February 20, 2012
Long time readers will know that Mr. Karen and I have been going to Kansas concerts together longer than we’ve been married—and we’ve been married a long time. It seemed like a mean twist of fate when we found out that they’d be doing two shows within a hundred miles of our house during the one week in February that we’d planned to not be at our house but rather at our condo in Idaho. Making us even more bummed that we’d have to miss them was the fact that they were doing both shows with opening band we’d liked so much last fall, District 97. But then a couple other things happened that made us think perhaps the universe was trying to tell us to move our ski trip, and after some discussion and pounding on the Delta Airlines website, that’s what we ended up doing. The most reasonable next step would have been just to get tickets for the show closer to our house for the Friday night and call it good, but since we’d already spent the money on those airline change fees it somehow seemed like it wouldn’t be that much more to go ahead and see the Thursday show, too, even though the geography meant we’d also have to get a hotel room that night to have any chance of getting enough sleep to be alert the next day.
Thus it came to pass that this past Thursday after work I met my husband at hotel, where we dropped off our overnight bags and got into one car to drive north to the Temple Theater in Saginaw. We’d gotten our tickets the old fashioned way, in the mail, and they came with an information sheet that gave instructions on free parking in a lot on the other side of the freeway from the theater, from which there was supposed to be a shuttle. We went there and saw no attendants or signs, only a few vehicles, and a gate that could be locked trapping us in the lot if something happened and we were delayed getting back after the show. We weren’t getting a warm fuzzy feeling about the whole thing, so we drove over by the theater and found parking at the ramp right across the street for only $5. The theater wasn’t as ornate as some of the ones from this era that we’ve been to, which made me feel more comfortable about being there in casual concert duds. The building was nicely restored (it even had huge modern bathrooms, a pleasant surprise), and everyone who worked there that I talked to was very friendly. Mr. and I chatted with the couple at the District 97 merch table for a bit before we went in; as it turned out, we were sitting two rows behind them in the theater so we chatted more at intermission and after the show as well. They’ve seen Kansas in more than 30 states, way more than we have. Our seats were great, as was the show. The guys next to me for some reason decided they needed to have a loud conversation during Kansas’s set, but they did quiet down when Mr. Karen gestured at them (they also left early; I don’t think they were super fans). We were still in the theater when one of the roadies came out to toss some of Phil Ehart’s used drumsticks into the remaining crowd, and for the first time ever, Mr. Karen got one. That’s a nice souvenir, as was the signature Mr. Karen got on our new Leslie Hunt CD (she’s the lead vocalist in District 97 and was in the top 20 on American Idol one year). We made it back to our hotel and into bed only a few hours after our normal time for a weeknight.
After work on Friday, Mr. Karen and I met for a quick dinner at a sub shop close to that night’s venue, the Andiamo Celebrity Showroom in Warren, a place we’d never been before and about which we couldn’t find many reviews online so weren’t sure what to expect. My initial impression was not positive; they forced everyone to valet park, which I was not expecting and which I don’t especially like even if I am expecting it. I want to be able to park my own car, keep my keys, and have a few moments to collect myself before having to get out and deal with people. I perked up some when we got inside and saw our merch table friends from the night before; it was nice to chat with them again. Those good feelings were tamped back down when we got into the theater and saw the seating, which was at skinny tables arranged in such a way that only about six people in the whole back section of the room had a chance at a decent view (and even they had to deal with the constant parade of servers and guests walking back and forth). The tables and chairs were so packed together that it was worse than flying coach, and when I moved my chair a bit to have more room for my legs, an usher came along and reprimanded me for blocking the aisle (which at the time had her and two other people in it directly behind me, so it was not as if I’d left no space for anyone to get through). When I went to use the restroom, I got even crankier; there were only a handful of stalls for this 1000-seat venue, and the bathrooms were situated such that the lines for both women’s and men’s rooms spilled out into the same hallway after just a few people were in them, which hampered access even more. I was so very happy that we’d decided to go to the show at the Temple the night before, because at this one, I really couldn’t see much at all, despite being only about 15 yards from the stage. Before the show, we thought they’d be projecting the stage view onto the large screens hanging from the ceiling around the room, mitigating the poor sightlines, but they did not. The only thing those screens were used for was to play, loudly, commercials for Andiamo during intermission. Once the show ended, most people headed for the lobby to get into the valet line. Because the lobby is very small, this meant there was pretty much no way to get to the bathrooms or the merch tables or outside to get a breath of fresh air. I suppose I could have started pushing and jamming people with my elbows, but instead, Mr. Karen and I explored the back and sides of the room and found we could sneak out a side door if we went behind the curtain forming the backstage area, so that’s what we did. I am no huge fan of WalMart, but the 24-hour SuperCenter across the street was my best friend just then; their bathrooms were large and easy to access and strolling around the store was quite relaxing compared to being trapped in Andiamo. There was still a line for the valet when we returned for my car about forty five minutes after the show ended, but eventually I was reunited with my Fusion and made it home before falling asleep.