Yesterday my wonderful colleague Jen Doll penned a list of 11 things to do in NYC before the summer ends, and I’d like to add one item to her list: Catch one of the outdoor concerts put on by the national morning shows. This morning I went to Good Morning America‘s showcase of the top 11 American Idol contestants from this year, and it was pretty fun and definitely worth waking up before dawn for, even if the warm-up guy ill-advisedly made a Simon Cowell joke at one point. (Psst, dude! You may want to brush up on your Steven Tylerisms for next year!)
Yes, the shows are early; “doors” for this morning’s event and the other GMA shows are at 6 a.m., when the park opens, and if you’re dealing with an act that has a particularly fervent fanbase you’ll probably want to get to the park entrance at 72nd St. and 5th Ave. a bit early. (Good Morning America‘s shows take place at Rumsey Playfield; Today‘s outdoor shows are at Rockefeller Plaza, right outside the morning chatfest’s studio.) And there will be a lot of standing around—this morning the Idol kids did a total of four complete songs, each of which got soundchecked at least once. And you’ll also be asked to wave at the camera and cheer, sometimes so you can have branded towels thrown at you. (These are, I suspect, more helpful when the weather outside is really steamy or really wet.)
But even though I was half-awake and standing near a gaggle of girls in bright yellow TEAM PIA t-shirts and at one point mistaken for a family member of 2011 Idol winner Scotty McCreery by a French-manicured woman next to me (I blame the half-awakeness), there was something really enjoyable about being in the park so early in the morning, when the sky was brightening and the runners were making their way down the path in clumps and the sun was cutting through the crowd in different ways every five minutes. Sure, it was way too early for SummerStage’s hot dog and wine pavilions to be open, but being there made me kind of miss watching the Idol contestants on a weekly basis, which was something I thought would never happen with this group. I have to chalk that up at least in part to seeing a truncated show at Central Park in the morning being the sort of “New York experience” that’ll give you something to talk about once you scramble to the office from uptown, whether for fun or ridiculous reasons—it actually kind of makes me want to wake up early for these next few weeks, before pre-7 a.m. dawns go the way of post-8 p.m. sunsets. The schedule for GMA‘s remaining concerts is here; the Today show series is listed here. Isn’t the prospect of seeing Stevie Nicks in person before most people have even started cleaning out yesterday’s coffee from the pot enticing?