A ‘Grande’ Family Night Out

Ariana Grande sings "Hands on Me” with virtual vocals from A$ap Ferg.

Ariana Grande.

I could never say her name right. It’s Air-ee–yana, not Ar-yana. My husband surprised the kids two days before the concert. They were excited and giddy, to say the least. I wasn’t too thrilled; however, I wanted to give this chick a chance. There was a desire to satisfy my curiousity as to what the hype was about and to validate my age; that teeny boppers no longer amuse old people like me. And so I thought.

Ariana Grande Cat ears

Cat ear headbands sold for $40. The glow-in-the-dark ears, supported by an app, were programmed to change colors based on the song playlist. An over-capacity of internet users caused numerous failed headsets.

We hibernated at the parking lot for at least an hour, let the kids catnap especially since it was on a Tuesday night and it was made clear that the kids will not miss their math test the next day. I walked across the lot, in the cold, while my husband babysat and tinkered on his smartphone. I ended up chit-chatting with the security guard who seemed trained to smash humans, as needed.

I felt reenergized myself once my kids woke up. Off we walked and trailed to All-State Arena in Chicago and followed the line leading to the concert.

The last time I witnessed a plethora of teenagers swarmed together was at the Big Time Rush concert. This time, it was more diverse. I saw a white limousine that spit out at least 15 teens all screaming while coming out of the car. I am sure they were pumped up for the event and wanted to seek attention as well. I walked past teens with disabilities, in their glittery shirts and pink lipsticks and I almost hugged the mom who, you could tell, would rather be tucked in her bed instead of freezing in the cold night outside. Our eyes met and locked for a good three seconds and we high five-d each other, mentally. I knew, then, that it was going to be an awesome night.

Our seats were closer than I thought. Although, if you have younger kids, it is not advisable to purchase seats on the floor because as soon as you hear “oh yeah….” the chairs were basically non existent as everyone was up and dancing. And of course, my kids, had we not carried them, would’ve only seen the butt of the dad in front of us.

Grande Night

The author with her family at the Ariana Grande concert in Chicago.

Teenagers. While they were unshy taking selfies, throughout the night, there were still random people offering to take photos so they didn’t have to flex and bend their wrists for a photo that they wanted to post, online, in real time. Because, as you know, time is the name of the game. We need to do as many hashtags as we could.

The concert time printed on the ticket read 7:30pm, but “AG” didn’t show up until two painful hours later. Rixton, the pop/R&B English band was the front act and I felt they had over extended their show time on stage. However, they did help to build momentum for the main event.

Other than the male entertainers, who tap danced and rapped in between costume changes, which I felt was anti-climactic, I give Ariana A+ for effort. I am thankful to my friend, Ina, who gave me her CD weeks prior so I could sing with the crowd and my kids at the concert. True enough, I belted out her famous “Love Me Harder” as if I composed the music.

It is no secret that there were a couple of hiccups but what I thought was very obvious was when the 21-year old, Ariana, started rapping Nicki Minaj’s portion in “Bang Bang” which was her first song, by the way.

Kudos to the gigantic chandelier that occupied the entire stage, the suspended flying cloud on which Ariana sang, and the numerous confetti showers that amused my kids. Her vocals were mediocre and, during the times she was not screaming, I thought she was lip syncing. For a first-timer doing a solo headlining tour, it was not bad but, needless to say, there is huge room for improvement.

I commend her, though, for making my kids and over 10-thousand teenagers happy for 90 minutes.

Driving home, my 2015 mantra has been validated once more: Experience is the best teacher.

If Ariana continues to stay focused and committed to her craft, she can be a Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston, although, realistically, not soon. After all, a pot roast is tasty only after sitting in the Crock Pot for eight hours. And yes, I am not old; just older. ★