Dani's Tampa Recap

It seems like the logical place to start would be from the beginning when I got to the venue. I drove around the venue just once before parking and found the buses at the hotel that was directly behind the venue, but since I got there a little before 2, I figured I'd already missed them. I paid a stupid amount of money to park in the "VIP" lot right next to the buses and grabbed my stuff and an umbrella (to beat the heat) and went to join the crowd that had already gathered. I wasn't expecting to get the after show pass at all so I figured this was my best way of meeting everyone. I grabbed a spot near the barricade and it wasn't long before the buses pulled up and everyone went nuts. At one point I saw a car pull up in front of me and who got out but none other than Mr. Nick Cokas (aka Kat's boyfriend).

I wanted to say something to him, but let's face it, he's kind of scary!

We saw the Idols trickle off the buses and into the venues one by one and barely 10 minutes passed before Ace came back out, walking towards us. So diplomatic that guy! I talked to him about the interview fiasco on Friday with XL106.7 and he just kept saying, "Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I'm going on and I'm gonna defend you guys!" I got a picture with him and inched out of the way at Ace's request to, "Rotate, keep rotating guys! Everyone that wants a picture should make their way up here!"

 Ace left and maybe 20 minutes after that, Taylor and Elliott came out. Taylor walked right up in front of me and started to sign something for the women next to me and without even thinking (call it chronic Kat syndrome), I reached out and touched his side and was like, "Oh my gosh you are so skinny!" He looked up from the autograph he was signing to look at me over the top of his sunglasses and lit up and said "Thanks!" as he laughed. I asked for a picture but he said he wanted to sign some more things and he'd come back and do pictures.

In the meantime, Elliott just stood really awkwardly by Taylor's side and only did his cute little wave at people when they yelled his name. He didn't really initiate contact with anyone unless they called him over. So I had him sign the 8x10 of the top 10 I'd printed out (I'd had Ace and Taylor sign it too). I know I said he was acting strange at first but now that I think back on it, he was actually just really cute like I said with his little mannerisms, squinting against the bright sun and smiling his kind of puckered smile? Haha, I'm so bad at describing it.

For the record, Elliott has incredible arms! I couldn't stop taking pictures of them.

He took a picture with me and I gave him the things I had for Kat and Kellie since I knew they most likely weren't going to come out.

Taylor eventually came back over and I grabbed a picture with him (which I'm not going to post because I look terrible!) and finally left the bus area because in that short amount of time I got a wicked sunburn going and it was unbelievably hot.

For the next few hours, it was just an awkward waiting game of hanging out by the box office, first trying to finagle our way into the meet and greet (a bust) and later picking up my ticket from will call. In the meantime I met a group of really gung-ho Kat fans and hung out with them for the entire afternoon and most importantly I got to know Kim, who I'm now indebted to for life! She'd spent a fortune going to the first two shows of the tour and was really disappointed that she'd missed Kat. A few emails between she and Peisha later, Mama McPhee had arranged for some tickets to be left for Kim at will call. In our talking about this, I told Kim that I bet she'd had after show party passes because when Peisha left tickets for people, she always leave passes too. Kim had come with a friend just so she wouldn't have to be by herself but her friend wasn't a fan of American Idol in the slightest so Kim promised to take me to the after party if the passes worked out. Sure enough, Kim picked up her tickets a little while (from the envelope that read GUEST OF KAT) and we promptly freaked out at getting the passes.

More waiting, and finally show time rolled around. Let me just say ahead of time that the batteries in Motorola cell phones SUCK. I have a pink Razr and I charged that thing to its full battery life before I left to be prepared to do the PBP. Reception in the venue was crappy at best but I managed to get on the line with MJ. My seat was incredible, the second row and last seat nearest to the stage on the side. Everyone around me was at least 30 years older but at that point, I was too giddy to care.

Mandisa took the stage and I thought she looked and sounded great! I normally skip over her track on the Encores CD but she really worked the stage well and came over to smile and wave at me a lot.

Then she brought out Ace for their duet...

He seguewayed into his set and cheesed it up as usual but it was the best damn cheese I've ever had the privilege to watch on an Idol stage. He talked to the audience for a bit and said he wasn't a fan of Florida weather, but he did like the 15 minutes of rain we got that afternoon. He said he and Bucky really loved the area and they were going to go in on a house together here so they could come back more often!

Next up was Miss Lisa and she showed all the charisma and stage presence I wished I'd seen from her while she was still on the show.

She brought out Paris for their duet...

I know you guys heard me say something about Madonna but I just meant Paris was trying to channel her last night. The hair, the shirt, everything. I know she takes flack for her dancing and all but I REALLY enjoyed her. She can move and work a stage like someone 10 years older than she actually is.

I have to take back the comments I made before about Bucky and the things I'd read about his set. I didn't see anyone leave at all during his performances and I just fell in love with him. Paris can dance y'all, and Bucky.. well, he just really tries hard and you can tell he's having a great time.

At the end of his set he brought out Kellie to wave. Earlier in the concert (at the start of Mandisa's set) Kellie had darted right in front of me in her hoodie to watch the concert from in front of the barricade. Paris's mom came out to join her for most of the first half too. Bucky teased Kellie and told the audience about how she was on vocal rest and while the rest of them backstage were "eating it up!", she unfortunately wouldn't be singing. Bummer. :(

Intermission came and went and I made it back to my seat just in time (the sound of the AI music starting got me sprinting from the bathroom) as Chris came out. There are a bunch of things I want to address about Chris first. One, nearly all my pictures of him are a nice view of the underside of his chin and/or the micstand in my way. He really loves to toss his head back and true RAWKER style! Heh, I snark but I love.

There was no possibly-inappropriate touching but between trying to catch a glimpse of any crotch grabbing, I was highly distracted by the things they played on the jumbotron behind Chris during his first song.

Random flashes of some anonymous woman's hips and thighs. Verrrry strange.

Of course he brought out Mr. Yamin for their duet and I have to say, I prefer the orignal. E sounded a little rough at first but he eased into it.


That countdown you guys heard was me saying, "Cue the 'ladies' comment in 3..2...1..." and Elliott didn't let me down, delivering the line right at that moment. Elliott's track on the Encores CD is one of my favorites and I can't help but know every word so you bet I was singing along (maybe this was one of the times you guys heard me, haha).

Then as you guys know I got a little prematurely excited for Kat but forgot about the guys' doing "Patience". Right about then my phone just cut out completely and I turned it off to save what little life it had left in case I needed it on the way home.

Katharine got a great crowd response and she's getting more mobile with the cast. Her limp isn't as noticeable although her set felt way too short.

I had a poster for her so the first two pics were her coming over to squint at it and read it! Between her songs she explained about her foot and showed off her cast and there was an audible gasp in the audience, I couldn't have made that up. I got the impression that most people didn't know about it (and I don't know how that's possible, it seems like it was all over the news). But maybe they were just saying "awww".  She talked some more about how she loves Tampa because she went to a camp here with a lot of Broadway stars and she felt like Tampa was where she really nurtured her craft and developed as a performer. After "Rainbow" she got a standing ovation (she didn't do the false ending) and it was over way too soon for me.

To make up for my phone cutting out, I took a TON of Taylor pics. He was in rare form last night, dancing like a mad man! EVERYONE was on their feet and dancing. I just loved watching the reaction of the crowd because we were all having a great time.

Can I just say Taylor's butt looks really great in jeans? Hehehe.

My favorite pic!

The encore was just lots of fun, nothing really special to report except Kat came up to Ace and they hugged and bumped butts. Chris and Bucky spent a lot of time on my side of the stage and leaned over to shake hands with people in the front row.

After the lights went up, Kim and I made our way over to where the after show party people were meeting, and MAN were there a lot of people! They made us sit in this one section and took us a few rows at a time backstage and into one of the green rooms. It was really different from the after party I went to during season 3. The room this year was much smaller and there were a bunch of tables set up with chairs so at first, everyone sat down. Paris was the first to come in and it was a little awkward but eventually everyone just got up and started to mingle.

She was so fabulous and as squeaky-voiced as ever. And I tower over her, but really, what else is new?

As soon as I saw Kat come in I made a beeline for her because I'd heard they don't let her stay very long at the after parties. I had her sign some things for people we'd met before the concert that wouldn't get to meet her. It was all kind of a blur but I asked if she'd gotten the CD I'd given to Elliott earlier for her and she looked confused at first until I described it and she said she'd seen it on the bus but didn't know it was for her. She laughed and said Elliott was the worst person to give things to because he always forgot or they got lost. Then I mentioned the little dry erase board and pack of colored markers I'd bought for Kellie and Kat lit up and said "That was from you?! We love it! We've already been drawing on it and using it!" Then we talked about the third song and the connection to her broken foot. Her third song was supposed to be "Think" but since it was so upbeat, she couldn't move around the stage with her clunky boot and sing it at the same time. She was SO bubbly and sweet but there were a lot of other people there who wanted to talk to her so I said we didn't want to hog her anymore. But I know she would've kept talking to us if we hadn't let her go.

Hehe, caught her mid sentence.

Her face is so expressive and I could've taken a million more pics like this. :)

Since Melissa McGhee is from Tampa, she was there at the show and after party.

Mandisa was next and I just gave her a big hug and told her how beautiful she looked. She's slimmed down a lot and I was so impressed by her the whole night.

I nearly ran over Lisa because I turned around after saying goodbye to Mandisa and there Lisa was, her tiny cute self. I asked her about Danny and she grinned and asked how I knew about him. I said, "Well I could've been talking about Danny the boyfriend or Danny the teddy bear," but that I was her friend on myspace so I'd seen her pictures with him. There was no one around to take our photo so I snapped it myself ("Myspace style!" Lisa laughed).

Taylor had a ton of friends in town so I didn't want to take too much of his time. He saw me and said, "Back for more?" And I laughed and said I promised not to tickle him again.

My first picture with Chris didn't come out so he took my camera and took the pic himself.

I wanted a picture with Ace where I wasn't sweating my face off and I told him that, and he teased, "Don't worry, I'm hot too! I mean, sweaty, you know what I mean!"

He made another joke about "myspace style!" because he took this picture of us. My friend Brenna is a huge Ace fan so I tried to get her on the line but couldn't get a signal. So instead I took a video clip of him talking to her on my digicam.

Before, we left, we went back over to Bucky and talked to him about the curse on the tour. He said a lot of it was due just to the fact that they can't get a lot of sleep, and they're around a lot of new people every night with new germs. Like the night before they'd got three hours of sleep on the bus up from Sunrise, then slept for another 3 hours once they got to the hotel. He said he loved being on the bus though and he could sleep anywhere. I asked him for dirt on Ace because the guy is just too perfect and pretty and I said there had to be some gross habit he had. Bucky was like, "Girl, you have no idea. There's some nasty shit that goes down on that bus!" He was so candid and fun and he gave me a big hug and finally we reluctantly left.

And that was my incredible night! I'm sure I'm leaving stuff out but everything went by so fast. Thanks to everyone who wished me luck and said congrats. :)