Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Keith Extravaganza: Part I

As I'm sure all of you know by now, my Keith Urban Extravaganza began last week when Vicky and I traveled all the way to Hershey, PA to see Keith. After all, what could be better than Keith and Chocolate??? I dare say nothing :) After going to Chocolate World, getting some awesome pedicures, and eating at Panera not once, but twice, we were ready for the show. Thursday morning we went to the box office at Giant Stadium to pick up our tickets. The cool part about this tour is that Keith released Christmas Presale tickets that I bought, which meant I knew our seats were on the floor, but had NO IDEA where. When we picked up the tickets Thursday morning Vicky opened them up to find out we were 4th row!!!!!!! I almost died! This was BY FAR the closest I had ever "started" being seated at a KU concert and I was ecstatic. For the 7:30 concert we arrived around 5:30 because I had won 2 meet and greet passes with Jake Owen. We lined up, got a cool Jake Owen passes, and went back stage into Giant Stadium to see the awaiting cutie...and BOYYYY was he a CUTIE! When it was our turn to meet him he was SUPER nice, particularly because I was so giddy :) I went in for the hand shake and he went in for the hug: BONUS! We talked a bit about how I was following Keith around for 7 concerts in a row, and after taking a picture with me and signing my CD case, he asked my name. I was putting away my CD case when he's like...WAIT A MINUTE...he asked for it back to personalize it with my name on the top, which I thought was SUPER nice. Needless to say, I wouldn't mind being Mrs. Owen one day :)
Vicky and I hung around in Giant Stadium until they started letting people in the doors for the concert. We had a really nice man usher us to our seats and every single step we took I was getting MORE and MORE excited. Needless to say, our 4th row tickets were actually FIRST row tickets because the first 3 rows are angled just on the sides and the 4th row is the first full row in the stadium..I WAS FREAKING OUT!!! The guys working the seating arrangements thought I was hysterical as I was jumping up and down like a giddy little school girl.
As the clock his 7:30, Jake hit the stage and boy wasn't he amazing. I figured I would love him because of how adorable he was, but I NEVER expected the pipes he had on him. He had terrific stage presence and definitely knew how to make a girl feel like she was the only one in the room. It was absolutely amazing. '
After Jake it was KEITH TIME!!! Per usual I was freaking out before the concert. As the clocked neared 8:45 Vicky found ourselves literally with the BEST seats in the house. This year Keith has a semicircle stage that slants down toward the crowd with a small catwalk in the center. I was literally the first person in the center of the catwalk - HELLO HEAVEN! While awaiting Keith to take the stage I was talking to the girl next to me who seemed to be as big of a KU fan for me. Vicky noticed she was wearing a KU BSE (Backstage Experience) badge and we asked how she got it. She filled us in how AT&T stores were giving away a few BSE passes in the mornings before the concerts and advised us to look online and try to get one in the morning for Boston. I didn't realize until AFTER the concert that this girl I was next to was TAYLOR who was one of five people chosen for Keith's Ultimate Fan that aired on CMT...OMG! When Keith hit the stage it was nothing less than amazing. He sounded fantastic, the roller coaster theme of the set looked amazing, and the boys in the band were awesome.
My favorite part of the concert that night was when Keith played "Kiss a Girl" he got 3 people out of the audience to come on stage with him. One of the people chosen was a 15 year old boy that I was sitting right next to originally, and he absolutely KILLED IT! He won the contest out of the 3 and got to sing the rest of the song with Keith...it was utterly amazing. I know that I would NEVER want to get up on stage with all of that pressure..but I would HAVE to in order to get that close to Keith again!

After Hershey we went back to the hotel and planned on getting up SUPER early to head to Boston in the morning to try to win a BSE at the Braintree Mall. We figured Hershey was about 6 hours from Boston and we figured we would probably hit some heavy duty traffic on the way. We woke up at 5:30 to get a move on and thankfully avoided NYC on the GPS to head to Boston. Luckily we literally hit NO traffic until we got into Boston, which wasn't too bad anyways. We got to the Braintree Mall and were literally sprinting to the AT&T store. We heard that they would be giving out tickets, which we didn't need, and only ONE pair of BSE passes...I would literally do ANYTHING to get them. When we got to the store no one had any idea about the contest, but obviously we were going to wait there and see. After a few hours an unmarked man walked in and Vicky and I just KNEW he was the guy. He walked out back and asked to talk to a manager and I started FREAKING OUT. At the time Vicky and I were the ONLY ones there, so I thought our chances were pretty awesome. The guy came over and introduced himself and asked where we had come from. We said HERSHEY, and he goes..ohhhh, did you go to the concert last night? Happily we said YES and he asked if we got to meet him. We said no sadly, and all he said was, "awww...that sucks." His remark gave me hope that we were going to win! A few minutes later other people started trickling in for the contest. One lady had come all the way from Canada and was following Keith around and the next day was her birthday (hence my chances diminished). Another couple was there from Oklahoma for their 5th wedding anniversary...I started to get a pit in my stomach. Around 1:45 he asked us all to come to the back of the store. Unfortunately, at the front of the store Vicky and I were FIRST in line and at the back we were last in line...I thought I was going to die. He started to give out tickets in the front and when he finally got to us he goes, I have SPECIAL tickets for you guys. I started jumping up and down and literally crying. He gave us a special letter that was for the BSE....so Vicky and I were literally the ONLY two that one the BSE's....AHHHHH!!! Be sure to keep watching YouTube because I'm sure some of the employees there found the video of me freaking out on their security cameras and posted it...AHH..WE WON WE WON WE WON! At this point I've OBVIOUSLY determined that Vicky is my good luck charm and practically insisted that she got to every concert with me. After calling nearly everyone I know to tell them the good news, we went to The Cheesecake Factory to enjoy some lunch and dessert, and headed into the city! Fortunately when we won the BSE we also got 2 really close loge tickets which we were able to give to my other cousin, Samantha, and her boyfriend who originally had nosebleed seats - a win win for all!
We lined up for the KU BSE just outside of the box office and I was CLEARLY the most excited person there. I was jumping up and down and literally just dying with excitement. When we started being ushered in I started thinking about what I was going to say to him..I couldn't have a repeat of Vermont where all I could say was "I love you." We went into this room where there was a tiny stage with two comfy chairs on it in the front and a million tiny chairs on the floor. Obviously Vicky and I went right to the front so we'd have the best seats in the house. They had food to eat, but who on earth could eat at a time like this?!?! After watching some KU behind the scenes videos were were asked to line up for the meet and greet..I thought I was going to pass out! All the people in his crew were all so nice and all so happy for me <3 When we got closer to the curtain that he was behind I saw a quick glimpse of him and started jumping all over again. Fortunately, Keith's bodyguard, Randy, was there to calm me down. He said "tears are ok, but if you're jumping up and down you might not remember everything, and I KNOW you don't want that to happen." He helped me breathe and got me ready to meet the man of my dreams! When we walked in (a group of 6) we all got to hug Keith and tell him our names. He goes to me, "what's that say on your shirt?" I said, "KEITHAHOLIC" and he goes, "Wow, there are definitely worse things." I felt so giddy that he picked ME to talk to when we were in there. When we took the picture I wasn't able to be the one right beside him because it just didn't work out that way, but he did extend his arm the whole way so he could grab on to my back for the picture. On the way out everyone else just left and I got ANOTHER hug from him - OMG! I smelled like KEEEIIITTTHHH! I know it sounds lame but he is literally the most delicious smelling guy in the whole entire world. Vicky and I just kept on smelling my shoulder because I smelled SO much like him for over an hour. We filtered back into the room and in no time Keith came out on the stage and we were literally inches from him. He got interviewed by a radio person and then they opened the floor for questions. I KNEW I couldn't NOT ask a question..I would have hated myself for life. I was the 2nd person chosen to ask a question and I just said how much he's changed my life and asked what artist has had the most impact on him. The best part about his answer was that he looked at me the ENTIRE time when he answered it. I was crying and you could tell he was REALLY touched...it was simply amazing.

After the meet and greet we booked it onto the floor for Jake were we found ourselves with literally the same seats as the night before. What was awesome about Jake's performance is that he definitely recognized us from the night before and sang right to us a lot. He also threw a pick right at me and I caught it midair - AWESOME! Toward the end of Jake's performance a security guard came over and had us move to 2 rows behind. Apparently the 1st guy had the seating mixed up...I was PISSED, but I had a plan for Keith!
After Jake, Vicky and I were just walking around and I had a plan for when the lights went out we would go and show our tickets to the guy that originally sat us in order to get back to the front. We walked around and around and around and needless to say, my plan worked PERFECTLY! AGAIN WE WERE PERFECTLY FRONT ROW CENTER - holla! Keith was yet again utterly amazing. The feeling of him performing at the Garden on a Friday night was unbelievable. This was by far the best I had ever seen Keith and Jake..and I was just happy as a clam. I got a Keith pick and the coolest thing that night I got was an actual piece of his guitar! As he was playing we all saw something fall. No one around me knew it was the knob to his guitar except for me. I had Vicky search around for it and we actually got it - WOOHOO! Another awesome thing I got from this night and from the Hershey night was Keith's actual play list!!!! I'm a huge nerd when it comes to play lists and to get KEITH's for 2 nights in a row was truly a dream come true.

That night Vicky was very sad to have this be her last KU concert, particularly when I going for 2 more nights in a row. We went back to my brother's that night where we found KJ and Dad still up to hear about our awesome stories. Needless to say I was on my Keith high for a WHILE!
The next morning KJ, Mom, Dad and I left in the Minnie Winnie to head to Mohegan Sun where I would see Keith back to back nights. We did a little gambling and KJ and I won a LOT of money on a slot called "Larry the Lucky Lobster." Thanks again, Larry, for the awesome lunch. We got the tickets for the concert and I was a bit disappointed because we were 9th row in the center, which was WAY farther back than the first 2 nights. The good news is that we were literally one row away from the ministage that Keith plays 3 songs on in the middle of the concert, including my favorite song he does, "You'll Think of Me." Keith ROCKED IT that night. It was amazing how different the feeling in the stadium was once he went out into the crowd. KJ was utterly impressed. I was so glad that Mom, Dad, and KJ were able to go in order to see what I see in Keith. My favorite quote was when KJ (who's been to a LOT of concerts in his lifetime) said, "it should be called the Urban EXPERIENCE...because that's what it is...it's not just a concert, it's an experience." I literally could not explain it better myself.

The next day my friend, Alana, came down to do some gambling and go to the last of 4 concerts in a row with me. During the day I had won some money playing $5 blackjack, so it was literally the best day ever. For the concert we got in there kind of early to take our seats and get Alana ready for the concert of a lifetime. She KNEW how adorable Jake was and couldn't wait for him to serenade her. He was great that night, but the coolest part was after Jake and before Keith when we were just sitting there in our aisle seats. Keith's photographer walked by, who is a really cute bald guy with black thick rimmed glasses. He walked by and I told Alana who he was and all of a sudden I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was HIM! He goes, "hi, what's your name." I"m like, "Katie, what's your name?" He replied with "Brad" and asked if I had submitted a video for a Keith Contest. I was utterly SHOCKED that he a) recognized me out of a crowd and b) actually saw my video...it must have meant that I made it kind of far if someone as high up as him saw it!!! I was so impressed! I told him how I was following Keith this summer and he was just so happy to have met me.
Keith, yet again, killed it that night. My favorite part was that he played Raining on Sunday for the 1st time of this tour, which is one of my favorite songs he sings. Also, I got to touch him more than any other concert because he continuously went out into the crowd on our side. Every night before I got to touch him a couple times, but that night I literally touched him at least 10 times. One of the greatest parts was with his ministage on the side. I knew when he was going to come up on the stage by watching the tiny green dot on his mic pack. In one particularly instance I saw him headed toward the ministage when all the lights went out. I, naturally, went right the stage and when the lights turned on I was the ONLY one he was looking at and the ONLY one up at the stage. He smiled, said HI and gave me a HUGE high five before taking the first strum of his guitar...it was AWESOME. Another fantastic part of the concert was when the security guards were being dickheads and Randy came out front and literally tossed the guard to the side so the fans could GET CLOSER - simply amazing.

After the concert we were walking out and I noticed Brad (the photographer) running in between seats toward me. He goes, "Katie...can't I borrow you for a second." OF COURSE I said yes, and we went into one of the middle aisles. He explained how he wanted me to do a review of the concert that night. I was nervous and didn't really know what to do, but OBVIOUSLY said sure! I explained my favorite part of the concert in a nutshell and just said how proud I was to be a Keith fan. When I was done he seemed SO impressed. He was like, "That was PERFECT..it's like you rehearsed it!" I was so pumped to be a part of something for Keith's site and I can't wait to see where I show up in Keith world...despite the fact that I was all sweaty and teary-eyed from the concert. I look forward to meeting back up with Brad this coming week!

Needless to say these 4 days were literally the most fun 4 days of my entire life. I'm so thankful to have awesome friends and family willing to support my crazy KU addition and to go with me to truly "experience" Keith in concert. I feel so blessed to have Keith's music in my life and to continue to have my KU dreams come true. Next concerts are Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Newark, NJ, Philadelphia, PA, and Albany, NY...and DC on July 28th. I just may have to get tickets to the Buffalo and Toronto shows now!!!

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