By Meg | @SarverAngels on Twitter
On July 15, 2010, I had the experience of a lifetime: attending the American Idols Live! Tour. I had high expectations for this event—I have always believed that Season 8 was the highlight and best season of American Idol. But, putting that aside, I got in a car for 8 hours the day before and drove to Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Before the Show:
My aunt, cousin, and I arrived at the GIANT Center around 12:45 in hope of meeting the contestants before hand. We met up with my friend Molly, whom I had talked to over fansites for Tim Urban and instantly connected with during the season, and walked down to the buses. We weren’t waiting there for more than a half hour when three more buses drove down the path into the venue. The twenty-some people who were there jumped up on their feet, screaming the names of every one of the Top 10 Idols. The first out of the bus was Crystal Bowersox, who headed our way only to find the entrance to the venue on the other side. She smiled at us but walked away to head inside. Katie Stevens did the same, yelling a “what’s up!?” at the crowd and heading to the entrance.
The next out, however, was my personal favorite: Tim Urban. He walked out of the bus and waved to everyone, but he, too, started to walk away. But this was our Idol in front of us, and we weren’t ready to let him leave before we met him. My aunt began to scream Tim’s name and we held up our posters that read “Triple Threat ♥’s Tim” (Triple Threat is a fan group that Molly, our friend Rachel, and I created—it’s been us three since Day 1 of Tim’s Idol journey). Tim spun around, hearing his name, saw our posters, and ran over to the group. He looked up at us and said “Hi!” like he knew us from years ago. I was almost speechless when I realized that Tim had recognized us. That is a feeling I will never be able to describe, but I will also never forget it. Tim signed for the group of fans that had gathered around him, then moved down the barricade to where Molly and I were standing. We instantly struck up a conversation, and I seriously felt like we were just old friends talking. We talked about everything from the t-shirts we had made to how excited we were that Tim was there. We also called our friend Rachel and had her talk to Tim for a bit.
While Tim was outside, Aaron Kelly also made his way over. When he reached us, I gave him the card I had made with Selena Gomez on it. (If you don’t know already, Aaron is in LOVE with Selena, haha.) Aaron was very excited and hugged me then took a picture with us. While Aaron and Tim were talking to some of the other fans, Molly and I were obsessing over how small and adorable Aaron was. We kept saying “Oh my gosh!! He’s so cute!” and at one point, Tim heard us. He proceeded to mock us, yelling over to Aaron, “AARON!! You’re soooo cute!!” It was all good fun, though:) When they were getting ready to leave, we told Tim we’d see him later and he had a huge smile on his face. A little while after they left, Casey James came out. He didn’t come over for a while, but when Tyler Grady from the Top 24 arrived, Casey walked over to talk to him. Security then told us that no one else would be coming out, so Molly and I headed over to Chocolate World (a ride where you watch how Hershey’s makes chocolate).
When we sat down at our seats in Row 21, I was ready for this to be an amazing concert. However, I had no idea what to expect. I was instantly blown away. When Didi Benami walked out on stage, her voice filled up the entire venue with a rich sound. She brought out the energy in the crowd that night, getting everyone pumped up. With “Terrified,” Didi reminded me of the nights I sat in my basement, watching the Idol hopefuls during Hollywood Week. Two songs into the show, I was already speechless and excited for the next nine performers.
Andrew Garcia and Katie Stevens did not let anyone down, either. They both chose very crowd-pleasing songs, and I was on my feet for most of their performances. During Andrew’s set, we actually got to move up to Row 14, which was completely empty. I felt like I was so close I could touch them. It was absolutely unbelievable being right up front when the Idols were singing.
When Tim Urban came on stage, I went absolutely crazing. I was standing the entire time, holding our posters for part of it and singing along with every word. I hadn’t watched any tour videos prior to my show, so when Tim changed up the song “Viva La Vida” I was amazed. Every performance that I had watched on Idol instantly flooded back through my mind, reminding me why I fell in love with Tim and his voice in the first place.
After Tim’s set, Siobhan didn’t disappoint. Her upbeat and crazy songs had most of the crowd jumping up and down and getting excited for who would be the real star of this show: Aaron Kelly. With one glimpse of his face on his introduction video, the crowd went WILD for Aaron. Hundreds of family members, friends, and fans from Aaron’s hometown, Sonestown, were cheering and sporting their “Team Aaron” t-shirts. Posters were suddenly flying up all over the venue, the people holding them from age 5 to age 75. Literally, it seemed like everyone there knew Aaron. The arena boomed with his strong voice, showing Pennsylvania how far he had come since his audition with “The Climb.” If the audience hadn’t remembered that moment already, everyone sure was reminded of it when the six who had already performed took on the Miley Cyrus song. It was the perfect way to end the first half of the show, and each of the contestants made their part of the song perfect.
After intermission, Big Mike serenaded the audience with “Ready for Love” and his duet with Casey James. Casey rocked out on the guitar in each of his songs and had his diehard fans almost in tears with his great performances. For me, the set was a little long, but that may have been since I was anticipating the great Crystal Bowersox. Crystal completely surprised me with her command of the stage and had me singing along with “Come to my Window.” She even took out her video camera to film the audience singing along.
When Lee DeWyze walked out, the audience went insane, though. Almost as much as the hometown fans had done for Aaron. With his new version of “Beautiful Day,” Lee immediately drew the audience’s attention to him. He connected with the crowd, and, before we knew it, the Top 10 were out again singing a beautiful mash-up of “It’s My Life” and “My Life Would Suck Without You.” When the show was over, I stood there trying to process everything. Each performer had shown me their unique style, which I had never seen during the season. I was amazed.
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After the Show:
Afterwards, we met up with Molly again and headed up for the afterparty. When we talked to security, we found out that 280 people were scheduled to go—and about 270 of them were Aaron’s family and friends. Before we even walked into the room, we knew that it would be an insane finish to the night. Molly and I headed inside, looking around for Tim. We had brought a 90-page scrapbook from all of the fans and many, many tour gifts. We’d decorated a huge canvas bag (felt like it weighed 25 pounds!) with the fan names, and were ready to get it off our shoulders and give it to Tim (literally!).
While standing in line, we watched Tim meet the other fans, smiling. Molly and I were very excited and a little nervous at this point. At one point, Tim looked up from the fan he was with and recognized us in line. He smiled and waved at us, and the people behind us were whispering “Do they know him!?!?” It was very funny and just made us more excited. When we reached Tim, we put the bag down on the table in front of him and he jumped in the air, yelling “Heck yes!” We showed him the bear we had bought him, and pointed at the t-shirt saying, “We knew you’d say that!” (We had written “Heck Yes, Triple Threat” on the bear.) Tim looked through the bag, excited about all of the gifts, and told us that he would actually take the time to read every one of the pages of the book. It meant a lot to both me and Molly, and we were so glad to finally have given it to Tim after three months of hard work. Tim made fun of me from an inside joke we’d had earlier in the season with Aaron, and then we told Tim we would be back so he shouldn’t leave. He told us he wouldn’t, and we went over to meet Andrew and Katie. They were both EXTREMELY nice, and we talked to them for a few minutes.
Then we went back over to Tim. We wanted to be the last in the line so that we could talk to Tim for longer, so we let everyone come in front of us each time a new fan came over. Eventually, it was just us in the line so we got to talk to Tim for a while. He told us stories about meeting other fans, how he’s been asked to sign shoulders and foreheads, and we talked about the loooong drive from Boston to Hershey. He seemed really glad to see us, as we were to see him. The cool thing about Tim is that he actually cares about what people are saying and shows that he’s listening. He makes eye contact with you and responds with his own answer, not just the typical “Thank you” or “Nice to meet you.”
We left Tim again to talk to Big Mike, who was just as sweet in person as he was on TV. I gave him some cards from other fans and he was pretty excited that he was getting some sort of gift, I guess you could call it? We laughed about his Late Night Sandwich videos and took pictures with him. When we went back to Tim, however, he was gone. Of course, Molly and I had completely forgotten to get a hug from Tim and it hadn’t crossed my mind to ask for an autograph (I was a LITTLE starstruck =P). We went outside and saw the barricades, then proceeded to sprint around the entire GIANT Center to see if Tim was still there. Unfortunately, he was just getting into the bus when we arrived.
Overall, though, it was an amazing night. I was pleasantly surprised with the concert, especially with Didi and Crystal, and got to meet my two favorites: Aaron and Tim. I’ve also gotten to meet other fans, and amazing ones at that, who I know will be some of my very best friends forever. Although I didn’t meet the entire top 10, didn’t have front row seats, and wasn’t noticed during the concert, I still had the time of my life. This day proved to me that these people will always be there for their fans until the end. And that’s a pretty good deal, right? Getting to watch someone achieve their dreams, meet tons of new friends, share amazing experiences, and receive love and support back from the ones that it’s all about? I think that’s something we can all relate to.
via Meg | @SarverAngels on Twitter. Please respect copyright on all photos. Do not republish without expressed consent from the author | © All Rights Reserved.