The Art of Flying Solo

For the longest time, I was almost afraid to do things by myself. Stuff like going to the movies or concerts, even eating out – it just seemed weird to do it alone. It’s like we were raised in a society to think that we have to do things with other people, like it is somehow not normal. You feel as if you’re being judged for wanting to be alone and taking on a social experience by yourself. For me, self-consciousness would set in. I’ve never been a sociable person to begin with, so to be honest, I really shouldn’t care what other people think (especially complete strangers),  but that’s what happens. (I see the irony of being somewhat anti-social, when I was in fact, a sociology major in university.)

Pair that with the fact that I don’t have very many friends and the ones I do have sometimes have different tastes in music/movies than I do, or their entertainment budgets are less than mine, I didn’t have much of a choice but to start going to things by myself. It was the rare occasion at first: a movie every once in a while and then I slowly moved up to concerts.

The first concert I ever went to solo was Kelly Clarkson in 2012. For the life of me, I had yet to see my favourite female artist in concert. My friends do not share the same affection for Kelly Clarkson as I do, but I didn’t want to miss her coming through town again. I went back and forth about it for a long time, when about a week before the concert, I just said “F**k it” and got myself a ticket to go see Kelly. What happened at a result of that? I got Floor ticket, 2nd row from the stage. I WAS SO CLOSE TO KELLY! It felt weird in the before and after of the concert, but when I was in the venue, and just being there seeing my favourite singer perform, nothing else mattered.

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See? I was SO CLOSE!

In 2013, Sara Bareilles embarked on a solo tour she called the “Brave Enough” tour, where it was just her performing with no band behind her. If you’ve read her interviews around this tour or read her book, this was a big deal. My sign of solidarity for her was being brave enough to go to the show myself.

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Sara Bareilles, Brave Enough Tour (April 2013)

And after that? Well, I still went to the majority of concerts with friends. But when it became apparent that it was getting more difficult to plan outings like this (considering the costs especially), I started to say “the hell with it” and went to even more shows and concerts by myself. Kris Allen, Shaping Sound, Jessie J, The Script, So You Think You Can Dance, David Cook – all shows that I went to solo in the past year and a half.

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What I found was that, though I love having the company of my friends, it’s sometimes just so much easier to go do things solo. I don’t have to coordinate plans with anyone, consider anyone else’s wants/needs. I can go on my own accord, schedule my day however I want to, and then lose myself in the music/dance/movie/environment for 2 hours. On top of that, lately I’ve been more sure of myself (which really, at 28, seems like a long time coming). When I went to the SYTYCD tour in January of this year, my purpose was to meet Jessica ‘JJ’ Rabone, whom I love and adore because she’s also a Paris By Night dancer. The show was at Hamilton Place, a venue I didn’t go to often so I had to do my research ahead of time to figure out where the stage door was. After the show, I asked around to see how I could meet the dancers and the answer was pretty much “You have to be an invited guest.” I was determined and not taking that for an answer, so I walked around the building, making my way to stage door and just as I got there, one of the crew members was walking by and I asked her “Is this where I can meet the dancers?” She’s like “Yeah, come on in!” directing me and a small group of people who had also waited, back inside. Next thing I knew, I was inside the theatre with all those ‘invited guests’ and brought to meet the dancers! Made my way straight to JJ, who I had tweeted earlier that I was going to find a way to meet her, and had a nice little conversation with her! I probably wouldn’t have been able to do all that had I gone with a friend, because I know they wouldn’t want to and I’d feel bad if I made them do it (I’m selfless like that). Plus, ya know as years go by, it gets weirder going to the tour and the majority of the dancers are younger than me.

Same thing when I went to Toronto Comic Con in March. I only went on Saturday because that’s when everybody I wanted to see had their panels. It just worked out beautifully that I had time between each panel to roam the floor a bit. My schedule was: Killjoys panel, roam the floor, Will Friedle panel, floor for 20 minutes then head back in line to ensure I get a ticket for Dark Matter signing, Dark Matter panel, Dark Matter signing, Robbie Amell panel, floor, home. I could only do that here in Toronto and by myself; no way would I be able to do that at SDCC! So yeah, before the Dark Matter panel, I noticed Kristian Bruun from Orphan Black so I went to say hi to him, talk to him for a bit, and get a picture. At Robbie’s panel, Italia Ricci (Chasing Life, Supergirl) was also there, because they’re just an adorable couple. Anyways, after the panel I was about to leave when I thought “Let’s go see Italia!” Lots of other people had that thought as well, so there was a small group around her asking for a picture. When I got to her, I talked to her about Chasing Life and how excited I am about her new show Designated Survivor with Kiefer Sutherland, Kal Penn, and one of my other favourite human beings, Maggie Q. At the end of the day, I gotta say, I was super proud of myself for keeping my awkwardness in check in front of Kristian, Italia, and the Dark Matter cast (even when Melissa O’Neil and Anthony Lemke said they remembered me from SDCC)!

And going to the movies solo? Yeah, it’s a normal thing for me now. Like, for some of the big blockbuster movies, I used to wait and go see it with my sister and brother-in-law. I still do that for some movies, but for others, I just couldn’t wait for them so I would just go on my own. It’s to the point where, when I went to see Captain America: Civil War on the Thursday preview (because I REALLY COULD NOT WAIT), my sister was like “Yeah, I kinda figured you’d go without us.” For the record, they still haven’t found time to go see it, so yeah, I made the right choice.

Like I said before, I get so awkward and self-conscious in social situations that it kind of stopped me from doing things that I wanted to do sometimes. But nowadays, realizing that it’s perfectly fine to do things by yourself, and in fact, at times even better to do so? Well, the world is at your disposal, might as well go enjoy it! Honestly though, I’m still learning to be more self-assured, to basically be who I am and enjoy the things around me. I’m seeing now, more than ever, that it’s okay to be alone. I’m independent, I don’t need anybody else to do anything.

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Year in Concerts 2015

I had fun doing a little recap of all my concerts last year, that I wanted to do another one for this year’s many concerts.

1. PENTATONIX – On My Way Home Tour

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When I went to see these guys, I went with an old friend of mine and he said something along the lines of “Isn’t it funny that we’re seeing a group who will sound exactly like the CD?” Legit question because of course, these guys are acapella. What else were we supposed to expect from them at a live concert? And you know what? They delivered a concert, as if they were any other musical act, and just doing their thing. Unfortunately, short people problems so I had a tough time actually SEEING them but still a fun time. I hope next time to come to Toronto, they do the show at Massey Hall, which would be SO PERFECT for them with the acoustics and everything.

2. MAROON 5 – V Tour

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Can you believe this was my 8th time seeing these guys in concert? As always though, the concert never felt long enough, especially considering they are five albums in. I love them dearly, but I’d be happy if they went back to basics on their next album/tour. They put on a great show regardless and makes me a happy fan every time I see them (even if they don’t play my favourite ‘non-M5 but still sung by Adam Levine’ song, “Lost Stars”)

3. JESSIE J – Sweet Talker Tour

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A sign of my skills lacking this year in the concert department, I totally didn’t hear about Jessie J touring. When I finally found out, tickets to the Toronto show was sold out. As luck would have it though, the venue released more tickets a week before the show. DONE! First time seeing Jessie in concert and she did not disappoint at all. I mean, the girl was battling a cold and still KILLED IT with the vocals.

4. THE SCRIPT – No Sound Without Silence Tour

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It has been four years since I last saw The Script in concert. Partially my fault because I didn’t particularly like their #3 album. But in my opinion, No Sound Without Silence was a return to form and I couldn’t miss them coming through Toronto. Great guys, putting on a great show.

5. KELLY CLARKSON – Piece by Piece Tour

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I made it a point to avoid all Toronto traffic this summer because of the PanAm games and knowing that traffic was going to be crazy. My exception was to see Kelly. Not to mention, Pentatonix was opening for her. I thought I was safe heading into the city on the last day of the games but no such luck there. I missed PTX and made it JUST in time to see Kelly. Also, because the show was at the Molson Amphitheater, concerts have to end at a certain time, meaning judging by the setlists of other cities, we got gypped of three songs. Besides all the crummy stuff, it’s effin’ KELLY CLARKSON; she kills it every time. AND she did “Heartbeat Song” with PTX, so I didn’t miss them entirely.

6. KATE VOEGELE & TYLER HILTON

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What’s a year without seeing Tyler Hilton these days? This time, he was joined by another One Tree Hill alum, Kate Voegele! Both very chill music artists and as much as I love the big shows with full band and all that, sometimes all I need is an acoustic show like this one.

7. JANET JACKSON – Unbreakable Tour

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Janet is a complete legend, so who am I to miss out on seeing her perform her greatest hits and new material?

8. MATT NATHANSON

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At this point, I’m pretty sure it’s obvious how much I love seeing Matt Nathanson in concert. Even moreso when he does an acoustic show like this one. For added fun, Matt brought along a Wheel of Songs (see picture)! Songs from all his albums, as voted by fans, were put onto the wheel and fate (sometimes with a little help from Matt lol) decided some of the songs Matt would play. Like I said, fun times!

9. JAMES BAY 

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I got to end off my year going to see one of my favourite new artists this year, James Bay! I once again suffered through going to the Sound Academy (a terrible Toronto concert venue) to see James, only because I had missed him coming through town twice before this year. Again, short people problems, and I couldn’t fully enjoy the concert as a result.

It was once again a great year for concerts; majority of them being relatively inexpensive ones at that! With such a busy concert year, I’m surprised I still got in some travel, two Cons (SDCC and Heroes/Villains Fan Fest), TIFF, and two other shows (Shaping Sound, Cinderella the Musical). Now it’s still too early to call, but I’m guessing that next year won’t be so concert-busy. Trust me though, that’s a good thing, as I’m still planning to do SDCC (even though I didn’t get pre-reg badges) and I’ve got a New York trip on deck as well. So lots of fun times are still to be had in 2016!

5 Fandom Friday: 5 Times I Totally Fangirled

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I was actually already planning a post about celeb encounters when Megan (The Nerdy Girlie) and Kristin (Super Space Chick) released the Fandom 5 topics for this month. Perfect! Now, I’ve always prided myself in not COMPLETELY fangirling when I’ve met people whom I admire. Part of that has to do with the fact that I’m kinda sorta socially awkward, so I have trouble talking to my own friends sometimes, let alone celebs. Also, I try my best not to embarrass myself too much; it’s hard, but I try. Regardless of that, there have been multiple instances where that truly fangirl side of me comes out, meaning my awkwardness comes out and it gets hard for me to form proper sentences. My version of “totally fangirling” is getting so nervous I act like a total dork.

1.) SDCC 2013 – Final Nikita Panel

I’ve documented this in a previous post, but essentially I got up the nerve to go ask my favourite people in the world a question at their final panel. Just my luck, someone in front of me asked pretty much the question I was going to ask, and I had to think of another question on the spot. So much pressure! If you watch the video, you can probably hear exactly how nervous I was.

2.) SDCC 2014 – Meeting Shane West

Meeting Shane West after the Behind the Music panel?! AHHHH!!!! Comic-Con trip made!

Again, I already posted about this. To recap, I went to the panel Shane West was moderating and was determined to meet him afterwards. Tried my damned hardest to keep my fangirliness in check.

3.) SYTYCD Tours

SYTYCD Tour M&G

I love SYTYCD and for seasons 3-8, I actually went to the tour. For all the shows except one, I stayed after the show and waited to meet the dancers (because I found out early on that they did this, and I went with people who were willing to wait with me). Season 3 I met Lauren Gottlieb, was pretty calm. Season 4 I met Chelsie, Comfort, Courtney, Kherington, Joshua and Katee; it was when I met Katee that I nerded out a bit mentioning that I was a fan of hers from Paris By Night (and I think I embarrassed her a little bit by bringing it up). I skipped season 5 (it was too cold to wait). The season 6+7 tour I met Kathryn, Robert, Kent, Lauren, Ade, and Allison. Allison is one of my favourite dancers and I was so bummed that I missed the season 2 tour, so I was SO EXCITED to meet her. To be honest, I actually don’t remember much of the interaction because of how excited/nervous I was, except for asking her about tWitch (who was there at the show, but not performing), and then later on finding out that they had actually started dating (and now married)! Then the season 8 tour I met Marko, Melanie, Tadd, Caitlynn, and Nick. I definitely fangirled meeting Marko because he’s totally my dancer crush, and again I had to mention PBN, which I think caught him completely off-guard.

4.) FanExpo 2013

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I know I’m repeating myself again, but gosh, all these Cons are what dreams are made of. Saw Stephen Amell twice and acted like it was no big deal both times. 15 minutes after meeting Stephen (the first time), I met Gina Torres and could barely form a complete sentence. I met Piper Perabo and Peter Gallagher at the Covert Affairs signing. With Piper, I was my usual awkward self, not really sure what to say. With Peter, I managed to get in the fact that I loved Center Stage and The O.C., and have a proper interaction with him. It’s times like this that I don’t know how my brain processes being a fangirl.

5.) General Reaction to Awesome Events/News

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Sometimes, I’m at my most fangirliest when I hear good news. That means if my favourite TV shows get renewed, particularly if they’re on the bubble (which let’s be honest, applies to 75% of the shows I watch), I’m screaming and doing a happy dance. Favourite music artists going on tour and stopping into Toronto? Ditto. My favourite music artists teaming up to do a tour (like in 2013, when Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson toured together)? FUCK YES!

Music Monday: My Year in Concerts

As a music fan, I’ve always loved going to concerts. There’s just something about hearing music live that just makes me so happy and feels like everything is right in the world, if only for a couple hours. So for this Music Monday, I thought I’d feature the concerts I went to this year.

1. Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience Tour

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I wrote about my thoughts on this tour back when I saw it, but let me repeat – my dancer’s heart loved every single minute of it.

2. Lady AntebellumTake Me Downtown Tour

Lady Antebellum Take Me Downtown Tour

I’m very limited in my tastes when it comes to country music. Country pop I can deal with to an extent; I can’t handle real southern country twang. When I first heard Lady Antebellum, it was when they released ‘Need You Now’ and I remember thinking these guys are really cool and sound really great. I quickly became a fan, to say the least. After missing out on their Own the Night tour (which I’m still kinda bummed about because I absolutely LOVED that album), I had to make sure I got to see them the next time they were in town, which was for this tour. Though to be honest, I felt really out of place at the concert. Being a minority and a generally awkward person, I’m typically used to feeling out of place. For some reason, I felt VERY odd being one of few Asians at a country music concert (and not wearing plaid – believe me, there was A LOT of plaid). My being-out-of-place aside, Lady A are wonderful live and it was a great concert overall.

3. Gavin DeGraw

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For years, a friend and I had complained about Gavin not doing a show in Toronto. Lucky us this year, he did 2 separate shows. This first show he did was a solo show in support of his Make A Move album. I remember still being sick/jet-lagged from my trip, but I still had so much fun seeing Gavin perform. His opening acts were Rozzi Crane (signed to Adam Levine’s label) and Parachute (a pop-rock band I’ve followed for some time now), both of whom were really solid.

4. Justin Nozuka

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It had been years since I’d last seen Justin Nozuka in concert and when I found out he was releasing a new album and coming back to Toronto, I jumped right on it. Personally, I don’t really like the new album; it’s a little too mellow for my tastes. And most of the concert was comprised of the new material so I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more of the old stuff. I still cherished him performing ‘After Tonight’ midway through the show; it was quite a pick-me-up that got everybody grooving and singing along. I just wish there was a little more of it.

5. Michael Buble – To Be Loved Tour

Michael Buble To Be Loved Tour

I love seeing Michael Buble in concert. I always say this but when you go see him, you get a little bit of a comedy show as well. It’s his natural sense of humour and self-deprecation. Once again, he brought out Naturally 7 (a very cool acapella group) as his opening act, and who later returned to do a couple songs acapella with Michael. And one of my favourites parts of the show was actually when Michael performed part of a song by himself, with no accompaniment and no mic – a feat all in itself considering he was playing in a huge arena.

6. Matt Nathanson & Gavin DeGraw

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I always love seeing Matt Nathanson in concert (this was my 5th time seeing him) and add to that, getting to see Gavin for a second time within 3 months? Yeah, it was a no brainer. Despite the fact that the show was at the Sound Academy, a venue in Toronto I have associated with bad memories. Even so, I had to go see this double headlining tour of two of my favourites. My friend and I actually got lucky and received a VIP upgrade when we got there, allowing us to go to the second floor of the club. But after about 20 minutes upstairs, we made our way back down to stand with the masses; it just felt weird standing up top and what’s the point of VIP if you don’t even get to meet the artists? Regardless of that, it was a fantastic show!

7. Tyler Hilton

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It wasn’t that long ago that my friends and I complained about Tyler never playing a show in Toronto, despite the fact that he was constantly in the area (his now fiancé, Megan Park, is from London, Ontario). Since seeing him in 2012 for the first time, this was show number 5. I remember Tyler was actually battling a bit of a cold and kinda losing his voice, but he powered through his (albeit shortened) set. AND to make up for the fact that he didn’t do as long a set as he normally does, he agreed to do a meet and greet, taking pictures with fans.

8. Jason Mraz and Raining Jane

Jason Mraz & Raining Jane

For his new album Yes!, Jason Mraz worked exclusively with a wonderfully talented female band, Raining Jane. It was more a collaborative album than a simple Jason Mraz album. That being said, the two took the album on the road, and I got the chance to see them at the historic Massey Hall. Massey Hall is a venue that is known for its amazing acoustics and ended up being a fantastic place for Jason and Jane.

9. Kris Allen and Boyce Avenue

Kris AllenTechnically, it was Boyce Avenue’s show, with Kris Allen supporting, but I was there to go see Kris since I had yet to see him live in concert. Plus, I wasn’t going to say no to a $30 concert ticket. Kris’ set was a short 45 minutes but he managed to squeeze quite a number of songs from all three albums, plus a couple cover songs (Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ and Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’). ‘Monster’, a song from his 2nd album, is one of my favourites from Kris, but man, to hear it live? Kris and his band took it to another level. I even went so far as to compare it to hearing Maroon 5 perform ‘Sweetest Goodbye’ (my absolute favourite M5 song) live. Pure perfection. As for Boyce Avenue, I was familiar with their cover songs but not their original material. Honestly, I thought their originals were a little blah, and I actually got a little bored hearing them perform. Talented guys, just not into them.

10. Justin TimberlakeThe 20/20 Experience Tour (again!)

JT 20/20 TourIt only seemed appropriate that I end my concert year the same way I started it – seeing JT. The guy never ceases to amaze me and I always have SO much fun at his shows. I feel like I’m just gushing at this point, but what can I say, I’m a dancer at heart and loved singing/dancing along.

With 10 concerts, I feel like that’s the most shows I’ve ever been to in a year, and that’s not even including theatre shows, plus TIFF and SDCC. At this point, concert-going is like my life, so I can’t even keep track anymore. Here’s to another fun-filled, musical year in 2015!

Pop Cultured Summer 2013 – August

Summer is usually a time reserved for sunshine, beaches, and vacations. For pop culture fans like me, it may mean the end of my regularly scheduled TV programming but the start of a batch of other summertime shows. It also means the air-conditioned movie theaters are filled with the latest blockbusters, and live music abounds at stadiums/arenas/amphitheaters everywhere. So as we continue on with what summer brings us, here’s what I’m looking forward to in the next few months.

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After all the excitement of July, the month of August winds down the summer. This year for me, it will be a music-based month. John Mayer announced not-so-long-ago that his new album Paradise Valley will be released on August 13th. Lucky for me, the very next day John makes his way to Toronto on his Born & Raised tour – his first in three years. I haven’t seen him in concert since his promotional album release show for Battle Studies (and boy, was that an experience I’ll never forget. We may have feared for our lives, either by being trampled over or lack of air). Another concert that I’m VERY excited about is the Honda Civic Tour featuring a double headliner in Maroon 5 & Kelly Clarkson (Technically, they call it Maroon 5 with special guest Kelly Clarkson, but come on.) I mean, TWO of my favourite music artists/acts on the same bill?! I’m not imagining it right?! SO OF COURSE I’M EXCITED!

On the movie front, there’s really only one movie coming out this month that I’m interested in, and that is The Spectacular Now. The film, based on a 2010 novel, stars Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller as Aimee and Sutter, two teenagers who could not be any more different, yet find themselves falling for each other. On the outset, it doesn’t seem like the movie is breaking new ground, but the trailer gives off a sense that there is more to the movie than your typical teen drama. The movie was also incredibly well-received after its debut at the Sundance Film Festival.

 

And that’s about it for what I’m looking forward to this month. Most summer TV is in the middle of their seasons and will be wrapping up soon, so there’s nothing really new until the official start of the fall TV season. It’s rare to see a new show premiere in the late summer, but I was just reminded that on August 5th, it will be the 10-year anniversary of The O.C. premiering on FOX (can’t believe it myself). It’s a slow month to say the least, but it’s a sign that summer is almost over. Before I know it, fall will be here and September will bring forth the start of a new TV season, along with the Toronto International Film Festival. More fun is still to be had!