June 08, 2016

Concert Stories #48: NKOTB, Boyz II Men, and 98º

New Kids On the Block (2nd time) 

Openers: Boyz II Men & 98º

The Package Tour


Marcus Amphitheater

June 2, 2013

Age: 30

This was such an amazingly fun concert!!! NKOTB was my first concert back in 1990 and it was time to see them again!  Even better? They were touring with Boyz II Men and 98º!

The concert was during Summerfest so before the show a number of us met up across from one of the free stages.  One of us scored free passes to a deck where we could get drinks so we chilled out up there and did some people watching.  We waited a little too long thinking 98º was the opener but by the time we made it over to the amphitheater we found out that Boyz II Men were first on stage and we had missed a few of their songs!! I was admittedly a little heartbroken.  I was more there for them then NKOTB.

Now I also have to back up a minute and explain my seats.  Shannon had asked me to go along with her, Sue, Karey, and another girl and I held off unsure but then finally agreed to go.  After that I ended up winning two tickets to the show and found out that the tickets were second row!  I was in a pickle.  I already committed going with the girls but second row???  I asked Shannon if she wanted to sit second row with me and we could hang with the girls before hand, but she didn't think this was appropriate to do to the other girls and she was right.  It just so happened that my sister's birthday was around the same time, so I gifted my sister and her best friend the second row seats.

Back to the concert - Boyz II Men went out into the crowd with roses during one of their songs and gave my sister one of their roses!  I managed to catch them on the big screen (multiple times), internally dying of jealousy.  I'm happy that at least if I wasn't in those seats, someone I knew was using them and appreciating them!  Boyz II Men were performing so good and the crowd was awesome, they knew every word to each song and were dancing and singing like crazy. Myself included.  Like I totally fangirled.  IT. WAS. AMAZING.

Next up was 98, honestly, nothing memorable to report here - just that clearly in my opinion the order should have been switched between them and Boys II Men!

Next was NKOTB.  Man, I thought the crowd was nuts with Boys II Men but they went next level for NKOTB. Every word to every song.  It was almost hard to hear the guys over the crowd.  At one point the guys ran into the crowd and my sister got to high-five one of them.  My memory of seeming them the first time 23 years earlier is non-existent since I slept through the concert, so I was surprised to notice that Donnie Wahlberg really was the ring leader of the group.  I had not realized that before and he did such a great job essentially emceeing the night.

Overall the night was so much fun making me feel 10 and not 30.  Although I'm pretty sure I felt like 60 the day afterwards.

Boys II Men

Boys II Men



The gang - I especially appreciate the dude posing with us from behind.

June 01, 2016

Concert Stories #47: Carrie Underwood with Hunter Hayes

Carrie Underwood (2nd time)

Opener: Hunter Hayes

 The Blown Away Tour

BMO Harris Bradley Center

May 3, 2013

Age 30

I LOVED this concert from Carrie Underwood and Hunter Hayes.  This was my second time seeing Underwood and things started off great when I won tickets to sit in her record label's suite at the Bradley Center (it was mainly filled with just radio people and ticket winners though).  I had seen Underwood before with my friend Shannon, and even though she's not a huge country fan she likes Underwood as well so she came along with again.

Underwood really showed that night how far she had come from her first show at the Bradley Center in 2008.  This concert was a full on, high-quality PRODUCTION.  Underwood's stage had a pyramid structure in the middle which would raise up, down, and push back into the projection screens.  It was utilized extremely well with the graphics for the show.  The best graphics came during "Blown Away" when a tornado tares apart a home on the screens.  Then, near the end of the show, the front section of the stage detached and carried Underwood and her band across the arena.  

As one would expect, Underwood also sounded amazing live with not a hitch in her voice at all.  She had a few costume changes, all which were awesome outfits that I would want to wear myself any day!

Hunter Hayes opened the night riding high off of his hit song "Wanted".  His performance was incredibly impressive.  He performed with such passion and appeared to thoroughly enjoy what he was doing.  The crowd responded connecting with him and enjoying his performance along with him.

Overall this was a great pairing of two very talented artists who gave two great performances!

May 25, 2016

Concert Stories #46: Florence + The Machine

Florence + The Machine (3rd time)

Ceremonials Tour

Eagles Ballroom

April 28, 2012

Age 29

As soon as I heard that Florence + The Machine were coming back to Milwaukee, I was so excited!  Having just played Milwaukee the summer before, I was sure they would go to Chicago but thankfully they skipped Chi-Town for good old Wisconsin.  I got tickets to go immediately with my friend Shannon, her soon to be husband Mark, and our other friend Karey.  Now the best way to tell this story is just to walk you through exactly, from my memory at least, what ensued...

The concert was on a Saturday and for some reason I remember I was very busy during the day and could not meet the other three at Shannon's house until a little bit later.  By the time I arrived it was very clear that Shannon and Kary had been pre-gaming it, for awhile.  Mark was our designated driver so naturally he was not partaking in the festivities.  When I sat down at the kitchen table I notice a vodka bottle which was maybe 1/3 full and I was very much encouraged to "catch up".  I will take full account of my actions, I mean I was 29 at the time, a grown-ass woman for sure, and I admit that I should not have taken so many shots before I even got in the car.  What made things worse is that it was some sort of whipped vodka, which I hate, but that did not stop me of course.  

Poor Mark, he managed to stuff the three of us in the backseat of Shannon's car and off we went.  Three ladies already three sheets to the wind.  We of course took the vodka bottle with us and that was empty before we made it into the venue if I can recall correctly.  Honestly, how we made it into the venue still astonishes me.  When we arrived we idiotically decided to have more drinks.  At this time I was really feeling all the shots I had already taken but that did not slow me down.

It's here where I realized we were those drunk assholes that everybody usually hates.  We were loud and obnoxious and to us having a ball of a time, but I know from being on the other side, we were most definitely not a treat for others.  This was the one and only time I have ever been on the other side where people where probably staring at me!  Now who opened for Florence beats me! I think we got there at the end of the openers set or between them and Florence.  When Florence did come out we very rudely tried to squeeze to the front, but against the sold out crowd us three drunks did not make it (nor should we have) and we quickly moved back to the open edges of the crowd.  

It is at this point where things start to unravel and get really fuzzy.  At one point Shannon and Kary left for the restrooms which left Mark and me.  What I did not realize at the time is that Karey left Mark a little "present" when she ran off, which he then kindly gifted to me.  What this "present" was I will not tell you because as soon as you know what it is, I can not erase that from your mind.  We swore that night to never repeat what happened and I have kept my promise for the past 4 years.  Who did not keep the promise? Mark! Every time he has the opportunity to tell someone how the three of us are tied for life he does and each time I bow my head in utter embarrassment!  Not the terrible kind, but in the "What the hell, I can not believe I did that!" type of way.

After Shannon and Karey returned, and we reveled in the "present" that we shared, things got really bleak for me.  We were only maybe 4 or 6 songs into the set when Karey and I had to use the washroom. aaaannnnddd then never made it back to the concert.  In the women's room of the Eagles Ballroom there is a waiting area with tables and chairs.  I remember making it to the bathroom and then I remember sitting down for a moment with Karey at a table and next thing I know a stranger is rolling a trashcan next to me and patting my back saying "Here you go sweetheart" and the concert was over. There was a huge line out the women's bathroom and there were Karey and I passed out at the tables!  We were incredibly lucky that no one robbed or hurt us.  I had my Chanel purse and iPhone sitting right on the table and no one touched it or me, very lucky!!!

Somehow, and really, I mean I have no idea how we did it. Karey and I managed to stand up, and while leaning on each other for vertical support, managed to walk out the venue and the two blocks to the car where we found Shannon and Mark, who were clueless to where we had been!  Shannon's lucky, she cut herself off early and while suffering, was nowhere near as bad as us.

Up next was the treacherous ride home.  Shannon's parent's were watching Mark's daughter and he was determined to pick her up before dropping us at home. Both Karey and I were in the backseat at this time, grocery bags stuck to our faces and praying to the high heavens for all movement and sounds to stop.  We finally got to Shannon's parents house and I have no idea how Mark's daughter got in the car, she was supposed to sit between Karey and I and neither of us could move to let her in.  I do not recall if she climbed over the front seat or just sat in the front seat.  I do remember Shannon's dad laughing so hard outside the window as he saw me. Of course I did not look up because movement = the apocalypse to me, but I could sure hear him!  

Some how we made it back to Shannon's house where I crashed in her living room recliner.  At some point in the night I got up to get sick (let's be honest) and I remember washing my hands with cookie or chocolate scented soap.  It was the most disgusting thing ever, pretty sure I got sick again immediately, and now I live in fear of hand soap at Shannon's house.  I'm scarred for life from that smell.

The next morning I awoke and Karey had gone to McDonald's and gotten a boat load of food to try and save our stomachs.

While I was bummed this was the last time I saw Florence + The Machine and did not even really see any of her set, I did have fun, and that was also the last time I took that many shots in one evening.  

All pictures of this night have been confiscated!

May 18, 2016

Concert Stories #45: Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros

Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros


July 7, 2011

Age 28


It's not good when you start the story like that.

Let me backup though before you stop reading, this concert from Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros was not horrifying and not completely awful, it was just OK mixed with “What was the point of this?” and disappointment.  

Like A LOT of other people at the time, I was hooked on the song "Home" from the band's first album Up from Below, but I also thoroughly enjoyed the entire album.  It was different, fun, and an all-around solid album with a great retro sound to it. 

The band was playing one of the free stages during Summerfest and I met up with my friend Shannon and her husband Eric, who were also excited to check out the band.  Being it was a free stage and we didn’t get there super early, we were relegated to the back of the venue.  This was not a big deal, once a band comes out everyone pretty much stands on the bleachers, regardless were you are, so sight is always sort of an issue at the free stages (given how drunk the crowds are though this does not seem to bother many).

I cannot seem to recall to who opened that night, for some reason I think I remember Henry Winkler (aka “The Fonz”) being there.  The first thing I remember about seeing Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros is that there were a lot of people in the band and the stage looked pretty crowded.  Naturally, the crowd wanted to hear “Home” but that song was going to be left for the closing song given its popularity.  Now I liked their album Up from Below and was excited to hear some of their other great songs, like my favorites “40 Day Dream” or “Kisses Over Babylon” but the issue I take with this concert was that the band was so sloppy.  It was incredibly difficult to distinguish between the songs and/or understand the words coming out of Edward Sharpe’s mouth.  The tempos of multiple songs were changed, really slowing some of them down, making it hard to sing along.  Making things even more frustrating, it was hard to tell if this was done intentionally, if the band was having issues, or if Sharpe was on something.  Part of me really believed it was on Sharpe but part of me also felt that it could have been that he was playing up a certain type of image.  Either way, it made for an incredibly frustrating night.  We waited for “Home” to play, which was either the last song or second to last song, and again were disappointed when the tempo was changed. You could hear the crowd struggling to match up with the band’s rhythm.  As soon as the song ended we were out.

I still listen to Up from Below but I have not attempted to listen to any new music from Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros since.  I do not doubt that they have continued to make great music and I should check it out and give it a chance, but seeing them live was such a disappointment that I really have had no urge to.  This was by far one of the top five disappointing live performances I have witnessed. 

One other thing I would like to share, the original version of “Home” is great, but please check out the RAC Mix from the 2011 Reading Festival, it’s way better in my opinion. 

May 11, 2016

Concert Stories #44: The Black Keys with Florence + The Machine and Cage The Elephant

The Black Keys

Openers: Florence + The Machine (2nd time) & Cage The Elephant

Marcus Amphitheater

July 6, 2011

Age 28

This was a great concert and one of the best combination of bands I have seen to date! Being the huge Florence + The Machine fan that I am, I was super excited that she was finally making her way to Wisconsin right before her second album Ceremonials was about to drop.  I knew and liked some of the Black Keys songs but I honestly bought the tickets with FTM in mind!  I went to the concert with my brother and we were able to score amazing fifth row seats because the Black Keys offered members of their fan club the seats first! And an even better bonus, their fan club is free, so I was super excited to get such great seats without having to pay any extra fees.

The first band of the night was Cage The Elephant. I only knew their song "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked" but I was quickly impressed with them.  As the first act up, it can be incredibly hard to get a crowd (what little there may be) going.  Matthew Shultz, the lead singer, was not about to perform to a quiet crowd.  He demanded attention from the crowd and got everyone (at least in my vicinity) standing up and rocking out.  All members of the band performed as if they were the headlining band and it was amazing.  At one point Shultz even went into the crowd, many rows deep.  It was thrilling and the band was sure to have made many fans with their performance that night.

Up next was Florence + The Machine and my only complaint about her set was that it was not longer because I wanted to hear so much more! I will also say that I noticed a pretty big difference in Welch's performance.  When I saw her the first time in Chicago there was a wild intensity about the way she performed and her performance in Milwaukee was much more controlled this time.  She was still amazing and passionate with her performance, I would describe it as more professional maybe?  That absolutely did not take away from the quality though, it was still as fun as ever.

Then came the headliner the Black Keys and as soon as the lights went out, the pot was lit all around!   I only knew a few of their older songs but was well versed on their Brothers album, which was fantastic.  Although a two man group, additional musicians were brought in to round out the sound on some of the songs.  I love a great guitar player and it was thrilling to watch Dan Auerbach play.  I love a bit of blues and the Keys have a bluesy rock vibe to them that is great especially on a hot summer night.

Overall the night was amazing, it's rare when I can watch every band in a line-up and think that each band should have been the headliner.  Another interesting and random note about this show was that Jessica Szohr, the actress from Gossip Girl, was sitting two rows behind me!

Florence & The Machine

Almost looks like she's on fire!

Cage the Elephant

Getting into it with the crowd!

May 04, 2016

Concert Stories #43: Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi (5th time)

BMO Harris Bradley Center

May 21, 2011

Age 28

Are you sick of hearing my Bon Jovi stories yet? I feel you and get it, rest assured, this is my last Bon Jovi concert (but won't rule out concerts in the future!).  

Overall this concert was the same as all the other Bon Jovi concerts I have been to.  Great songs, great crowd participation, and great dancing by Jon Bon Jovi himself.   The only downer of the show was that Richie Sambora was in rehab at that time.  JBJ dedicated a song to him that night and had the crowd wishing Sambora well in unison together in hopes he could hear us wherever he was.  Eventually Sambora would part from Bon Jovi and man do I think that just sucks.  JBJ and Sambora make such a great pairing together and balance each other out.  I hope one day to see them again together in concert.

What really is the story though about this concert is how we got the tickets and the lesson I learned - only let those you trust by the tickets!!!  I almost always do buy the tickets to the shows I go to or they are gifts.  This time I was just not in the mood to by the tickets and Claudia decided to buy the tickets (this show was her, me, and our friend Shannon).  Well the tickets went on pre-sale and I checked in to see if she bought them and I got the answer back "No, they don't sell good tickets in the pre-sale".  Um, what?!? Nowadays its so hard to get up front tickets with the devil that is Ticketmaster, but I usually can get pretty decent tickets for the side of the Bradley Center's seating.  Which is actually pretty nice because it's elevated.  We had already decided we were paying the lowest ticket price since we had seen them so many times, but you (me at least) still want the best seat for the price point your buying.  Well Claudia waited until the general sale of the tickets and sadly we ended up in the way back of the house.  Ugh!  Lesson learned, if you want something done right you got to do it yourself!