Kyle McMahon has fail after fail for a taping of Kyle2U at Mixtape Festival 2016.
I’ve always been completely honest about my experiences and this space is no exception. As some of you may know, I’ve been doing a series of shows for my new project, Kyle2U - a talk show for Millennials with the mission to “Transform Your Life”. I was excited that our next show taping was The Mixtape Festival in Hershey PA. If you’re unsure, The Mixtape Festival is an annual show at Hershey Stadium that features multiple pop acts. It’s billed as “the biggest pop festival in the US at the sweetest place on Earth”.
This year’s bill included New Kids On The Block, 98 Degrees, O-Town, Ryan Cabrera, Boyz II Men, Dream, and for her first show in 25 years, Paula Abdul. I was set up to interview Boyz II Men and Ryan Cabrera. In my head, I had grand plans of a beautiful sit down, climate and lighting controlled interview where I could ask the artists deep questions about their artistry and their take on what makes their music continue to resonate with people after 10, 15, 20 years in the public. That was such a nice dream I had. In reality, I’m in the middle of the worst heat wave in the Mid-Atlantic in decades with Ryan Cabrera asking me if I’ve gone blind.
In the early hours the day of the show, we loaded in the video gear, followed a group of friends that were attending and headed to Hershey, Pennsylvania. As we stop for lunch on the way, I check my e-mail to see there had been a miscommunication on our end and I couldn’t have my camera person. Not only that, but Boyz II Men had to cancel their press for the day. No worries, I thought. I minored in photography, Ryan Cabrera will be a great interview and it’ll be a great show.
We check into the hotel and I get hair and makeup done for the Kyle2U taping. My dear friend and lovely assistant Alicia Lenoir goes through multiple hair styles before finally deciding upon one. We get to Hershey Park, park our cars and walk the long walk past the Giant Center over the bridge and to the trams. Traffic had been a mess, so I was already about 25 minutes minutes behind schedule. Luckily, we left a 45 minute buffer just for such circumstances. Unfortunately, fate didn’t have the same plans we did. I got separated from the group and now was desperately trying to find the gate I was supposed enter.
With no camera person, I’m running around a stadium with two bags of videography gear on my back in 104 degree heat shouting to random people, “Do you know where North East Gate is?!” I almost certainly looked like a crazy person. My hair, which required approximately 13 gallons of hairspray, remained intact, however.
After two runs around the stadium, I finally find the correct gate and my kind Live Nation escort arrives to bring me to Ryan Cabrera who was already there waiting for me. (Yes, he was waiting for me.) I’m now embarrassed and horrified. To be precise: I’m embarrassed, horrified and sweaty. I hastily set up my tripod and double check the image. I break out my brand new microphone and start the interview with Ryan, who had graciously waited for me through this entire fiasco. We discuss his latest single (the amazing House on Fire), the 10th anniversary of The Hills, his fascinating tattoo of Ryan Gosling (he plays tattoo roulette with his best friend) and his upcoming collaborative project Beyond The Sky (whose first single, Right On The Money, is awesome) . The makeup that Alicia put on me for filming is now literally dripping in my eyes to where I can’t see a thing. Yes, I’m in the middle of interviewing Ryan Cabrera and I’ve just gone blind. I’m also 98% sure I’m having a heat stroke. I pause for a moment so I can wipe my eyes which are red and burning. I now look like someone who’s been hysterically crying in a sauna after a hard workout and oh by the way, their face is melting off! Hair game still on point, though!
I wrap up my interview with Ryan and head out to meet up with the crew. We do some interviews with fans about who they’re there for (and everyone had their own favorite) in between high energy sets from the artists. As a huge fan of American Idol - and pop music - I couldn’t wait to see Paula Abdul.
Set after set from artist after artist, the stadium was singing and dancing along to every single song. It was hit after hit after hit all night. It truly was a mixtape come to life.
After Paula’s amazing show, in a moment of delirium and still recovering from heat-stroke, I tweeted something about how Paula slayed her show & I (not so cleverly) told her I’d see her at the after party. For the next 10 minutes my phone blew up as Paula Abdul herself Retweeted it, Liked it and then followed me. My day was looking up.
After the show, I head to the after party. What do I hear from across the room but, “Bro, you’re dry!”. It’s Ryan Cabrera (& his awesome hat). It is true, I am drier now, but after a 10 hour fight, my hair is finally starting to show signs of defeat. We chat about the show and his gig on the My2K Tour with 98 Degrees, O-Town and Dream (which is winding its way through the U.S. now). New Kids On The Block are entertaining guests. I mingle with the artists, have a slice of one of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten and decide to call it a night. It looks like Ms. Abdul won’t be coming after all.
As I’m walking out of the venue - two video gear bags on my back - a security guard asks me if I have car service. After a chuckle, I let him know that I drove myself. He then lets me know that the trams have shut down for the night, so I’d have to walk back the mile or so to the parking lot. He offered to find a golf cart to take me personally, but I told him it wasn’t necessary. “Well did you at least meet everyone you wanted?” “I was kind of hoping to meet Paula Abdul, she seems like the nicest person ever, but I guess she didn’t come.” He immediately replied, “No, she was there. She was the first one there.” I had to laugh at the fact that in a space of 200 square feet, we were both standing there and somehow, I missed her. Well, at least I saw a great show and had a great interview. This will definitely be an awesome episode of Kyle2U.
When I got home a few days later and went to edit the footage, I noticed that in the rush and delirium of that brutally hot day in Hershey Pennsylvania, I had never turned the microphone on during the interview with Ryan Cabrera and at some point, the camera tilted on the tripod to a 90 degree angle. If I had started crying over the comedy of errors of the whole entire situation, you would probably still find me sobbing in some corner rocking back and forth. So instead, I had to chalk it up to a few lessons learned. And boy did I learn some lessons:
- Never let your assistant or your camera person leave your side
- Always be ready for anything. Success doesn’t want excuses.
- Have a Plan C because Plan A & B may fail.
- Paula Abdul is America’s sweetheart.
- Ryan Cabrera is an incredibly gracious human being.
- Nostalgia is incredibly powerful.
- The Mixtape Festival is an entire day full of great music & great fun.
- Always have one of those little tiny fans that has the rope that you can put around your neck so you don’t get heat-stroke.
In closing, I truly am so thankful to all of the hard working staff of Mixtape Festival, Live Nation, Hershey Park, the artists and their management teams and all of the support staff. They worked tirelessly to put on an amazing show for 20,000 fans and they succeeded in spades! Let’s just hope I haven’t been banned for next year ;)