Sunday, July 18, 2004

American Idols Live!

Armageddon in Sparkly Shoes
Everett Entertainment Complex, Everett, WA

The locusts are swarming the building and the earth is splitting open at its seams. How do I know this? Because right now George Huff, accompanied by JPL on a guitar that isn't even plugged in, is singing a slow R&B version of "I Believe In a Thing Called Love" by The Darkness. But let's start at the beginning.

I am in the ninth row on the floor of this large auditorium. The upper sections are mostly empty, but everything in the 100 section and the floor is jam-packed. To my left is a six-year old girl and her dad, and to my right is the entire state of Hawaii, complete with leis, flowers-in-hair, and complete maniacal adoration for Jasmine Trias. The little girl has on her American Idol group t-shirt ($30), and behind me someone has on a Fantasia shirt ($30), and over to the left in front of me two people have purchased 8x10 color photos of Diana and LaToya ($5 each).

Each finalist is hauled out one by one to perform an opening number (they all look fabulous, and many of the girls sport awesome sparkly heels). Their various contingents in the crowd scream as the singers hit the stage. JPL's people are mostly blonde teenage girls, some sporting "I love JPL" t-shirts. Diana's fans are split between the very young and the middle-aged (there is a SHOCKING number of unaccompanied adults at this show, some north of 60). John Steven's fans are... WAIT.. John Stevens is on this tour?? What the hell!? Surely they will keep him in a suit and give him only Sinatra songs to sing, right? (wrong) Or that he's been laid by now and has loosened up a bit, right? (wrong)

When Jasmine comes on stage my Hawaii girls FREAK OUT. They hold up their "Seattle Loves Jasmine Trias" sign and wave it valiantly at her. The goal of any home-made sign holder is for the singer to notice and acknowledge that sign from the stage. Jasmine agonizingly notices every other sign BUT the one next to me. ARGH.

When Diana walks on stage, the six-year-old next to me gets very serious. She bends down to unravel her beautiful and illegible sign, and slowly rises to stand on her chair and majestically hold the sign over her head. This girl's love for Diana is pure and true.

Once all the singers perform their solo numbers (gawd, Fantasia must be soooo sick of "Summertime" by now), it's time for intermission. The loudspeaker cranks... The Flaming Lips (??) and Scissor Sisters (???). Odd.

The second half is all about the Big! Group! Show! They perform - oh no - could this be true? - a tribute to Prince, kicking off with all of them singing "When Doves Cry" in four part harmony. WE'RE GOING DOWN, PEOPLE! (At this point I notice two 12 year-old girls sitting across the aisle from me. They've been eyeing my Hawaii girls disapprovingly for the entire show, and watch all the performances with their arms crossed. I wonder what terrible school they attend that has sucked all the girlish enthusiasm from their little bodies. It makes me sad.)

Once The Purple One's music is smashed into a bloody pulp (this includes actual booty-shaking choreography by Young Blue Eyes), Tamyra Gray is carted out in a brash demonstration of American Idol Franchise cross-promotion. She performs her new graduation/1st wedding dance song and two others. The people scream. They feel that they have been given a special gift.

I experience conflicted feelings of joy and revulsion when JPL takes the stage and, clad in a Polo shirt with collar up and little SCARF underneath, performs "Hey Ya" by Outkast. The crowd shrieks, people sing along, and even the older fans get into it. My first thought is oh-dear-lord-no, but then I remember that my very top boyfriend, Jon Brion, performed a kick-ass rendition of the same song recently at the Sunset. So I let it go.

The singers are in a Disney-like montage for the end of their big number together. I know this signals that the last performance is coming up, and that it will be Fantasia's ultra-shmaltzy "I Believe." I go to the back in search of actual loving swoony tears from an audience member. And do you know where I find them? On the face of a baby-boomer woman at the very back of the auditorium, overcome with joy and emotion, hands out in front of her as though she is at a religious revival, soaking up the spirit and energy that only a true American Idol can provide.

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