30 Before 30: Face-to-Face Conversation with a Celebrity

#20 from my 30 Before 30 list: Have a face-to-face conversation with a celebrity, preferably over a meal

Clara C, David Choi, me, and opening act Jason Min

David Choi and Clara C are two recording artists who rose to international fame on YouTube. Together they have over 1 million subscribers and over 130 million video views. On Friday, their joint fall tour stopped in Philadelphia at World Cafe Live. One of the ticket options was the “fan experience,” which included admission to the concert, meet and greet, backstage access, and dinner with the band. Even though I would be attending the concert by myself, I decided to splurge on this option.

Thanks to traffic, I was 30 minutes late, but I was also the first ticket holder to arrive (since nearly everyone attending is running on Asian time). The first person I saw when I arrived was Clara, who was starting to set up the merch table. After getting checked in and set up, I went into the concert hall, where David was starting to sound check. John, the tour manager, gave me the OK to take photos and also took dinner orders.

There were four other fan experience ticket holders – two couples – and while David sound checked, we met Clara C. (She likes my scarf.) She brought us onto the stage and introduced us to David. David shook our hands but greeted me with a “Heyyy!” and a hug, since he remembered me from his show in April and from Twitter. Clara led us backstage to get something to drink, and we all snacked on chips and salsa and fresh fruit. The chips and salsa were a big hit all around. We talked about places to eat in Philly, Facebook (and Facebook stalking), tour schedules, how sound check works, and whether or not people actually enjoy living in Philadelphia.

Clara began her sound check, and David sat down with us to eat dinner. He sat across the table from me and shared fries with the rest of us. (I don’t think the fries were actually his…) We talked about school, California, being away from home, ostomy pouches (AKA poop bags), and the distinction between Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. I also took on the complicated task of explaining my job and why I travel for work when I’m a graphic designer. David’s dog, Pepper, goes to a groomer in California – maybe she (or he?) attends Groom & Kennel Expo!

Doors opened shortly after dinner, and the concert began an hour later. The fan experience group sat upstairs in the mezzanine, which was conducive to people watching. The groups of teenagers and college students made us feel old. The non-Asians were easy to spot, especially the leather-clad couple that looked like they belonged in a biker gang. The concert was obviously incredible. (I bet if you search on YouTube, you’ll find some videos of it.) I am a new fan of opening act Jason Min, a Philly local. It was a fun show filled with laughs, audience participation, new music, and aww-inducing stories about the songs’ inspirations.

After the show, I had one more opportunity to talk with David, Clara, and Jason at the meet and greet table. There were several hugs, some handshaking, a few CDs signed, and declarations of “It was so nice to meet you!” David also talked about meeting at his first World Cafe Live show and replying to my tweets. And that’s what’s awesome about attending YouTuber’s concerts. The Internet makes these artists more accessible than more mainstream performers. This accessibility coupled with their welcoming personalities makes the “fan experience” more like a “friend experience.” I hope to see these friends again soon!

More photos here!

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