American Idol: The Experience

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A joint post from The Scrivener and The Librarian answering that burning question, what was it like to be in the audience???

The Scriv and the Librarian


What a day! Seeing American Idol in person was a real treat. Because it was the final performance show, it was held in the Nokia Theater in LA instead of the normal studio. Once we were allowed into the seating area, my jaw hit the floor. The entire theater was done up top to bottom in all of the American Idol paraphernalia, from those steel beams to the rotating globe things. The set was huge. And you know how things always look larger on tv than they do in person? Well, everything looked much larger in person. I know the theater is bigger than the studio but the set was the same and was it ever impressive. For me, it was the first indicator of what a true franchise American Idol has become.


Okay, Scriv stole my observation about the AI venue seeming larger in person. I’ll forgive her because I botched up a photo of her and Allison Iraheta earlier in the day. Sorry, Scriv! We actually arrived way early expecting to stand in line all day waiting to exchange vouchers for tickets. With the exception of our friend Kelly, who arrived an hour earlier to hold a place in line (thanks Kelly!) we hardly stood in line at all. We got our tix around noon and then had four hours to kick it.  Had a leisurely lunch and a few drinks at Yard House. Plenty of time to make our tacky signs. Then we tooled around in front of the Nokia Theater for a while where we spent our time spotting and taking pics of AI alumni. We saw Big Mike, Brook White, Justin Guarini (Does anyone still remember him from season one? Don’t think he’s done much since!),  and Elliott Yamin. Check out our photos. But I digress from the audience question. It was FANTASTIC being in the audience especially since I scored an aisle seat and had an excellent view. There was no mistaking what show we were watching as the branding was way over the top. Oh and Scott McIntyre walked right by me.


There was an audience warm-up person, but honestly I expected more direction. We kind of sat there on our own and then like 3 minutes before the show went live, the warm-up guy, Cory, was like “Hi everyone! I’m the warm-up guy and we’re going live in 3 minutes!” Hunh? He got us on our feet clapping and cheering, and then gave the world’s most obvious direction–“Ryan Seacrest is going to walk down the stairs and say ‘This is American Idol’ and then the camera will pan to the audience and you should clap.”

Really? Is that when we’re supposed to clap? Phew–I almost did it wrong! (Me, too, I was so lost at this point!  – Librarian)

MY sign is better

After everything we’d gone through to get in there, I was shocked to see there were 3 empty seats in front of us. At the very beginning, those seats were filled by a couple of Idol technical crew who sat down at the last second. Then sadly they were filled by a woman and these two rather obnoxious little girls who spent the entire taping casing the joint for better seats, blocking our view, and running around trying to get celebrity autographs.

Other than that, our seats were awesome. We were in row T, which was 20 rows up from the front. In fact, we were in the same row as all of the lighting and sound equipment, so we had the ideal view of the stage. (We really did, especially me by the aisle. Woo hoo! – Librarian)

We’d made 3 signs–the original “Keep Shineing Crystal” which was not featured on the show (too bad I couldn’t slip a misspelling by them–everyone else did), and at lunch we made an orange one that said “Gen X Mom’s only have (picture of eyes) for DeWyze” (the extra apostrophe is intentional) and another green one. The Librarian sat on the aisle with the orange sign and held it up at every opportunity, which turned out to be quite helpful watching the show later. Although the sign was never featured, I could pick us out of every audience shot in our direction because of the neon orange sign.

No, MY sign is better!


I couldn’t make out the words on the sign when I watched on tv, but I could totally see the picture of the eyes that Diana drew for us. She’s talented that way. So the sign proved useful for spotting our location in the audience. In that sense, my sign kicked butt over Scriv’s Crystal one. (Diana was less enthusiastic about holding up her sign than either I or the Librarian were – Scriv)


Once the show started, things moved very, very quickly. It was almost disturbing the way the entire thing ran. It was completely mechanical. I mean obviously they’ve been doing this for almost a decade, but it seemed completely robotic at times, and it was almost disorienting. The performer would run onto stage (literally, run), set up, get introduced, play, four quick comments from the judges, BAM–commercial and the performer ran off the stage again.

And I gotta say, the commercial breaks are a LOT longer at home than they are in the theater.

The performances were awesome, however. My ears are still ringing.


The Librarian and her sign

I wanted them to do more for the audience. The lame warm-up guy was hard to hear and spot. Once he came up our aisle, offering free t-shirts. I waved my sign and did my best impression of an excited 13-year-old girl but alas, I lost out to actual kids. Damn you Cory for favoring kids over me. I am just as worthy! (Scriv–I was irritated too, because the tickets said specifically that nobody under 12 would be allowed in and there were a ton of kids–the one who got the t-shirt said she was 10).

Loved the montage at the end but it took us a while to figure out that there was an actual live singer named Will Young on the stage. He was the first winner of American Idol’s British predecessor, Pop Idol. That was years ago, he should be a polished performer by now. On this night, he had no stage presence. If they are looking for him to breakthrough to American audiences, he’ll have to do better than that!

Finally, we saw the whole top 12 go up on stage. I could see the bright glow of Urban’s teeth even from across the room. I never thought he was one of the best singers but he sure is pretty.

The whole gang! Kelly, Librarian, Scriv, Diana

8 Responses

  1. A great description of the pre-show & your efforts to get on camera we were watching for you but the cameras were toooo quick. Glad you enjoyed it

    Aunt Nan & uncle Harry xxx

  2. You were terrific in your “Blog” You all looked like you were having such a great time and that is what it is all about. I am so happy you got to do this. Your dialogue between your friend and you was so much fun. Thanks for sharing. I am so glad you were able to go..these will be long time memories.
    Love Aunt Claudia

  3. Too bad you didn’t get on t.v. but WOW how exciting that you were there!! I am so jealous! I am SO happy that Lee won…I love him!!
    Can’t wait to see pictures 🙂
    Love Ginny

  4. Great recap guys! I had so much fun!


  5. […] about our audience experience and check out our photos of AI alums we […]

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