Nashville Show Spotlight: Prismatic Tour

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On June 27th I woke up like any other day.  I brushed my teeth, combed my hair, added a million sparkles to my hair, and put on a purple tutu…Okay so maybe not just like any other day.  No Today was the day my friends and I had been waiting for since mid January when we had bought our Katy Perry Prismatic Tour Tickets.  We had countdowns on our phones, had planned ridiculous outfits, and my roommate would text me constantly reminding me of our plans for Friday night.

10443491_10204171619752245_6972232469165806601_nWe arrived at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville (duh) early before doors opened at 6:30 to take advantage of the photo ops and giveaways.  My roommate Sarah and I are notorious for winning said games and giveaways.

915579_1507514249460686_1529245513_nAfter hitting the booths, we made our way toward the doors and the merch (aka merchandise that is wayyyy over priced and requires waiting in line for a good 20+ minutes-unless you’re me and make your own line) table.  Here we met the cutest five year olds dressed almost exactly like us.  They sang us songs and told us all about their outfits down to the sparkles.  Their mom was also pretty awesome as we spoke about them growing up and going to college.

We then headed to our seats where the first set was already in process (whoops!). Ferras-or something of that nature-reminded me of a pineapple with his bleached blonde hair pulled up into a top bun.  He sang me 80’s ballad sounding song after 80’s ballad sounding song in his lack luster attempt to be a modern day Prince. (reasons his CD was free at the merch table).

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Next up on the chopping block was Capital Cities, another 80’s sounding EDM bad which is known for their one hit wonder “Safe & Sound”. One thing I wasn’t expecting to encounter was when the bad decided to dance to a track remix of their popular song…I mean dancing to your own song is a little tacky. They then attempted to teach the Bridgestone a good ol’ fashion white boy line dance to no avail but at least it allowed for some stretching before Katy took the stage.

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After fueling up on some sports style munchies (we had kinda forgotten about eating real food in all the excitement that was getting ready for 3 hours) we waited un-patiently for Katy.

10479064_10204171620272258_7897628773181052324_nAnd then it happened in a glorious glow in the dark display.  She opened with “Roar” in which we traveled with her and her light up tribal warriors to the jungle setting.  The legit coolest aspect of this set had to be the built in treadmill to the stage and the trapdoors, or maybe it was the Prism Lotus she was delivered to us from.

10413098_493539567443568_35873289_nFollowing this mystic jungle we were transported to Ancient Egypt where Katy was Cleopatra and our warriors were now mummies and Egyptian royals.  Complete with a moving dancer pony; she sang “Dark Horse” just for me (or so say I).  I mean Juicy J was a talking sphinx with sunglasses.  Throwing it back, “I Kissed A Girl” (the song that introduced me to Katy and that I hid from my parents) took us under the pyramids to a world of mummies.  “ET” turned our pyramids tops into aliens….

…and then We ended up in one of my biggest nightmares ever.  A land where people were dressed as cats.  (I may or may not have a fear and distrust of anything small and feline).  I tried to block this part from my mind.

929135_1431391743802459_1141358852_nFor a break down set, Katy appeared to us dressed in butterflies and singing from a giant sunflower.  Here she spoke with the crowd about life’s ups and downs and how to enjoy every day you have.  she also told us of her old Nashville stomping grounds where she learned to write and attempted a career in Christian Music.  She then sang one of my favorite songs, “By the Grace of God” which is a testament to the time after her divorce from Russell Brand.

Next thing I knew there were giant balloon emogis flying around the arena and then it was all over…or was it?  No way, we had an encore with green hair and a giant birthday cake (her latest single off of Prism “Birthday” played obviously) and glitter cannons.

10520246_256610361207839_1291169011_nBut was if over after that?  No, we still had time for PrismVisionYou see, PrismVision is a magical experience requiring Prism Glasses which we had received upon entrance. Katy sang “Firework” as digital fireworks and pyrotechnics detonated flawlessly.  All seen through the sparkly PrismVision which made everything shiny and even MORE SPARKLY.  Yes, one could probably reach this point by getting high, but the intentional PrismVision made the set.

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After “Firework” Katy crawled back into her “Prism Lotus” and waved goodbye to us all and it was officially over.  I felt like I had run a marathon, like I had gone to Vegas for two hours, like true magic had happened in front of our faces.  Cheers to you Katy Perry on one hell of a show.  And Kudos-I had to wait a week and a half to process and find the words to write this blog.

10469219_10204171622272308_3733321242963719689_nSo after a Katy Perry concert what do you do?  Well going home and watching Friends or King of Queens on Nick@Nite is not an option.  So we hit the town.  We swigged beers in a honky tonk singing “Wagon Wheel” with the hottest out-of-towners we could find. Then crossed the street to a club complete with terribly mixed pop music and enough douche bag guys willing to buy you overpriced alcohol just to dance with you.

10451064_10204171622752320_3781652105691112032_nNeedless to say rolling into bed at 2 am I was tanked. Completely and utterly exhausted from a day that seemed it would never end-and as if I wanted it to.

So friends, do yourself a favor and buy some tickets when Prismatic comes to a city near or far from you.

Best-Jess

The 2014 CMT Music Awards: Behind the Scenes

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cmtMusicAwards-2014Last night I had the opportunity to work backstage at the CMT Music Awards in Nashville at the Bridgestone Arena.  But when I say last night, that means I got there at 8 AM that morning…

10401726_499656626801643_121387829_nUpon arrival I had to go through credentials to get my assignments and backstage pass. Then all of the Artist Escorts (aka Me) had to gather together to learn the run down of the arena and the many paths we would need to take throughout the night.  Memorizing dressing rooms, appearance schedules, which elevators and stairs take you where…it was a lot to take in.  Thankfully, the Talent I was assigned to was not performing so I had a low key schedule until they arrived.

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Starting at about 9 AM, the final dress rehearsals began for the show prior to the final show run through.  The ever talented and beautiful Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert took to the stage to sing their new duet “Somethin’ Bad” which is featured on Lambert’s newly released album Platinum.  Between the glitter cannon and the bad ass lyrics, we all knew this performance would be the highlight of the show.

2014 CMT Music Awards_Cham640Then came the rehearsal for the opening act where Luke Bryan, ZZ Top, Florida Georgia Line, and Jason Derulo (and his ever allusive dancers) all performed a mash up of their songs “La Grange”, “This is How We Roll” (which features Luke Bryan), and “Talk Dirty”.  From pyrotechnics to strategically planned remix, the act had the potential to epically fail.  Timing had to be just right, and it took several go throughs to get it down.  However, by the last run through it was show ready.

openingWe broke for lunch around 1:00 PM and that gave me some time to run through my Talent’s schedule and switch out my walkie’s battery pack.

lady-antebellum-cmt-music-awards-2014Next thing we knew, acts were arriving and the buses and dressing rooms were filling up.  Lines began to form around the Bridgestone and press was filing onto the red carpet.  Catering at Craft Services and the Crown Royal Room began to serve up food and drinks.  People were running golf carts to and from the bus lot frantically picking up and dropping off acts to rehearse.  The best way I could explain it is organized chaos.  Everywhere you looked people were running and tracking their acts.

imagesAfter picking my Talent on the red carpet, we took an elevator down to the backstage level. Here we had time for them to access the press room, WonderWall, and the Crown Royal Room to mingle with the other Talent onsite as well as their managers, publicists, and friends/spouses.

2014 CMT Music Awards - ShowYou’re main job as an escort is to be a babysitter for lack of a better term.  You keep track of where they are in the building 24/7.  You make sure they are where they need to be when they need to be.  You keep them calm, fed, glamed up, and hopefully on time.  I think that was the hardest aspect for me; trying to babysit my Talent without feeling weird.  After all, they were adults and honestly I think they were capable of going places and coming back to me on time.  Yet its live TV, and we run on a strict timetable with no room for error.  I had a booklet at least 20 pages long of our detailed schedule down to the second.

By 8:00 PM my feet were toast and we were not even half way through the show.  And I was pretty hungry seeing we hadn’t gotten a dinner.  Yet keeping up with mine and others talent (“Anyone have eyes on Luke Bryan?”, “Jess to Kelly, What’s You’re Twenty?” “Copy that”) made the time pass pretty quickly.

Next thing I knew the show was pretty much over and “ZZ Top has left the building…Lady A has left the building…Tyler Farr has left the building…Can anyone find the Derulo Dancers?” came flooding over the walkies.  As the mass exodus of stars caravaned down our hallway, they for once seemed like normal people.  It was like a college reunion where all these people who lived busy schedules were able to finally reunite and be with people who understood their lives.  They caught up and planned after parties or when they would finally catch up again.  For once, I wasn’t feeling the star struck wide eyed feelings I had to suppress all day.  These were just people under the fancy clothes and makeup.  They work harder than most people and for a few seconds in that tunnel they got to just be themselves.  It was very cool.

CMT-Music-Awards-2014-Show-PicturesAs Miranda and Blake, Carrie and Mike, Dan + Shay, and Brett Eldridge funneled out into their limos and buses, we finally met to turn in our gear and head out.  Sitting in my car had never felt so good, and I was so excited for the thunderstorm we had in Nashville last night to fall asleep to.

Perhaps I’ll get to actually watch the show sometime this week (I honestly only heard a few parts), but if I do so say myself; my view was ten times better.

-Jess

All 4 The Hall SongTellers

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all4thehall-e1395702005291Last Tuesday, My friend Drea and I went to the All 4 The Hall Benefit show at the Bridgestone Arena. Presented by Keith Urban and Vince Gill, the Nashville event to raise money for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has entered its 5th year.  The lineups have changed since my first year attending (2011) and the difficulty of finding tickets has too, but the meaning and purpose of the night hasn’t changed at all.

10320594_10203782453063321_3916813029724100069_nThe event merges together the worlds of Country Past, Present, and Future by showcasing today’s up and coming acts with their material and that which inspired them.  There are also legends and Hall of Famers such as Reba and Ronnie Milsap who performed some of their biggest hits and the story behind them.

gillurban-595-1399467399The theme of the night was to be Songtellers, which is what all artists and writers do; they express a story or a feeling in song.  Dolly Parton (not in attendance, via video) explained it as one of her most treasured activities.

Artists would sing one of their more popular hits or some new material explaining how the AFTHhatch_mediumsong what written and the story behind it.  They then would cover a song written by someone in the hall and explain how they influenced them.  For anyone who is as big of a Music History/Research geek like I am it was a real treat.  And getting to see my favorite artists cover such amazing legends reinforced the concept that history is so important to Country Music.  Preserving it, preserving the Hall is key to its longevity and to the education of the next generation.  It is also where we honor those who forged a path for country music to be the genuine and honest music it is.

Kip+Moore+4+Hall+Benefit+Concert+czQDpSZ8HYLlSome of my favorite performances of the night were Kacey Musgraves cover of “Here You Come Again” (Dolly Parton), Kip Moore singing “Dirt Road”, Deana Carter singing “Strawberry Wine”, Reba singing her version of “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia”, and Keith Urban Showing up in the back of the arena to sing near my section.  Not to mention every act had Vince Gill and Keith Urban as their band…not too shabby.

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The night ended up raising about $600,000.00 for the Hall which will go to offering new programs, renovations, and educational opportunities.

My Best- Jess

Check out the Set List here: All 4 The Hall
 
 

Nashville Concerts: Demi Lovato’s Neon Lights Tour

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A few weekends ago, My roommate Sarah and I fulfilled one of our childhood dreams: to see Demi Lovato perform live.  We bought the tickets almost a year in advance and had had count down apps on our phones letting us know down to the minute when the concert day would arrive.

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Not In Adult Land Anymore

We bought pink temporary hair dye and Demi’s line of nail polish (the New Black), wore our best rock-n-roll outfits and hit the town to sing all the words to Let It Go, Did You Forget (in a fake crying voice of course), and Sky Scrapper. Yet for some reason, it did not hit us until we arrived that we might be the oldest people there (minus the poor dads who had been brought along because their preteen daughters needed supervision).  Yes, the atmosphere was totally different: the vendors walked around selling Gatorade and cotton candy instead of Budlight and Coronas, between performances there was a teenage magician, and the girl sitting next to me habitually cried at the sight of anyone famous.

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I know what you’re thinking: this sounds awful. And all the piecing cries of 11 year old girls was, but all was forgiven by the excellent performances by Fifth Harmony, Cher Lloyd, and of course Demi.

Lights, Camera, Action

Fifth Harmony (a runner up girl group from America’s X-Factor) opened the show with a simple but classically choreographed set in which they covered a Destiny’s Child song that no one in the crowd (basically because they were all not born when the song was a hit) knew the words to.  They closed with their new single Miss Movin’ On which is basically a girl power ballad that got everyone on their feet; including me because who doesn’t love feminism.

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Cher Lloyd (an UK X-Factor runner-up) brought even more sass to the stage with her hits Want You Back, I Wish (one of my favorites), With Ur Love, and Oath.  She would also join Demi on the Stage for Really Don’t Care which features Lloyd.

cherAnd then it finally happened, through lots of stage smoke and screaming preteens, Demi appeared and killed every song she sang.  From her hits such as Heart Attack to Neon Lights, she belted every note and even though you could tell she was a little tired (this was the second to last stop on her tour when ended in Indianapolis), she kept the crowd energized.

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 Thriving not just Surviving

Demi also took time out of her set to devote to awareness about Self Harm, Eating Disorders, Substance Abuse, Depression, and Mental Health issues.  She doesn’t try to hide the fact that she struggled with all of them, nor that she ended up in a rehab clinic for several months to help her with the daily battle of dealing with all of them.  Her Bravery in sharing with the world all of her past allows for so many people to acknowledge their problems and also seek help.  Lovato also added that though its a daily struggle to be healthy, that shes “pretty F*@king happy now”.  She then played an acoustic set of Warrior on piano.

1607123_10203491780916699_1890208690_nTo end the night Demi encored with Sky Scrapper and Give Your Heart A Break.  The night was not only fun but inspirational and I was really impressed at how different it was from any other concert I have ever attended.  It was positive and geared toward a healthy and proactive lifestyle while still addressing realities of our world.  And I think that really resonates with who Demi Lovato is: Pink Hair and smiles with Realities and Scars, thriving not surviving.

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Nashville Concerts: Brad Paisley’s Beat This Winter Tour

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In the past couple weeks, I had the opportunity to see Brad Paisley’s Beat This Winter tour finale.  My friends Lindsay and Ryan had two extra 8th row floor tickets and so my friend Chelsi and I joined them.

Prior to arriving, we read Brad’s Tweet which said “Cannot wait to play Nashville TN tomorrow. Big fan of the ABC show. Always wanted to visit there. I hope it’s just like on TV.” which is an obvious pun to the show his wife Kimberly Williams Paisley used to be featured on.

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Danielle Bradbury opened the night with a similar set to the one she did on CMT’s Listen Up-which we taped a few weeks back.  Chris Young was the second act  promoting with his newest single “Ah Naw”.

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However, Brad, in Headliner Fashion, came out with all the bells and whistles.  From his excellent guitar skills to the amazing graphics and laser show which was used during “Southern Comfort Zone“, the production was elaborate and left the crowd wondering what would happen next. What did happen next was better than any hologram, Carrie Underwood graced the stage to perform their duet “Remind Me“.

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One of my favorite things about Nashville shows, and especially those shows that end in Nashville, is that special guests always show up.  Carrie Underwood was not the only one to pop up on stage as Randy Houser, Sheryl Crow, and Eric Close also made appearances as Brad closed the show with his hit “Alcohol“.

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One thing I really liked about this tour was that it was very team oriented.  Everyone seemed to get along well and everyone appeared on stage at the end-even Brad’s Mascot of himself-to support and celebrate the end of the tour.

After a great night out with friends and witnessing the live aspect of the business, I remembered being invited to the tour’s after party at SEEN night club as part of the CMT taping we did awhile back at the location.  Although we did not stop by I heard it was a great networking night and that tour went out in style.  This is all just a reminder of Nashville’s Golden Rule: its not always What you know, its who you know.