It’s Gonna Be a Good Life

2011 is coming to an end, so I thought I would blog about the year that has come to pass.

For the first time in a number of years I can look back at the past year of my life and smile and I can think about the future and be hopeful for what is ahead.

I cannot think of anything notable that happened in the first six months of 2011, but the second half of the year has proven to drastically alter the life I was leading.

On July 6th, I wrote two blog posts, one of which was 27. I was on the precipice of turning another year older. I was reflecting on the state of my life in comparison to the life I’d imagined I’d be leading in my mid to late 20s. I was nearly 27 and my life was not really my own and was nothing as I had imagined. I was determined to make a change, though fearful that I would make this pledge and still not be able to hold true to it and make changes in my life to find some form of happiness.

My first step towards getting what I wanted was to get out there and make an effort. For several years past, due to circumstances I’d resigned to a life of solitude. I rarely left my house (sad I know), never met new people, rarely talked to friends who were living their lives across the province, country and globe. In short I didn’t get out much and I’d made myself a bit of a social outcast and I did not like that version of myself a whole lot.

For at least a year I’d been saying I’d start going to #gdldn and I’d always managed to come up with excuses of why not to, mostly I didn’t have a car or money to get there, which while true, I probably could have found a way around. So on June 6th, the date of my 27 blog I attended my first geek dinner and stretch my comfort zone and attempted to re-engage with the world around me and (relatively) local community. I decided to put real people to the tweeps I’d been following for months and in some cases years.

I have to say I’m really glad that I ventured out to #gdldn that first time, so glad that I have gone back every month since. I have met great people and started to (I would argue) form decent acquaintances and maybe even friendships. A lot of the people I have met inspire me, intimidate me and challenge me to really strive to be the person I want to be. At the same time while these people inspire, intimidate and challenge me, they also make me realize that we all face our own challenges and that no one’s life is perfect and it is okay to not have everything figured out all of the time. So to all of the #gdldn crowd, thank you for making me feel like a part of something good.

That may not be the turning point of the year, but I think it definitely played a part. The other turning point of the year also happened in July. I had been furiously applying for jobs, determined to find something before or shortly after my 27th birthday. There were probably about 6 jobs that I thought might be a good fit. After two strong (in my mind) interviews, I was offered the position of Social Media Specialist at the London Convention Centre and before the end of July I was in signing my contract ready to start my new job.

Starting August 15th, I was (and am) the Social Media Specialist at the London Convention Centre. I always said I wanted to find a job that felt right that I could say I love. I’d walked away from a couple of job opportunities because it just hadn’t felt right to me. I wanted a job that I loved, surrounded by good people, because for me that is when I do my best work and am challenged to be my best. After 4 months, I think it is safe to say I have found a job that I love, surrounded by a great team. I remember in previous jobs I’d hit that afternoon wall at about 2pm and be stuck watching the minutes slowly tick by, and that rarely ever happens in this job. I enjoy what I am doing and always have work to be done. I feel like the people I work with value my thoughts and the work that I do and they actually look to me for ideas and answers, which is a great feeling. I look forward to getting up every morning and going to work and that is really all I ever wanted in those three miserable years of job hunting. I wanted a job that I looked forward to going to every day and a job that interested and challenged me. A number of people at work have commented on the fact that I am always smiling or that I always seem to be smiling and I have to say it is easy to smile when you are truly happy in your life and doing something that you love.

I love what am doing at work, but I also love the people who I work with and I say that sincerely. I have made great friendships with a number of people and I would trade my staff for anything. It is easy to do good work when you are having fun and I think we are often having a lot of fun with each other and when we’re not, I think we’re quite good at supporting each other through hard days, or difficult times, which is really nice. I cannot thank my two girls enough for keeping me from being a sobbing mess in the days after I found out someone I’d known years ago had passed away far too young.

I have met a lot of great people this year. My geek crowd, I cannot even begin to name all of you who make me smile each an every month and all the tweets in between. My coworkers, who I would argue in a number of cases are more than just coworkers.

None of these new people though replace the old friends who hold permanent places in my heart, like my best friend. As I write this I’m thinking, was it only this summer he got engaged? I think so! Man seems so long ago. This was great news and I was so happy for him and for his fiancée. Typically I dread weddings (sorry Matt), but the way life has been going, I’m actually kind of looking forward to a wedding (not my own … and oh ya I’m assuming I’m invited!).

The more I write this, the more I realize that it is not going to flow or necessarily make any sense. So I’m getting involved more, attending #gdldn, joined Emerging Leaders (finally only been cyberstalking for three years) and I have found an amazing job with fantastic people!

So what could be better?

Oh ya! Music! First off, I love the John Labatt Centre and Chris Campbell you rock!

Looking back at this year in music I have had the opportunity to attend 7 concerts.

First concert was Soundgarden. JLC gave away a bunch of tickets on Social Media Day and it was fantastic. Took my oldest friend along with me for the ride.

Shortly after that I won tickets for Owl City, but unfortunately could not make it to Toronto Mid-week to attend.

After that I wont tickets to see U2 Live at Rogers Centre on MY BIRTHDAY! Seeing U2 Live was a bucket list item for both me and my sister, so of course I now have the title of best sister ever because I took my big sister with me to see U2 live on my 27th birthday! Can I just say wow?! It was phenomenal. I took a bunch of videos, I believe I posted them on my (under utilized) Google+ account. It was a PHENOMENAL concert.

After that I was selected as a #JLCreviewer for Josh Groban. Unfortunately I came down with a horrible flu bug or something of a similar nature and was unable to attend. Hoping I get another opportunity to be a #JLCreviewer. I was campaigning to be a reviewer for Simple Plan on Feb 20th, but keep reading and you’ll see why I may not need to be rewarded that opportunity and those tickets.

Right after that I found out I’d won front row tickets for the Moody Blues at the JLC. Not necessarily my cup of tea, but as my Dad was/is a huge fan and it was right before his birthday, they made a fantastic present. The concert was in September and while my Mom wasn’t thrilled being front Row my Dad had an Amazing night! So thank you Live Nation Ontario who made that happen!

After winning those tickets and before that concert, the JLC made another dream come true and myself with two friends and my sister with two of her friends … two single gals and four Mom’s went to see NKOTBSB and O.M.G. that was a show to never forget, I mean, I know it is apples and oranges, but the entertainment value of that show rivalled the U2 show that  was just out of this world. I would hazard to say that Donny Wahlberg’s body help to elevate that show to that level. It was music of my childhood and youth and I shared it with my sister and one of my oldest friends and four others. I don’t think I’ve ever screamed so much, though I’m pretty sure that will change in the coming months.

And now here is the BIGGEST Music news for 2011.

That’s right, I entered a contest to see Marianas Trench live on a lark. Figured what did I have to lose and heck if I won that would be pretty freakin amazing. I didn’t think I stood the snowballest of chances. In fact, I’d forgotten that I’d entered the contest and that there was even a contest. Forgotten until my phone started vibrating the night of Dec 21st and it was a message from a rep at 604 records saying I’d won two tickets to see Marianas Trench stage side and hang out with the guys! O.M.G.! Ya right! I’ve watched the above video about 100 times just to make sure that I didn’t dream it. Now I haven’t talked to the rep yet, but I’m pretty sure I will be at the Simple Plan concert on Feb 20th, which is featuring Marianas Trench and I will be stage side for the show hanging out with the guys of Marianas Trench, which will be unreal and I sincerely hope I can keep my crush on Mike Ayley under control. As I was saying before I may not need the #JLCreviewer opportunity for this concert, but please keep my name in the running until I hear for sure that that is the show I will be attending. Oh and I will still be reviewing that concert if I am there, likely from stage side and hopefully they will let me take pictures!

So lets see, social life, heading in the right direction, job, is excellent, my 2011 concert going experiences have rocked and I have Hedley and Matt Nathanson (ok Kelly Clarkson, but he is opening for her) already set in 2012. And maybe (que long ramble of a run on blog sentence), possibly, there may be a guy in my future, maybe, who knows, there is a possibility of one, we will see, that is all I will say.

2011 has gone my way and 27 has certainly started to transform my life into everything I expected it to be by my late 20s. I still have 7 months left of 27 and I am determined to make the most of them. 27 is going to be my year, the started to everything I ever wanted!

So here’s to all that 2011 gave me and here is to everything 2012 has in store, I cannot wait to see it all unfold!

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I want to be a #JLCReviewer on Feb 20th for Simple Plan (and guests)

1st – I apologize for the lack of blogging as of late, the new job has been keeping me slightly busy and my personal blogging has taken a back seat.

2nd – I know that this is a wee bit early, but I am passionate about being the #JLCreviewer for the Simple Plan concert on Feb 20th, so I thought I would start now. Well actually I started with a tweet last week.

2012 marks the 10th anniversary of Simple Plan and I’ve been a fan for all 12 years.

I remember when “I’m Just a Kid” came out. I fell in love with their sound and their lyrics. I am a HUGE fan of Canadian music, so when I find a Canadian band I love, I cling to them. The majority of the concerts that I have been to have had Canadian Acts headlining or, in the case of Simple Plan in the early years, opening.

Simple Plans’ first album “No Pads, No Helmets … Just Balls” live in my my CD player (yes in 2002 we used CD players and discman’s) and was on constant repeat. Simple Plans’ albums for me are albums that I love every track. I of course was a huge fan of the released tracks “I’m Just a Kid”, “Addicted”, “I’d Do Anything” and of course “Perfect”.

In the summer of 2003, less than a year after the JLC opened, the JLC hosted Labatt’s hometown bash. My sister bought me two tickets for my birthday and I went to the concert with my best friend from high school, along with my sister and her now husband who had also got a pair of tickets. Simple Plan was an opening act for this show. They were still fairly new on the scene and a lot of the crowd was at the show to see Nickleback and Korn. I was up singing along to every single song. My sister, through a texting contest, won wrist bands to go into a VIP backstage area. As I was a HUGE fan of all of the acts at the Hometown bash and the tickets were a birthday present, my sister gave me and my best friend the wrist bands to go backstage. While backstage my best friend and I met Pierre and Chuck, who were gracious enough to talk to us, sign my VIP badge and my best friend’s bra. They were the only members of the bands that we were lucky enough to meet back stage and that memory has stuck with me. I still have the VIP badge with their autographs.

At the end of the end of the show, I started a tradition that I tend to follow when I attend a concert. I buy a piece of memorabilia. From this show I bought a Simple Plan Hat (which I may post a picture of in a later blog, or twitter). That night after the concert my best friend and I went out to a bar with my sister and brother-in-law and we wore our Simple Plan hats proudly into Molly Blooms.

In second year university, I was lucky enough to see Simple Plan for a second time. A friend of mine from school had got a group of us tickets for the Kissmas Bash at the HSBC centre in Buffalo. Simple Plan only played a couple of songs, mostly holiday and a couple of hits, but I was a proud Canadian screaming my head off for the somewhat unknown Canadian act in the American Arena. I had many people looking at my oddly for knowing every word and screaming so loudly for an act that they did not really know.

In my third year at Brock, Simple Plan released “Still Not Getting Any” which became my go to album to get me through the hardest year of my life. In third year I was a Don (RA) in residence, but I was going through a difficult time personally. Shortly before I left for school my grandpa was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. I was incredibly close with my Grandpa, he was one of my biggest supporter. While he was a flawed man, he loved me more than almost anyone else. He would do just about anything for me and believe in me no matter what. On Oct 16th, 2004 my Grandpa lost his battle. Losing him broke my heart. My world fractured and it took time for me to put the pieces back together. “Welcome to My Life” the first release from “Still Not Getting Any” became one of my themes for that year. 10 Days after my Grandpa died Simple Plan released “Still Not Getting Any”. Knowing how much I loved Simple Plan, and how hard of a time I was going through, one of my co-workers picked up the latest album for me when they went to the mall the day of its release. I cannot tell you how many time that CD was played from begging to end that year. Anytime I needed a pick me, an energy boost, to not feel like I was alone, that CD got played.

Over the years the Simple Plan albums have not only been in my main music library, but they have had a playlist all to their own. Some days I just need the energy and the message of those songs to make me feel better and inspire me to attack the world head on.

On February 12 of 2008 Simple Plan released their self-titled album and you better believe it was quickly purchased. Another album from Canadian band that I loved, that I could listen to beginning to end on repeat. When I found out that Simple Plan was coming to the JLC in 2009, I immediately bought tickets. I think I may have even done it during class, using WiFi on my laptop, I could be wrong though. In August of 2009, my roommate from Second Year joined me at the concert. It was a phenomenal show, though I have started to feel a bit out-of-place. I have been a Simple Plan fan since 2002, when I was 18. In 2009 at 25, I found myself sitting in a row in front of 2, I would guess, 8 year olds and their mother. JLC staff kept asking me and my friend to sit down, which I can understand, but still it was kind of annoying. Throughout the show we were up, dancing, screaming and singing along (until we were told to sit). We were going through every song taking note of what hadn’t been played yet. So when it came to the ‘end’ of the performance, we knew there had to be more to come because certain key songs had not yet been played.

From this concert I came away with a T-shirt, that has now seen better days, as I wore it for the better part of a year non-stop and a wrist band, which I will more than likely wear to this concert, should I get to attend.

And now in 2011, they have released their latest album “Get Your Heart On!”. Again I have fallen in love with their album, at first I wasn’t entirely sold based off of the singles, but once I had the album downloaded (the second my pre-order was available) I feel in love with the album. Every time there is a new album, I dream of seeing them live. On the drive in to work one day, I heard they were coming to London. I think I may have heard the radio station give away a pair of tickets and I was sad that I was not the lucky recipient. Anyways …

Now it is 2011 and it will be 2012 when they return to the JLC and I would give anything to be there. I started a new job recently and due to how busy I was (and still am) at work, I missed the opening of ticket sales and by the time I remember tickets were on sale the best I could get was Row S 😦 which is disappointing. I haven’t purchased tickets yet, because I keep hoping I will get lucky and find something better than Row S in the first level.

I am a huge fan of Simple Plan, but not just them! I am also a HUGE Marianas Trench fan! How could I not be? I was raised around Barber Shoppers (just wait this will make sense) so I have a healthy appreciation for four-part harmony, how often will you find a pop-rock-punk act that has the ability to pull off impeccable four-part harmony? I think I missed “Shake Tramp” initially but I was brought it by “Say Anything” and “Decided to Break it”. I remember I taped both songs off the radio (I know so old school, I was a dork) and the videos through the VCR. I absolutely LOVED those songs and the sound of Marianas Trench. Josh Ramsay has an incredibly unique voice. They were a little Canadian band, so I was totally on board to support them. I feared though that they hadn’t survived their debut. There was a long hiatus between “Fix Me” (their debut) and “Master Piece Theatre” (Sophomore album), I think it was about four years, but it was well worth the wait. The entirely album is impeccable. This is still an album that I will play from beginning to end on repeat. I absolutely love it.

When Marianas Trench was announced as an act by Western Fair in 2010, I purchased tickets. Again, I felt slightly out-of-place at 26 surrounded by a bunch of teenagers, but I did not care. I was a fan in my early 20s when they started out and while I may be the elderly end of their fan base now, I’m still ok with it. I sang along to every song, yelled, screamed and fantasized about Mike Ayley, who was smokin’ hot that night (Ok yes, dorky Canadian Celebrity Crush, but hey he’s close to my age, so it is all good).

It was an amazing show! It tried to rain, but it gave up, it was crowded at times and people were a bit pushy, but hearing them perform live was unbelievable. That album was so intricate I was curious how they would pull it off in a live show and they did. It was amazing. They exemplify why I love Canadian music. American acts tend to have the money to manipulate their sound. American acts can be talentless schmucks, but Canadian acts, if they want to succeed and have a shot at an international career, they have to have the supreme talent like the guys of Marianas Trench do. Even my Dad can appreciate these guys. Punk-Pop-Rock might not be his thing, but he appreciates the four-part harmony these four guys can pull off impressively well.

At this end of this concert, I waited in a long crowded line, in front of the Western Fair  ‘sales shack’ (this is something that desperately needs to be improved) and bought a t-shirt (it is in pretty good condition, because well, it is fairly low-cut when I put it on, so not good to wear out in public).

I believe the opening act of this show may have been These Kids Wear Crowns, who are also opening the Simple Plan show, so I’ve seen and know fairly well 3 out of four of the acts performing and I will learn about All Time Low before the show comes.

I have been following two out of four of these acts since their debut. Their music has and continues to play prominently in my playlists.

I would be ecstatic to be a #JLCreviewer for this concert. I think I would make a strong reviewer because I have seen these guys perform before and in the case of Simple Plan I have seen them at various points across their 10 year career and can speak to the evolution of their music and identity.

I will continue to write about this concert and promote my name as a candidate to be a #JLCreviewer for this show because it means a lot to me. Hopefully some of you who know me and know how much I play this music will support my quest to be a reviewer!

Thanks for reading!

NKOTBSB – One Night, One Stage, Once in a Life Time – A review #ldnont @jlc

For a shorter version of this review please check out NKOTBSB – A review Cliffnotes Version 

I’m not even sure where to begin with this review. First off thanks to the JLC for hosting the final show of the NKOTBSB summer tour. Second thank you for allowing me, a life long friend and 4 Moms to take in one of the greatest concert experiences possible. It was a great night for many reason, which I will touch on throughout this blog.

I arrived at the JLC around 5:30, went to the box office and picked up my 6 tickets for the show. While waiting for the rest of our group of six and waiting to get into the venue, I became a drowned rat, thanks to the weather. That was okay though, that is what jackets and ponytail holders are for, to make you look less like a drowned rat. It didn’t matter, nothing was going to bring me down, I was going to see NKOTBSB!

Anyways, we headed into the venue about 7:00pm. I made a beeline for the merchandising booths because I have a tradition of buying some memorabilia every time that I go to a concert that I really love. This started with OLP when the JLC hosted them back in 2002. I cannot remember what I bought though, I think I got something, but I am not sure what, a CD? Anyways. I got in line and snuck my way up to the front of the mob. While in the Mob I noticed T-shirts for NEVEREST and Matthew Morrison! WHOA if there were t-shirts for those two, odds were they were the opening acts, which was news to me! I was psyched at the prospect of catching some NEVEREST and seeing me some Mr. Shue! At about 7:15 I finally got to the front of the mob, at which time the sounds of NEVEREST came through the venue. It was 7:15, what the heck the concert as far as I knew started at 7:30. So I quickly made my purchase, my friend Courtney and I, separated from the rest of our group, grabbed some food and then headed to our seats. We managed to catch the last two songs of NEVEREST, one of which I believe was “About Us” I’m not sure what the other one was because, I’m not overly familiar with all of their music. I like it, but haven’t made a point to purchase their album yet.

Neverest is a Pop-Rock Band out of Toronto Ontario. I like their sound, enjoy their songs, but it is nothing I have gotten really into. They are a band for the next generation. I find their music enjoyable, but I probably wouldn’t go to a show they were headlining because odds are I would be surrounded by teenyboppers and children. 

NEVEREST finished their set, thanking the crowd (as polite Canadians do, well actually most musicians regardless of where they are from do) and left the stage. I was a bit disappointed I didn’t get to see their entire act because I do like their sound and I love supporting Canadian talent, but oh well, things happen.

After NEVEREST, just as I suspected, came Matthew Morrison! There was a cute video clip of him and Jane Lynch that was entertaining (I love that woman) and then Matthew Morrison, decked out in a Tux took to the stage and started belting out “Sway” – Buble’s version. He was charismatic and talented just as he is in every television appearance I’ve ever seen. And I’m not sure there was a single person in there not enjoying having Mr. Shue, or rather Matthew Morrison up close and personal, though no sign of his abs anywhere, which was highly disappointing. Matthew Morrison sang several song after “Sway” including the mashup of “Young Teacher” and “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” as seen on Glee. Morrison then pulled out his ukulele to perform some of his original material like his first single “Summer Rain”. He continued on with “Gold Digger” (as seen on Glee), during which one of his backup singers got in a good ass grab. He then did a rendition of “Mrs. Robinson”, followed by an original song title “My Name”, a song that speaks to the duality he experiences with Mr. Shue and Matthew Morrison. Morrison then closed with a tribute to the idols he has looked up to, the triple threats, singers/dancers/actors. His three idols growing up were Gene Kelly, Patrick Swayze and Michael Jackson. In tribute to them he sang his song “Don’t Stop Dancing” and he busted out some moves representing each of the three men he admired and some representing himself, the b-boy moves.

During his time on stage Morrison took a poll of the crowd asking, “How many of you are here to see New Kids on the Block?”  A roar came from the crowd. He then asked, “How many of you are here to see the Backstreet Boys?” again a huge roar erupted from the crowd. Then he got a bit self-indulgent and asked “How many of you are here to see Matthew Morrison” and again a huge roar came from the crowd. He gave this shrug as if to say, good, I’m glad, I guess I’ll play you some more songs then and he continued on with his performance.

After Matthew was done it was time for NKOTBSB to take the stage. This was the moment we were all collectively waiting for. Women filled the JLC, with a sprinkling of men throughout, most I think were there hoping that by going to the concert with their female partner they would end up getting lucky. I digress, getting ready to see NKOTBSB was like a return to my youth. I kind of missed the NKOTB era, only really catching the tail the end of it. They were big in 1989 I think it was, so I was 5 and really couldn’t care less about boy bands at that point, but I knew the songs and knew the music, but it wasn’t a part of me the way the BSB catalogue was. I was from the era of BSB, NSYNC and Hanson, those are the boy bands of my life. But going to this concert took me back to my teen years. Looking back now, the music probably isn’t going to go down as ‘classics’ or anything, but it was the music that in a way defined a large chunk of my youth. I remember at the time thinking the videos and performances were amazing. Looking at the BSB’s old videos and clips, I realize that wow, they were really not natural dancers, they were highly choreographed dancers. Their music is probably akin to what Justin Bieber is putting out now a days, but I love it, and hate Bieber, it’s funny what a couple of decades can do to your musical tastes. Still to this day though, I love BSB, and despise anything Bieber.

As the crowd was waiting for NKOTBSB to take the stage the lights dimmed and a video display took screen, introducing each one of the nine guys who form NKOTBSB. I don’t remember what order they were shown in, but I think it went something like Jonathan, Howie, Joey, Brian, Jordan, Nick, Danny, AJ and Donnie, I know Donnie was last because I was waiting and waiting to see his face.

Side note: As a child watching New Kids on the Block, none of them really did anything for me. I never really had a crush on any of them, least of all Donnie. I think it was a mullet and rat-tail that took him off my radar. It is funny though, as an adult after seeing him in movies, on the television and seeing clips of his NKOTBSB performances, I have to say, a lot has changed and I am not alone in this thinking. I am a huge Donnie Wahlberg fan now, and I have a massive crush. Now ladies, tell me I’m wrong, but that is a man, I mean a M-A-N!  Anyways I’ll have more to say about Donnie through this, as I am smitten.

One of my sister’s best friends, Monica,  made an astute comment after the show. As kids we were all about the faces, we like the cute guys, we liked the Nick’s, Brian’s, Jordan’s and Joey’s of the boys bands. As adults though we have grown to appreciate the full package, well maybe more the bodies (as Monica suggested), but we still appreciate the faces too and that is why as grown women, we now swoon at the sight of Donnie Wahlberg. 

The video display ended and the 9 boys – now men rose from a platform on the stage . Everything was dark, but the group was back-lit and the venue exploded into a choir of screams as they made out the silhouettes of the 9 grown up men. The music started and the guys took to the stage for a “Viva La Vida” mash-up. It was “Viva La Vida” mashed up with the New Kids on the Block modern hit “Single” and the Backstreet Boys single “The One”. It was amazing how the songs blended together. I love the instrumentals of “Viva La Vida”, and they surprisingly mashed-up well with both “Single” and “The One”. It was a great opening number that offered something to both sets of fans at the concert, while maybe also giving the men in the crowd a bit of hope that this wasn’t going to be so bad. It gave both NKOTB and BSB fans a glimpse of what they’d come to see and ultimately a reason to scream!

The stage set up was amazing. There was a stage area at the far end of the arena where the band was set up (away from our seats, which while they were in the 300s, away from the stage, were still freaking awesome seats, is there a bad seat in the JLC?) And from the stage area came a catwalk that went to a circular platform near the other end of the arena. Both the stage areas had hydraulic platforms that raised the boys, I mean MEN high above the fans. For the opening number NKOTB took one platform and BSB took the other, I believe BSB was on the stage and NKOTB was on the platform at the end of the catwalk. It was truly an amazing opening number and I think most of the women were in hysterics by the time it ended. I think Brian was a little late coming to the platform, so he had to do a running leap on to it, talk about athleticism of these guys!

From there, BSB left the stage (PS they had really cool ways to get on and off the stage) and NKOTB went into one of their more recent singles “Summertime” – It was a great way to get all parts of the crowd on board before going into the ‘retro’ material that made them the success they are. It was also a reminder that they are not the boys they were, they’ve grown up and become (sexual and sexy) men. After spending Saturday watching old videos it was amazing to see the grown up version relatively up close and personal. Cute little Joey was all grown up, which I knew from Dancing With the Stars, but still it was like seeing the final product. It was also really nice to see all of them with nice hair cuts, because way back when there were some bad decisions on what looked good. NKOTB were in true form, they were singing flawlessly while having silky smooth moves, accentuated with some powerful moves as well.

I think pretty much from the moment that NKOTB stepped on stage most of the women in the venue had the same thing on their mind, Donnie Wahlberg shirtless; the Wahlberg brothers are well-known for their impressive physique, but all in good time.

NKOTB finished Summertime and it sounded like BSB were going to go into “Everybody” which is what everyone figured they’d start with because of the line Backstreet’s back alright but they transitioned into “The Call”, it was a psych out.  It was a great performance, the guys were moving around the stage and the cat walk and putting some moves on display. Honestly BSB have improved their dancing over the years, while it still felt choreographed, they actually appeared to have some swag. The young Backstreet Boys had grown into Backstreet Men and their bodies had matured into the often over sexual moves that often felt corny when they were younger. They finally were sexy and not just trying to be sexy.

The two groups made a great decision with the set list for the show. The two groups alternated back and forth with hits from their past albums. I think this was  great idea because honestly there were (at least) two generations of fans. There were the NKOTB fans, like my sister and her two friends who came to the show with us. They grew up in the NKOTB era, while they knew the BSB songs because they got heavy rotation on the radio, NKOTB was much more a part of their formative years than BSB was. BSB on the other hand was a big part of the growing up process for people my age and younger (my sister and co are 5 years older than me). There are even different groups of BSB fans. There are the ‘older’ fans, like myself, who remember the NKOTB era; we are the people who were there for the first BSB album and have followed them over the years, but maybe trailed off a bit with more recent releases. Then there are the ‘kiddies’, those who really have no understanding of NKOTB and who only vaguely remember BSB the early years or have only heard stories, and who are more fans of the recent albums, which includes the greatest hits. By alternating performances for the most part, NKOTBSB kept concert goers in their seat for fear of missing their act performing one of their hits. It also forced those who weren’t really exposed to one or the other of the groups to immerse themselves in the music and really get to know the other group. This was a great way to potentially expand their audience and garnish some more album purchases and downloads.

After each group had their opening number, NKOTB returned to the stage singing (I believe) “Dirty Dancing”, another one of their newer songs. As I mentioned before I have developed a huge crush on one Mr. Donnie Wahlberg, so my eyes were pretty much glued on his every move. One thing I couldn’t help but notice was his insane athleticism, I first noticed it during this song, but it was evident throughout the show, he was running, jumping, leaping, you name it. He really is quite the physical specimen. It was also during this song we really started to get to see Donnie’s personality. I have grown so used to him as a serious character in film and on television, it was a bit of a departure to see him with such a different personality, he was so playful. In both Rizzoli & Isles and Blue Bloods (as well as a number of films) Donnie has portrayed a fairly serious and tough as nails or bad boy cop/detective. They were both sexy roles, but in that strong subtle way, on stage during the concert, he was sexy in an extremely overt manner. He was all personality, he really truly looked like he loved being up on that stage performing, dancing and singing. Let me say this too, boy can that man move his hips and his pelvis, wow. At one point during the show the camera person did a close up of Donnie doing pelvic thrusts, I think the women in the JLC were about to lose it. Not to take anything a way from the four other guys in NKOTB, but for me personally Donnie stole the show with his moves and his personality. I guess I like bad boys, news to me, but hey for Donnie Wahlberg I’ll compromise!

NKOTB left the stage once again and BSB returned singing one of their earlier songs “Get Down”. This is the first song by the BSB that I really remember, well this and Quit Playing Games. The music video and the dance moves are permanently stamped in my brain. AJ had the same attitude in his performance that I remember so vividly from the attitude he portrayed in the music video. I remember one point in the music video the boys were in a mirror ball essentially, all five were spread out in a circle doing some steps, anyone who knows the BSB and this song and video knows what I am talking about. So when the boys ended up on the circular platform at the end of the catwalk doing those exact moves the crowd cheered. The familiarity of those moves drew the fans in, these were the BSB we knew and loved, they sang the same songs and had the same moves, though maybe they packed a bit more sex appeal now that the boys were men.

Taking BSB’s lead, the NKOTB returned to the stage performing one of their older songs as well, the crowd hushed at first, waiting to hear what they were singing, then that all too familiar opening to “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” rang through the arena. “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” has some pretty iconic dance moves associated with it, well iconic to those of us who grew up watching the videos. Remember the move that I call the “Tick Tock”? It’s the move I associate most with “The Right Stuff”, it looks like the guys are imitating a clock’s pendulum to me, thus I call it the “Tick Tock”. So when the guys broke into “The Right Stuff” I anxiously anticipated seeing four buff grown men busting out the moves they performed as little kids. The song began with Jordan out in front of the four other guys who were behind mic stands busting some of the moves from the video back in the day. The performance went on and we waited and the chorus came and there it was, the “Tick Tock” move during the Oh-oh’s, you know what I am talking about (and if you don’t go visit YouTube and you will). This was a satisfying moment for the crowd I think; I’m pretty sure there would have been sounds of disappointed if those patented moves hadn’t been brought back to life for this performance.

Sidenote – I said this on Twitter the other day, but it bares repeating here. I think it would be hilarious to see Donnie Wahlberg bust out some of these patented NKOTB moves like the “Tick Tock” on an episode of Blue Bloods. I think it would be an excellent juxtaposition to put that into a show where his kids/niece are telling the adults they don’t know how to dance. Just an idea, do you hear me CBS, integrate some of Donnie NKOTB dance moves into an episode of Blue Bloods, it will be highly entertaining and could bring in some new viewers. 

After seeing that NKOTB still had all “The Right Stuff” the audience got to see that the men of BSB were still “Larger Than Life”. Again it was so great to see these guys perform and inject moves that are forever part of the memories of their fans. By this point in the concert, I think it was before this actually, my entire group of 6 ladies, minus one with a fear of heights, was standing and dancing from our seats in the fourth row of the 300s.

It was a really cool experience that way and I will explain why. I went to the concert with basically two groups. I went with my best friend from elementary school, Courtney,  and a friend from high school/baseball, Ashley. We’re all 27 this year and we remember vividly the BSB era. The other three I went with were my sister Alicia and two of her best friends Monica and Cindy; they met in university and all ended up marrying Delta Upsilon (sp?) brothers. Here’s the thing about my sister, as I mentioned before she is five years older than me, well actually 5 and a half years older than me, as are her friends. A lot of the time it feels like my sister and I grew up in different generations. Growing up we were fighting more often than not, the only time we really came together was when we were aligning against our parents. We were so far apart in age that we never really spent a lot of time together, or interacted with each others friends, I mean we knew each others friends, but from my perspective at least, I always felt like an outsider and a kid around her friends and I’m sure she always felt like a chaperone around me and my friends. That is slowly changing as we get older and both move firmly into the ‘adult’ category. We’re still sisters though, we still fight, but I think as the years go on we’re slowly getting to understand each other more and become sisters who are friends. Maybe, maybe not, who knows. Anyways, I’ve really never spent much time around my sister and her friends, other than during the year-long process of her wedding, even then not too much. I love her friends and get a long with them, but I just feel like a kid around them for some reason. So it was really cool to see them at this concert in a different light. Alicia, Monica and Cindy were all up out of their seats, dancing and singing along almost the entire concert. Seeing them positively giddy was new for me, I mean I’ve seen pictures of ‘fun nights’, but I’ve never experienced that with them, it was a unique and new experience. It was cool to see these Mom letting loose and forgetting all of the stresses of their daily lives and just enjoying the moment and reliving their youth. Oh the power of childhood boy bands and reunion tours!

After several high energy pop performances they boys slowed it down with some ballads. First up were NKOTB. They did a trio of ballads: “Didn’t I” followed by “If You Go Away” and “Please Don’t Go Girl”. The ballads were very nice, but also shocking and impressive. How so you ask? Well most of these ballads were originally done before the voices of the NKOTB had fully changed, especially in the case of Joey. So seeing them reach high into their falsetto was both shocking and impressive and it left many of us wondering who got the job of ‘helping’ those guys reach those notes, guys and girls reading this you know what I mean, how do you get a guy’s voice to go up an octave? Ya that’s how.

NKOTB needing some recovery time from their foray into the upper levels of their vocal ranges, gave way to the BSB trio of ballads. BSB started with “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely”, followed by “Ten Thousand Promises”.  That’s only a duo of ballad you are saying, you would be correct. BSB did a bit of a pause and said it was time to add some Canadian Bacon to the show. They began pulling women out of the crowd and placing them on the cat walk on stools that magically appeared. Nick was first, and of course the youngest of all of the men got lucky, he pulled up twins, which I am confident in saying he quiet enjoyed. Following Nick’s lead AJ pulled up a blonde woman, Howie pulled up someone I would argue probably fit better in NKOTB fan base and Brian pulled up a little girl and her Mom (I assume that’s what it was anyways). Each of the guys serenaded their ladies with “I’ll Never Break Your Heart”. Let me tell you, my friend Courtney was about to lose it, she wanted to be the woman AJ was all over, I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t have minded replacing the twins, teenage fantasy come true, I mean, what teenage girl didn’t have a crush on Nick Carter? Nick got really into it, I swear at one point he was laying across the twins. AJ was also seductively dancing and grinding around his lady and Brian and Howie were being just as sweet as could be to their subjects.

After the serenade ended and the women left the stage, BSB added two additional ballads, “Drowning” and “Incomplete” during which Nick moved to the drums. I knew Nick had taken up the drums years ago and that with the release of “Incomplete” most of the guys were trying to move from boy band member to true musician/artist. I believe it was this song that Kevin (no longer performing with the group) played piano.

After a long stretch of ballads, it was time to get the women of the JLC screaming once again. The best way to do that? Just take it “Step By Step”. As soon as the opening notes of the song were played, women were up out of their seats, jumping and screaming.  It helped that I’m pretty sure it was Donnie who ran out half way down the catwalk, that will get any woman screaming (part of the reason I lost my voice the next day). Again this was a great throw back performance that was very enjoyable. There was a lot of grinding, pelvic thrusts and booty shaking; at one point there was a tight shot of Donnie’s shaking behind, much to the enjoyment of the female audience.

I’d like to take this opportunity to address the wardrobe for the show. I think I’ve already mentioned Brian’s neon pink high-tops and if I haven’t, they were amazing, I want a pair! You always knew when Brian was on stage and exactly where he was, just look for the shoes. The wardrobe for the show was fantastic. A lot of the wardrobe was black (with the occasional white suit, or army type clothing), but with a lot of rhinestones or sequins or something that was shiny. Donnie and AJ (I believe) both wore a rhinestone skull belt buckle throughout the show and let me tell you because Donnie was wearing it, it got a lot of screen time during close-ups on pelvic thrusts. My other favourite part of the wardrobe were the muscle tanks, and no not wife beaters, but those tanks that you see dancers wearing, they’re cut really nice and fit really well and accentuate all of the right places, yes those; it was heaven to see the likes of Donnie Walhberg and some other in those tanks, beyond heaven to see him out of it too!

Yes it was during “Step by Step” that the moment every woman in that arena was waiting for, Donnie Wahlberg pulled a Hulk Hogan and tore that muscle tank off and the women (myself included) screamed hysterically (what he has a really nice body, something any woman can appreciate). The screaming hysteria was replaced with giggling though when AJ from the BSB added to the final show’s hijinks by coming out from under the catwalk and appearing on the catwalk in a tank and some tighty-whities (well they were probably more booty shorts than tighty-whities, but I wasn’t close enough to make that distinction) During Cover Girl. It was quite entertaining and humourous. I am told that wasn’t the first of the final show hijinks, apparently there had been signs plastered to the backs of some of the performers. What can you say, it was the final show of a summer tour and all bets were off!

AJ left the stage and NKOTB move into “Favourite Girl” (I believe). I can’t say I knew the song well, but I enjoyed it, again even without knowing the songs, the performances made the concert, the energy, athleticism and talent of these guys was just phenomenal.

NKOTB then busted out a mash-up of “This is How We Do it” and “Games”. This gave Donnie the opportunity to put his rapping skills on display. Pretty much everything this man does can be considered sexy, but the rapping and the dancing that went along with it, was enough to make the ladies scream (again).

Following this mash-up though was the moment or moments we would have killed to not be in our seats in the 300s, but rather down on the floor or in the 100s. NKOTB moved into the song “Close to You” and in moving into that song, they also moved into the crowd for the end of it and for the song “Tonight” which followed. I would have killed to be down there to meet Donnie Wahlberg or any one of the others, but it’s probably a good thing I wasn’t, I probably would  have ended up on the floor and being carried out by EMS or something. “Tonight”  felt like a bit of a salute and a thank you to the crowd, even though it was probably part of their nightly set list. I think it may have been after this set or maybe one of the others Donnie decided to play with the volume of the crowd and see if he had the power to control the women at the JLC. I think it was pretty evident that the women at the JLC would do just about anything Donnie asked, heck at one point my sister and I said we’d get arrested for that man, and that maybe it was time to call Mom and Dad for bail money. Kidding, we are the most straight-laced girls, we wouldn’t get into any kind of legal trouble, though Donnie does play a cop, maybe we could get frisked?

NKOTB left the crowd, returned to the stage and vanished. There was a brief moment of nothingness, I think to give the crowd a chance to recover, or maybe just give the BSB time to get into place for their big entrance into the crowd. That’s right, anything NKOTB can do, BSB can do better, or so it seemed. BSB appeared from 2 entrances in the 100’s and slowly moved their way through the crowd as they performed “Shape of my Heart”. They slowly moved out of the crow and back to the stage for some choreographed ballads including “As Long as You Love Me” which was done with some nice mic-stand dancing. This was followed by “All I Have to Give”, which included a nice little section of four-part harmony. I’m a sucker for a cappella and four-part harmony, so this warmed my heart to hear.

BSB continued on with their ballads, singing “If you Stay”. Following “If you Stay”, there was a brief interlude of “Raspberry Parade” as Joey appeared on stage sporting tight pants and a BSB T-shirt that was knotted up like little girls did it back in the 80’s and 90’s. The very effeminate interlude moved into “Quit Playing Games With My Heart”, during which Joey took the lead away from his BSB equivalent Brian.

After the hijinks with Joey, the BSB left the stage and back came NKOTB with another range stretching ballad “I’ll be Loving You Forever”, again who got to take the money shot on Jordan, because no man should be able to sing that high.  Seeing grow men sing that high though was very interesting, it had to be a strain, they even milked the idea that it was a strain, with Jordan taking a long dramatic pause towards the end after a long run of held high notes.

NKOTB had their final ballad and BSB got theirs rounding out the separate part of the evening with “I Want It That Way”.

BSB finished their song and called NKOTB back to the stage.

All 9 guys returned to the stage, I believe it was Donnie saying that they couldn’t have picked a better place to end their tour (I’m pretty sure they would have said that no matter where they ended the tour, but it was still nice to hear) Donnie went on to say that this was quite possible that this stop was also the LOUDEST stop of their tour (again likely said to all of their crowds). It was a very loud concert and loud from the fans screaming and not the music. This was probably one of the smaller venues on their stop, but I’d like to think it was probably one of the most passionate. At one point the crowd pulled out neon pink hearts saying Thank You NKOTBSB, a true sign of appreciate for all that they have given to us. I know it sounds corny, but these two groups played a huge role in the youth from the 80s and 90s.

They thanked the crowd and then took the opportunity to introduce the members of the mega group, which was entertaining. As someone who has watched boy bands there are always certain characters in the groups and the members pretty evenly match up with a counter part. Before getting into introductions the BSB had a bit of a surprise for the NKOTB. AJ said it best, growing up (though not that far apart in age) the BSB looked up to and aspired to be like the NKOTB. BSB even put a video up on the screens of a cover they did of “Step By Step” back in 1993. It was so cute, all the little BSB, Nick was so small and so blonde!

After the group to group thank you’s, there were the personal introductions. First was AJ introducing the original bad boy; the most talent man that he knew, the one who stars in film, television and who sing,  the man who he truly respects; the man, the myth, the legend, Donnie Walhberg. It was a fitting introduction. Donnie returned the favour giving a nice speech for AJ sayings that when these two groups came together, they clicked, they just got each other and saw eye to eye on things. You could really tell that those two had bonded, the bad boys of their respective groups.

Next up was Nick, if both boy bands were still five a piece, it was clear who his counterpart would be, but since Kevin is no longer with the group, Nick again got two for one. He got to introduce the family element of this ensemble. One can sing really high and really low and so can the other, the nicest guys you could meet, the Knight brothers, Jordan and Jonathan. I would tend to think if Kevin were still around, he would likely introduce Jonathan, because he was also the guy in the band brought in by the family connection and one of the guys that was a bit more background than foreground. That is not the case though, Nick introduce both brothers and then Jordan took the mic to return the favour. Jordan referenced the video BSB had made when they were younger saying “I knew you were small, but I didn’t know you were THAT small”. Jordan ribbed Nick a bit, but then said, but ladies “Goddamn, Look at him Now”. Without a doubt, Nick grew into a man and not a bad one at all.

From there it was the jokester. Brian introduced Joey. He said from the first time the two got together he knew he had a kindred spirit in Joey, someone who could appreciate the fine art of sarcasm and the practical jokes. They were the “pretty (but understated)” front men of their groups. Joey continued on the same path. He said joining these two groups up was great. He’d gotten to the point with NKOTB that he could finally shut up, they’d heard all of his material, so joining up with BSB was like fresh meat! He recalled the moment he and Brian really connected. He’d come into their rehearsal space and made some kind of joke or sarcastic comment and Brian just gave him this stare that went right through him, it was this sarcasm recognition. They just connected. Joey went on and I forget what he said exactly, but he said there was only one bro-mance on this summer tour, and it was right there, between the two of them. It was very cute and everyone had a chuckle and an awwww.

Last but not least were the ‘forgotten’ boys. Key members of each of their groups, but often the ones in the background, who rarely see the spotlight and who most often have their names forgotten by fans. That’s right, it was time for Howie and Danny to introduce each other. Let me preface this by saying it got a bit awkward. Howie started. He talked about how he admired Danny because he was Rough, Tough and extremely Buff! Then came the all too obvious play on Danny’s last name, Wood. Howie of course took the opportunity to say “Ladies he has more wood than a lumberjack” and then he unveiled a rolled up sign to introduce Danny “10 Inch” Wood to the crowd. Of course the joke played out a bit further, at which point it got a bit awkward because there was a mention of shared shower time. Anyways the awkwardness subsided and Danny introduced Howie. Danny said he viewed Howie as the glue that held the guys together, not to take anything aways from anyone else, but that was how he saw Howie. He also referenced Howie as the Latin Lover, which is a bit funny because out of the nine men on stage, Howie is probably closer to the bottom of the list as far as which one you would take for a lover (again Donnie is at the top of my list, followed by Nick, gotta give love to both groups right?)

AJ then took the mic, again thanking the guys and most importantly the crowd. At one point there was a comment, I think it came from Brian and it was before these introductions saying that some of the fans have been loving NKOTB more than 20 years ( maybe it was 25), and loving BSB more than 18 years. He was saying for some 1989 seemed like yesterday (NKOTB fans), for some 1998 seemed like yesterday (BSB fans) and for some 2008 seemed like yesterday (the babies of the bunch who came late to the party). Anyways, AJ referenced the time that has passed saying it’s been a while, he had a full head of hair back when they started! He commented on what a ride it had been and how great it was and that hopefully they’d “Aged like a fine bottle of win, but none for me” AJ quipped making reference to his history with alcohol and substance abuse. I’d like to take this opportunity to commend him for getting help and overcoming his addictions so that he could live the life he is living and find the success he has found. AJ you are a true role model to people who struggle with things like addiction every day and who find the strength to overcome and survive.

The men then asked if the crowd was ready to come home, to which the crowd boisterously replied “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”. “Good neither are we” they replied.

The 9 boys  men joined together to sing “Don’t Turn Out the Lights”, the single they had released as the mega-group NKOTBSB. It’s a modern pop song that brings together two of the most memorable bands of the boy band era. One the original, one the first of the second coming. It was truly spectacular to see the nine guys take the stage together for this performance. It was to me the climax of the show. It complete the journey from the past to the present. It is amazing to me to see how far these 9 guys have come. To see how they have grown over the years and all that they have accomplished. It is truly amazing that nearly over 20 years has passed since both band’s prime years, but they still have a loyal and dedicated and even still growing fan base. It’s amazing the reach they have. They were written off so many times for being boy bands and when they said they were joining together they were met with skepticism and criticism, but they overcame and did what they felt was right in their guts and they put on one of the most spectacular stage shows I have ever experienced.

After seeing U2 this summer, I didn’t think another concert would even ever come close, and while comparing the two are like apples and oranges, I can honestly say, these two concerts have a chance to go down as two of the best in history (in terms of my own concert going).

I believe it was now that the lights went out and the crowd began to chant N-K-O-T-B-S-B until the lights came back on and the guys returned to the stage. It was amazing to hear the crowd unite in a chant to bring their teenage (and maybe adult) crushes back to the stage

The guys capped off the night with three final songs. NKOTB finished, in their Boston Celtics Jerseys,  with what else, the remaining song missing from the evening “Hang Tough” a final opportunity to throw in some well maneuvered pelvic thrusts.  BSB finished off by singing “Everybody”, dawning their Orlando Magic jerseys, and they showcased some of their monstrous moves.  Finally they two groups merged into NKOTBSB once again to finish the show with a cover/mashup of “We Will Rock You” that featured some lyrics from their songs.

One of the guys pulled out a sign, something to commemorate the final evening of this tour (there will be more, I can see it now!). I wish I had a picture.

It said:

9 Brothers

1 Summer

1,000,000 Memories

It was the perfect tribute and the perfect closing to the perfect summer (for them) and the perfect concert.

I’d like to finish this blog by saying some thank you’s of my own. Thank you to the New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys for coming together to form NKOTBSB. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to see you live, something I missed out on as a kid. Thank you for taking me back to a simpler time and reminding of all of the thoughts and feelings I had listening to your music as a kid.

I think the one thing that made this concert what it was, was that these 9 guys looked like they truly loved what they were doing and loved who they were doing it with. When you see performers enjoying themselves that much, you can’t help but like that surround you and take you in.

Thank you to the JLC for the tickets, and for bringing this concert to this venue. It continues to amaze me that London has such a phenomenal venue, with such a strong team managing it. While I consider London a ‘big city’ comparatively speaking it’s a smaller stop on a music tour. So thank you JLC for working so hard to make London a must stop venue for so many tours. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to take four mom’s and one of my oldest friends to one of the best concerts I think we’ll ever attend. You gave me the opportunity to see my sister in a different light and I that is something I will never forget. You brought together generations and rivals. and that is something to be proud of. Thank you for not letting me and my guests miss this once in a lifetime opportunity!

Also kudos the sound mixing and video teams that I assume came with the tour and maybe worked with the venue. The video boards were clearer than pretty much any others I’ve seen. The mixing of the vocals and instrumentation was also spectacular. I could hear the instrumentation, but I could still make out all of the vocals and lyrics, which is often lost at a lot of concerts. The perfect sound mixing allowed fans to really get into the music and sing along, so good job!

So thank you to everyone who made the concert possible from the people working the venue, to the acts themselves, to the fans who made the experience what it was.

Thank You!

Soundtrack to my Life – Part 2

I was watching Friends with Benefits tonight and the song Closing Time by Semisonic is used throughout the movie.

This song is a song that I tie to my high school experience, but more importantly my University experience, specifically first year.

It got my thinking about a guy that I met my first year at Brock. He was a 2nd year Computer Science major named D’Arcy, who oddly enough was from London. His hair was dyed bleach blonde, he was underage and he was appealingly awkward.

He was someone who I immediately bonded with, possibly due to the fact that we were both underage and unable to go out with the rest of our floor (until his birthday in November at least). We spent a lot of time together the four months he lived on my floor (only 4 months because he was a co-op student and had to move to Ottawa in the second term).

He was a unique character. He had his room set up unlike anyone else on our floor. He put his bed up at high as it would go, almost to the ceiling and he placed his desk beneath it. He’d managed to locate a second mattress and had it on the floor against the wall opposite his desk. The light in his room was never on; his room was lit by white Christmas lights. There always seemed to be music coming from his room; either playing from his computer, or being strum on his guitar.

D’Arcy introduced and re-introduced me to a lot of music; music that moves me still to this day and music that will forever be tied to my memory of him as he was then. He was probably one of my best friends that year. We looked after each other, he helped me when I needed it and in the second term he took an 8 hour bus ride from Ottawa to come and see me, well he may have been there to see everyone on my floor. But when I found out he was there, I found him waiting at my door.

It’s been 9 years since I started at Brock; 9 years since we met and 9 years since we were the people we were back then. Unfortunately we aren’t in touch much anymore because we grew into people who for some reason didn’t fit into each others lives.

He is without a doubt one of those people who may have only been in my life for a season, but I know he was there for a reason. I will never forget that bleach blonde boy strumming his guitar in the light cast by little white Christmas lights.

So here are the songs that always take me back to him:

Seven Mary Three – Lucky

Eagle Eye Cherry – Save Tonight

Matchbox Twenty – 3AM

Matchbox Twenty – Push

Semisonic – Closing Time

If I had the chance, I would ask Josh Groban …

So as you may or may not know, I have been selected as a #JLCreviewer for the Josh Groban concert on Tuesday night at the John Labatt Centre here in London, Ontario.

As such, being the geek I am, I have been doing my research. Checking out his YouTube Channel, listening to his music, downloading his most recent album, reading various articles I can find on him and his work.

After reading and listening to all of these things about Josh Groban I’ve thought of some questions I would ask if I had the opportunity. They are all pretty standard questions, and probably questions that are frequently asked, but still I’d love to hear what Josh Groban would have to say in a candid environment.

1) When preparing to record Illuminations, what made you choose to use Rick Ruben as the producer for the album. Sure he is a producer of mythical proportions, but he is well-known for producing numerous rock Albums. What did you think he could bring to Illuminations? How did you think his presence would change your recording experience? In retrospect how well did your expectations match the actual experience? Also what made you want to work with Semisonic frontman Dan Wilson?

2) If there was one artist or group that you could perform with or do a cover of, who would it be?

3) What is your most memorable or meaningful accomplishment to this point of your career?

4) You’ve worked with a number of Canadians previously, if you could work with or sing with another Canadian musician, who would you choose? (A question that stumps most non-Canadian acts)

5) What is your musical guilty pleasure? What would your fans be shocked to know is on your iPod?

6) This is your first time writing the majority of one of your albums, is there a specific song of this album that you are most proud of or that means the most to you, or that best represents you as a person, singer, songwriter, etc.

I have other questions in my mind, but those are probably the first that come to mind.  Mostly though, I want to understand the thinking behind the pairing with Rick Ruben because that I think to many seems rather counterintuitive.

The JLCReviewer – My Take

The JLC has always had excellent marketing, it is something I have admired as someone with a marketing/communications/PR background. Recently in addition to their already strong social media presence they have been making an additional push for engagement using social media.

Before the July 3rd Soundgarden Concert they had a huge giveaway of tickets on Social Media Day and a number of individuals, myself included, were offered a pair of amazing tickets to take in the concert that featured Coheed and Cambria and of course Soundgarden.

I think most of us on Twitter were shocked and amazed to see a venue do something like this. I mean I have won tickets before and know friends who have, but I have never seen a ticket giveaway on this scale before.

Talk about good PR! (PS – Unemployed (or Freelance) Marketing/Communications/PR/Social Media Gal right here if anyone is looking!)

It is said that word of mouth is one of the best tools in PR and this effort definitely capitalized on this, by using word of mouth 2.0, which is word of fingers!

JLC reached out to the wired demographic; the people who are online several hours a day tweeting, facebooking or blogging about anything and everything, and people who have arguably become a voice for the local online community.

By bringing people into the venue for free, the JLC earned some goodwill and created some positive buzz. The people who were invited in were definitely going to tell their friends and share the experience on Facebook, on Twitter or on a Blog. In this world of digital communications the number of people who this news could reach in a limited amount of time was exponentially higher than it would have been if the only tool had been word of mouth, instead of word of fingers.

Giving away the tickets was amazing, but the JLC hasn’t stopped there. They introduced the JLCReviewer for the July 12th Black Keys concert. The JLC asked people who wanted to be JLCReviewers to tweet them and for others to nominate people they think would do a great job. In the end four people were chosen to be JLCReviewers, Laura, Mike, Naomi and Amanda. By the sound of it they were provided with a number of goodies, including tickets to the Black Keys Concert, with opening act Cage the Elephant.

I think this is a fantastic idea! First, this is engagement at a whole new level. The JLC is facilitating an entirely new level of connection with the venue, the music, the performers and well the entire concert going experience. Next this is also a cost-effective way to grow their marketing department (good for them, bad for unemployed (“freelance” as I like to say) me!). The newspaper could write a review, and I’m sure they did, but I don’t think the LFPress is reaching as many people as it once did and if you’re like me you tend to take their reviews with a grain of salt. Also have you ever noticed that when a newspaper writes a review for a concert or a movie it often feels like the person writing the review is the totally wrong person to be writing it? (To me) it often feels like someone from the completely wrong demographic is writing the article,therefore creating a completely inaccessible perspective. We all know the JLC couldn’t write the review themselves because any review of theirs would be presumed to be biased in a favourable direction.

By using Twitter to recruit reviewers the JLC is finding people who are actually interested in the acts, who aren’t presumed to have a bias and who, in my opinion, offer a more accessible voice.

This to me is a shift away from Marketing towards Public Relations which, I think, is the way Marketing is evolving thanks to Social Media.

I am personally looking forward to seeing where the JLC goes with this. I think there is a lot of potential to further position the JLC as a top-notch venue not only provincially, but nationally and beyond.

*** I made a suggestion today on Twitter that the JLC could use the materials generated from the reviews to create art within the JLC. London is a very creative place, I think it would be interesting to see images and review quotes displayed throughout the JLC. I think using those materials as art would really make the JLC feel like a community, rather than a business.***

Soundtrack to My Life – Part 1

This past weekend I attended the Soundgarden concert at the JLC, thanks to the kindness and generosity of the JLC who gave away several pairs of tickets on Social Media Day.

When I was told there would be a set of tickets waiting for me at Will Call, I decided to refresh my memory and revisit some of Soundgarden’s earlier material.

The height of Soundgarden’s success was around 1994 with the album Superunknown. They later broke up in 1997. So their glory years were basically from the time I was 10  to 13.

I knew several of the songs, but not as well as a number of people, including the long-haired, bearded man sitting next to me at the concert.

It was a great concert, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself and I thank the JLC for the opportunity to attend the concert. I always love going to the JLC for a concert, that marks the fifth (I believe) concert that I have been to at the JLC and I look forward to attending many more.

Listening to some of the Soundgarden songs took me back, and really got me thinking about some of the songs I listened to on repeat over the years that I have missed having in my iTunes. Now some of these are real oldies, some are more recent, but all are songs that I have really enjoyed over the years that I thought I would share.

Childhood favourite:

This song came out on August 1st of 1985. This is one of the three songs I really remember for my early childhood, and this was by far my favourite. I remember dancing around the house to it while cleaning on Saturday mornings and making my parents replay it over and over again.

We Built This City – Starship

The other two songs I from my childhood that meant the most to me were Starship’s Sara for obvious reasons, though they spelt Sara wrong, and Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison, also for obvious reasons (I have brown eyes, well hazel, but anyways).

The first cassette (yes I said cassette) I remember owning was Bryan Adam’s Waking Up the Neighbours, and let me tell you, kids my age looked at me funny for always bringing it to class parties, because I was pretty much alone in my love for that cassette. It had so many great songs though, including (Everything I Do) I Do It for You, which of course was from the Robinhood: Prince of Thieves (which I was too young to watch at the time).

One of my favourite songs from that album though was this song:

Bryan Adams: There Will Never Be Another Tonight

As a child, I had a huge unexplainable crush on Richard Marx. I loved the song Right Here Waiting (which debuted in 1989), it was beautiful and I still love it. So combine my crush on Richard Marx to my obsession with Disney Movies and you get this song:

Richard Marx & Donna Lewis: At the Beginning With You – from Anastasia (1997)

A year later, a trio of brother burst onto the scene and took the world by storm, one Mmmbop at a time. I loved Hanson and I won’t lie, I do own their subsequent album after Mmmbop, and their VHS.

I could torture you with Mmmbop, but I won’t, instead:

Hanson – Penny and Me

So are you questioning my music taste yet?

High school I fell in love with three bands, two of which have all but disappeared and one that still releases some new material.

Vertical Horizon – Everything You Want

Nine Days – Absolutely (Story of a Girl)

Lifehouse – Everything (this was on repeat constantly)

High School had a lot of different music over the years, but by Prom, this summed up how my group of friends was feeling. There was a group of probably about 10 of us. 8 girls and 2 guys. 6 of the girls (not me) had feelings for one or the other of the two guys, which made for some serious drama in my last year of high school. So by prom, this was our theme:

Mary J. Blige – No More Drama

I am not someone who enjoys drama, so I was begging please no more drama!

First year university brought a lot of music. I went to my first concert (I know late concert bloomer). My sister bought me tickets to see OLP when the JLC opened. I went with my sister, her boyfriend (now husband), my high school best friend and my first best friend. Before the concert I managed to fall down the Market stairs and skin about 10 layers off my right palm (I am right-handed, so this was just great), but I had an absolute blast at this concert, enjoying the oldies, but enjoying performances from their most recent album, including:

Our Lady Peace: Somewhere Out There

I discovered this really great band that I absolutely fell in loved with. They are still producing music, but never really seemed to crack mainsteam.

Trapt – These Walls  (I love this song, but there is no actual video for it)

Third year was a really difficult year for me personally and the next couple songs are the ones I associate the most with that year.

Simple Plan – Welcome to My Life

This next song, I associate with my best friend. During the hardest year of my life, the first year we knew each other, he was my rock, I could always count on him and we’ve counted on each other ever since.

Default – Count on Me

The next two songs still bring tears to my eyes and break my heart just a little, I’m crying even as I write this and find the videos. These are two songs we chose to play at my Grandpa funeral, after he lost his battle with Lung Cancer. I was really close with him and he was someone who always believed in me and supported to me.

Josh Groban – You Raise Me Up

Sarah McLachlan – I Will Remember You

These are just some of the songs that have made an impact on my life, there are thousands more. I will periodically add blog posts with songs and videos that I love, but I hope you have enjoyed my first one.

Additional post will include songs from:

Breaking Benjamin
SevenMaryThree
Eagle-Eye Cherry
Third Eye Blind
Lisa Loeb
Grace Potter
The Fray
One Republic
Augustana
The Pretenders
Forty Foot Echo

And so many more …