December 21, 2007

Montana Invades Providence

Last night was the Hannah Montana concert in Providence, ad the Dunkin’ Donuts center. This was M’s big present, and Maggie had gotten the tickets online when they first went on sale. There is no way we’d have paid crazy auction prices for tickets, or reseller prices. I don’t know where people get off using a robot to buy huge blocks of tickets and then reselling them for ridiculous prices. It’s quite the scam.

Sensing we weren’t going to get tickets at all if we were picky, Maggie landed us with halfway decent tickets instead of the cheaper ones we wanted, and we counted ourselves s extremely lucky.

On my drive home, I heard on WSAR that Providence was already starting to see unusual traffic related to the perfect storm of rush hour, holiday shopping, slightly crappy weather and concert-goers who all wanted to use the same exit off I-95. So I called ahead to Maggie and told her that as soon as I pulled up, I was going to grab M and we were going to hit the road and hour and a quarter earlier than when I’d usually have left to get to Providence.

M was ready when we got home, and so off we went. By this time, tales of the traffic were all over the radio, and we came into contact with it about 20 minutes later. At that point on the road, we are usually 10 minutes away from the center of Providence. As it turned out, we were still over an hour away.

We listened to and sang Christmas songs while we sat it traffic. M was quiet; I didn’t whether she was worried we’d get there late. She didn’t seem nervous, but I reassured her anyhow that we’d get there before Ms. Cyrus hit the stage. I couldn’t be sure we’d get there in time to see the opening act, but M couldn’t have cared less about that.

The traffic eased up slightly on 195 as we neared the 95 split, thanks to some traffic going south. As we passed onto 95, we saw exit 21 completely backed up, and I headed for the Mall at exit 22. Traffic off that exit didn’t get bad until I got near the mall. I saw an enormous line of traffic leading towards the mall garage entrance and assumed I was seeing people trying to go holiday shopping and perhaps parking for the concert. I was shocked to find out that these people were actually trying to drive around the perimeter of the mall, not enter the parking garage. So they were happy to let me go by, get out of traffic and into the mall parking garage.

My guess is that they were just trying to avoid the traffic on exit 21, but wanted to park closer than the mall (or didn’t realize it was easy to get from the mall to the center). This was an odd stroke of luck.

We parked and walked into the mall. The flaw in my plan was that I had parked on the far side of the mall, but peroneal tendon aside, neither M nor I cared about a little mall-walking.

I wasn’t sure how, exactly, to get to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center from the mall, but I figured you just walk towards Trinity Brewpub and it’s somewhere on the way (been there, done that with Bull). But I had not accounted for the stream of squealing girls, like bread crumbs, leading from the mall to the Dunk.

We passed over the highway via the elevated bridge, and down through the Westin via an escalator which M described as the fanciest escalator she’d ever been on (thanks to the dramatic ceiling lighting).

It was a short outdoor walk to the entrance of what we used to call the Providence Civic Center, now branded as a giant doughnut. The folks running the place were waving people with tickets through very briskly. But the entrance was filled with many other folks who must not have had tickets. I have to guess that there were people there without tickets who were waiting for people to bring them tickets, but I’m not certain. Once inside we avoided the food concession stands and instead stood in a line that never moved, hoping to get a t-shirt. No dice.

I asked M if she’d rather stand in line, or take her seats, as the arena was screaming on and off at small glimpses of the Jonas Brothers. She couldn’t decide, but didn’t seem to be enjoying the line, so we gave up. As we approached our section, it turned out there was another big t-shirt counter with no line whatsoever. It really is true that people just stop at the first one they see. I walked up and spent about 10 seconds buying a t-shirt.

M thanked me for taking her to the concert in the voice which generally means she’s feeling guilty, or wondering if she deserves something. I gave her a hug, but I never know what to do when she’s feeling like that.

We entered the arena before the lights went down, but as we approached our seats, the music came up and the lights went away. We were more than halfway to the back of the arena, but the tickets were right near the floor, second row up. Not bad, really. People were friendly and allowed us to the middle of the row.

M was not interested in the Jonas Brothers. We listened to the music, and she asked to put on her t-shirt, but we sat there while everyone else in the place (well, kids) were jumping up and down. Sitting down, I couldn’t really see much of the stage and M couldn’t even see any of the giant TV screens. It wasn’t a problem, though, as she wasn’t even interested in standing at that point. She was there for a very specific reason.

I looked at the crowd instead. There were mostly young girls, of course. Basically, a homogeneous sea of little white girl faces. There were moms with their daughters. Also pairs of moms with larger numbers of girls. And there were also individual numbers of dads, many of which were consoling themselves with cups of beer, available at the concession stand. Some were doubling up on the beer, for the long haul.

Cell phones are the new lighters, or perhaps the lighters of the younger set. At multiple times, the crowd was exhorted to wave its glow-sticks and/or cell phone displays. M had neither, but didn’t seem interested in waving her arms, let alone some held object.

There was a 20 minute intermission after the Jonas Brothers, and the lights came up again. I suddenly remembered something I forgot to do when I stopped off at home, and was glad that I wasn’t drinking a beer.

The Dads in front o me were talking. I was surprised to hear a southern drawl. The discussion was mind-boggling, because one dad was talking about how the Jonas brothers hadn’t played a song he knew. Well, you know, if he was there partly for the music, I guess “good on ya.”

I could see M was getting more excited, but she’s like me; I didn’t like to show excitement when I was younger. I think I often think of K being more like Maggie and me, especially when it comes to certain awkward aspects of our personalities, and we see M as the child with a more normal personality. But when you see kids in groups, it’s a lot easier to see the traits that stand out. And I could see that M didn’t like to express herself in the same way that most of the people there expressed themselves. Even later, during the main concert, M was subdued.

Soon, the lights came down again, and the music got loud. I had already gotten used to blocking my ears at the audience screaming cues, s I planted my fingers once again as a bright pink light-up box lowered to the stage with a dancing silhouette on each face. Of course, Hannah Montana emerged from this box, to earsplitting screeches of appreciation.

I have to give her this, she’s full of energy. The show was flashy, energetic, bright, and the crowd ate it up.

Eventually, HM called the Jonas Boys back out to do a song with her, and then another song alone as she went backstage to transform back into Miley Cyrus. The dad in front of me was thrilled, because the Jonas brothers played “his song.” I’m really trying to be nice, here. I hope karma appreciates it.

Miley Cyrus came out, and she presents a more Joan Jett attitude, but only until the High School-themed song. Lots of quick costume changes, which amazed my daughter. They weren’t actually that quick, though. I explained that she has people dressing her, and that they distract you while she’s changing.

Big finale, everyone on stage, fireworks, streamers, confetti, screaming, and it’s over!

It was a good length. Some folks left before the end, but the crows was still going wild. I held my fingrs in my ears and waited out the screaming for the encore. M gave me some odd looks; I don’t think she could tell why I wasn’t getting up to leave. But she wouldn’t have heard me if I’d tried to tell her that the show wasn’t over.

Ms. Cyrus came back out with a guitar to play what she described as a more personal song. It was pleasant, and finally the lights came back up.

We filed out and my worries about getting out easily were unfounded. People poured out of the main exit, but the side exits were also used. We chose to cool off in the night air.

Another walk through the mall and I found my car. 3 hours had passed, but the mall only charged me a dollar to park. That’s probably because we actually did sit a while in traffic to get out of the lot. Getting out of Providence was traffic-free. We had survived, and M admitted to having enjoyed the show. That’s unusual, since I can rarely get an answer about anything she’s just seen. I had tried to get her earlier to say whether she enjoyed Mile or Hannah better, and she didn’t know. But eventually she loosened up and was willing to talk about the concert and the people.

All in all, it wasn’t nearly as taxing as I thought it was going to be. Not that I’m ready to go again.

Posted by James at December 21, 2007 8:14 AM
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Maybe she just doesn't like to show that kind of excitement around her dad. I know I didn't. I would have been jumping up and down and screaming with my friends, but not in front of my parents.

Hate to say it, but you were probably cramping her style. ;-)

Posted by: Julie at December 21, 2007 10:20 AM

I still don't like to show exitement.

Hope M had a great time. I'm sure she did.

I didn't see my 1st "big" concert 'til college so it must have been pretty cool for her. I'm sure she'll remember it fondly.

Who knew you'd need earplugs for a Hannah Montana show? Patti is a big earplug at concert fan. I find they lead to a dulling of the high end of the music and generally forgo them (I made an exception at the recent Dinosaur jr. show, they were playing stadium loud at the Paradise rock club).

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at December 21, 2007 10:34 AM

The dad in front of me was thrilled, because the Jonas brothers played “his song.” I’m really trying to be nice, here. I hope karma appreciates it.

Love that.

Posted by: Mike at December 21, 2007 10:57 AM

I'm soooooo grateful you went instead of me.

M is subdued with her little subdued friends as well. They are not the bubbly, screaming type. There are plenty of those in her class, but they're not her best friends. I finally heard her best best friend's voice last year, even though she's been over our house many times since Kindergarten and she's in my GS troop. So while it's possible James was cramping her style, I seriously doubt it. For M to actually jump around, she'd have to be alone in her bedroom with the doors locked.

I was always very quiet and shy as a child, too, and M has been described as "borderline selective mute." I think she gets it from both of us. It wasn't until I was in my 30's that I could easily stand and speak in front of people, and even now it's sometimes difficult.

Posted by: Maggie at December 21, 2007 11:57 AM

I forgot Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo is now signing backup on this tour:

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at December 21, 2007 1:08 PM

You guys are great. Beanie is still crushed we didn't get tickets but I put the money into a hip hop class for her instead. No way was I paying scalpers.

Posted by: pippa at December 21, 2007 1:12 PM

B.O.B. : We definitely saw Ms. Hanley, although I didn't know who it was at the time.

There are two backup singers prominent on stage, and she's one of them. They sing one of the song intros during a costume change, but the backup singers are also quite noticeable throughout.

Posted by: James at December 21, 2007 3:12 PM

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