Bailey Ostermann and her friends arrived at 93.3-FLZ in Tampa at 6 a.m. Friday -- at which point there were already 20 people in line -- and they didn't expect to sleep until 2 or 3 a.m., hours after tonight's One Direction concert at Raymond James Stadium.
"Being a fangirl is, you don't get any time to rest," said Ostermann, 17. Staying up late, stalking..."
Hundreds of like-minded fans started lining up as early as 2 a.m., hoping to spot chart-topping opening act 5 Seconds of Summer, who dropped by the pop station for an intimate acoustic set and meet-and greet for about 40 contest winners.
With weeks of advance security planning, it was arguably the biggest fan frenzy at the station's Gandy Boulevard headquarters since a 2007 Miley Cyrus ticket giveaway that involved parents camping out for days beneath a 12-foot statue of Hannah Montana.
Those fans lucky enough to get in could barely contain their glee as the pop-rock quartet unplugged for three hummably bubblegum singles (Out Of My Limit, Amnesia and She Looks So Perfect), displaying the goofy, guileless humor and four-part harmonies that have made them the world's next big boy band.
They also took questions from fans: What have you done since since arriving in Tampa? (A: Went to the beach and watched themselves on Thursday's Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.) What are your favorite songs to play? (A: For singer-guitarist Luke Hemmings, Earth, Wind and Fire's September; for singer-bassist Calum Hood, the Romantics' What I Like About You.)
"I was just wondering if you guys would ever date a fan?" asked Fatima Redzepi, 18, a student at St. Petersburg College. "If so...hello?"
"The answer is yes," deadpanned guitarist Michael Clifford.
"And hello back to you," added Hemmings.
They likened life in one of the world's most popular pop groups to that of animals in a zoo: "They give you your food, then they take you to the next show," said drummer Ashton Irwin.
The band hung out afterward to take photos with fans, a few of whom came bearing gifts. As for those stuck outside? Shaded by pink, paisley and polka-dot umbrellas, most were just praying for a mere glimpse of 5 Seconds of Summer -- which they eventually got, as band members later came out to snap selfies, a reward for their patience and dedication -- although some dared to dream a little bigger.
Ostermann -- who is homeschooled, but part of the Wesley Chapel High School community -- brought a sign that read, "Will you come with me to homecoming tomorrow???????" Though her dream date, she said, is One Direction's Niall Horan, any member of either band would work just fine.
"I'm not picky," she said. "If I show up with one of them on my arm, I will literally be able to die the next day."
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*