April 17, 2011 | Posted By: Liem Nguyen

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A little less than a year ago, I met one of the kindest, the multi-talented, the beautiful Kina Grannis for the very first time at Jammin Java when she was here to perform for her Stairwells Spring Tour. It was a such memorable night to see her on stage and to hear her great voice live in person.  For those who missed the show and/or my blog from last year, can still read about it here.  After seeing her perform last year, it would be hard to see her top that show, but she did it.  She does not disappoint when there is demand for more Kina.


imageEarlier this year, Kina announced that she that she was re-releasing her Stairwells album as a Deluxe edition filled with a handful of new originals, covers, and even videos with the help of One Haven Music. A week after release of her Deluxe album, she yet made it again in the Billboard Top 200 Charts just like last year.  She announced that she will be on tour again titled "World In Front Of Us" and kick off the first leg of her tour visiting 17 cities on the east coast of the United States.  It was not a surprise that she would return back to DC since she sold out her show the previous year. What made it huge is that she was returning to my favorite local venue at Jammin Java in Virginia to perform not one but TWO shows back-to-back on a weekend--the early show starts at 7pm and the late show started at 9:30pm. The first day that tickets went on sale, I booked tickets to BOTH shows and months later, both shows sold out!


A few days before the show, I decided to check out Kina's opening act, Jesse Epstein, also known as "Imaginary Friend".  Going through his Facebook fan page and listening to his originals.  I quickly started to really like his music.  By this time, I was excited to see Kina as well as to see Imaginary Friend perform.  I had no clue what to expect because I didn't know really if Imaginary Friend was a band or just a single artist.


As Kina's shows approaches in the DC metro area, I prepare myself for the double-header show by having an 8x10" picture of me and Kina from her Tour last year printed out a few weeks earlier.  I also charged up the batteries for my DSLR camera battery as well as my Sony camcorder the day before. It would be quite a disappointment if I went to the show with only half of a fully charged battery.  Knowing that I'm going to both of her shows, I can definitely dedicate a lot of time not to just videos but also pictures!

Pre-Show (Early Show)

Picture credit: @JamnJavaDoorGalI left the house at around 4:30pm to get a quick snack before the show.  I arrived and parked right in front of Jammin Java at around 5:00pm.  To my surprise, there was no line yet, so went off to get chicken nuggets to eat from Jerry Sub's which is just severals stores away.  I returned to the venue after just half an hour and STILL no line. I went in to check-in for both shows. Jammin Java's awesome for allowing those who purchased both shows in-advanced to stay in the venue after the first show ends. So I went out after checking-in and the awesome JamnJavaDoorGal asked me for a picture in front of the sold out sign.  She then tagged me on Facebook and Twitter, which was really cool and nice of her.


A couple of my colleagues from work, sister and her friends arrived at the venue just half an hour before doors opened.  Minutes after 6:00pm, the doors open for the venue and we were able to stroll in.  Since I was practically one of the first people there (surprisingly, no line for a sold out early show), I was able to get great front row seats. As always, Jammin Java seated shows have an aisle straight down the middle splitting the left side from the right side.  I sat on the left right hand side.


As everyone got situated and the merchandise stand opened up, my sister and I went over to buy some Kina merch.  She wanted the hand heart shirt as I wanted to buy an extra couple of Stairwells Deluxe albums for a couple of the Digbyholics, Carina from Germany and Nicole from Canada.  One thing I didn't realized until the show started was that the person selling Kina merch was actually Imaginary Friend, the opening act for Kina's show.  He was really nice when we were buying the merch and he even complementing on my Guitar Girl shirt that I was wearing.

Showtime (Early Show)

imageImaginary Friend took stage about 7:00pm to open the show. He sounded great on stage just like the songs he had posted on his Facebook fan page. I would have to say that his most entertaining story of the night had to be when he talked about his mom viewing his song on his MySpace 50 times. You can see the story in the prologues from the later show. His set for the early show consisted of four songs which most can be found on his The Imaginary EP CD.  For the early, show I was able to dedicated to just taking pictures, so I went go into may details of Imaginary Friend's set let as well as Kina's.


imageAs soon as Imaginary Friend finished his set, we had a short intermission.  After about fifteen minutes of waiting patiently, Kina takes stage to an excited crowd.  For this tour, her style changed a bit.  Instead of having her hair down, she has it braided, but still adorable with a great voice as usual.  She performed fourteen shows which included two planned encores since she has to finish on time to start her late show.  Of the fourteen songs, she sang a couple of new tracks from the Stairwells Deluxe album and a new cover, Oops I Did It Again by Britney Spears.  The rest of her songs were from her original Stairwells album.


To see all the pictures I've taken from my DSLR from the early show and pictures from my Sony HD Camcorder, you can follow through to the link below.

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Pre-Show (Late Show)

Picture credit: @JamnJavaDoorGalAfter the early show ended, Kina went back stage to freshen up to prepare for the late show while the majority of the crowd exits the venue while a few remains who also bought tickets to the second show. Her usual meet and greet is scheduled after her late show where both the early and late show can meet her. I moved over to the far right of the front of the room to get a better angle as well as try to avoid as much background disturbances as possible since the second show will be dedicated to recording video of the late show.  


imageAfter I got situated with my new front row seat and saving a few seats for fellow Kinerd Tom and his wife, I decided to stretch my legs. I first decide to check out the merch stand again to test out my DSLR with the flash. I see Imaginary Friend sitting there selling Kina merch all by himself, so I stopped by to tell him that he did a great job on stage for the early show. I asked if he had any EPs which he did, and I bought a copy. I asked him to also sign it for me, then I took a picture with him.  The something funny happened afterwards. I guess we were so caught up in the conversation that I almost forgot to pay him for the EP haha! I did pay him pay him for the disc though.


imageAfterwards, I put the EP I just bought away and asked someone to watch my things while I step outside for a bit to see how the line is like for the late show as well as say hi to Tom and his wife as well as say hi to Vince who I saw perform a week ago at Amanda Lee's EP release party. The line was what I expected; it was long and wrapping around the venue. That's the line I was expecting for the early show too, but it looks like all the hardcore fans are in the late show.

Showtime (Late-Show)

imageThe late show is on it's way as the second crowd of the night at Jammin Java settles in.  The show starts around 9:00pm, as scheduled. Imaginary Friend takes the stage again for a new crowd.  He has the same set-list but was able to add in an additional song which was a cover by Frank Sinatra where he performed as his second to last song. I can already tell this second crowd is already louder than the first as they cheer on this opening act for the show. Below is his set-list on video  including all his prologues in between some of his songs for the late show.


[ Prologue | Performance ] We'll Be Okay
[ Prologue | Performance ] Wherever You Go
[ Prologue | Performance ] Chasing Ghosts
[ Prologue | Performance ] Comes and Goes
[ Prologue | Performance ] Fly Me To The Moon (Frank Sinatra Cover)
[ Prologue | Performance ] I Knew This Would Be Love


As Imaginary Friend leaves the stage, Kina takes the stage after an intermission. The crowd goes wild as she walks on stage and as she sets up her guitar. She imagegreets the Jammin Java crowd once again and asked if there were anyone from the early show. You hear a few cheers including myself.  She says she's going to change it up a bit by having a few different songs in her set-list for the late show as well as she changed her boots and changed her belts. That was really cool of her haha! For the late show, she sang three different songs including an additional song, Give Me Back near the end of her set.  Of the three songs that she changed for the late show, two were new, "This Far" and "Without Me". Both of her DC shows were great, but her second show definitely stands out compared to her early show. Both performers were able to relax and enjoy the spotlight without having to worry about going over the time limit. Below is Kina's late show set-list on video.


[ Prologue | Performance ] World In Front Of Me
[ Prologue | Performance ] Strong Enough
[ Prologue | Performance ] Cambridge
[ Prologue | Performance ] The One You Say Goodnight To
[ Prologue | Performance ] This Far
[ Prologue | Performance ] Oops I Did It Again (Britney Spears Cover)
[ Prologue | Performance ] The Goldfish Song
[ Prologue | Performance ] Valentine
[ Prologue | Performance ] Without Me
[ Prologue | Performance ] Back To Us
[ Prologue | Performance ] Give Me Back
[ Prologue | Performance ] In Your Arms
[ Prologue | Performance ] Message From Your Heart
[ Prologue | Performance ] Make Me [Encore]
[ Prologue | Performance ] Gangsta's Paradise (Coolio Cover) [Encore]


If you want to watch the whole show from beginning to end, you can do so below as I placed the videos into a playlist.

Imaginary Friend [Part 1]

Kina Grannis [Part 2]

Post-Show/Meet & Greet

Kina's second show finally ends in DC, she heads to the back while her fans start lining up to meet her at the merchandise stand. I was three-quarters into the line and I wasn't sure how many people from the first show returned to meet Kina.  The wait was a while. It had to be at least an hour, but it was while worth it. From this point on in the blog is something I remember very clearly and what made it an even more of a memorable night. As I wait in line, I keep checking Twitter and Facebook to keep me company, but for some odd reason it was rather quiet. It seems like no one wanted to keep me company haha! Anyhow, the lines slowly moves and about an hour later, I can start seeing Kina and Imaginary Friend. I tell Imaginary Friend, that he had another great performance.  He told me that he was allowed extend his set a bit. I'm glad he was able to have a longer set for the late show, he deserved it.


imageSo, I'm now up to see Kina.  She has her eyes set on me, and the first thing she said to me was "Oh, it's so nice to see you again!" That already made me feel special that she remembers my face from last year's show. I told her I went to both of her shows and thought she outdid herself this year and did a fantastic job. The first thing I asked Kina was to special picture shout out with a sign I had printed out.  Kina looks at the sign to see what she is saying and says she "loves the Digbyholics and Marié [Digby]". As I snap the picture, a fan in line sees the sign she's holding up and chain of events starts to happen.


Fan in line: Oh I know Marié! I love one of her songs.  
Me: Is it Umbrella?" [thinking that she heard the cover she got famous from]
Fan in line: uh, noo.. but I think it starts with an S
Kina: Is it Say It Again?
Fan in line: Yessss! I love that song!


imageNext, I pull out all the CDs and stuff that I would like Kina to sign. I go I hope she's okay with signing all these stuff and hope that it's not too much. As nice as she is, she says that it's never too much! Kina's soo nice! So I first ask her to sign three items for her fans oversees, Nicole from Canada, Carina from Germany, and Yusy from Malaysia. She kept telling me it was so nice of me to do this for fans overseas :). As she was signing the CDs and album cover, we stated to talk a little bit about Marié and asked how she was doing and how busy she currently is over in Asia. I agreed with her and told her that she was in the Philippines for several weeks and then she'll be heading back to Japan to work on her albums and setting up tours in Asia.


Next, she signed my CDs that I forgot to have her signed last year as well as signing the cover for her Deluxe album. She was amazed I had her whole collection imageand forgot how the CDs looked like for her older albums.  It brought back some good memories, I'm sure haha! Once she signed all the CDs, I told her if she can sign one last thing, and it's an important one.  It was the 8x10" picture of me and her from last year's show. I pulled out the picture and handed it to her and asked her for a nice special message.  She holds it up says it's such a great picture of me and her. As then pulls out her silver sharpie and signs it.  While she signs it, I start putting the CDs back into the bags. After she signed the picture, I quickly put it away without reading, so I don't hold up the line as much as I have already.


Lastly, I asked to take a picture with her. I was by myself at this point, so I was really glad that she had a street teamer help with taking pictures for all her fans and supporters. I handed over the camera and we took a picture together. This imagepicture came out pretty good since I bought my external flash and DSLR.  I thanked her again for coming to perform here in DC twice and told her to return back soon to Jammin Java because it's a great venue. I gave her a hug and bid farewell for now.  As I left the venue walking to my car, I just realized I forgot to mention my name and how to spell it for my picture I asked her to sign.  I was worried what she wrote, so I pull out the picture and to my surprise, it said "To Liem! All the best! <3 Kina Grannis".  I was stunned and was on a Kina high. I could not believe Kina remembered me, my name, and how to spell it! She definitely made my night and I'm sure many others night end on a very good note!


The next day she responded to my tweet by name again, which made me so happy because my Twitter username isn't my first name.  For her to remember my face, my name, how to spell it, and cross-reference it back to my Twitter username, is completely amazing and great memory in her part.



So, that was my memorable night at Kina's World In Front Of Me tour in DC. Thanks so much Kina and Imaginary Friend for making it a great night! For more information on both of these artists, check out their websites below.


Kina Grannis: http://www.kinagrannis.com
Imaginary Friend:  http://www.facebook.com/imaginaryfriendmusic


If you'd like to read up on more shows and see more pictures and videos I've taken at live shows, please be sure to visit http://shows.LiemPhoto.com.

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