It started when my friends and I found out that Jason Mraz – our idol and one of our most favorite human beings on the planet – would be performing at the Today Show as part of the Toyota Concert Series, a good two months (maybe even more, I can't recall) before the actual performance date (July 18). Having that information on hand, my friends and I immediately went into full gear and proceeded to construct a weekend trip out of it: Camp out near 30 Rock to see Jason and the Janes perform a few songs on Friday, maybe see a show on the weekend. Incidentally, there was a Sara Bareilles concert at the Madison Square Garden that Saturday, so the Jens and I impulsively bought three tickets, not even sure if we'd even make it.
The weeks that followed this half-assed decision to go to NY for Mraz is a bit of a blur, a stressful time of wondering when the new tour would begin, and where; how much it would cost to go to multiple shows, and whether I'd have the money for such an endeavor (let's not forget my perennial on-the-hunt-for-my-next-writing-gig status that has been ongoing since the beginning of this year). I personally already made the conscious decision to go because I knew I had a scheduled trip back home to the Philippines in August and if there was a time to see Mraz before that, it would have to be July, arguably my favorite month of the year.
Fast forward to the second week of June. I pretty much made up my mind that I was going and booked a flight to NY. I was psyched to watch him perform at the Today Show and was perfectly okay about having that as the only time I would get to see him – the Sara Bareilles concert was a good enough reason to go ahead with the plan. Hell, visiting my friend Jen C. was a good enough reason to go with the plan!
There's something about booking a flight that makes things a little bit more decided, more final, because after I did that, everything else I did related to the trip had 100 percent pure intention. I joined the Today Show lottery for fan passes that gave us early entry into the concert area – I won a pair of passes a week after submitting my entry. I joined an Omaze campaign that would allow me plus friend to hang out with Mraz backstage and fly me to NY for free – didn't win that, but I was going to do both things anyway (fly to NY, hang out with Mraz), by hook or by crook. I scoured Twitter, Facebook, and everywhere else for any contest I could join that would allow me to see Mraz and the Janes perform, while promoting their new album. Somewhere along the way, two more of my friends (Jen H. and her sister Shannon) decided they'd go to NY as well, and we all crazily banked on the unknown, hoping to win what we could, but not letting that stop us from having a good time.
We anxiously awaited for the results of the SiriusXM Presents Coffeehouse Live with Jason Mraz! contest we had joined the week before – they were picking people randomly by email to attend a private show. I already had a flight booked for NY that would arrive Wednesday night, but if any of us won, I would have to book an earlier flight because the SiriusXM private show was on Wednesday night. This had to happen.
Nope. It doesn't seem like it's gonna happen. That's OK. We'll try to line up early for chance tickets into the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (where Jason and the Janes were scheduled to be his musical guests for the Thursday taping), see him on the Today Show on Friday, see Bareilles on Saturday, and have a great time.
A phone call woke me up at around 6 in the morning. It was SiriusXM. I won tickets to the SiriusXM show, which meant I had to wake the hell up and rebook my flight.
All I can say is, thank goodness for Southwest's Wanna Get Away flights – I was able to book a new flight scheduled to leave that same morning, for less miles! But shit, that meant I had 45 minutes to pack! I hauled ass, explained the situation to my loving and incredibly understanding husband (bless his heart), packed for a week, called Jen C. to tell her the good news (she's my plus one, after all) and left for the airport.
While getting on the plane, I got another phone call...from Jen C. SHE WON TICKETS TOO! This was awesome news because now all four of us get to attend the gig. It's all good.
The flight was uneventful until I landed at La Guardia at 11:55 at night, where I was told that they lost my luggage, along with the luggage of a whole lot of people who boarded at my layover (Chicago Midway). While in line to get some answers, Jen C. and her cousin Emma found me and stood in line with me. A few hours later, I was told that some of the luggage have been mistakenly unloaded at my layover and has now arrived with a later flight. It was around 2 in the morning when we got to leave the airport. Whatever, I AM HERE!
Despite not having enough sleep, I got up pretty early, stoked for the Week of Yes to get started. Jen C.'s lovely mom said hello and invited me to have breakfast with her and her husband (Jen was at work). We went to a nearby IHOP and got to know each other for a good 25-30 minutes before my phone blew up with The Big New York/Mraz Announcement.
Jason and the Janes are doing a 6-show run in all of the five boroughs! And they will be selling a limited number of what is called a "golden ticket", which is basically a package of tickets to all shows. Due to the gravity of this announcement, we of course had to cut breakfast short and get the hell back home so that Jen's mom and I could get online and try to get tickets (Jen, your parents support of y/our obsession is AMAZING. I love them so much!). After a couple of hours, we were able to secure the necessary orders. Jen came back from work – relieved at our progress – and we left to for the city.
While on the train, we scoured the Web for any other opportunity to see Jason perform in private gigs. We found a couple of radio stations giving away free tickets to the iHeartRadio show happening on Friday night and wrote them our most heartfelt (and most desperate) pleas.
As soon as we got to Penn Station, we got the idea to walk to our hotel which looked pretty close on Google Maps but was actually farther than we both expected. We got to the hotel so late that we literally just checked in, dropped our bags in the hotel, and stepped right out for fear of missing the SiriusXM show slated for 6pm.
We got into a cab at 5:30, which was a futile attempt at trying to get there faster because WE. WERE. NOT. MOVING. Five minutes before 6, we decided to book it and ran what felt like a hundred blocks until we made it to the venue. It's a good thing our friends Jen H. and Shannon (our plus ones, since Jen C. and I were the ones who won the contest) got there on time to save us seats.
The show was awesome. It was done in a more intimate and more solemn approach compared to his usually energetic and on-your-feet shows, but I found myself loving it regardless. It allowed me to really listen and do more than just mouth the lyrics (PRO TIP: If you love Mraz as much as I do and know all of the words, learn to lip sync and sing along without sound...we came to hear him, after all. ;-P)...I even teared up over A World With You, which basically is my love story with the J-Man, Mraz-ified.
We made a mental note to line up for Jimmy Fallon an hour earlier (6 AM) than our intended plan (7 AM, which was two hours before what the Web says is when the NBC intern will show up to give away passes), only to find out that people started lining up an hour earlier than that (5 AM, what the hell). After three hours (that felt like three years), we got tickets for a queue at 1:30 PM, when we'd need to check in again to even be eligible for standby passes.
Rather than go sightseeing, we decided to hang around 30 Rock to check the exits, because that's what professional groupie-stalkers do. We were in the middle of discussing the what-if scenario of running into Jason when he suddenly came into view, coming out of the elevators. <CREEP ALERT> We immediately walk towards him to say hi. He looked mildly surprised (maybe even secretly terrified) to see us and asked us what brought us to New York. We all got high fives and a sudden jolt of energy we needed to get through the day with little to no sleep.
While waiting around the NBC Experience Store for the queue to start, we got offered to see Seth Meyers practice his monologue. The late-night talk show lover in me wanted to say yes, but we knew we were there for a mission: To See Jason Mraz. So we said no.
We made the right call of pretending to be first in line and just waltzed our way up the queue, line order or not, at the off-chance that they decide to honor the new order. They didn't. Instead, we were asked to sign our names on the check list they had and was asked to come back at 3:45 PM on the dot. More hanging around 30 Rock ensued, and during this time I wondered, why are they doing this to us, why are they making us go through this torturous process? To whittle down the line to only the ones desperate to get in, silly. Oh, right. That's us.
By 3:45 PM on the dot, people started milling around the meet-up area, some of them we recognized from earlier today and have already commiserated with. We knew we were all in the same boat – are we going to be let in? Unfortunately, only the first 25 queuers were allowed to stay. We were numbers 22-25.
We sat in line for a good two hours, shifting between hopeful and depressed that we wasted the entire day lining up and not being able to get in. I also regretted not saying yes to seeing Seth Meyers.
Five minutes before show time, they let in a couple more people from our line and stopped six people before us. SIX. WHAT THE HELL.
We went to Applebee's for drinks and a bit of food, because we've been on zombie mode the entire day. We rationalized not getting into Fallon: We did get to see Jason earlier today and got high fives...it's not a complete heartbreak, right? What-EVER.
After re-grouping, we decided to go back to 30 Rock to say hey to the Janes. They came out after the show, yay! Mona remembered me as that gal from San Jose and couldn't believe that I was in New York for them. I got to talk to Becky about the whole awesomeness of the tour – like her, I couldn't believe this was all happening to us (I say us because I feel like I am part of all this success, as an avid fan of the band). I said hi to Chaska and told her about our whole ordeal and not getting into Fallon, and she felt bad for us. Mai was busy with loved ones so I didn't get to talk to her, but that's OK...she knew we were there for them.
Sometime during the day, Shannon received an email from iHeartRadio saying she won a pair of tickets to the iHeartRadio Mraz show the next day. Jen C. and I made plans to stand outside the theater and beg to be let in with our friends, because we're huge Mraz fans.
Jen C. and I ended our night by having dinner with Jane and Ian, two die-hard fans like us that we met through the ever-growing, ever-friendly Mraz-lovin' community.
The Today Show Concert Day! After all that we've been through so far this week, we made another mental note to arrive two hours before our intended plan, so instead of 5 AM, we went at 3 AM. There were 15 people in front of us.
I quickly made friends with the last guy in line, Tim, and introduced him to the rest of the group. Christine – a MrazWomen member I have yet to meet in real life – arrived..YAY!!! We bonded over Mraz, makeup, and Dunkin Donuts when some drunk hobo approached us in line and asked us who we were there to see. When I said Jason Mraz, he asked what my favorite song was from his newest album and I said Everywhere. He proceeded to wow me (really, us) by singing every word. Naturally we all sang along.
That encounter made me so happy that I didn't hesitate in inviting him (his name was Rudy, and he wasn't a hobo) and his friend (Joel?) into our already growing group since we had spare fan passes. #SPREADYES
Speaking of passes, it was around this time that our new friend Tim informed me that he won the iHeartRadio contest too, and he may even have won it twice, which would mean he had three spare tickets! Jen C. and I were covered, YAYYYYY! Can this day get any better?
Yes, it could. Tim's friend and plus one for the Today Show finally arrived, and she happened to be Courtney, another member of MrazWomen I have yet to meet in person. We were both floored by the chance encounter and immediately hugged it out. What a small and big world this whole Mraz-loving community is!
The Today Show performance was awesome. We got to hear them play so many times, both for sound check and for the actual taping for the show. We were there for so long that Courtney threatened to pee in a bottle right in the crowd (it was impossible to get out of the crowd and go back to where you were). Thankfully, we were able to make her realize the gravity of the situation (YOU WILL PEE ON NATIONAL TELEVISION AND THE WHOLE WORLD WILL SEE YOUR TWAT). With the potential crisis averted, the whole situation was just magical to me: Seeing Mraz and the Janes, being in the company of great friends, and meeting new people! The next time you are in line for something, I recommend talking to the person next to you in line (provided that the person has a welcoming presence, of course).
After the show, we tried to look out for Mraz coming out, but he had already left through another exit. We, did, however, get to say a quick hey to Mona and Becky. I made sure Becky knew about Rudy, who says she was his favorite Jane. She thought that was wild. Oh, and it was around this time that I got an email saying I won the iHeartRadio contest (!!!!).
That's officially 3 Things (get it?) I won that's Mraz-related for this week alone. Call me a lucky golden Buddha and rub my belly, everybody!
We made plans to meet up with Tim at the iHeartRadio venue at noon to give us time to recover from the super-early day we all had. We went back to the hotel, freshened up, and skedaddled to the venue because really, how can anyone take their time when they've got another private show to get to?
For once, we made the right calculation...we were first in line!!! Also, no one seemed to be crazy enough to line up seven hours before the show, under the blazing sun. Those seven hours kind of blurred together – I just know it got a thousand times better somewhere in the middle, when this happened:
(In Starbucks, charging phones, taking naps)
Christine: You girls are lucky you've met him a bunch of times already. I haven't even yet.
Jam: IT WILL HAPPEN. I will make it happen for you, I promise.
(The Jens go into the venue to do their "rounds", Christine and I go back out to the line to take our shift with Tim, who has not left the line AT ALL)
(Jam and Tim were talking about something random when Jam saw a flash of flannel)
Jam: HOLY SHIT TIM DON'T TURN AROUND RIGHT AWAY BUT I THINK JASON IS COMING THIS WAY.
(Jam yelled at Shannon who was on her way to the garbage can nearby to get rid of stuff. She already saw Jason and was walking casually back to us.)
Jam: HI JASON! Would you mind if my friends and I said hello to you real quick?
Jason: Sure! (Told his people to wait a second because THIS NEEDED TO HAPPEN)
(Shannon texted Jen H. TO GET THE HELL BACK ASAP. They probably ran.)
It was an amazing encounter. Jason was without his usual security detail and he seemed more relaxed and game to talk to us. Apparently, he just came from a nap in the park across the street (meanwhile we were like, WHAAAAAT). He told us he saw our wonderful signs during the Today Show and actually liked some of the pictures taken of them on Instagram (Note: THAT WAS MY INSTAGRAM PHOTO). We asked him if he was getting sick of seeing us everywhere, and of course he said no. Christine mentioned never meeting him before because she doesn't live in California, and Jason gestured toward us and said, "I don't think they do, either!" Tim showed him his bracelets and Jason recognized them. We made sure he knew our names, because we knew our faces were starting to look familiar, with the number of shows we've attended this year alone. He signed some things, took some photos, and went on his way.
I immediately looked at Christine with my WTFJUSTHAPPENED face and yelled, "CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? I TOLD YOU IT WOULD HAPPEN!" At this point, Golden Buddha status was definitely achieved.
But wait – there's more. An hour before showtime, the iHeartRadio people came out with a surprise: The first fifteen people in line would get meet and greet passes!!! Rudy, whom we texted earlier to come meet us because we had spare passes, arrived just in time to be let in for another Mraz encounter.
Upon approaching him for our professional meet and greet photo, I told Jason, "Man, can you believe it? It's us again!" He gave me a grin and said, "I know! I can't believe you guys got in!" He also joked that the VIP section was unfortunately full, so there won't be any space for us. I gave him my best gasp. It was awesome, we're pretty much best friends already.
Being front row to another private Mraz and Janes gig was just the perfect way to end the grueling week. My favorite moment was when Jason realized they were ahead of schedule and actually had time for another song. Our group all shouted Everywhere because at that point, it was the group's anthem, and they acquiesced (acquiestered, according to Jen C.). It was magical (I cannot use this word enough).
After the show, we were able to see Jason exit backstage and quickly say thank you for the awesomeness that was that night. Back at front, caught up with Chaska and Mona and they chatted with us at length (Chaska found out I was the girl in purple shorts in that Everywhere fan video she liked and went bananas, Mona just said hey and wassup to her fellow San Ho) . Those girls, they rock.
Jen C., her cousin Emma, and I went back into the city to see Sara Bareilles (who is super duper awesome to see live!!!) at Madison Square Garden. We had a feeling we'd see Jason and the Janes there since they were friends with Sara and all. We did!
But to control our creep tendencies, instead of going whole hog fan on the situation, we just waltzed down to the floor section, evaded security (this makes it sound a lot worse than what really happened...no one stopped us, really), and got a few feet close to Jason and Mona (safe stalker distance). I caught Mona's eye and Jen and I both waved at her and showed her the hashtag on my arm. She immediately punched Jason on the arm so he'd go look. He looked and gave us a namaste bow.
Won a bunch of contests. Met and bonded with a ton of cool people. Had a lot of laughs. Heard a lot of great music (Sara included!). DEFINITELY a week worth remembering.