Leaving work on Friday, I could barely contain myself inside the elevator. My co-worker Mitch was kind of side-eying me so I blurted out: I’M GOING TO SEE CARLY RAE JEPSEN TONIGHT!!!”
“Wow,” Mitch laughed. “Was not expecting that!”
Even though I like a wide array of music, and am constantly dipping in and out of genres and decades, I don’t think it’s a surprise that most people likely associate me with heavier, “screamy” bands. And that’s fine, because I love that stuff. But I’m not one of those music snobs who thimbs her nose Top 40. (Although there are several artists, and I use that title very loosely, who I really honestly can’t stand and truly believe are ruining the face of pop music. COUGHMEGHANTRAINORCOUGH)
I have always unabashedly loved Britney Spears and have supported Lady Gaga from the beginning. I don’t even hate Justin Bieber. ANS I LOVE THAT FUCKING CAKE BY THE OCEAN SONG, OK??
However, pop music doesn’t usually tug on my heartstrings like my main bands do. It’s just something nice to listen to every now and then when I just need something on in the background.
And then came CRJ.
You guys. I wish I could put my finger on what it is about her that turns my heart into a clump of sweet sweet gummi bears. Particularly her most recent album which I’m sorry to tell you, it is a motherfucking pop masterpiece. It makes me feel like I have roller skaters right the fuck back into my charmed childhood, before everything got shitty, when all that mattered was puffy-painted sweatshirts and side-ponies. She makes me feel pure, unadulterated happiness, and that right there brings real, genuine tears to my eyes.
You can make fun of me all you want. Constantly remind me that you “don’t get it.” Smirk at my excitement. I don’t really give a fuck. She’s not my guilty pleasure, because I feel zero ounces of guilt when I listen to her music. She is my PROUD pleasure.
Interestingly, she has some major crossover appeal with others in my scene. Anytime there is a news post about her on Absolute Punk, the fan-girling is strong. She is a breath of fresh maple-scented air in a pop scene over-saturated with twerking and vulgar schticks and sexually explicit lyrics that you pray your nine-year-old doesn’t understand.
She is wholesome without being lame or cheesy.
She is a goddamn Canadian princess.
And I couldn’t get to Mr. Smalls fast enough!
Chooch and I have had our tickets since the moment they went on sale. I had a feeling it would sell out since Mr. Smalls isn’t very big, and it did.
After feeding us, Henry dropped Chooch and me off down the street so no one would see us getting out of Daddy’s car. We had about 20 minutes to kill before the doors opened, but the line kept growing so even though I was shivering in my too-light jacket, I was glad I didn’t have Henry drive around the block one more time.
Originally, I figured Chooch and I would snag a spot in the back, right where the bar is separated from the main floor, so that GOD FORBID Chooch could sit down on the floor between bands since his limbs are SO WEAK from being A NINE-YEAR-OLD. But then I saw that there was some prime real estate along the front of the stage, but over to the side a bit, so I dragged him over to there and at first he was like, “WHAT WHY” but then he saw that at least he could lean against the stage to take some of the weight off his WEARY BONES.
For fuck’s sake, Chooch.
We made small-talk with the burly security guy who was guarding the emergency exit/staff only door which leads back stage. Apparently, I was the cut-off for that side of the stage, because when some broad came over later and leaned past me to look toward the center of the stage, the guy was like, “You can’t stand there.” She explained that she was trying to see her two daughters that she left alone in front of the stage and he was like, “UNLESS YOU’RE GONNA BE WORKING HERE, MOVE.” Yeah boy!
Before the show even started, Chooch went to the bathroom twice. He’s obsessed with public restrooms. The first time was legit, he honestly had to pee, but the second time was because his gum made him sick and he supposedly went to the bathroom to puke.
Guys, I don’t know how much truth there is to this. Mostly because I tell Henry all the time that I was “SO SICK THAT I PUKED” and 99.99999% of the time, this might be a slight exaggeration.
Fairground Saints started promptly at 7:10. I would have guessed they were from Nashville—two guys, a girl, three acoustic guitars, and an alt-twang sound. They were pleasant-sounding, and the girl had one hell of a fucking voice, but it wasn’t really my thing. Chooch loved them because they covered Justin Bieber and he was so relieved that he had enough battery life left on his phone to get a video of it.
He’s clearly my kid.
The second band was Cardiknox and I definitely liked them a lot more because SYNTH. I love most anything involving synth. And the singer, Chooch’s new lady love, was really entertaining and high energy. She kept singling out one of the guys standing near us and it was adorable.
I thought Chooch for sure would have liked Cardiknox more but he was blinded by his love of Fairground Saints, especially after they not only liked his Instavid, but also went back and liked a picture of his cat, Drew. They have his heart now, probably forever.
Also, Chooch was starting to get super ornery by this point because it was getting more crowded and he claims the guy next to him kept pushing him into the stage but I was standing right there and I swear to god this never happened. That guy and his girlfriend were pretty mindful of the fact that a kid was standing behind them, and the girlfriend even slapped her hand over her mouth when she said “fuck,” and I was just like, “Please, if you knew the words that came out of this child’s mouth, you’d blush.”
Sometime during Cardiknox, two younger girls (they were definitely under 21 based on the Xs on their hands, and at first I thought they were middle-school aged but then I found them on Instagram afterward (NOT INTENTIONALLY! They came up when I was perusing the #gimmielovetour hashtag the next day) so now I guess they might be around 17 or 18…either way, the one girl who was right behind—I guess the security dude made a concession for her–and she was SO FUCKING IDIOTIC. Like, I get it — we’re all excited. We’re all screaming. I was screaming my fucking face off. But her scream was RIDICULOUS. Like one step down from a dog whistle. And right against my skull.
Then she would do these death metal growls and I kept slowly turning around to get a glimpse of her because for a while, I honestly couldn’t figure out exactly what was behind me.
Other than that, though, the show was AMAZE. When CRJ came out, I shed actual tears and started pushing Chooch excitedly. He was really excited too and had his phone out, ready to record her entrance.
She came out and immediately started singing “Run Away With Me” which is one of my favorites and oh, if only she had been performing at a roller rink — that’s the only way the night could have been any better. She sounded amazing, you guys, and she was such a joy to watch that I don’t think my eyes were dry for even a second of that show.
I’ve never really fan-girled over a pop star before, so this was new territory for me. But I was right there with all of the teen girls and gay guys, shrieking and thrusting out my arm in hopes that my fingers could even just slightly graze CRJ, even if it was just the sleeve of her shirt. AT LEAST IT WOULD BE SOMETHING. And also proof that she’s not a holograph.
During “Tonight I’m Getting Over You,” I noticed that she had tears streaming down her face, and she continued silently crying for the next two songs. It was extremely intimate and touching so then this made me cry even harder because crying is like yawning for me: if I see someone crying in real life, I will start crying too without being able to stop it. IT’S MY BIGGEST CHARACTER FLAW. Seriously, it’s hard to maintain my misanthropic asshole persona when I’m fucking crying all of the time, ugh.
I’m crying again.
There were grown men who looked dangerously close to flinging themselves off the balcony in sheer ecstasy during “Call Me Maybe.”
Chooch and I were desperate to get her to touch us! Before the show started, one of the stage guys came over and told the people next to us that they had to move their stuff off the stage. We were like, right on the side, where the stage winged out a little, and he said, “Carly walks out here and I don’t want her to slip.”
So of course we were all like OMG SHE’S GOING TO WALK OVER HERE AND BE STANDING LITERALLY RIGHT IN FRONT OF US?!?!
But that guy was a goddamn shit-sucking liar because she never came over that far. She never got any further than the guys who were two heads down from us, we were SO CLOSE yet SO FAR AWAY. But I swear to god there were multiple times when she came over and smiled RIGHT AT me and Chooch. Right at our dumb idiot faces.
I was goo. A pathetic wad of goo.
Meanwhile, Screamy behind me kept death-growling, “I LOVE YOU” which ricocheted off the back of my head, along with her phone which she kept shoving past my face in order to record CRJ’s every last movement. I mean, OK—so was I, but I had my phone at chest level so it wasn’t blocking anyone’s view!
That girl was seriously the only blemish on the whole entire night. Not even Chooch’s supposed “mental breakdown” toward the end of the show managed to put a damper on my spirits. (He was oddly preoccupied with the fact that he had a knot in his shoelace and it wasn’t until he finally untied it on the sidewalk after the show that he was finally able to exhale and go back to being normal. It’s always something with him.)
After the show, we went straight to the merch booth so I could buy a shirt and my record-snob son wanted E.MO.TION on vinyl. I’ve created a monster. It was after 11 by the time we made it outside of Mr. Smalls, and we were originally just going to leave, but then a group of older men started talking to us, asking Chooch if he got his record signed, etc. We said no, and they pointed out that there was a line forming outside of CRJ’s bus, which pretty much ended right where we were standing. It didn’t seem very long, and even though there was no guarantee that she would come out, I told Chooch I would absolutely die if I missed a chance to meet her. He wasn’t very pleased because he was cold and cranky and I like CRJ more than he does (seriously, if this was Christofer Drew’s bus, though…). I think he was also getting pissed that these guys kept talking to us while waiting for their Uber. The one man told us that he had literally flown in just for the show last minute and got there right as she started singing the second song. Then he showed us pictures of his twin grandkids and Chooch was like, “OK WOW GR8 BYE” but I thought these guys were very nice and I appreciated their flamboyance. It was a refreshing change from the usual too cool for school crowd I usually find myself immersed in at shows.
After about 20 minutes, Chooch pointed out that people at the front of the line were taking pictures. I asked the tall guy behind me if Carly was out of her bus and he said, “Yep, she’s up there now” and I started fucking sweating and hyperventilating.
The line moved up quickly and smoothly; everyone was very respectful of her time and space, no one asked for more than they were entitled, and she wasn’t straight-up mobbed. There apparently was already a VIP meet-and-greet before the show, so she totally didn’t have to be available for us, but she still came out and that made me evict a few people from my heart so she could have some cozier real estate.
By the time it was our turn, I was a nervous wreck and thoroughly coated her with my word-vomit.
“OMG I JUST LOVE YOU YOU WERE SO GREAT TONIGHT I CRIED SO MUCH!!!” and she just smiled graciously and said “Thank you” after each of my psycho declarations. Then Chooch very calmly and nonchalantly asked, “Can you sign my record?” like it wasn’t CARLY RAE JEPSEN standing before us all petite and perfect with her little hat on and OMG I WAS STANDING NEXT TO CARLY RAE JEPSEN ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME SHE WAS JUST IN THE LIVE TV PRODUCTION OF GREASE SINGING WITH BOYZ II MEN!??!?!
I really hate having my picture taken but there was no way I was missing this chance, because who knows if it will ever happen again, so I whispered, “Will you take a picture with us…?” and she was all, “Sure!” and I gave my phone to the tall guy behind us and only vaguely remember CRJ draping her arm over my shoulder because I was pretty much experiencing a blinding out-of-body moment and by the time we found Henry and scrambled into the car, my hands were shaking so bad that I almost dropped my phone while trying to show him our picture and he just mumbled, “You’re sad,” but then he was trying not to smile so I think on the inside he was like, “Holy shit my kids met CRJ!”
Not to be That Person, but I really did lose my fucking shit when she sang “Call Me Maybe.” I am overcome with beautiful memories and happy feelings every single time I hear this song. I’m reminded of the Summer Olympics, extreme laughing fits, ROSS’S BLACKBERRY…it’s just pure, unadulterated summer joy. So, try to belittle me for liking a “one hit wonder,” but it won’t work. My love for CRJ is real and I’ll own it forever. No shame, no guilt, no regrets.
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