So I come home after the benefit gala at SF to find that there are pictures of high school Darren in Music Man all over my dash and stirring my pedo-est of tendencies but I HAVE TO IGNORE THAT and write this all down while it’s still fresh in my mind because asdfghjkl. Just asdfghjkl, okay?
This is gonna be a really long story because I like typing shit so let’s start with this and get it out of the way: He’s so nice.
Like, I don’t even know how to convey this through mere language. He is SO FUCKING NICE but that just doesn’t convey it enough. You’ll read this and you’ll think, oh, awesome, he’s just as nice as I’ve heard and how he comes across all the time. But, like, it’s more than that.
(Also he’s tiny. He’s so small. Even smaller than how he appears onscreen. I’m a tiny Asian dude and he’s smaller than me by like half a head. Adorable tiny love explosions all over the place)
Read on to find out how Darren Criss is the perfect human.
I’m totally explaining this backwards but, basically, what happened was that there was some sort of VIP reception after the concert where, I dunno, people who paid for VIP tickets got to go backstage and meet him and stuff. I wasn’t part of that group (though my tickets were FUCKING AWESOME, front fucking row on the right side which meant he was right in front of me when he played the guitar, more on this later, asdfghjkl). On the way out of the hall, though, an usher mentioned to my friend and I that if we wanted autographs, we could wait downstairs for the reception to be over and we’ll probably get a chance to meet him.
At this point I was just like, oh okay interesting, because I hadn’t expected to be able to meet him anyway at a concert like this and really wasn’t planning on sticking around afterwards waiting like a lovesick puppy (quite accurate in retrospect) in midst of a throng of fangirls. Seriously no offense meant towards the fangirls but, look, I’m a dude, and I’m 27, what’s okay for some others is kinda really creepy when I do it.
But, I don’t really know how it happened, at some point my friend Sara and I seemed to somehow agree on sticking around just to see what might happen, pretty much for shits and giggles more than anything else because we were both flying sky fucking high on the awesome performance we just saw. And then we started chatting up another fan, slightly older like us, and kinda just having a good time chatting in the downstairs lobby so we kinda just silently decided to wait. Kinda. Just.
And so we waited. And waited. And waited. Ten minutes turned to twenty, twenty turned to thirty. The crowd downstairs thinned out bit by bit, people probably were running out of patience. But we also kept seeing people come down from upstairs, leaving from the VIP reception, so we figured that Darren hadn’t left yet either. But at this point I was getting impatient too, on top of being frustrated…honestly, it was really likely that we would wait all this time for nothing, and the longer we waited the more disappointing it was going to be if he didn’t show up. It would be a really shitty end to an awesome concert experience just to wait in the lobby like an idiot for however long and not get to meet Darren. And, again, I was also kinda embarrassed just to be doing something like this that I considered beneath myself for no good reason, so I was frustrated at myself as well for no good reason. MY EMOTIONS ARE COMPLICATED.
At some point after a really long time, a woman came downstairs and mentioned that he was on his way. Everyone kinda yelped and breathed a sigh of relief. YES, ALL THE WAITING WAS WORTH IT. But then, not five minutes later, another women came downstairs and said something like, “Sorry, I really hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Darren already left by another entrance.”
Everyone (no more than perhaps sixteen or seventeen people at this point…most had already left or already got the chance to meet him) just stared dumbly for a bit, like…wait, what? It was just a really palpable sense of complete confusion and utter, frustrated disappointment. Within the space of five minutes it was like, hey you’re gonna meet Darren! And then it was like, haha just kidding, you missed your chance (she really didn’t say it like that of course, but the situation just…y’know. That’s how it seemed). Who were we supposed to believe? What the actual fuck had just happened?
So yeah we were all just really confused and dejected and shocked and just milling about the lobby…more folks left so at this point it was maybe ten people left. I’m not quite sure what made the group of us stick around further after that point. Too stunned to move? Tiny bit of blind, defiant hope left in our fanperson hearts?
Whatever it was, I thank dead wizard grilled cheesus for it, because maybe six or seven minutes after the last group of fans left, Darren and a group of his family came in through a…I dunno how to describe it, it wasn’t anywhere near the front entrance, it was like towards the information center of the hotel. They looked like they had been in the rain or something. But, okay, apparently what had happened (and I may be remembering this wrong) was that no one knew there was a group of fans waiting downstairs so Darren just went ahead and left through the performers’ exit or something. But then someone told him after he’d left that there were still fans waiting in the lobby. But at that point they were locked out of the building! I’m not sure how they managed to get back in but they eventually did and found their way to the front again.
So let’s just pause and take point, here: Darren had already greeted a horde of his fans, at the reception. He had already done everything that was remotely expected of him as a performer at this event. He had no obligations whatsoever to a single one of us downstairs who didn’t pay the extra VIP money (for a good cause) in order to be at the reception. He had already left the building and was with his family. And then, upon hearing that he had missed a group of no more than ten people who had waited forty or so minutes in the lobby, Darren fucking Criss went back into the building in order to find us.
I’m like, typing this out, I was there, it happened to me, and I still can’t believe it. It’s something that is, literally no exaggeration no bullshit, too good to be true. Darren, you fucking unicorn.
And Darren was, like, really sorry about it (as if he had anything to apologize for!), bless his tiny hobbit heart, he kept saying how shitty it was (his words!) that we had to wait so long, how he didn’t know we were down here. And then I felt super guilty about it because it seemed like the…Crisses?…were in a rush and he was with his family. But then I think his mom told him to go ahead and talk with us and then she started chatting with some of the fans and oh GOD, she seemed like she was so proud of him, and I noticed that she had a really nice hairstyle…but that’s neither here nor there.
So then Darren started signing autographs and taking pictures right there in the lobby with the folks still there. And me…well, I like to think I was trying to show restraint and act my age and be mature and, I dunno, be respectful?…and let the youngins have their turn first or something, because my friends and I were kinda still hanging back at the tail end of the throng, but mostly I think I was just totally freaking out at this point. Darren Criss was right fucking there. HE’S SO TINY!! Fucking squee. Yeah totally acting my age.
So I hung back and helped take group pictures and waited for the younger girls to clear out, all the while thinking OH GOD, HE’S GONNA LEAVE AT ANY POINT, HE’S WITH HIS FAMILY, HE DOESN’T HAVE MUCH TIME, AHHH. But Darren fucking Unicorn Criss Esquire stayed for all of us there. And oh god, I’m actually really thankful now that I was a total pussy and stayed back at the time because then the three of us (Me, my friend Sara, and our new friend Kirsten) were the last ones to be able to talk to him and…I dunno, it felt so much friendlier and more personal.
And let me tell you. Darren Criss had no reservations whatsoever about coming up to me — twenty-seven year old Asian dude — and beaming the best fucking smile in the universe and just grabbing my hand (his hands were kinda cold, oh god he was out in the rain and then he came back in, OH GOD FEEL SO GUILTY), I mean, how can this guy look so completely exhausted and yet also like he’s completely fucking happy to see me?? I told him that I felt like I should apologize for keeping him and also for shouting stuff during the concert (more on this later). He just laughed about it. And then I told him, and I quote because this is the speech I’d practiced a billion times before in the off chance that I would ever meet Darren Criss: “I just love all your work so much. Every time I hear it I get this huge smile on my face. And then my heart beats really fast which probably isn’t a good thing.” He laughed and I wish I could remember what he said to that but honestly I couldn’t because my mind was blanking out because I’d just said to Darren Criss what I’d always promised I would say to Darren Criss if I ever got the chance. ASDFGHJKL
He turned to my friend Sara and was like, “Hey, I feel like I know you from somewhere,” (BITCH WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN KEEPING FROM ME) and she said that she just had one of those faces. And then I asked Kirsten if she could take a photo of us. Kirsten didn’t really know how to take pictures with my iPhone and I was about to just tell her to press the fucking button but then Darren was like Oh here, let me show you. And then Darren Criss took this picture of me:
I am giggling like a complete idiot because Darren Criss just took a picture of me. It’s such a nice picture! I think I’ll put it on my resume! Photographer: Darren Criss
And then Kirsten took this picture of Darren and me and Sara.
Gods above below sideways and under, is his hair TOUCHING MY HAIR? IT SEEMS LIKE I SHOULD REMEMBER THESE THINGS BUT I CANNOT REMEMBER ANYTHING ABOUT THIS MOMENT OTHER THAN THE FACT THAT IT HAPPENED ASDFGHJKL Oh and please to ignore the top of my head. If I had a Born This Way shirt it would say RESISTS ROGAINE.
And it seemed like that might be it and I’m just so happy at this point, but Sara, bless her BIG ASS HEART YOU WONDERFUL WOMAN, just totally randomly asked Darren: “Can I ask you a totally random question? If you were a bender, what type would you be?” He’s like, a bender? And then I said, “Y’know, an elemental bender.” And meanwhile I’m just dying inside because Darren Criss gets this big smile on his face and tells us that he would probably have been born in the Water Tribe because he grew up near beaches in SF and just has that kind of lifestyle in him, but he said that he would probably be an airbender (FUCKING. SQUEE. FOREVER.) because he’s quite goofy and laid-back and “Zen” about things. So he’s telling us this story about how he would have been an airbender misplaced in the Water Tribe as a child and he would try to bend water only to bend air instead and that’s when they would find out the truth. And all through this he was just gesturing wildly with his hands and grinning ‘cause we all got it and OH GOD. THE LOVE.
Like, I don’t wanna be braggy or presumptuous or something and totally project incorrect thoughts onto Darren, but I kind of got the impression that, after a deluge of young fangirls all up at him, Darren was kind of glad to meet people closer to his own age who were more jokey and laid back (I WAS FREAKING THE FUCK OUT INSIDE OKAY) and were total nerds more like, I dunno, the type of friends that he does have. I mean no offense whatsoever to the so-called “fangirl” creature because lord knows I have more fangirl in me than most. And I’m absolutely not suggesting that Darren thinks anything less than the best of his younger fans. This is just my totally biased, projecty impression of this meeting. And the fact is that if Darren knew anything about the thoughts I’ve had about him, he probably wouldn’t have been so quick to put his hair next to my hair.
So anyway I tell him what a pleasure it’s been to meet him and he says thank you — he thanked me — and we took off. AGH. SO NICE. AAH. IT’S BEEN FIVE HOURS AND I STILL CAN’T BELIEVE IT HAPPENED. HE’S SO NICE.
Okay so I should probably talk a bit about the concert as well. The first act, the women’s choir, was a bit…meh. They had very little energy, very little glee to so speak, even during a gospel number. I’m glad they got the opportunity to perform at this event, but they just didn’t bring it.
The second act, the Dukes, were fucking awesome. I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot about these guys in the upcoming days. I came for Darren, but I had an absolutely blast with these guys’ performances as well. So talented. And when they came back after the intermission, they did a really high-octane, hilariously sexy version of Umbrella that was freaking hilarious. If we never get a youtube clip of this or something, let me just say that it was quite thrusty.
The third act, the Yale Glee Club proper, was very lovely and I appreciated them because I come from a choir background myself, but unfortunately they’ll probably come across as far less memorable in the same show as Darren and the Dukes. Their earlier song choices seemed subdued and tended to blend into one another.
So then, Darren. I mean, what to say about Darren’s performance? We all know how spirited and spontaneous and expressive and lovely he is to watch, and I’m thinking there will be clips of his performance up soon anyway if there haven’t been yet. He sang Teenage Dream with the Dukes and it was actually one of the very best live Teenage Dream performances I’ve heard. He then sang an incredible Italian song that I didn’t quite catch the name of, he sang “Don’t You,” he sang “Animal,” he sang “One Fine Day,” and he was gonna do Beauty but he forgot and then by the time he remembered they’d already taken his guitar away, and then on the piano he sang “The Coolest Girl,” a newer cover that I didn’t recognize from any clips of his I’ve seen, and a totally incredible version of “Not Alone” that included the members of every single act that had been on tonight, circling the stage and the concert hall for a rousing and heartwarming finish. He was incredible. Just incredible.
So let’s talk about where I was seated. I was seated in the front row (which actually weren’t the most expensive seats…ironically, VIP tickets placed you further back, which is supposed to be more optimal in terms of viewing a concert). I was seated at the right hand side of the front row. Darren played his guitar right. The fuck. In front of me.
I wasn’t supposed to take pictures and I wasn’t gonna and these pics are actually pretty shitty, thanks iPhone, but when I realized he was gonna be singing and playing guitar RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME I just had to snap some pics, I’m so sorry Marines Memorial Theater, and I’m just sharing them because I wanna brag about HOW CLOSE I WAS TO DARREN AS HE PERFORMED.
Like, I dunno how much these shitty pictures convey the fact that I was RIGHT THERE in front of him and how there was literally nothing between me and him as he was singing his beautiful heart out, oh dead God, it was so awesome. I didn’t deserve this. Well, okay, I paid full price from my own pocket for those seats so I definitely deserved those, but no one deserves how good this was. Even if I hadn’t had that great experience meeting him, I would have been completely gobsmackedly happy had I simply went home tonight with this concert experience alone.
And I took advantage. I’m sorry, I did. In moments of silence, I totally shouted encouragements at him…which may have come across a bit obnoxious in retrospect. So if you watch any clips of his performance and right after the Teenage Dream performance you hear some hoarse dude shout “I LOVE YOU!” to Darren and him responding with “Hey I love this crowd,” that’s…uh, that’s me. Sorry. And it’s also me later on when he’s tuning his guitar and wondering how it’s going and I shouted “IT SOUNDS GREAT!” and he’s kinda like, “Well, in that case…” or something which, okay, totally obnoxious. SORRY. Now you see why I said earlier that I felt like I had to apologize to Darren for shouting stuff during the show. SORRY. I JUST WANTED TO BE CLOSER TO HIM. YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN ABOUT BEING A TOTAL FANGIRL INSIDE?
(I have to point out, though, that I was not the one who shouted the comment about his socks. Not me. Some other dude, further in the back. I thought it was funny and I think Darren did as well, but I think some people may not have)
There was a great big downside to where I was seated, though. When Darren moved from playing the guitar onto playing the piano, the way the piano was positioned made him completely invisible from the waist up. Not that I don’t enjoy focusing on Darren from the waist down, but that’s something the venue really should have checked out before the show because a whole lot of people sitting at the right side of the hall simply didn’t see Darren’s face for the last part of the show, and it would’ve been a very easy fix. But oh well, I shouldn’t complain.
And I think…that’s it. Is that it? I mean I don’t know what else to say, really. I SAW DARREN CRISS PERFORM UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL. I GOT TO MEET HIM AFTERWARDS. HE’S SO NICE. HE’S SO FUCKING NICE I COULDN’T BELIEVE IT.
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