Do you remember what kind of music you were listening to in 4th grade?
I mostly listened to what was on the radio. Since it was South Florida in the 90s, that mainly consisted of R&B, gangsta rap, Miami booty music, alternative rock, pop rock, and classic rock.
That was around the time when I started to develop musical taste. I just turned 10, and I felt like a big kid finally.
So when I first heard No Doubt on the radio in 1996, I was floored. I’m pretty sure they were one of the first modern rock bands I had heard, up to that point, with a female singer.
I was immediately attracted to their bouncy, fun, ska-infused tunes and Gwen Stefani’s emotionally penetrating vocals. “Tragic Kingdom” was ultimately a breakup album, and every song was a powerful expression of her heartache.
I instantly related to the lyrics and learned as many of them by heart as I could fit into my growing brain.
No Doubt became a favorite band, and I was lucky enough to see them live, a year later, in 1997. I saw them again in 2009 and was even lucky enough to score a photo pass from the newspaper I was working for at the time.
Since then I’ve remained a devoted No Doubt fan and followed Gwen on her solo career as well. Her lyrics still make an impact on me to this day, but none more so than those from the songs on “Tragic Kingdom.”
So, when she announced her Just a Girl Las Vegas residency, I was all in.
Now, I’m not a huge Vegas person. I’ve only been there twice. But I could not pass up the opportunity to see an entire show based around Gwen’s music and lyrics, both in No Doubt AND as a solo performer.
I decided to buy tickets a couple of weeks ago, and Justin and I basically took a pretty spontaneous trip to Vegas just to see her perform (and for our anniversary).
The show took place at the Zappo’s Theater of Planet Hollywood, located inside the Miracle Mile mall.
I bought the cheapest tickets I could find online for that date, but honestly, in a 7,000 seat theater, there were no bad seats. However, I was elated when after scanning our tickets, the ticket taker said they were upgrading people’s seats.
At first, I was skeptical and thought it cost money. But it didn’t! I’m not sure why exactly our seats got upgraded because by the time the show got started it looked like a full house, but I’m so glad they did! Our seats were on the stage left side, on the bottom right before the pit.
Before the show even started, I was smiling ear to ear at the show opening music. A mix of ska, punk, and alternative was playing, some of it very familiar. I was feeling pretty excited and nostalgic.
They were selling merch in the lobby, but it was a wee bit more than I wanted to spend on a t-shirt that night, although I did love the one that said, “This Sh#t is Bananas.”
There were also costumes from some of her music videos on display in the lobby, including the blue and white polka dotted dress from “Don’t Speak.” Oh, how I loved that video. So 90’s Gwen with the bindi and everything!
Although the show was supposed to start at 9:00, it didn’t end up starting until 9:30. But, it was well worth the wait.
Gwen opened her show with “Hollaback Girl,” surrounded by an art deco style set, a black and white striped floor, and dancers holding giant bananas. She had so much energy at the get-go it was impossible not to feel completely infatuated by it.
She moved through a ton of songs at a steady pace from her No Doubt days to her solo albums and even to covers of songs like Rhianna’s “Umbrella” (which she declared should have been her song).
She talked to the audience quite a bit and even took the time to take pictures with audience members and sign stuff.
And of course, since it was Vegas, she had a number of costume changes. During these interludes, the curtains closed and a video was played, where she discussed her journey from Anaheim teenager writing songs in her bedroom to major, worldwide superstar.
It was so fun seeing different photos and video footage of her as a kid, teenager, and then singing and performing with No Doubt.
There was even a segment about her obsession with fashion and how she’s always used it to express herself.
Speaking of fashion, the costumes were fabulous—as you might expect.
One of my favorites was actually the first one she wore, which was a custom black and white jacket with all these incredible embellishments.
The entire set up for “Don’t Speak” was also pretty incredible. She wore this long white cape with rose petals sewn onto the bottom and sang on this platform at the front of the catwalk, which was also decorated with roses and greenery.
Red and pink confetti rained down during the song, and I was so happy I had to take deep breaths between singing so I wouldn’t cry.
She played pretty much every song I could have asked to hear, and I had an amazing time singing, dancing, and smiling my face off. Needless to say, it was a night to remember.
Thank you, Gwen, for being a musical role model, fashion inspiration, and all-around adorable person whose Instagram stories bring me joy every day.
Until next time.
Do you plan on seeing Gwen Stefani’s Just a Girl Las Vegas residency or have you already seen it? Leave me a comment below!