Top Concert Countdown – #2

These next two are basically neck and neck – but for the sake of a countdown I had to choose a number one and a number two. So here we are with number two in my top five concerts countdown.

When I was three years old, my parents took me to my very first concert ever back when we lived in Boca Raton. I have absolutely zero memory of said concert, but somewhere deep inside me remembers because that concert led to an entire life outlined by that music – the one and only Garth Brooks.

Growing up, there was no such thing as a Garth Brooks concert. It wasn’t even something I thought of because he’d always just never been on tour. I have distinct memories of car trips where we didn’t listen to anything other than Garth Brooks. I kind of remember standing in a line at a Walmart for something to do with Garth Brooks. My favorite GB song ever recorded was on the soundtrack for the movie Frequency (if you haven’t seen it I recommend you go watch it right now – it rules). So imagine my delight when he announced a world tour. At the time, there were only three cities announced, one of them was Jacksonville, and it was MY BIRTHDAY WEEKEND. All of these things together equaled Gina is going to see Garth Brooks if it’s the last thing she does.

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Per photographic evidence above, that is exactly what we did. I got a group of my best friends together and had an absolute blast. I cried, I won’t even deny it. It was everything I wanted. I may have been in the LITERAL last row of the arena BEHIND the stage, but I did not care at all. I was in the same room as Garth Brooks and he was singing to ME and it was amazing.

If you thought that was all I had to say about Garth, you’re very wrong.

6 months or so later, he announced he was coming to Tampa. Now this time I didn’t want to be selfish so I didn’t buy tickets and everyone I knew was going and I was almost annoyed that I wasn’t going and then…the Tampa Bay Lightning made the Stanley Cup Playoffs and they CANCELED the whole concert. Awful for people who had tickets, but I kind of felt like I lucked out. Why you ask?

Because then he announced a show at the BB&T Center and my best friend knows what to get me for any birthday/holiday ever and bought us tickets. This was our first concert of the 2016 concert season and it was the (almost) perfect way to kick it off. I say almost because (I’m about to rant) PEOPLE ARE RUDE.

Here we are, two lovely ladies surrounded by middle aged folks in pretty high up seats at a Garth Brooks concert, just looking to have some fun as people do at concerts. Except the people around us were NOT about having fun. As one might do at a concert, we stood, danced, sang, etc. during the entire concert. The people behind us? They wanted no part in our desire to have a good time at a concert. Since they are grown adults and not petulant children, you are thinking that they kindly asked us to sit down so that they could enjoy the concert – or perhaps they moved to empty seats to enjoy an unobstructed view as they chose to sit through GARTH BROOKS, but you would be wrong. Instead, as grown adults do, they threw water on us. I shit you not. They took their water bottles (that they prob paid $9 for so who is the real winner here?) and continuously tossed water on us. Since I had to be the adult in this situation (no lie these people were roughly 50), I interrupted my concert-going experience to tell the nice usher gentleman that we were being harassed and….nothing happened. We were eventually the bigger people and moved so that we could continue to enjoy ourselves but NEVER in all of the concerts I have been to with the most obnoxious people on the planet have I ever experience anything remotely close to these ADULTS actions. Moral of the story – don’t be a dick when you go to concerts, please and thank you.

Suffice it to say, it was still a great concert because Garth, but I’m lucky enough to say that that experience wasn’t the last one I have to hold onto until who knows when.

Since I’m still on the Garth mailing list, every once in a while I’ll check what cities he’s announcing when the email comes out. It was one of those days when that beautiful flashing image said ORLANDO – October 8th. Ya’ll that’s my ACTUAL birthday. So for this one I recruited my beautiful sister who spent a good amount of money to get us tickets that weren’t in the back of the arena, or behind the stage, and set me up with the 2nd best concert of my life (it’s like basically a tie for first but…you’ll get it when #1 comes out).

We get to the arena and we have aisle seats which is always a win and I’m amped because I’m still obsessed with Garth – it’s not changed even a little bit – and I can just feel that it’s going to be a good night. Well, this man and…we’ll call her his date…came up to us to take their seats directly next to us. She sits down, but he stands in the aisle, looks at us and says, “actually, if you guys don’t mind – I will buy you drinks the entire night, here’s my credit card actually, if we can have these aisle seats.” You might think I’m lying, but matching bruises I received after falling on my way out of the concert will tell you that we took him up on it and it was the greatest decision we’ve ever made. He no joke bought us every single drink we had that night and all we had to do was get them one whenever we went. They also went missing for a good amount of the concert, too, so all in all it just worked out really well for us. These are our friends below.

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There has been only one other concert where I have danced as hard, laughed as much, cried like a little baby, fallen to the ground with excitement as I did at this concert. At the end of every concert, he’ll come out to the very front of the stage and look around the crowd at the signs that people are holding up with songs they want him to sing, and since probably 30 seconds to a minute of them. WELL. Since it was my birthday and the concert gods were smiling down on me – someone had a sign that said “When You Come Back to me Again”. That’s when I lost it – THAT (like I said before) is my all-time favorite Garth song. He sang the shit out of it, I crumbled to the ground, crying, and sang the shit out of it with him.

It was at this point that I had a flash back to people throwing water on me, and I turned around to apologize to the people behind me for the dramatics. To which this darling girl said, “you guys have been the absolute best part of this concert.” SO SUCK IT CROTCHETY OLD PEOPLE I’M FUN.

Long story(ies) short, Garth Brooks is the actual GOAT. If you EVER have a chance to see him, go buy a ticket right now. And if you don’t know many Garth Brooks songs, I have the box set of CDs if you’d like to borrow it. Sup.

It’s the Little Imperfections, it’s the Sudden Change in Plans

I have to start off by acknowledging the chaos that has been the last 12 or so days. I’m already annoyed by the topic so I won’t go that deep into it, but hurricanes suck and they turn lives upside down and I’M NOT HERE FOR IT.

Last Friday I was supposed to go to Boston for a once in a lifetime experience to be at one of Thomas Rhett’s three album release parties that day and it was going to be a 24-hour whirlwind and so much fun. Alas, here I was on Friday putting up wood boards on windows, tearing down patios, and packing one single duffel bag of belongings not knowing if I would have a house or stuff to come back to on Monday morning.

Yet here I am, a full week after the storm rolled through, and I have nothing to complain about. I look around at a virtually untouched house, safe family & friends, and I’m nothing short of blessed. There’s not many words to describe what it feels like to put all of what you hold dear into one bag, plant a kiss on the wood frame of your house, and walk out not knowing what would be on the other side. I could complain about the fact that after 8 days my house still doesn’t have power, but I physically can’t. I’ve been blessed enough to have family & friends that have opened heart and home to me without hesitation. I’ve been sincerely humbled by this past week and things that annoyed me before, or that were trivial and I didn’t think about, now aren’t so big and don’t bother me as much. I’ve learned to think before I speak and evaluate the bigger picture before jumping to simple conclusions. I’ve learned that sloppy joe’s can make your heart happy and a bottle of cold water is a gift. And I’ve continued to be shown that music is healing.

This post obviously had to do with a concert.

So this last Friday amidst all of this chaos, we were scheduled to go see Brad Paisley in West Palm. We didn’t know if it would actually happen or if it would get cancelled, but I kept my fingers crossed for a green light on Thursday because I knew what I needed after all of this. Thankfully, we got exactly what we hoped for and the concert was on.

From the first opener, Lindsay Ell, you knew that the artists knew what we needed. Floridians are a resilient bunch and if nothing else, we needed a chance to get away from our hot houses and long lines for gas & water to just let go. I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing Lindsay Ell before but holy shit is she talented. I’d only ever heard her first single on country radio a couple of times, and her album The Project just recently came out and admittedly I’ve not listened to it. But I know I’ll take the time to now because she can kill a guitar solo and sing her heart out. She didn’t dwell on the fact that we’d just dealt with some shit, she just put on a great show.

Chase Bryant was the second opener and all I could think the whole time was how much he looks like Robin Thicke. Seriously, look for yourself. He’s someone that I’ve seen before, actually locally at Lakeside Country Bash so I was expecting just as good of a show, and that’s what we got. I’ll admit that I did choose Chase’s set to go get another beer since I’d seen him before, but I swear he’s good.

Dustin Lynch was the third opener and I don’t even need to tell you that he was good – you should just innately know that. Although I have to say, nothing beats seeing him perform in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. Are you sick of me saying that yet? And actually, that’s not even the best I’ve ever seen him. It was honestly when he was incredibly drunk in the middle of the afternoon calling bingo on that same cruise ship. If you’ve not seen your favorite artists hammered, you’ve not lived. It was one of my favorite experiences and we missed our flip cup tournament for it and nothing has ever been so worth it. He’s a partier for sure so when you’re looking for a good time, I would highly recommend a Dustin Lynch concert; they’re probably close to the top of my list.

Then of course, Mr. Brad Paisley himself. I’ve seen one other of his concerts before here at Germain Arena and I remember it being nostalgic. That’s the only way I can think to describe it – the songs all bring me back somewhere or to a certain time in my life because they all have such heavy meanings. That’s where I was last Friday, too. It had been a fucking WEEK and I had a couple beers and with all of my recent realizations I was so much more in the moment than I’ve been lately. I closed my eyes a lot, I breathed in that sticky & wonderful summer air, and let the music remind me that there are so many things to be grateful for and to focus on that the shit was the week before. And THIS is why I do this. When life is insane, I’m able to find my feet on the ground on a familiar piece of land singing songs I’ve been singing for what it feels like has been my whole life and try and put it all back together.

They said themselves that the weekend of the hurricane they told them they wouldn’t be playing their Florida shows. We knew it wasn’t true and so did they. Most compasses point north to help you find your way home; mine points towards music and towards those who understand that. Everything about this past weekend was just what I needed, and I thank my best friend helping me find order in the chaos.

Stay tuned for the rest of my top concert countdown coming back soon!