Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Let's groove tonight

Our vacation has veered north into Wisconsin. And oh my, Day 7 was fun.

We didn't leave Illinois until mid-afternoon. The lowlight of the morning was Eldest getting stung by a yellowjacket while playing tennis with my dad. We didn't hit much traffic on the way to a hotel in Waukesha, where we are spending the night before we go to the Wisconsin Dells tomorrow. We went to Kopp's for dinner, then headed downtown.

Wife's company hosts a big convention in Milwaukee every year and hires a big-name musical act to entertain the employees. In past years, we have seen Chicago and Hall and Oates; last year, Wife saw Keith Urban (the boys and I flew in after her meetings in 2010). This year, Earth, Wind and Fire was scheduled to play. Wife secured extra tickets so we could take the boys to what surely would be a fun show. We bypassed the actual seats at the Bradley Center for a spot on the floor, which held tables for people to sit or stand near to watch the show, but also included a large space in front of the stage for people to just stand and dance. With Littlest such a little dancer, we knew he wouldn't sit still in a seat, so we found a spot in front of the stage.

The concert was so much fun. Earth, Wind and Fire is a good party band, and Phillip Bailey, Verdine White and company didn't disappoint. Because we had people standing in front of us, Wife and I ended up holding the boys up to get a better view of the show. Wife mostly had Eldest on her hip (I could never prop him up comfortably for a long time like she did), while I mostly had Littlest on my shoulders (he was lighter but rougher on Wife's neck; my shoulders are stronger). The concert featured two large video screens on either side of the stage, on which cameras would close up on the band, broadcast the band from the back of the arena, or pan the crowd. About once every minute, you could see the back of Littlest on the screen, towering just a little bit over the rest of the standing crowd. What helped was that he was wearing a neon yellow soccer jersey. We made the boys wear these so we could pick them out easily, but in the lighting of the concert, the yellow was practically glowing. After a while, Littlest, who was bouncing on my shoulders, dancing and singing, kept looking for himself on the screens.

My only complaint from the show is that we were too close -- we were underneath the speakers and sometimes couldn't figure out what was being sung if we didn't already know the song. But we knew many of the songs: "Shining Star," "Boogie Wonderland," "Sing a Song," "After the Love is Gone" (which was a serious grade school flashback), "Serpentine Fire," "That's the Way of the World," "September" and "Let's Groove." The energy was amazing, and Littlest fed off it. His moment came during "Fantasy": The camera focused on just him from the front, and he shouted in glee at his image on the big screen for the whole Bradley Center crowd of insurance agents and their families to see.

Eldest had fun too, but it took a little while for him to really get into the concert (mostly near the last few songs). We got out of the show and both boys were wired, with Littlest singing "Ba de ya" (from "September"). Hell, I was wired too. But the best post-show moment was when Wife ran into a colleague from another agency, who instantly recognized Littlest from the video screens! I told Littlest later that he was a star, and that might have went to his head a bit, because on the way back to the car, he kept shouting "I'm a star, I'm a star!"

Littlest is a star, and so is Eldest. A shining star. No matter who you are.

(Slug Bug update: Eldest 19, Littlest 16, me 13, Wife 11)

Click here for days 8-10.

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