After I had such a suprisingly fun time taking Girl to the Taylor Swift concert a few months ago (no judgment, please), I decided that more concerts were in order. So, when I found out that Kelly Clarkson would be coming to DC, I jumped on it. I love Kelly Clarkson! I've often wished I could see her in concert. The concert would be on a Friday night (yesterday) and we arranged childcare so The Husband and I could go together.
His reaction was: I get to pick the next concert. (We have slightly different tastes in music. His favorite satellite radio station is Ozzy's Boneyard). So, I guess I'm due for some aging Slayer or Metallica in my future.
The concert was at a venue that I had never been to, in northern Virginia, but still considered within the DC concert area (I guess).
Traffic there was so. awful. It was along DC proper to suburbs after-work heinousness. We inched along. Where are all these people going? Is this their normal commute? I would never do this commute! That's OK, I reasoned, there would be a pre-opening act (likely at 7 I imagined), then the opening act (Maroon 5) at around 7:45 or 8 (likely), and then Kelly probably wouldn't be on until 9 or something. So we had time. We finally got off the Highway of Pain...and then got into a Car Line of Near Inertia on a country road headed to the venue. The brakelights snaked ahead for miles. I started to have unhealthy thoughts towards Virginia and this venue. By the time we got to the parking lot, it was around 8:45 (2.5 hours later for a 45 minute drive). We heard Kelly Clarkson blasting in the air. Just let us get there before she ends!
The parking lot was apparently a satellite lot. As the crow flies, it wasn't too far from the actual concert but we had to walk though treacherous mega gravel (rueing my choice of flip flops), then a curving sidewalk path, then up a road and hill to the entrance. We walked with a posse of other late arrivers, continuing to hear some fave Kelly songs en route. At one point, a family passed us, walking ahead and the Dad says to the little girl (8? 9?) So what's your favorite Maroon 5 song? Both the Husband and I thought this was so cruel since we already missed them. Just plain cruel and sad. Oh, I can't wait to see Kelly!
I thought some concert-goers should have rethought their choice of footwear given conditions. Yes, I had flip flops on, but some women were wearing heels. Mega-gravel + heels = you're making me uncomfortable. One woman (a mom with her family) had on 3 inch sparkling metallic heels that looked like her ankles would go at any moment. Not worth it.
Then Kelly stops singing. Um...is it over? But no one was coming out so maybe it was intermission. Yeah, has to be an intermission! We keep walking, headed towards the magic lights, seeing all those bodies swarm around the Concert Mound up in the distance. We get through the entrance, hike all the way around to our seats and finally can sit and breathe. The place is packed! People keep streaming in. The screens are playing videos and ads and texts are being displayed in a running line at the bottom of the screen. Texts like: Kelly Clarkson and Maroon 5! What a great way to end first week of school!
I'm sitting there, enjoying the atmosphere, the energy, wondering when intermission will be over when The Husband asks me in his best gentle but questioning voice (the same one he uses when I've made some egregious mistake in reason or logic), "So...is Kelly Clarkson or Maroon 5 the main show....since everything is saying Maroon 5 on the stage." He looks at me with kind, accepting eyes.
I paused and let those words sink in. The screens are now showing MAROON 5 in big letters. I thought of that quaint Maroon 5 semi-trailer we passed once inside the venue that people were taking pictures of. I thought of hearing the radio announcer on the way to work this morning announcing passes to meet Adam Levine at the concert tonight. Holy crap. I'VE IGNORED ALL THE SIGNS. This is a Maroon 5 concert. And we missed Kelly Clarkson.
At this point, I was feeling fairly dejected. The lights go out. People go wild, screaming. Cue 5 (no 6) guys dressed in all white who appear on stage and start their first song. The bodies around us jump and pump their arms in the air. Woohoo! Maroon 5! I'm meanwhile trying to give myself a little pep talk that it's OK! Let's just enjoy this other band! Maroon 5 is great! ARRGGGGH.
Don't get me wrong, I like Maroon 5.We saw them play at an inaugural ball and it was amazing. But, I imagined this day going very differently and trying to manage my spoiled expectations. Boo.
Maroon 5 was great though. But we started plotting our escape from the parking lot early. We heard it can take 3 hours to get out of there! (I have not properly conveyed my utter disappointment with this venue in all aspects of design and traffic management, which will remain unnamed, but has the name "Jiffy Lube" in it, if that wasn't enough.) So, when the confetti went up, we started to exit. They finished and we just couldn't stay for the encore and end this night with more traffic. We walked out to the sounds of their encores - Payphone, extended version...there was a dedicated swarm of early exiters leaving with us. Then I hear Kelly Clarkson joining in. Alas. Sad ending. She was with me in spirit.
Then "She Will be Loved" croons on as we cross into Gravelpalooza and head to our car in the nether regions. The most satisfying part was leaving freely without traffic.
This morning, I told Girl of our adventures. Last night when we left, she was disappointed to not be able to go with us to see Kelly Clarkson. I ended the tale with, "Isn't that funny?" I thought she would see the dark humor, as well as feel better about not getting to go with us.
"No," she says, "it's actually quite sad."