Fangirled at VH1’s Mixtape Festival: Night 1

Imagine the days of choker necklaces, 25 rubber bracelets on one wrist, flare jeans, body glitter and when there were four members of Destiny’s Child. If you felt that mutual warmth fill your belly, read on. Did you just cringe from horror? If so, just click out of here now.

Those elements involved with being a teeny-bopping teenager in the late 90s to early 2000s are identical to the vibe this past weekend at the 2013 Mixtape Festival in Hershey. The festival, much unlike your typical music fest, screams fangirl, literally, to the past and present teenager. The former and current kings of mainstream bubble gum pop took the crowd back to the exact music blowing out the speakers of my 1991 Chevy Cavalier.

Upon entering the venue, the gorgeous summer sun glared a quick flash into my mind of the first time I walked into Hersheypark Stadium for my very first concert, just shy of fifteen years ago. I went giddy with anticipation.

The show opened with a rural, small town woman with a fierce voice and a guitar that suited her like the glass slipper. Serena Ryder, who could be considered your modern day Melissa Etheridge, in simple words, rocked it. Ryder appears to be your average girl but after destroying a cover of “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele and enducing chills with her latest single, “Stompa,” she proves there is absolutely nothing average about her. The only negative, her set was so early, not even half the allotted seats were full to see this underground star in action.

The next act, and the basis behind many texts asking, “Do they still sing Mmmbop?” was everything the non-Hanson fan would never expect. The (former) boys of Hanson are all grown up and their sound mirrored that perfectly, though they all still have fabulous heads of hair. Luckily, they practically snuck a rendition of the infamous, “Mmmbop” in between their blend of new tunes of rock and pop with a little horn mixed in. Their newest singles, the inevitable toe-tapping, “Thinkin’ Bout Somethin’” and “Get the Girl Back,” prompted the first fangirl dance party of the evening and set the tone for the rest of the night… and I may or may not have torn a girl’s necklace off in an attempt to catch drummer Zac’s drumstick, but that’s neither here nor there.

Let the screaming and fanning off of the hotness of boys ensue.
Just when you thought the early 00’s were behind you, Gavin DeGraw perched himself behind his piano and wailed some of his most popular love tunes. It was an instant flashback to that Cavalier, doing my own rendition of “Chariot,” along with the rest of the audience. Lets not forget his career-sparkler, “I Don’t Wanna Be,” which that day, mashed up with a Gavin-influenced version of Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors.” With his suave, laid back light brown tee, slouchy jeans and fedora, he made every girl in there feel as if he was singing to them. At some point, he was. Mr. DeGraw came down off the stage –and apparently started a trend that every act followed – held the hands of melting 20-somethings while he serenaded them individually. *swoon* The energy and musical bliss that radiated from him had the girls in pieces.

Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, the men of The Script were clearly no stranger to Pennsylvania when taking the stage next. Despite the announced throat issues, lead vocalist Danny O’Donoghue went flawlessly through their set. And it appeared he thought he was Spiderman’s brother or imagined this was Cirque du Soleil, climbing to the most obscure parts of the stage without missing a note or beat. His predecessors brought energy, but with this band, this singer, there was something very magnetic. It could just be the Irish accents, but their crowd-pleasing is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Danny was another death-defyer in running into the crowd of rabid, squealing fans in their closer “Hall of Fame,” although it just added to their energy. They are prime example of live versions overpowering and crushing studio versions of their songs.

The sun began its journey out and the skies were painted with colors of cotton candy when OneRepublic stepped up to the mic. With songs like “Good Life,” “Going Down,” “Apologize,” “Feel Again,” and plenty more, it was hard not to find yourself singing along, especially when twilight just set in. They’re one of those bands with raw talent, catchy songs that any music fan knows every word to yet still maintain the “guy next door” persona. As the OneRepublic hypnosis set in, the sun was out and before you knew it, light-up beach balls showered the entire floor area. Bouncing them between the band and the crowd somehow seemed to bring even more attention to the music. There was a twinkling effect that just added to the pure joy of this band.

The bittersweet moment of the night: the closing act. Boo! Just as the crowd was getting their teeny-bopping groove on, it was coming to an end; but not before Train completely wooed everyone. Taking us back again with “Drops of Jupiter” and “Meet Virginia,” realizing just how long these guys have been around. Although Erie is a far far train ride (ha, get it) from this region, lead singer Pat Monahan gave us some “hometown” props. They then fast forwarded to their ever-aweing set of “Hey Soul Sister,” “If It’s Love,” “Drive By” and many other fan favorites. This band set themselves apart that evening with three key moments. The first moment was  bringing a friend and talented singer, Ashley Monroe, out for a duet with Pat called “Bruises”. A sweet country-twanged song about a past relationship, that if summed up in one word, it would be “adorable”. Next was bringing up about 45 randomly selected fans for their latest single, “Mermaids,”  and by randomly selected, I mean people of all ages, shapes and sizes dressed in their finest mermaid attire. Lastly, and for the last time of the night, the frontman made his way into the crowd, circled the entire outskirt of the floor and sent the entire place into a frenzy. All while singing their melodic, “Marry Me.” Seriously, talk about a true swoonfest.

Wait, what’s that? My real life is calling? Bummer. When I say this night took me away, I mean it completely took me away. The nostalgia and the creation of future nostalgia is what made this entire show incredibly worthwhile. These are long players of the mainstream game but with much less recognition than the “boyband” or “diva” kind within the industry. They were true bands, full of singer-songwriters that had grown women screaming like they were fifteen again. Two fangirl thumbs up, Hershey.

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