And it’s back! Sorry everyone for the couple weeks I missed of the Featured Fan Fridays! We are back this week with Bob’s amazing story about meeting Gwen a few times over the years and even getting to be one of those lucky fans (that we were always jealous of!) whom got on stage with the band on the last tour. And what’s better than a photo? Video evidence of course in front of thousands of fans! Congratulations again to Bob for getting that lucky opportunity!
Again, if you would like yourself and your story featured on BSO, send it in! Thank you!
My journey to get on-stage with Gwen started on October 24, 2002. It was the Rock Steady tour in Baltimore, Maryland. My first real concert. I was 17, and went by myself, but thankfully a really kind fellow No Doubter picked up on my concert virginity, and helped me get to the front row of the catwalk stage. When the band came up on that elevator 3 feet in front of me, I just about died. During “Simple Kind of Life”, Gwen had pointed to a guy in the front row and sang, “But you seem like you’d be a good dad!” I was insanely jealous, and thought, “The next show I go to, that’s gonna be me!” And toward the end of the show, she pulled a girl on-stage for a quick birthday hug. I knew I had to get there myself! The dreams were born.
The next show I saw was on June 11, 2004. The Singles tour at Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Virginia. I was front-row center for this show. The whole drive down there, I kept telling my friends that I would be the guy she pointed to during “Simple Kind of Life”. Sure enough, Tom and Gwen begin “Simple Kind of Life” against that blue-lit curtain. I was immediately nervous! They had these huge lights behind Tom and Gwen facing the audience, and they were so HOT!! So at one point, Gwen glanced at me, and I fanned myself off mouthing, “Oh my God!” and she smiled. It was my first “moment” with Gwen and I was in disbelief! So she glanced at me a few more times while singing, and then she sang, “The longer that I wait the more selfish that I get…” Meanwhile I’m turning my camera on and getting it ready for that moment, and she grabs the mic, walks forward, and points right at me and sings, “But you seem like you’d be a good dad!” As she was pointing, I snapped a photo. I just started screaming, and Gwen just smiled. When the show was over, my friends who I’d driven down with (they were seated while I was in GA) ran up to me screaming, “It was you!!! We saw it!!” I didn’t even have to tell them! It was such an awesome high. (I also grabbed Gwen’s hand a few times during this show! My biggest thrill up to that point!)
On November 4, 2005 I was driving down I-95 while running an errand for work. I had a coworker in the car with me, and I saw a bus in the passenger side mirror. I knew it was a celebrity’s tour bus but couldn’t yet tell whose. I asked Michele to turn around and read it, but she couldn’t. I slowed down a bit, and as it got closer, I could make out the word Harajuku. I just started screaming! Michele was like, “What?” I was like, “It’s Gwen Stefani!! That is Gwen’s bus!! OMG!!” That bus was doing 90 down the highway, and I tried my best to keep up as long as I could. The next night, I saw Gwen on her Harajuku Lovers tour in Fairfax, Virginia. I didn’t have close seats this time, but the show was still amazing. After the show, I went outside with my friend Jen and we took photos with the Harajuku Lovers bus and went around to where the rest of the buses were. While outside, we ran into Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas. Eventually we met Will.i.am and apl.de.ap as well. So we figured Gwen would come out eventually. Sure enough, after performing for an hour and a half, while pregnant, Gwen came outside in the freezing cold and signed autographs for something like 60 people that were outside waiting. She was amazing. After she signed for me, I shouted, “Gwen!” and she looked at me and I just about froze. I didn’t know what to say, so I said, “Last year in Virginia, you sang part of ‘Simple Kind of Life’ to me!” and she said, “Really?” I said, “Yes, thank you SO much for that!” And she said, “Awww! It was my pleasure!” We drove home in a dream bubble. I couldn’t believe I had finally met Gwen! But I had one dream that hadn’t been fulfilled yet – getting on-stage with her.
June 14, 2009 – Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Virginia. The night before the show I had read that Gwen had been pulling fans on-stage during the show. I devised a plan to wake up early and make an amazing, eye-catching sign. That didn’t happen. I woke up later than I wanted, and was going to scrap the whole idea and just enjoy the show. But as I was driving something told me to go to Michael’s really quick and buy some stuff to make a sign, and just give it a shot. My first sign was this crappy yellow posterboard that just said in black marker, “Gwen! Pull me up please!!” It was lame. Then out of nowhere, this idea to make a poster that simply said, “HUG??” with glittery letters on posterboard in the shape of an arrow pointing down came to me. I slapped it together in the passenger seat of my car in 5 minutes, and sped off to Virginia! The whole way there, I was blasting “Hella Good”, just envisioning getting on-stage with Gwen. I called all my friends, and told them to envision it as well. I told them what I was wearing, what Gwen would be wearing, and told them exactly how it would happen. I just knew in my heart it would happen. So much so that I had a thank you card for Gwen in my pocket (that I completely forgot to give her!) I got in line with my poster, and made some fast friends. When the gates opened, I took off running, and ended up in almost the exact spot where almost exactly 5 years earlier Gwen had pointed me out during “Simple Kind of Life”…I knew it was going to happen for me. The Sounds and Paramore were amazing…and out comes No Doubt. I’m screaming, taking pictures, holding up my poster every time Gwen is in front of me. At one point, she starts reading all of the posters from the front row. She’s getting closer to me making her way down the line, and I’m shaking. Then she completely skips over me and goes to the other side of the stage. I was about to cry thinking I had missed my moment. She goes back to performing, and doesn’t pull anyone on-stage, so I’m thinking, ‘Good! I still have a shot!’ After “End It On This”, I’m holding up my poster, and Gwen looks at me and starts walking over. I’m thinking, “No way!” She walks up to the edge of the stage in front of me, and says, “What’s that!? Lemme see your poster!” So I try to hand it to her, and one of the security guards helps. She’s standing there on-stage holding up my sign, and I’m thinking, “This is not happening!” But out loud, I’m screaming, “OMG It’s happening!! It’s happening!!!” She’s holding the sign up for the crowd to see, and she says, “OK! Come and get it! Come get it! Come on! Hurry up, hurry up!!” The crowd boosts me over the barricade and I just start running up the steps. I stumble on the top stop, and Gwen kinda steps back a bit. And then there she is, arms wide open. And we embrace and it was just the most surreal moment I’ve ever experienced. I’m standing there thinking, “Oh my gosh…I’m in Gwen Stefani’s arms…I can’t believe this!” So I lean in to speak in her ear (in the video it looks like I’m trying to kiss her, and I think maybe she was thinking the same cuz she kinda pulled away.) I say to her, “Thank you so much for the work you do for HIV/AIDS charities – It means so much – I lost [someone very special] to that disease.” For a brief moment (and thank God there are photos) Gwen had this look of compassion on her face that I’ll never forget. But I knew that the moment had to be quick due to time constraints (did you know how much they get fined if they run over at certain venues!?) She glanced down and saw my camera in my hand, and said, “You want a photo?” and I’m like, “Can you take our picture?” She grabs the camera from my hand and holds it out myspace-style, and snaps a photo, glances at the screen, and snaps a 2nd photo. Then she jumps up and down back into my arms for a second hug. I was in shock. My moment had finally happened!! I turned around and waved to the band, and got back into the crowd. When I got back into the audience, I texted all of my friends, “IT HAPPENED!!!” I spent the rest of the show in a complete daze. I snapped out of it a bit during “New” as she sang, “And I can’t believe I’ve had this chance now – Don’t let it go awaayyy – This feeling has got to stay!” I sang right along, on a complete high. After the show was over, so many people approached me with congratulations! I even had fans ask to pose for pictures with them. Even down the street at 711 – people were stopping and pointing saying, “That’s the guy Gwen pulled up!” It was an amazing feeling. I have an embarrassing confession though: When the show was over, I was enjoying the attention so much that I pretended to be standing around waiting for my friend, just so people would approach me. I went alone. LOL I called all of my friends during the drive home, and for the next 2 days, had no voice at all. But finally – I could say my No Doubt dreams had come true. (Now I just need to meet the guys! Can’t believe I haven’t yet!)