(March 2, 2014, Fairfax, Va. Patriot Center) Anyone who follows me on the Tweet Machine or Facebook knows that I recently discovered an irrational love and obsession with Camp Rock and Hannah Montana, which is especially sad considering I’m an “old” black woman and both are five or six years old. I relived my Tweenhood last summer and went all in, purchased every Hannah Montana and Demi Lovato album. This week the obsession concludes the only way it could – attending Demi Lovato’s Neon Lights Tour stop at Virginia’s Patriot Center. Even though the DMV is made up of weather wimps, I was surprised that Lovato packed the 10,000 seat house on a cold, rain/sleeting Sunday afternoon. Click here for – Demi’s Review.
Concerts these days are all about the VIP experience. Demi uses a 3rd party event company called Adventures in Wonderland to manage her experience. For $75 – $300 you can purchase different experiences that include an invite to the Demi soundcheck party, a super package that includes a gift bag and an opportunity to meet and greet Demi, there was even an opportunity to do a backstage tour. Tickets to the show are not included. I went with a $60 cheap seat and the $75 soundcheck only package. I really hate sitting on the floor, sure I feel like a hipster, but 7 out of 10 times I can’t see anything so section 200 was fine. The Patriot Center is a small enough venue that even the rafters make you feel sort of close to the action.
A few days before the show I received an email saying we had to arrive between 2:30 – 3:30 for the soundcheck, we didn’t actually get into the venue until about 4pm, a lot of us were waiting outside in the cold drizzling rain for nearly two hours. I wasn’t a happy camper; the whole point of VIP is to be treated like a VIP. Not some scrub who has to spend hours waiting in several different lines with 1,000 other “suckers” who purchased the package. I don’t understand the concept of purchasing separate VIP packages to meet the opening acts shouldn’t one package cover everyone and at least include a ticket to the show? There probably would be a logistical nightmare doing everyone at once, but it still seems like price gouging to charge a separate rate.
All was forgiven once the soundcheck started. We were all grouped around the stage in the first few rows with a perfect view of Demi. She walked out and the small crowd screamed so loud my ears felt like they were going to bleed – and this is before the real event! Demi decked out in a simple pair of black pants, white T-Shirt and a jean jacket was the epitome of casual. She did a beautiful 2-minute version of Catch Me and an acoustic take on Believe in Me – a song she says she never does in concert. After that she answered a couple of questions that were submitted earlier – not sure how this was done, they must have come from the people who went for the photo op. The entire thing lasted less than 10 minutes. While it was amazingly cool, it certainly wasn’t worth the extra $75 -$90 and all the hassles.
After the soundcheck we were ushered into a party room where Demi’s personal DJ Cole Plante was holding court. He played his song If I Fall a couple of times and had a weird obsession with Katy Perry’s Dark Horse. It seemed like he played that dumb song at least 5 times and I can’t hear that song without thinking about Vin Diesel.
I always appreciate it when a show starts right on time, 17-Year old magician Collins Key MC’ed the evening by doing tricks, introducing the opening acts and kept the crowd pumped. I’m jealous that a 17-Year old kid is that talented. At one point he popped up right next to me and the Tweens went bonkers. First act of girl power night – X-Factor’s very own Fifth Harmony kicks things into gear with a solid set. I don’t know anything about these girls but there music was standard pop, delivered with a soulful flair. I really loved Leave My Heart Alone and Better Together. They surprised and pleased me by doing an amazing cover of Cameo’s classic New Jack hit Word Up.
They were fun and sexy, but I didn’t get why they spent half their time standing in the doorways of a makeshift house. It was cute as an entrance, but they spent way too much time there and it obstructed the view of their performance. Maybe I needed to have watched The X-Factor to understand that gimmick. Their hit Miss Movin’ On was powerful live.
After Fifth Harmony, another girl power R&B/Pop group Little Mix came out. Their set started off with the song Salute with all the girls marching up and down the stage. Other tracks included a stellar semi- unplugged version of Little Me and a energetic See Me Now. Another pleasant surprise came when they paid tribute to one of the most popular girl groups of all time En Vogue and did a fantastic version of Don’t Let Go. The crowd jumped on their feet for their closing hit – Wings.
All told the pacing and quality of the opening acts on the Neon Lights Tour was solid. I was skeptical about Collins Key and didn’t understand what a magician would be doing at a concert, but he was a great MC who kept the audience pumped and involved. A small part of me wish there was a bit more variety and distinction between Little Mix and Fifth Harmony but both groups had some serious chops and got the crowd excited and energized. Click here for part 2.