Friday, March 16, 2012

Allstar Weekend - Virgin Mobile Mod Club, Toronto - February 22nd, 2012

Published in Lithium Magazine

Photo by Elena Maystruk

Pop-rock band Allstar Weekend, who rose to fame on the Disney Channel, brought their All the Way tour to Toronto’s Virgin Mobile Mod Club on Wednesday, February 22.

The concert was billed as an all-ages show, and it truly was. Filled equally with young children, teenagers, and adults, the club was packed with adoring fans of all ages that danced, screamed, and sang in unison with the band to each song.

The show was scheduled to begin at 6:30pm, which was early for a weeknight, but the dedicated fans in the audience certainly didn’t mind dancing off the early dinner. The evening kicked off with three opening bands—The After Party, Before You Exit, and Hollywood Ending—who got the crowd warmed up for the evening’s main event. Hollywood Ending gave a notable performance, and the crowd knew all the words to their songs. The absence of bass player Chris Bourne, who had trouble crossing the border, didn’t dampen the crowd’s spirits, as he was ably replaced by Before You Exit’s Connor McDonough, pulling double duty on the night.

Allstar Weekend took the stage at 8:45pm, and the crowd went wild. They opened their hour-and-a-quarter long set with the title track from their 2011 release “All the Way,” and segued right into “Do it to Me.” In addition to their own hits, like “Hey Princess” and “Blame it on September,” Allstar Weekend also performed great covers of Chris Brown’s “Yeah 3x” and Train’s “Drops of Jupiter.” During “Sorry…” lead singer Zach Porter chose a selection of excited fans from the crowd to come on stage to dance to the song.

The band performed their newest single, “Wanna Dance with Somebody,” as a poignant Whitney Houston tribute. The show closed with “A Different Side of Me,” before the band returned for a three-song encore of “Teenage Hearts,” “Here with You,” and the finale “Not Your Birthday.”

The concert was fun, energetic, and highly entertaining. Allstar Weekend puts on an energetic and charismatic performance. They showed that their recent departure from former label Hollywood Records hasn’t dampened their spirits. Almost as notable as the band was the audience, and the band basked in the adoration of the crowd. The faithful fans who sang their hearts out were almost like a part of the band, nearly drowning out Porter’s vocals on several occasions.

Friday, April 22, 2011

My Brush With Celebrity

If you knew me when I was growing up—or if you’ve read my previous posts, such as last year's post on Grease—one thing you’d say about me is that I was one star-struck kid. I had several celebrity crushes over those formative years, but you never forget your first celebrity crush. Rick Springfield was mine! His was the first concert I ever went to. I still remember the excitement I felt when my parents gave me the tickets, and seeing him perform contributed to my lifelong love of live music. I used to rush home from school every day to try to catch a glimpse of Rick as Dr. Noah Drake during the last 15 minutes of General Hospital. My friends and I would play his music constantly.

So when I heard that Rick Springfield had written an autobiography entitled Late, Late at Night, and was doing a book signing at Indigo Books in Toronto, I couldn’t miss it! I had to rearrange my calendar significantly to attend the book signing, but I rushed down to Indigo, and arrived there, full of anticipation, and very excited to be meeting someone that was such an important part of my childhood.

When I found the line up, my first thought was “Oh, this isn’t too long. Poor Rick, I hope more people show up than this.” Then a security guard said “You have to line up there"--and pointed to the hundreds of people (mostly women) lined up around the rows of bookshelves behind me. My heart sank as I walked nervously from row to row, glancing at the hordes of people, wondering if I would even get to meet him. Finally, I got to the end of the line. Jessie’s Girl, along with other hits, played in the background. I talked with two women in line with me, and discovered that their stories were similar to mine, and a lot of the other women in line. There were a lot of kids rushing home from school to watch him on GH in those days! We laughed and reminisced about our celebrity “friend,” and couldn’t wait until he came out. Finally, he appeared. I was too far back and couldn’t see him, though. While I was in line, a lady came over, and put a post-it note on my book to make it easier for Rick to sign. We were under strict orders to get the autograph, the photo, and move on.

I inched closer to the front of the line, and finally, I could see the stage! And Rick! He smiled, signedbooks, and posed for countless photos. After what seemed like an eternity, it was my turn to meet Rick Springfield. I walked onto the stage, and there he was in front of me—my childhood crush!

It’s so nice to meet you!” I beamed. I meant it. I felt like I was seeing an old friend.

“It’s nice to meet you, too, sweetheart,” Rick replied, as he signed my book.

Wait, did Rick Springfield just call me “Sweetheart?” Insert "swoon" here. Even at 60-something, he still has that effect on women.

He then put his arm around me—yes, put his arm around me—and I got a photo taken with him.

I’m really looking forward to reading your book,” I continued as we smiled for the camera.

“I hope you enjoy it,” he replied with a sincere smile. What a nice man, I thought to myself.

Once the photo is taken, I said “Thank you,” took my signed book, and I’m ushered off the stage. My brush with stardom was over. Just like that. I exited the store, clutching my newly autographed book, and smiled. I just met Rick Springfield. It seemed surreal.

Back at home, I began reading Late, Late at Night. Written without the help of a ghostwriter, the autobiography takes you on a wild ride through the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll lifestyle Rick lived. It covers his childhood in Australia and England, his musical beginnings, rise to fame, and the height of his career. It chronicles his relationship with his wife Barbara, which has lasted 30 years despite numerous infidelities over the years. At the heart of the book is Rick’s long battle with and recovery from depression (affectionately named “Mr. D.”), which caused him to leave the music business at the height of his fame. The book is honest, candid, and Rick doesn’t hold back. As a reader, you feel like you really get to know him, and empathize with him and his struggles. As a fan, I enjoyed reading about Rick’s amazing life, and what was going on behind the scenes during the height of Rick’s career.

Whether you’re a Rick Springfield fan or not, if you’re looking for a really good book, I’d highly recommend Late, Late at Night. It’s a great, great, read.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Goodbye 2010, hello 2011

Every January, as many people do, I contemplate and write down my goals for the coming year, and what I want to accomplish in each area of my life. Along with my goals, I always give the year ahead a keyword that embodies the theme of the year, and ties my goals together. My 2010 goals had two keywords: restoration and balance.

As I look back on 2010, I am struck by several things.

1. It was one of the busiest years of my life, a total whirlwind. And whirlwind is not synonymous with restoration or balance. Despite the breakneck pace, I believe that the hard work I did in 2010 planted the seeds for restoration and balance. It was a year of discovery and rediscovery for me. I began 2010 with a lot of uncertainty about what direction I should take, and I spent the year searching for answers. I tried everything, put it all out there into the universe, to see what came back to me, what stuck. In the end, it paid off, as I clearly realized what works in my life, and what doesn’t. I now know what I need to do to accomplish the restoration and balance I seek, to live the life I want to live, and I look forward to making that happen in 2011.

2. There were several goals that I am very proud of, and hit out of the ballpark. My relationship with my sweetie continues to make me so happy, and I am truly blessed. We have a wonderful life, and I look forward to our future together. I am proud of the writing I did in 2010, and am grateful for the wonderful people I interviewed and wrote about this year.

3. 2010 provided a dividing line of sorts between my “old” and “new” lives. It was a year of transition, a year that would take me from who I was, into the person I am becoming. It was a bit disconcerting at times, as everything had changed this year. Moving back to the city I grew up in, and starting a new life filled with new challenges and accomplishments. I questioned my ideas of success and what that means. My previous ideas of self-esteem were shaken up and tossed out, and in their place is a new, peaceful concept of self-esteem that comes from within. Along with that is a new understanding of what is important in life, and what isn’t. I learned about fulfillment, and realized that it doesn’t come from accomplishments, material possessions, or being a perpetual people-pleaser. It comes from being true to and accepting of myself and my shortcomings—realizing that it’s OK if some people don’t like me, that I don’t have to jump through hoops to please people who can’t be pleased.

4. This blog was born in 2010, and I have loved writing it. I am excited for another fun year of arts and entertainment posts. In 2010, I continued to be inspired by the arts. I saw a lot of musicals, read some great books, and wrote some articles that I am proud of. In 2011, I will continue to live creatively, and look forward to blogging about my journey.

In the end, I would say the keyword for 2010 ended up being “searching.” Searching for answers, searching for the person I want to be. As we enter a new year, I am excited by the possibilities that 2011 brings. I look forward to new goals, good times, and creating beautiful memories. I wish all of you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2011.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Catching up

I love the fall. A lot of people mistake the colder weather and falling leaves for an ending. And while it is an end to summer fun, warm temperatures, and long, sunny days, to me, autumn is just as important a time as spring or the new year for new beginnings. The cooler and more comfortable temperatures, the colourful leaves, and the start of the school year, all bring new adventures, new learning opportunties, and new goals.

And new goals is sort of what the last few months have been about. It's been a little while since I've done an update to Outside the Lines, and let me say that I've truly missed it. It's never been far from my thoughts or priority list, and I am looking forward to growing this blog, and making it the arts and entertainment resource I envision it to be. It has been a wonderful but busy time in my life. Among other pursuits, I am expanding my freelance writing and editing services to include technical writing, and am currently working towards a Technical Writing Certificate. By virtue of the name "technical," you may think that technical writing is the opposite of creative, but I've actually found the writing, formatting, and design to be creative aspects of the process that I've really enjoyed. I've also learned so much over the last couple of months about Microsoft Word styles, and I look forward to learning Adobe Framemaker and other cool software.

Always close to my heart are the arts, and the last couple of months have been no exception. I am always dedicated to making the arts a priority, and have been to several musicals and shows, both in Toronto and New York! Stay tuned for posts on my New York trip, reviews, and a dream celebrity encounter!

After the disaster that was Niagara-on-the-Lake, stay tuned to find out about our recent return visit.

And in case you were wondering, I am still hooked on Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series! I am now up to the 14th book in the Series, Fearless Fourteen, and am still loving these books.

The change in seasons brings the opportunity for growth, learning, and becoming our best selves. Writing this blog this year has meant a lot to me, and I am looking forward to sharing many more new, fun, and creative seasons with you.

- Tina

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Canadian institution

Some people call it a Canadian institution. At least one person I know calls it a cult. Whatever you call it, it’s undeniable that Tim Horton’s is huge. Back in my university days, I was a Second Cup girl. Tim Horton’s was just a doughnut shop, and didn’t have the atmosphere or fun factor that other coffee shops did. That was before I tried their coffee. Once I did, I knew why Tim Horton’s was so popular! Their coffee is the best I’ve ever had, and is less expensive than other coffee chains.

Like those commercials where Tim Horton’s has accompanied people on road trips, hockey games, and other important life events, for me, Tim Horton’s has been a trusted companion on many journeys. For years, I have started my day with a Tim Horton’s coffee. Not only do I buy cans of Tim Horton’s coarse grind coffee for my coffeemaker at home, but every morning, I also get into my car and drive to the local Tim Horton’s. It can be quite the production. Call me crazy, but I have driven in snowstorms and torrential rain to get my morning Tim’s, and waited in massive line-ups.

In Hamilton, Tim Horton’s lines almost every street corner, and I always looked forward to my daily drive-thru. Now that I am in Toronto again, my local Tim Horton’s is not a drive-thru, but is part of an Esso On the Run store. I think it has to be the worst parking lot ever. It’s a free-for-all at that parking lot, where you just park anywhere you can and hope no-one says anything about the fact that you have parked at a gas pump, but aren’t getting gas. As much as I hate the parking lot, it still doesn't deter me from going every morning for my cuppa joe. The workers know me now and I usually don’t have to give them my order anymore. “Always the same coffee, you don’t change it,” one worker joked with me recently. I shrug my shoulders a little in disappointment when I get my coffee poured from an almost-empty pot - a full pot is so much better! Yes, my coffee is serious business. Even though the parking lot and line-ups are annoying, when I get my extra large regular in my hand and take the first sip, all is right with the world again.

Apparently, the long lineups and horrible parking lot don't deter others, either. The other day, I walked into my local Tim Horton’s. The line-up was really long, and reached almost to the back of the store. People sighed in resignation and looked at their watches, and then ahead enviously to the front of the line. Behind me, a man turned to the woman behind him. “I have a bus to catch,” he said, chuckling. “Well, it’s either my coffee or the bus,” he laughed. Now that's dedication! “There’s always another bus,” the woman laughed in reply, implying that there may be another bus, but there’s no other Tim Horton’s. I can’t help but agree.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bon Jovi - The Sequel

After the fantastic concert in Montreal back in March, I was excited to see Bon Jovi again on my home turf of Toronto. They performed for two nights at the Rogers Centre, and I had tickets for the first night, July 20. As they did in Montreal, Bon Jovi rocked Toronto with two and a half hours of hits. As the Rogers Centre was a larger venue than Montreal’s Bell Centre, the stage set-up and screens for the Toronto show seemed larger than Montreal's. They opened the show with “Blood on Blood” followed by “We Weren’t Born to Follow” before launching into 80s mega-hit “You Give Love a Bad Name.” The concert was fast-paced, fun, and the song order flowed perfectly to keep the audience on their feet.

The Montreal concert was longer, at three-plus hours, and had two encores, compared to Toronto’s one. An extended version of “Love’s the Only Rule” was also a key difference that Montreal fans were treated to. But songs like “I’ll Be There for You,” “Have a Nice Day,” and “Old Time Rock and Roll,” featuring opening act Kid Rock, which were missing in Montreal, were great additions to the Toronto set list, and I’m grateful to have been able to hear them performed in Toronto.

One slight downside to the Rogers Centre show was that the band chose to keep the roof closed, most likely due to trying to preserve the acoustics. The sound was amazing, but unfortunately, it was hot! And, to top it off, I had lost my bottle of water, and didn’t want to miss any of the show by leaving to buy another one. Being hot and sweaty, and dancing around with no water wasn’t very smart of me. Thankfully, however, a random act of kindness made my night. The gentleman in front of me, who knew that I had lost my water, went out at one point during the show, and brought me back a bottle of water. That was very kind of him, and I am comforted to know that strangers still care.

I am a bit sad that for me, the Circle tour has come to an end. I was lucky enough to see the tour in two cities, and both shows were wonderful. Now, Bon Jovi will have to hurry up and release a new CD, so that they can tour again!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Construction Kryptonite

That Superman sure was lucky. I've often wished that I could fly, particularly when stuck in traffic. How nice it would be to don the cape, leave my car in the middle of the chaos, and just fly to wherever I needed to be. What a delicious thought. We who live in the Greater Toronto Area know that commuting sucks. Traffic congests the highways and local roads in the most inhuman way. Road rage runs rampant, as people are late for work and miss appointments. Blood pressures rise with the stress of having to be somewhere and being helplessly at a standstill. In the winter, we're slowed by the snowy, icy road conditions. In the summer, we in Toronto have to deal year after year with months of construction delays. I am a seasoned commuter, who travelled regularly from Hamilton to Toronto for work for many years, so I am used to the daily grind and delays. I wasn’t prepared, however, for just how bad traffic has been this year.

I certainly needed a Superman cape one recent Sunday afternoon. I was on my way to Niagara-on-the-Lake with my sweetie to spend the day and see An ideal Husband, a Shaw Festival play. We had tickets to a 2:00 show on a Sunday afternoon. We left in plenty of time that morning, and thought we would have time for lunch and even a quick stroll around Niagara-on-the-Lake before the play started. Our drive started out well enough, but as we hit Oakville, we knew we were in trouble. “Traffic always backs up around the Ford plant,” we tried to reassure ourselves. “Once we get past the Ford plant, everything will be fine.” It wasn’t fine. We sat and inched our way to the next highway exit at turtle speed, clock ticking, and our plans for the day slipping through our fingers. Brake lights shone as far as the eye could see. We finally made it to the next exit, and decided to get off the highway and take an alternate route. I looked ahead at the miles and miles of cars still on the QEW, certain that if we had stayed on the highway, there was no hope of seeing the play. The culprit? Construction.

“Damn construction,” we sighed as we saw the orange Construction sign, and shook our heads in resignation that we were fighting a force greater than ourselves. “We can still make it if the rest of the drive is OK,” I said as I exited the highway, hopeful that the alternate route would at least be moving. We were doing great on the alternate route, and even the QEW Niagara bound was moving.

“We’re going to make it!” I exclaimed at one point—that is, until we hit St. Catharines. More brake lights and another construction sign. “Expect delays” one sign read. “Delays at the border 2 hours,” another sign said. Hope of seeing the play started to fade and our hearts sank as we saw no end in sight to this mess of traffic. Where was Superman when you needed him? Determined not to give up, we finally took a recommended Detour, but it quickly became apparent that there was no way we would make it to this play on time. We had fought the good fight, and had lost. Defeated, exhausted, nerves frazzled, and a little worse for wear from the whole experience, we called the Shaw Festival box office, which kindly sympathized with our plight, and agreed to give us a gift certificate to see a play another time. Whew! We breathed a sigh of relief that at least we hadn’t wasted all that money.

We finally arrived in Niagara-on-the-Lake, only to find that there didn’t seem to be one parking spot in the entire town. Our blood pressures started to rise again as we drove around and around, down every street, through every parking lot. Finally, after 50 minutes, we found a spot. We could finally relax. We made the most of what was left of the day, and had a nice time in Niagara-on-the-Lake—minus seeing the play and the four hours of our lives we won’t get back.

The next day, I was hit with a startling realization: construction has taken over my life. Not only have I had to deal with numerous construction projects at home (window replacements, parking garage, hallway renovations, just to name a few) and on the roads, which has also recently caused me to be late for dinners and other occasions, but now it was even causing me to completely miss events that we had paid good money to see!

We were happy to be able to have another chance to see An Ideal Husband, but did we really want to go through this horrible experience again? We are thinking about returning to Niagara-on-the-lake in September, and aren’t even going to attempt to see a 2:00 show. We are planning to see an 8:00pm show, and plan to leave Toronto at noon, if not the day before. Certainly, that would be enough time to fight the traffic and arrive in time ... or would it? Stay tuned. Now if only Superman could work his magic this coming weekend for the traffic chaos of the G20 Summit...