changed the game for me. We got a signed picture and cool stuff and then we got to stand next to him and he put his arm around me and I probably whispered something akin to “we’re married now” before skurrying away – but that was pretty cool. We listened to him be interviewed by a fan, also cool. All around 10/10 for the FREE things I’ve done in my life.

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After the meet & greet we made it to our seats, Bud Light Limes in hand because ya girl was finally 21 and drinking in public – seriously, this was A TIME in my life, and I had an absolute blast. I remember singing ever word to every Eric Church song, somehow having forgot how much I loved Eric Church. This was right when Chief came out so all of his songs were amazing and hard core and perfect. When he sang Springsteen I closed my eyes the entire time until the very end when I watched ALL of Raymond James light up and sing back to him and I probably cried. It was too much – it was everything. I took my boot off to sing These Boots (which I would later watch a couple get engaged to that song at another Eric Church concert, but I digress). I think I knew then that Eric Church understood, but it would be almost 4 years until it really hit me when I watched him perform with no openers for three hours straight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. No but really – what is this life?

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Now that I’ve written a love story for Eric Church – maybe we can move on to KENNY CHESNEY?!

This was the first time I ever saw Kenny and I’ve been blessed to see him like 4 times since – but you don’t forget the first time. I vividly remember the goosebumps I got singing Anything But Mine with the rest of that stadium and no back up instruments. I just gave them to myself again even just thinking about it.  I traveled back to being a kid in the backseat of my parents’ car, on road trips or just running errands with them, listening to No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem. Talk about the early 2000s. I LIVED for The Good Stuff. I learned what it meant to be in a moment during that concert and I’ve never stopped searching for that feeling. I can draw it all back to that night.

This is only #4, ya’ll. Can you even imagine what I have to tell you for the next THREE!? Damn.

Top Concert Countdown – #5

I have a bit of a lull between now and my next concert – so I’ve been thinking about cool ways to keep ya’ll involved in this crazy life I’m living. How about a countdown of the top 5 concerts (or events) I’ve been lucky enough to go to? What you won’t find on this list are stories I’ve already told – even though I might consider them top 5. Because again – to say that FGL/BSB in Chicago is not top 5 would just be me lying to you.

Let the countdown begin with lucky number five: Old Dominion at Runaway Country.

Last year, a new festival popped up in central Florida that was going to have a ton of really cool people – Thomas Rhett, Kenny Chesney, and the group of guys I’m basing this post on; Old Dominion.

Back then, the only thing we knew about OD was Break Up With Him and a little bit of Snapback. I remember where I was when Sam sent me a text that said, “yo – go get Meat & Candy, it’s a game changer.” And what do you know – she was right. It was a different spin on country music with plenty of songs with catchy tunes and the perfect mix of wordplay to make it seem intelligent, which it was. I listened to that thing on repeat for months before going to this concert, knowing only that they had some really catchy songs.

The morning we were driving up, before we left the house I pulled a classic Gina YOLO and bought us pit passes for Old Dominions performance. This is one of those shows where you don’t get pit tickets for the whole concert, you just pay a certain amount (depending on popularity of the artist) to be up by the stage only for that act. I have never been more pleased with myself for a last minute decision – their performance was absolutely amazing.

This group of guys is so engaging, into their music, and dedicated to putting on the performance of a lifetime every time they get on stage that you can’t help but fall in love. When we walked out of the pit I wasn’t even excited anymore for the headliner, I just wanted Old Dominion to keep playing forever and ever because it was just THAT GOOD.

But do you want to know the worst part? It’s like people are STILL sleeping on them. I say this because last November, Sam & I went to a different music festival that was kind of awful, but Thomas Rhett headlined and OD played the next day – at 3:30pm. The lineup on that second day was pretty worthless other than Old Dominion, and we literally only went to that day of the festival to see them before driving home. Putting OD on at 3:30 in the afternoon is legitimately the equivalent of putting Baby in the corner and I’m here to be Patrick Swayze. Like – stop doing that. The petty part of me doesn’t want that to change because tickets are cheaper and we get to be closer to them, but the larger part of me wants them to be recognized for how incredible they are.

I know it’s coming – their new album drops FRIDAY; it’s called Happy Endings because they are hilarious and I love them; and I’m already obsessed with every song they’ve released early. Here’s another plug – if you don’t have Apple Music you should probably just pay the $10/month to get it and get every single early release of every album ever. It’s basically New Music Friday every week and it’s what I live for.

I will say – Tortuga 2016 they were supposed to play the first day (at 5pm, still a shitty slot…) and got rained out. Then, because they are amazing and all sorts of perfect, they did a pop-up performance at Bahia Mar for whoever could get in the door. Unfortunately that wasn’t me – but did I mention that they were perfect? They actually got on stage at Tortuga 2017 and I felt the same way I did the first time – I just didn’t want the performance to end.

Long story short – Old Dominion is top five because they are incredible performers, incredible people, and make amazing music. GO PREORDER THEIR ALBUM RIGHT NOW (whenever you read this).

 

 

 

They Don’t Know

Happy Monday!

I’ll admit that this post won’t be as fun as my last two – but can you really top a concert in Wrigley Field? Well – we’re going to try soon but this isn’t that post.

This last weekend I headed over to West Palm again for the Jason Aldean: They Don’t Know tour. There’s one thing I can tell you about the crowd at this concert – they are nuts. And not nuts like know-how-to-have-fun nuts; I’m talking like I’ll-kill-you-for-standing-next-to-me nuts. But let’s go back to where my time with Jason started before we get to this weekend.

The first time I saw him live was at the same Florida Country Superfest I’ve talked about 600 times already. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect because I’ve told you about my whole obsession with words and I didn’t expect much from Jason Aldean. But what you don’t realize when you get to these people’s concerts is what songs actually belong to them. That first concert was one of those experiences. He came out and it was just hit after hit of stuff that I was used to hearing on Pandora, never looking to see who it was. Now that I knew these bangers belonged to Jason Aldean I was in. He brings the party crowd for sure, which again is usually not my style, but he’s an entertainer and I just focused on that. Probably why he’s won Entertainer of the Year at the CMA’s like twice.

I saw him again as a headliner in West Palm Beach two years ago and this was right after my best friend started dating her boyfriend and the first time we brought him to a concert with us. Well, turns out that when you bring significant others they provide you with drinks that we are usually too lazy to get for ourselves during concerts. So when I say we had a blast – I was pretty close to rolling on the ground on the lawn I was dancing so hard. I think we missed the openers (it’s a little blurry) but it was so much fun. If you’ve never sung The Truth at the top of your lungs slightly intoxicated, you haven’t lived.

There may have been a show in between this next one, but he headlined one of the nights at last year’s Country 500 in Daytona. But this is a fun story. So we are hanging out in between performers, I think we had just gotten to the track and we’re just people watching and trying not to sweat to death. The local radio station was up on the stage talking about solo cups signed by Tyler Farr, I just caught the end of what they were saying and then didn’t really think about it. About 3 minutes later, the people that were on the stage were now walking in front of us and I just pointed at them and said “solo cups!” They turned and offered the three of us three solo cups – so that was pretty cool. But want to know what’s even cooler? This couple sitting next to us came up to me and said, “hey, we really love Tyler Farr; we have these Jason Aldean meet and greets – would you be willing to trade?”

I don’t think I need to tell you what we said, but that’s how Sam & I met Jason Aldean.

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Now fast forward to this past Saturday. I pulled into the same parking lot we always use which is really fun because our version of tailgating is drinking a tall boy of Mich Ultra and eating dippin’ dots from the gas station down the street while people watching. Seriously, you’re missing out if you’ve never done it. What’s the best is that every concert has a different crowd. So Dierks was kinda chill kinda rowdy; Lady Antebellum was very chill; Sam Hunt was much younger & much more made up than I will ever be; and Jason Aldean was a straight up shit show. I’ve already asked for forgiveness on this one, but I sent a text to Sam, who was on her way to said parking lot with my dippin’ dots, that read, “I can’t wait for you to see the dregs of society that have come out of the literal woods for this concert.”

Now, I know; that’s really harsh and I am also in attendance at this concert and who am I to judge, etc., etc. I know – I told you I already apologized. But like, people are VERY interesting in their choices of outfits (see-through leggings, belly shirts exposing said belly) and choices of activities (beer pong with warm twisted teas). It’s just a lot to take in and here I am in my American Eagle jeans and Express tank top like, “hey guys; do you know where I can get the cup that has the pink cowboy hat on top!?” Don’t worry – we found it.

Then you fast forward to the concert and people are just terrible people in general, but more so when they’ve been drinking. And this is really the first concert I’ve watched people be so rude. You have the normal groups trying to push their way to the front…of the lawn..and others who were yelling at the people working just doing their job. This crowd was a doozy – but the show was great.

Kane Brown was the first opener; we’ve talked about him and I really don’t have anything else to say..sorry Kane.

But Chris Young was the second opener and I can get down to some Chris Young. I’ve only seen him one other time, but he headlined down here in Fort Myers two years ago on Valentine’s Day and I went on a cute date with a couple of girls…who missed the entire concert. But if you’re looking for proof that I get down at concerts no matter if I’m alone or not – one my friends texted me saying, “I see you dancing by yourself girrrrl.” No shame – thanks Alyssa.

He’s another one with songs you don’t know are his until he starts playing and you know every word and you’re like oh heeeey Chris Young I see you. He’s a lot of fun and likes to get the crowd involved which is important for me, too.

Then we had good ol’ Jason and it was just as good as every other show. He tells you up front that he’s not really a talker and will just sing songs rather than make small talk. I can hang with that. He also knows the parts of his songs that you know you sing the loudest when you’re in the car by yourself and lets you do just that when he plays them live. I can appreciate that. And yes, I did get to scream-sing The Truth again, just this time much less intoxicated since I had to drive back home after the show.

Moral of this post – be nice to other people. If you feel the need to judge, which I do because I am not a perfect human being, just do it silently and ask for forgiveness later. Don’t yell at people for doing their job. Don’t show up late to a concert and expect to get a good spot/don’t steal a good spot from someone who did show up early. And know how to navigate a parking lot. If you see all cars going one direction to get out – go the opposite direction. I promise you it works every time and I snuck out of this crowded parking lot in less than 10 minutes.

Thanks for reading; we have a break until my next adventure but stay tuned I’m going to come up with something fun for next week!

This Life I Live It Might Not Be For You But It’s For Me Though

Warning: this is long.

So last ya’ll heard, I just got off a cruise to Mexico with the boys of Florida Georgia Line and 2500 of my closest friends. But that was two years ago and we’ve made plenty of memories since then, including this past weekend. Ready?

The following year would prove to be just as full of FGL as previous ones, but in a much bigger way. I’ve talked about Florida Country Superfest that used to take place in Everbank Field in Jacksonville – which is really cool in itself, since I have a soft spot for sports, stadiums are pretty legit. For 2016, the concert changed its format and would now be held in Daytona – at the Daytona Speedway – over Memorial Day Weekend. The coolest part about this venue is that you literally have to walk across the track to get to where the stages are set up. Like what? I don’t even like NASCAR and I think that’s pretty legit. This is where I would see FGL next. It’s a 3 day festival that you can camp at, or stay at a hotel physically on the beach and make a whole trip out of it – which we do. It’s probably my favorite festival to go to because you only have to wait at most 20 minutes for a performance where at festivals like Tortuga they are an hour or more apart. I like my music on a continuous loop, thanks.

FGL headlined the 2nd night and they might be the only people I will sit through a performance of Kid Rock for. But hey – to love music is to like it all, right? BK, one half of FGL, is actually from Ormond Beach, or basically Daytona. He pointed out during the concert that he was actually born in the hospital that sits catty-corner to the speedway. It’s just as special for me to be a part of a show and an experience that is unique & special for the performer, you can actually feel a difference when it’s a night like that. They played their full tour show, including brand new songs from their yet-to-be-released 3rd album Dig Your Roots. Little did I know that I would actually get to see this exact show again 4 months later…

Because I am a crazy person, and FGL hadn’t announced any Florida dates beside the one above for their Dig Your Roots tour, I had to look into where else we might be able to see them. Atlanta isn’t so far – maybe that’s an idea. Then that’s when I saw it; October 14, 2016 they were playing in Nashville. Now you see, Nashville is a little further away than I originally planned – but flights couldn’t be that expensive, right? Wrong. Really expensive. But I love to drive – so it couldn’t take that long, right? Wrong. 14 hours one way to get there. In my head, it was worth asking my friends if they would do it, knowing they would say no.

Except they didn’t say no.

So here I was, presenting a pretty ridiculous idea to drive to Nashville on Thursday night, through the night, go to this concert on Friday, and drive back Saturday because I needed to be at a work conference on Sunday. 28 hours of driving for 30 hours in Nashville. And you know what? It was absolutely worth it. I used my birthday as an excuse because turning 25 in Nashville was like – a big deal to me.

We got pit tickets for this concert because I wasn’t going to Nashville and not being in the pit – plus I don’t think there was much of a difference in price so YOLO, right? We stood in line to be in the front, but you already knew I would do that. We ended up being right against the gate in the front, where we made friends with security. If I am to give you any advice about going to concerts, always, ALWAYS, make friends with security. They know things and have a little more power than you probably think they do. Because we made friends – we were able to know who the surprise guests would be that night; because we knew there would be surprises at a Nashville show. And we were right; the freaking Backstreet Boys were there. Let me just say this now as a disclaimer; I am an *NSYNC fan through and through and will never deny that – but come on, it’s the Backstreet Boys.

Kane Brown & Cole Swindell opened; both perfect and as I’ve said before Cole Swindell is just so good. Also Kane Brown is like 12 and has a voice of a grown man – also great. Remember the whole thing about making friends with security? Yeah, they grabbed me Cole’s  & FGL’s set list. Seriously – make friends.

Back to FGL. Like I said, their 3rd album had been released in August with plenty of time for me to learn every new song they would play at this show – and it was amazing. I think I could see the same performances over and over for the rest of my life and still walk away feeling like I’d gained something special or appreciated something new like it was the first time. And that’s exactly how I felt that night. Like I never could have imagined that in 2016 I would be at a concert where the Backstreet Boys were a special guest – never in a million years – yet here we were. Front row. Being tricked. FGL was on a small stage in the back of the arena playing some acoustic stuff while the MFin’ Backstreet Boys were getting in place on the main stage. But I’m no fool – I turned around and caught Kevin’s eye and subsequently screamed to everyone around me to turn around. So there we are, screaming every word to Everybody (although we were kind of alone in that, turns out kids these days don’t know the words…) and I’ve never felt more ridiculous in my life – except maybe until this weekend, but we’ll get to that. Jake Owen showed up; Nelly showed up. I also never would have thought I would be seeing Nelly perform ever in my life but here I am – THREE Nelly performances deep.


Terrible quality – but I need you to understand.

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I’ve talked about the feeling you get when you’re leaving a concert – kind of buzzing and loopy trying to comprehend what you were just a part of. I thought that it couldn’t get better than Mexico. Then I thought that it couldn’t get better than Nashville. Then I proved myself wrong.

So here it is – this past weekend.

Earlier this year, FGL announced that they would be going on a 3-stadium tour as a part of their Smooth Tour, which would actually FEATURE the Backstreet Boys. The only problem was they were only going to Boston, Minneapolis, and Chicago. But if we’ve learned anything about me, that’s not really a problem. So I did what I always do and I found a way to make it happen. The idea of celebrating a 25th birthday with FGL was already a thing – and my best friend actually turned 25 on 8/5 so we could make it work, right? YUP.

Fast forward to this past Friday, driving to Fort Lauderdale to catch an 8pm flight that got us to Chicago at 10:30pm, checked into our hotel at 11:30pm. Now I’m pretty low-key by nature, in all seriousness, but I knew that I couldn’t just casually go to Chicago for 30 hours and be low-key. So we stayed out until 4:30am which is technically 5:30am Eastern time which is exactly 24 hours after I had woken up that morning. But that’s neither here nor there. Ya’ll are reading about concerts, not how crazy I am.

We pulled up to Wrigleyville around 2pm and I am not lying to you even a little bit when I say that when I saw Wrigley through the dashboard of that Uber my stomach did flips. Is this even real life? Attending a concert in the same stadium that just celebrated its first World Series victory in 108 years? You’ve got to be kidding me; but here we were. This is probably not going to make a whole lot of sense from here on out because I can’t even really put into words what it felt like to be there for this; utter insanity is about all I can give you.

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Chris Lane was the first opener and he has just got to be the ultimate hype man. We’ve seen him on the cruise, we’ve seen him open for Chase Rice, he has just always been around and for good reason. When it’s 6pm and someone has to start this show, if I were you I’d choose Chris Lane.

Then came Nelly. I just have to hand it to the guy for knowing his truth. His truth being that he had some bangers back in the day and people will forever and always know the words to Shake Ya Tailfeather. He also referred to himself in the 3rd person the entire time, which I fully support because you’re Nelly and you really can do whatever you want. There was lots of butt shots of girls on the stage dancing and references to members of his crew being in jail and missing some of his biggest hits, but again – that’s Nelly. And I still got the same feeling I always do when a crowd sings together when the entire stadium sang Dilemma, mind you while the music video played in the background. It was the year 2000 in there on Saturday night and I just wanted to stay there forever.

Next up were the MFin’ Backstreet Boys. When I said earlier that I would’ve never guessed I would be watching the Backstreet Boys at this age – yeah I never thought I would be at a freaking BSB concert in 2017. And that’s exactly what AJ said, too, which makes me grateful that they acknowledge it’s kind of a big deal they get to keep doing this 20 years later (August 13, 1997 was when their FIRST album was released; literally 20 years to the day). There was lots of jamming out and literally dancing like I was 7 years old again in my room making up dances to these songs (okay maybe they were *NSYNC songs I was making up dances to, but you get my point). They played The Call which is basically the best song BSB has ever released so getting to be a part of that was enough for me. I felt like a kid again, is my point. I am a full grown adult and here I am singing songs I typically reserve for singing alone in my car, with a group of strangers. I couldn’t stop looking around me, taking in the immensity that was this crowd of people and thinking about how lucky I am.

Last but certainly not least, I got to witness the best FGL performance I’ve seen to date. I really couldn’t tell you if that’s because we were in Wrigley and there were 45,000 people there or if it really was the best, but it was incredible nonetheless. There were fireworks, they sang songs from their FIRST album that weren’t just their singles, they played obscure songs from their second album that no one knew, they played new music that they might never release – all of it was exactly what I want in every single concert I go to for the rest of my life. It was just…special. They sang H.O.L.Y on a piano and brought their wives out to give them flowers and thank them for loving them. I mean come on. There was fire shooting out of the bleachers that were cleared for said fire to shoot from (even though they caught the seats on fire for a sec, NBD). It was…perfect.

The encore was a combination of Hot in Herre, Everybody, and Cruise – which is exactly what the encore needed to be. They did a synchronized boy band dance to Everybody with the Backstreet Boys. There were more fireworks. They brought out bottles of champagne to both chug and shower the people in the pit. I couldn’t believe that I was there, but do you think they can even believe they were there? This is like – top of the top. They posted that 5 years ago they were playing Joe’s Bar in Chicago, probably for $10 and now here they are headlining Wrigley. I can’t even believe that for them.

I write all of this to say that THIS is what going to these shows is all about. Being a part of something that is just bigger than who we are as individuals and acknowledging that to be true. It’s a scary thing, stepping out of your comfort zone, going to strange cities where you know next to nothing and just letting life happen. I stopped saying no to the things that scare me a long time ago. Lean in to the crazy, spend your money and stop wishing that you would have done something differently at the end of all of this. I would give anything to live this past weekend over and over again, the lack of sleep and all.

Thank you for reading my ramblings and being on this crazy journey with me. There’s much more to come – but for now here are some memories I can share with you. Shout out to Sam Anderson, Amy Bohn and Kim Collier for these pics & videos because my phone was most definitely dead before the concert even started.

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We Were Livin’ Every Minute of the Night

Here it is. The first of two installments about the experiences I could write a book about.

Florida. Georgia. Line.

The love affair started as most 17-year old redneck relationships do – at a Luke Bryan concert. It was October 26, 2013 and the last night of the Dirt Road Diaries tour. FGL was the opener and as I sat in the back of the lawn in West Palm Beach, I knew something was just beginning. We were lucky, looking back now, to see them then because they were on their own headlining tour at the same time, but it never made it to Florida.

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It would only be six months until I saw them again, still not headlining, the second night of the first year of Florida Country Superfest. This was the party time of their career, celebrating their “Here’s to the Good Times” album and the entire thing just made you feel alive & carefree. We’ve talked about this before, how I’m a sap and love when words of a song can really hit you hard. But I had to celebrate the fact that FGL came in and just made me feel young. There’s nostalgia, in songs like the title track off of that album or Hell Raisin’ Heat of the Summer (GREAT song), but all of the reasons they became so big came off of that album: Cruise, Get Your Shine On, Round Here. I was there for it. This was also the period when THubb would take his shirt off at the end of every show – so there was that. He got married since and doesn’t really do that anymore…

Almost a full year would pass until we saw them again, once they announced their Anything Goes tour on the Today Show (on my birthday, I might add…). This time we had no choice but to get pit tickets and we knew we were in for something huge. Thomas Rhett & Frankie Ballard were the openers and as I’ve said before – when I’m there for the openers just as much as I’m there for the headliner, you know it’s going to be a good night. Keep this little nugget in the back of your mind, when we purchased these pit tickets, we already had plans to see them in November of 2015, too…

It was a day like any other; I drove up to Tampa with my best friend and met our other friends up there to stand in line to be at the front of the pit – because trust me, it’s not enough to just be in the pit. I’m kind of a crazy person about that and my friends have come to accept it, so I’d appreciate it if you did too. I may have put some extra effort into my appearance and made it especially necessary we were in the front, because social media told me to.

Fast forward to standing in the pit, waiting for the show to start. We are at the very front because, duh, and I’m kind of losing my mind because this is the FIRST time I will see Thomas Rhett live. When the first time you see someone live, someone that you absolutely adore (he’s the home screen on my phone from a concert a year and a half ago…), nothing gets better than that. I can’t write more about him here because this post is going to be long enough without going in to the TR saga, we can get into that in another post (maybe in October? ;)). Frankie Ballard was the first opener, and he was great. His guitarist is from Fort Myers (shout out!) even though we wouldn’t come to learn that until November…I promise I’m getting there.

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So what did I mean when I said that social media told me to? Well, turns out that during all of FGL’s concerts that weekend in May, they would be filming their Anything Goes music video. For this reason, they played Anything Goes twice, and had drones filming the crowd and camera people on the stage and it was awesome. Since we were in the front I thought maaaaybe there would be a chance we got in there, but who knows. When the music video was released, I was having dinner at Carrabba’s by myself so that I could be with my best friend when it came out. There’s no cell phone service in Carrabba’s, FYI. So it came out, I couldn’t get it to load, I went and sat in the parking lot and watched the whole thing three times and FOUND US IN THE MUSIC VIDEO. So, if you have ever been in a car with me or listening to Pandora with me, or simply anywhere music is playing and Anything Goes comes on, I apologize here & now for always saying, “hey, I’m in this music video.”

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Feel free to play “find the crazy girl.”

Okay so like – how does it get better than seeing FGL headline for the first time and being in their freaking music video?? Well, before I knew we would be in the video, let’s go back to actually being at the concert. It was just such a good show. I lost my voice screaming, made lots of eye contact because that matters, and danced like a fool. It’s really hard to dance in the pit and you can lose a lot of friends that way, but I didn’t care. It was the most fun I’d had at a concert up until that point in my concert-going…career? But the cherry on top? Ready for it? We’re watching them sign stuff after the concert, take pictures, etc., when BK grabs my friend’s phone and takes a selfie with us. It might seem inconsequential, but I knew then that FGL was special.

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Now – let’s move on. Little did I know just how special FGL would be to me. Fast-forward to November and we have finally made it to the most ridiculous decision I’d made (to date, because I still have more for you) and that I made my friends make with me. Back at the end of 2014, we found out that FGL had put on a cruise to Mexico and didn’t know how we could have missed that. Didn’t matter, though, because that’s ridiculous. Except…when it came to promote This is How We Cruise Round 2…it didn’t seem so ridiculous. My best friend & I talked about it, and figured out that if we could get 2 more people to be crazy with us, it was possible to make this a reality. Well, we made it a reality and, as I said in an earlier post, it was the best trip of my life.

I shared a 10×10 room with 3 other girls for 4 days and risked my sanity for an once-in-a-lifetime experience. We could’ve killed each other by the end, but we’re all still friends. What I learned on that ship is that no matter where you are or what you’re doing – music transcends all of that. The memories of those performances, the first show being as we left port in Miami, to the acoustic one in the middle of the Gulf, to the handful of other performers we got to see (Sam Hunt, Dustin Lynch, Frankie Ballard, Eric Paslay, Jason Derulo (what?), RaeLynn, Canaan Smith, Chris Lane, Russell Dickerson, Cole Taylor), still feel like yesterday. I’m probably the most upset about not making better friends with Russell Dickerson, who literally sat next to us at breakfast every day, because him & his wife are akin to TR & Laur (if that sentence makes any sense to you) and I just really messed up. But I did take a shot with Cole Taylor and find Eric Paslay walking down the hall and made him take a picture with me. Life, right?

And yet, here I am with more stories to tell because that even was two years ago. What I’ve come to learn is that your life can change without you even realizing it. Moments that seem small at the time often become bigger the further we get from them. FGL changed my life & the way I see music. Dramatic? Maybe, but it’s how I feel.

This is only just the beginning – stay tuned for my next post and the conclusion of this crazy journey so far with the boys of Florida Georgia Line.

Cruise pictures in this slideshow!

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WTH

Even though this week was concertless, figured I could reach back into the archives for another story to tell.

Every year I feel like there’s a season for the concerts I go to, even when they’re spread pretty consistently throughout the year. So for this season, you could say we “kicked it off” with Dierks Bentley.

The first time I saw Dierks, he was one of the openers for Miranda Lambert back in 2013. I was kind of surprised to see him as an opener because I felt like he had such big hits on the radio, he was certainly big enough for his own tour – but hey, what do I know? I had won the tickets on the radio and was actually super amped about this concert because I had just been broken up with (if you could call it that?) and was ready to hate men with Miranda all night long. What I found during that show, other than being all “I’m a strong independent woman, hell yeah!” was that I really loved Dierks Bentley.

image1 this was me, being all moody and independent

I can’t quite remember if this was actually the next time, but I’m pretty sure when I saw him again it wasn’t until 2015 when he was headlining his own show with Kip Moore, Maddie & Tae, and Canaan Smith. It’s all well & good when you’re excited to see a headliner, but I get really excited when I actually can enjoy the openers, too. I’d never seen Canaan Smith or Maddie & Tae before so I’m all about crossing people off the list. Canaan was good and I’d see him again in a few months in Mexico (I really can’t wait to actually tell ya’ll that story) and Maddie & Tae was more the Maddie show, but fine nonetheless. Everyone loves Kip & he’ll definitely get his own post in the future.

Dierks was where it was at. He’s one of those where you forget how many great songs someone has until they’re performing all of the bangers and you’re like, wait…that’s him!? It takes a lot for me to commit to seeing someone more than maybe twice because you really have to put on a good show or have something to keep me coming back for more. Obviously, you know where I’m going with this.

So here we are in June, the height of summer, committed to sitting on the lawn in the Florida heat for some more Dierks. Jon Pardi & Cole Swindell being there really helped the decision-making process on this one, too. We had just seen Jon Pardi locally, where it turns out people LOVE Jon Pardi. Who knew, because I definitely didn’t. I met him accidentally probably 3 years ago in a Stevie Tomatoes in Naples, and still was surprised that people knew who he was. For good reason, though, because he can get it. I missed his performance at this show, and you’ll find out why soon enough.

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Cole Swindell is nothing short of awesome. We’ve seen him as a no-name at Dixie Roadhouse, gone to see only him at the Strawberry Festival in Plant City, he was an opener for an opener at Lakeside Country Bash (which, RIP, who do I have to talk to to bring that back??), and even as an opener for FGL in Nashville. We go way back, Cole & us, and even still he’s just so great. He sings the obscure songs off of his albums that he loves, even if no one will know them. (Shout out to Remember Boys which is THE jam; go listen.) He sincerely loves the music and that translates to amazing performances.

Okay I swear, back to Dierks. When we bought tickets, the idea was tossed around that maybe, just maybe, we were going to be able to get meet & greets. Now, this isn’t common even though it might look that way. You typically have to pay a crap ton of money, win it somehow, or know the right people. In this case, my roommate knew the right people and about 20 minutes before the meet & greet we found out we could get passes and ran out of our seats to go meet him. It’s bittersweet sometimes, meeting these artists because for me, I want more than just a quick “hi, I’m Gina and awkward,” I want to know who they are as people. But alas, we got our picture and he was very nice and that’s why I missed Jon Pardi.

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Top notch performance and the perfect way to kick off concert season. Every show should feel a little bit different in my opinion, because that’s what keeps you coming back for more. When you’ve seen an artist, it’s enough to cross them off the list and keep moving along. But I’m chasing those little moments of feeling a part of something so much greater than just me. When the lights go out and all you have is a melody and some cell phone lights (RIP lighters) it’s quite the high.

Thanks for reading my ramblings; I promise if you stick around next week’s is going to be a real good one.