The 'All That' Music Festival Was Everything Great About Camp, Without The Sports

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The 'All That' Music Festival Was Everything Great About Camp, Without The Sports

Not to use this time to brag, but I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my lifetime from Sharon, Lois, and Bram to Christina Aguilera (with Destiny’s Child as an opening act!) to Beyoncé, numerous times. I’ve never been disappointed (except for the time Ashley Tisdale’s mall tour was made up of only three songs, but “He Said, She Said” was one of them, so I really can’t complain) and I’ve seen Grammy winners and Oscar winners, intimate performances and arena tours. But, without a doubt, the best concert I’ve ever been to is 2000's All That Music and More Festival.

I scored my tickets on Radio Disney exactly two weeks prior to the festival – I was the 99th caller. The only thing I had ever won up until this point was the contest to name my elementary school’s cookbook (Benjamin Rush Elementary’s Rush to the Kitchen), so I was floored when the DJ put me through and informed me that I won.

The lineup was truly star-studded; a veritable Coachella for the pre-pubescent set. Emceed by Kenan Thompson and Nick Cannon of All That, the festival’s music acts had all been featured on the show, as well. Blaque, The A*Teens, Hoku, LFO, No Authority, and Take Five made up the artists, with B*Witched acting as the headliner. Was B*Witched more famous or successful than LFO? If I was responsible for the talent that brought "Summer Girls" into the world, I definitely would have had some follow-up questions about the billing order.

While these artists weren’t exactly the top of the A List in August 2000, they were household names. In my household, at least. With an Abba cover band and two other acts appearing on the Bring It On soundtrack, I couldn’t have put together a more ideal group if I tried. I was ecstatic.

The two weeks leading up to the event were a whirlwind. I couldn’t stop bragging about my brilliant luck, but I still had to find three people to invite in the best Sweet Sixteen fashion and lock down an outfit that would surely catch the eye of Hoku, making it a truly “Perfect Day.”

I invited my best friend from youth group, and we each decided to bring our younger sisters as our charity work for the year. With the guest list secured, my look became top priority.

Looking my best wasn’t just to be spotted by LFO in a sea of poorly-lit tweens in the lawn seats. No, it had been announced that there would be a tent where kids attending the festival could audition for All That and Figure It Out.

Now, it was no secret that I was virtually talentless when it came to party tricks. I couldn’t burp the alphabet or stand on my head while eating grapes, so it didn’t take long to figure out that I wasn’t a match for Figure It Out. I did have a knack for making people laugh, though, so I could already envision myself jumping on the trampoline to the sweet tunes of TLC during the All That theme.

My natural comedic talents would only take me so far, I decided. My look was key to becoming the next All That cast member. After much debate, I settled on my signature Summer look: cargo shorts and a checkered button down, left open to reveal a graphic tee underneath. To really send the message home that I was in tune with high-brow comedy, I went with the controversial yet hilarious “Make 7,” “Up Yours” tee. I completed the look with a puka shell necklace, and to draw attention to my dyed spikes, I crowned myself with a visor from Aeropostale. Move over, Lori Beth. There was about to be a new Nickelodeon star in town.

The night arrived, and I was buzzing with excitement and two bottles of Surge. In hindsight, one bottle would have sufficed, or perhaps none at all – if you’re drinking something that tastes like Mountain Dew, but is somehow more syrupy, you should be aware there is a problem.

The AIM away message was set and ready to go: “All That music. [aNd MoRe!]” As I said, I had a knack for high-brow comedy. It was all about subtly. (Another popular away message of mine was “pee right back” whenever I had to rush away to the bathroom.)

My friend’s mom picked my sister and I up, and after a final spritz of Candie’s Men, I packed into her van, ready to go to the concert of a lifetime. On the way, we listened to a burnt CD featuring the hit singles of each performer. Since each artist was only given a few songs in their set, the mix CD was virtually just their set list, but with the Limewire staples, “Music on demand” and “AOL Music, first listen,” sprinkled throughout each song to inform the world that this was, indeed, pirated music. (I will neither confirm nor deny that I was the one who made these CDs. Piracy is a crime.)

The van pulled in front of the amphitheater, and I leapt out of the van, ready to secure our spot on the great lawn with the beach blanket we brought with us. As we settled in, I noticed immediately that my final look wasn’t going to stand out as much as I had previously thought. Every boy appeared to be my clone, decked out in his finest checkered button down and graphic tee. Some had made the bold choice to rock a bucket hat instead of a visor.

My friend and our sisters blended in with the thousand other tweens there. The lawn was packed with heads full of hair mascara and butterfly clips, and every girl there kept Wet Seal in business. Peasant tops, chokers, and denim jackets were the outfit du jour, with braces and bare belly buttons being the go-to accessory.

Although all of these kids were competition for my All That audition, I couldn’t have been happier. I was home. It was everything great about the first day of summer camp without organized sports.

Anxiety and excitement filled the air, along with an intoxicating mix of Country Apple, Cucumber Melon, and Juniper Breeze. Wedges and flip flops tapped along to the pre-show music, consisting of artists that were too good for this lineup: Robyn, Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, Mya.

With our blanket safely sprawled out on the lawn, it was time to explore the rest of the festival. At least ten snack bars were packed in alongside each other, offering pretzels, chicken tenders, hot dogs, pizza, nachos, and for those with a sweet tooth, Dippin’ Dots.

You could taste the grease as you passed, and just in case that wasn’t enough to entice you into buying one of everything, the signs advertising the snacks were bigger than the kiosks themselves. Nickelodeon knew every concert-goer had young, impressionable eyes and a tiny purse full of allowance money, and they made sure to capitalize on this. I was able to beat the system because I had filled up on dinner (and two desserts) at Old Country Buffet, so I settled on a sensible Fruitopia.

Besides the snacks, I learned quickly that they were not overexaggerating with the “and more!” tagline. There was a karaoke stage for those who wanted to show off their best Britney vocal fry, a rock wall for the athletes, and a walk-through “human car wash” for those who decided it would be fun to sit through a two-hour concert in soaking wet clothes.

For parents who needed a mental health break, there was a “Chill Out Bar,” where adults could segregate themselves from the crowds of children for a quick coffee and a round of TV Land trivia. That’s how it was advertised outside of the tent, but looking back, I’m hoping they could get a Zima, at the very least.

The rest of the night flew by, with B*Witched ending the concert with “Hey Mickey.” By then, the sun had long-since gone down and the energy had turned all the way up. The herd of young teens screeched along to the final song as the group performed a cheerleading-inspired routine.

I never did have time to audition for All That, but there is a reboot, so I'm not giving up hope just yet. After all, I was the 99th caller on Radio Disney, so I've proved to be quite lucky.

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