Kelly Clarkson at Royal Farms Arena – Baltimore

I have not written much recently.  I told myself it was because I have been so busy and as a result too tired to write.  Honestly though, I’ve just been feeling unmotivated.  I’ve lacked the drive to write, cook, clean, socialize, oh and especially sleep.  Well, I think I have lacked the calmness and serenity to sleep, but it has had a huge impact on my motivation levels.  However, I felt so inspired last night.  I think I am ready to get back at it.  Yesterday did not go as I thought it would in any way.  At first, I thought that it was going to be a disaster, but it turned out even better than I could have hoped.

I had tickets to see Kelly Clarkson in Baltimore.  I have only been to Baltimore a handful of times.  I generally don’t see a reason to go to Baltimore when there is so much to do in DC.  I figured if I was going all the way to Baltimore, I might as well make an event of it.  I wanted to have a nice, relaxing dinner and see what great food Baltimore has to offer.  I know there must be a good food scene in Baltimore, because Guy Fieri is there constantly for Triple D.

I wanted to check out a sushi place that had come highly recommended from several friends: Shoyou Sushi.  It wasn’t terribly far from the concert venue.  My plan was to drive to the restaurant and find parking.  Then, I get some sushi and drive over to the arena, where I had a reserved parking space in a nearby lot.

That is not what happened.  I got to the restaurant and struggled to find parking.  All the garages and lots were full.  I couldn’t even find a space for street parking, not that it would have served me well as I can’t parallel park.  I was driving around, frustrated and anxious.  I decided to scratch that plan and drive straight to parking lot near the venue.  There must be tons of food options near the Inner Harbor, right?

After I parked, I headed to this pub where I thought I’d get a good meal.  The only problem was the 45 minute wait.  I didn’t want to wait 45 minutes, nor did I want to push it so close to the show starting.  I now had two plans backfire, so I pretty much gave up on the whole dinner idea.  There were probably other places I could have tried, but I just didn’t have it in me to try anymore.  I should have known it would be difficult to get a nice meal in Baltimore on Saturday evening during St. Patty’s Day weekend.  I needed to have either made a reservation somewhere or have arrived no later than 4 pm.

I found myself in a Starbucks.  I wanted some coffee to give me a burst of energy for the show, and I knew I could at least find something to eat here.  It wouldn’t be a blog-worthy meal, but it would be dinner.

I picked up a chicken wrap.  They aren’t spectacular, but I normally don’t hate their wraps.  I made a horrible choice with this one though.  I wish I had read the description before deciding to buy.  It was a chicken wrap with chile lime slaw, ginger cream cheese, and peanut sauce.  I didn’t even add the peanut sauce, but one bite of this wrap was enough for me to say no thanks.  I typically won’t waste food, but this was one of the worst things I have eaten in a long time.  I couldn’t even bring myself to have a second bite.  It was that bad.

I still had some time to kill before doors opened.  I sat there and enjoyed my nitro cold brew.  My Starbucks in Bethesda doesn’t have it, so it was a nice treat.  I decided I’d try my luck at finding food at the venue.

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I’m always down for cold brew! (Yes, they spelled my name wrong.)

I perused around once I got inside.  There really aren’t very many food vendors.  I just couldn’t bring myself to eat any fried arena food.  My philosophy on junk food is that if I am going to consume a stupid amount of calories on something, it better taste good.  That is why I don’t eat at places like McDonald’s or KFC.  You could totally find me eating a juicy burger with fries at a bar, but I won’t eat some third-rate crap from fast food chains.  The food options at the arena were dismal.  I decided to just get an orange crush and find my seat.  That means for dinner I had cold brew and an orange crush, a good mix of stimulants and depressants.

I was disappointed that things didn’t go well with dinner.  I went to this concert alone, and I was starting to feel like maybe I had made a mistake with this whole thing.  I was completely and pleasantly wrong.

Everything about this concert was absolutely perfect, especially all the parts that involved Kelly.  This was a powerhouse female tour with three female singers in various parts of their career/life.

Kelly’s first opener was Brynn Cartelli, the 15 year old singer songwriter who won The Voice last year with Kelly Clarkson as her coach.  It was very cool of Kelly to bring her on tour with her.

Brynn is clearly very talented, but I was struck by how young she is.  Her voice sounds way more developed than 15 year old’s voice.  She has a lot of depth and soul in her voice.  Her tone is rather unique.  I can see why she won the show and how she would have worked well with Kelly.

The second opener was Kelsea Ballerini, who I was rather excited to hear.  I am not a big country music girl, but I do love Kelsea.  She has songs that you can just make you want to jam.  I expected her to be fun to listen to, but I never really saw Kelsea as someone with strong vocals.

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What I didn’t expect was that Kelsea is such a huge Kelly Clarkson fan.  She came out wearing a KC t-shirt and just gushed about Kelly throughout her 45 minute set.  She talked about going to the Behind These Hazel Eyes tour at 12 years old (as her first Kelly Clarkson concert) and how that made her decide to become a singer.  It was a cool connection to make because that was my first KC concert when I was 13.  I was even wearing the same concert t-shirt I bought at that show.  Well, it was a new one I found on eBay because I wore the original so much during my adolescence that I wore holes into it.

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I had several fans tell me that they were so proud of my TB shirt

I am also not afraid to admit when I am wrong.  Kelsea actually has a nice voice.  You can tell that a few of her songs aren’ best suited for her vocal range when sung life (such as Miss Me More).  She can sing though.  I was impressed by her set, and she is just so cute.  She came out with shimmering eye shadow, these shorts with shimmering tights and heels that came halfway up her thighs.  I honestly don’t know how she performed in them, but she rocked it.

By this time, all my fears of this concert being a bad idea were gone.  I even made a couple new friends.  The reason why I wanted to go alone is that I am the biggest KC fan I know.  If I wasn’t going with someone who was as equally excited about her, it may have detracted from my experience.  Instead, I sat with two people (friends for over 10 years) who were also diehard KC fans.  They were very sweet and included me in the KC love fest.  We rocked out together, laughed together, even cried together at times.  I would so much have rather been at this concert with strangers who love KC as much as I do than go with a friend who didn’t feel the same way about her.  It was a great experience.

Kelly came out looking beautiful and glamorous.  She had about 5 or 6 costume changes throughout the show.  From the first note, her vocals were flawless all night.  I did not hear one single off note the whole show.  That is just how talented she is.  At times, you think this is legitimately how she sounds on her album, but it was clearly live.

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Kelly has recently taken her career in a different direction, one she has always wanted.  She won American Idol singing soulful songs by artists like Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, and Marvin Gaye.  She has always loved that Motown type of music.  The Meaning of Life album brings her full circle back to that love.  There is so much influence from that style of music in her album, and that translated into new arrangements of her older pop hits.  The whole concert had a Big Band feel to it, with a horn section (who were full on dancing with their instruments).  It was so much fun to be a part of her music liberation.

Many people in my life have known for a long time how much I love Kelly.  I was captivated by her from day one, and I was obsessed with her throughout my adolescence.  I even highlighted by hair in blond and red chunks when I was 12 years old so I could look more like her.  I have owned every KC album and would listen to each one repeatedly until I knew every lyric.  I have literally grown up listening to Kelly Clarkson.

There is more to my KC fanship than just her amazing vocals and fun songs.  I relate a lot to Kelly’s personal story and in turn her music.  Like Kelly, I come from a small town and always dreamed of something more for my life.  I was 13 years old when Breakaway was released.  I felt the meaning of that song so much.  Even at that age, I knew I wanted out of my small town.  I wanted to go out and see the world.  I always felt I was capable of so much more than my town could ever offer me.  That song became my soundtrack and my motivation to work hard in school so I could find my escape route.

Unfortunately, I also relate to her childhood with a rocky family life.  The songs she has written about her father have been the ones that have hit me the hardest.  In her concert, she was talking about how she was never shown a positive example of what to expect in a man (how women deserve to be treated).  Fortunately, I do not relate to that.  My father is such an amazing dad, husband, dog parent, and overall incredible human being.  He has been the rock of our family since day one.

What I unfortunately do understand though is how the absence and neglect of a parent at a young age can result in lifelong difficulties, because I have experienced that trauma.  I know that is a bit personal, but so is Kelly’s music.  The amazing part is how her music has helped me heal from my own life.

For a long time, I listened to the Breakaway album almost every night as I cried myself to sleep as a teen.  As sad as that sounds, it helped me get through my confusing and complicated adolescence.  Later in life, I received some news at 23 that shattered my world.  I had a 4 hour drive home afterward, during which I sobbed while listening to songs from All I Ever Wanted  and Stronger.  It was something I never thought I’d be able to get over, but somehow I eventually did.  That may have been in part due to her releasing Piece by Piece just a couple months later.  I listened to this album repeatedly, and it helped me heal from my devastating heartbreak.  Now, I think Meaning of Life is helping me to rediscover myself and the life I want for myself.

I truly believe that Kelly Clarkson is a fantastic role model, and she has served that role in my life for many, many years.  Last night, as she was introducing Piece by Piece, she was talking about all the years in which she allowed herself to be surrounded by “cancerous” people, which she described as her 20s.  Boy did I feel that!  I am still in my 20s, but I have unfortunately let a lot of toxic people make this a challenging decade of my life.  Her message was so positive though.  She basically said it gets better; you just need to get through your 20s.  That definitely gave me hope for the future.  I know I still have some time left in my 20s, but I am making steps forward to find a better balance of success and happiness.  It was so amazing to be sitting in that arena listening to her talk, as if she was speaking right to me.  I needed that message last night, and I am so glad I bought these tickets for myself.

It’s a little bit funny, because this concert was obviously designed for women.  Not that there weren’t men there or that men can’t enjoy her music, but Kelly sings songs for women.  She speaks to women, and there were a whole lotta women in this arena (sorry for the corny joke).  All joking aside, you know a concert is aimed for women when the arena preemptively turns all the restrooms on the first level into women’s restrooms.   There were still long lines, but they needed to borrow from the men’s rooms to try and keep up with the demand.  I was rather amused by this. IMG_8879

So, overall, I needed this concert last night like I didn’t even know.  As tired as I am from the late night, I feel refreshed and ready to keep going.  I have so many awesome things coming up that you won’t want to miss.  I appreciate having the time to recuperate a bit, but I am ready to keep writing.  I hope you’ll join my journey!

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