We were told to arrive between 5 and 6 am even though we wouldn't be allowed to our ticketed seats until 8:00am. This time the line was even farther down the block. Rumors were going around that 10,000 people were there by 6:30 am. Some people we talked said the instruction sheets they were given said to show up between 4 and 5 am.
Hmm, interesting. Sounds like a standard mob psychology tastic to me. Get people there early, testing to see who wants it and how much. Make them stand around and get hyped up by seeing how many others there are to compete against, stir gently with a pinch of self-permeating rumors and voila! You have full on hype and backstabbing competition. I asked around and I'm sad to report my theory was substantiated by several members of Crowd Management Services, the outside vendor hired to wrangle us "idolizers." Plus we were a captive audience for cheap plastic handouts emblazoned with tv series titles and Krispy Kreme donuts.
One thing I gotta say for Mob Psychology, it can be very entertaining. I took a little walk up to the front of the line where William Hung was being interviewed for the news. Here's the one picture I got from the day because I forgot my camera and after this shot, my phone got fried from the downpour. Savor this once I can upload from my now-non-fried camera.
Oh, did I mention it rained? yes, it bloody rained. Rained cats, dogs, and some very soggy sheep, I might add. We were among the few hundred lucky souls to be caught under a large canopy for most of the time, but the poor saps at the front of the line were drenched to their bones. This was really great once they decided to open the doors early to a very heavily air conditioned arena. What is it about Seattle and their distinct lack of decent hot air hand dryers? Lots of public sinks, lots of piss poor hand dryers. Some of these singers could have dried their hair and some portion of their clothes to avoid getting sick and losing their voices, but no. A very wet city doesn't think we deserve to by dry. Just be wet and deal with it.
Moving on from my rant, we were all schooled into a rousing rendition of one of the worst rock songs of all time, none other than Jefferson Starship's anti-climactic comeback song, "We Built This City." This was then followed with lots of loud cheering along with crane shots of the crowd spinning their wet umbrellas while singing "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head," a song older than most of the contestants. But good aunties and moms sang along instead of their competing companions in an effort to save one more voice to be the future American Idol.
Then more cheers, crane shots and brilliant chants, like "It's okay, Simon, we like the rain."
Yeah, wow. I didn't see your $2K Armani out there getting drenched. But dutiful aunties, etc. You gotta do what you gotta do.
Poor Tonya was getting really tired by now. She still couldn't decide what to sing. They set up 11 tables down the center of the floor with little curtains between each table. Whole seating sections were brought down to the floor and lined up in 2 lines. Then the first 2 from each line became a group of 4 that was shuttled over to stand in line in front of a table where 2 - 3 judges were sitting. The judge would hear each person individually then bring everyone as a group and most people got sent out the "non-winners" exit where their special wristband was cut. The few who were going on the next round were given a yellow card that they then proceeded to wave about like a quarterback in the end zone while onlookers cheered.
It was really sweet to see how they'd react. One guy did several back handsprings and a backflip. I hope he was caught on tape. Another woman was forced to sing 3 or 4 songs while more and more judges came over to listen. She got a card.
Plus there were so many other characters - Black Uncle Sam, WonderWoman of Target, the girl with the long long braids.
Oh, yes, the part you are all waiting for. I was so totally fine - relaxed, calm, joking around with tired contestant niece and being dutiful and really loving it! Then our seating section was called. She stood up to go, big hug and kiss and off to her destiny whatever that may be. I couldn't tear my eyes off of her and even through my tears I watched her line up on the main floor, get sectioned with her group of 4 and stand, waiting to be judged. Everywhere that girl went she made friends. Everywhere! In line outside, while we were walking around listening to everyone practice, even right there on the main floor.
It came to be her turn and the judge nodded and smiled while she sang out her sweet little country song. He seemed attentive and kind while he called them all up together, thanked them and they all walked away.
That was it.
Outside, at the "non-winners" exit, girls were crying, seething, yelling "Prince is my cousin! my whole family got vocals!" or thinking they are no good because they didn't get picked for American Idol.
Well, I'll tell you, after going through all that, this sweet young girl said, "well, so I wasn't what they were looking for. Oh well."
She's 18 years old and she knows who she is. So, she may not be America's Idol, but she sure is mine.