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BlakeOnline Special – “American Idol” Pre-Concert Report 2009

August 5, 2009

Image belongs to Blake’s family.

Season eight’s contestants greet fans with enthusiasm and infectious joy.

By Blake

Originally posted August 5, 2009.

I love American Idol. I just think it’s so cool how one television show can have a little bit for everyone, being just as entertaining for elementary-age kids as it is for their grandparents. And there’s almost no worrying about hiding anyone’s eyes or ears for inappropriate content.

As I finished up writing this article and was doing some proofreading before I posted it, I heard the big American Idol news that was just announced last night, August 4, 2009: Paula Abdul – one of the show’s judges that had been a part of the series since its beginning – will not be making the return for the show’s ninth season. The new season begins filming auditions in front of judges soon, and will premiere on Fox in January, 2010. I’m not going to go into detail about the announcement, but I must say that I think I’ll miss Paula on the judge’s panel.

Moving on to the reason I’m writing this article in the first place, when the chance came to possibly meet some of this year’s American Idol top ten contestants as they rolled through their nationwide tour, it was an opportunity that I’m very glad I got to experience. While we didn’t go to the actual concert, a few family members and I decided to head to the concert’s venue early to see if we could get a few autographs and pictures.

While generally the concert doesn’t start until 7pm, the tour’s buses usually get there anytime between 11am and 2pm. Sometime around then, contestants can come out and greet fans. They’re not obligated to, so if they don’t feel like it on any given day, they don’t HAVE to come out at all. However, if you show up around 11 to get a spot with other fans outside, you’ll have a pretty good chance to at least meet a few of the contestants. The experience is also free, which is a great bonus.

We arrived around 11:20 to find a small crowd waiting behind barriers outside of the arena. The amount of people gathering gradually grew larger as time passed, with people covering the entire barrier’s length by around 1:30.

Thankfully, the weather was very nice while we were waiting. It was overcast, but not raining, and only after a while did the sun come out. It was warm, but I didn’t think it was too hot (though it can get a little sweltering after being in it for a long time). If you plan on going early, be sure to pack a lunch and plenty of water. The amount of time it takes for the contestants to come outside varies with each city they visit, but expect to be standing out there for about three to four hours total (including the time spent meeting contestants).

The contestants came out at around 1:45, and the crowd went wild! Kris Allen, Danny Gokey, Matt Giraud, Anoop Desai, Scott MacIntyre (with his brother, Todd, to assist him), Megan Joy, and Michael Sarver all came out to mingle with fans. Adam Lambert, Allison Iraheta, and Lil Rounds ended up not making it out. Contestants came out about two at a time, not all at once.

Megan Joy meets with fans. Image belongs to Blake’s family.

Scott MacIntyre (right) with his brother, Todd. Image belongs to Blake’s family.

Anoop Desai greets fans. Image belongs to Blake’s family.

Some contestants may only have time to go down the line very quickly to sign autographs, while others may take their time to pose for pictures and talk. Kris, Danny, Matt, and Michael were the slowest making their way down the line, each stopping to talk with fans and take pictures. Many of them would run down the line and give hi-fives before signing autographs, creating an energetic mood over the crowd. All of the contestants seemed very appreciative that people had taken time to come see them, and their positive attitudes seemed to perk up the crowd, causing everyone to wait patiently for their turn.

Kris Allen gets ready to greet fans. Image belongs to Blake’s family.

Danny Gokey meets with fans. Image belongs to Blake’s family.

Most of them were happy to stop and take pictures with fans, and would even give shout-outs to your camera or phone if you wanted them to. Michael was striking up conversations with many folks, and Matt remarked a few questions at us (“You’re not too hot out here, are you? Not too hot?”). Did we really look THAT sweaty? Just kidding.

Matt Giraud talks with fans. Image belongs to Blake’s family.

Michael Sarver socializes with fans. Image belongs to Blake’s family.

I advise to bring something with you for the contestants to sign. There were concert programs and portraits available for sale right there outside, but overall I thought the prices were pretty expensive. Making a poster would be much more cost-efficient, and also makes for a great homemade souvenir.

Seeing the contestants’ personalities unfold throughout the course of the season on television gave me a better appreciation for their work ethic, and for them coming out to say “Hi” to their fans. American Idol is a very special part of my life, and being able to see some of the people that make the show so memorable on a one-on-one level was an amazing experience.

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By Blake; posted August 5, 2009. All images belong to Blake’s family.

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