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.
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.
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.”
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.
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!