The weekend before the first L.A. quarantine mandate, I had tickets for a Tame Impala show that my mom strictly advised I didn’t go to, despite my protests. It wasn’t the first or last live performance I missed because of the pandemic, but it was undoubtedly the most eye-opening.
As schools around the city began to shut down 5 days later, my friends and I were wary, yet hopeful that “normalcy” would return. Missed experiences, school from home, and a lack of liveliness was universal, and we all know how that chapter continues.
Though Covid-19 brought about all kinds of struggles for us all- academic, romantic, financial-personally the most disappointing part about transitioning to life online during the last 2 years was having to give up concerts.
We all had to learn how to cope and navigate the new normal- for me that meant looking forward to upcoming plans. I’ve learned that being hopeful for the future isn't necessary- simply being curious about what it holds is enough.
When artists began re-announcing tours in 2021, I immediately bought tickets to as many shows that my leftover savings from my summer job allowed for.
I’d previously only gone to two really memorable live shows- both were headlined by One Direction. Slight tangent- I was front row at a 1D concert at the Rosebowl in 2014, where I had a conversation with Harry Styles. Yes, Harry Styles. I was visibly nervous, given that it was my first time in a crowd so large, and he was the absolute most welcoming he could have been. His “how are you”s and “I love you”s are both comforting and petrifying, especially to a 10 year old girl. But I definitely made that interaction my whole personality for a good 3 years after that.
Aside from that, I’ve also attended my fair share of performances online (or at least tried to)- both as an FDZ representative and for personal entertainment, but it didn’t amount to experiencing an artist in their most capable form.
My first concert post-quarantine definitely made up for the ones I missed. In November 2021, Tame Impala performed at the Hollywood Bowl, and it was unlike other concerts I’d been to because 1) I’d been hoping to see him live for over 2 years and 2) the open air venue gave the music a transcendent quality, making it that much easier to immerse ourselves in it and really feel it for what it was.
That same month Harry Styles continued the North American leg of Love on Tour at The Forum, which I was beyond lucky to experience for myself. This was my first time seeing him perform live as a solo artist- my previous opportunity was robbed of me by my sophomore year Spanish teacher who confiscated my phone while I was buying tickets for Fine Line’s private listening party in December 2019. It was sold out by the time I got my phone back- I haven’t quite forgiven her yet.
Harry Styles is undoubtedly the best performer I’ve seen, and that’s not my bias speaking. Or maybe it is… But artists typically either sing beautifully live or are great with audience engagement- rarely in between. He was both. Though connecting with Styles via social media for a good 99.9% of the time is quite difficult, he is large as life in person.
I look back on the tangible memories I have saved from that night probably twice a week- I won’t admit to any more than that. His welcoming aura radiated throughout the entire arena, and his dance moves, the phone calls to parents on behalf of his fans, and his grateful words accentuated the music. I have never felt so seen, heard, understood, and loved as I have while dancing alongside 17.5 thousand strangers under the nose of a man who sings about fruit and skips across stage the way he would at a playground.
Though I credit Styles for much of my joy and often as a creative muse, the last live show I attended in 2021 was beyond unforgettable. I had tickets to see lovelytheband (and Cannons) a month later in Orange County, which I’d been looking forward to for about a year. I will admit- I did discover lovelytheband after first hearing their top played song Broken. But I have to add that I enjoyed their entire debut album alongside it.
My friend and I had VIP Meet & Greet tickets so we were evidently excited. When we arrived at the venue, we were asked to present negative Covid test results to proceed to sound check, which is where our story took a turn. We’d taken our Covid tests on our school campus, not realizing that they wouldn’t be eligible for admittance. With only an hour left of the VIP event but two until on-sight testing services arrived, we missed the Meet & Greet- though we had no one to blame but ourselves. This all worked out for the better, and we were more than happy to have time to grab a bite to eat. After navigating the unforeseen circumstances, we received our VIP packages and entered the venue.
In hindsight, our delay did not hinder our experience whatsoever- it just made it a more interesting one to tell. Cannons put on such a riveting performance. It was my first time seeing a live band with a lead female vocalist (Michelle Joy!), and I hadn’t realized how uplifting that would be, especially considering I pride myself in introducing teens and girls to creative outlets via FDZ. Side note- Ruthless is one of my favorite songs at the moment, and it deserves so much more credit.
Lovelytheband took the stage after them, and everything I said about Harry Styles as a performer stays true to them as well. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but by the end of the night I’d found my new favorite band. I’d listened to all their songs on repeat the week before the concert in anticipation, and the live vocals were completely elevated beyond what I’d heard through my headphones. I also have to add that I absolutely love the fact that Mitchy Collins (lead vocalist) uses humor as a coping mechanism- his conversations with us (haha get it, because their latest album is called Conversations with Myself) were simultaneously insightful and lighthearted. Jordan Greenwald (guitar) and Sam Price (drums) were just as talented and vivacious. Also can’t help mentioning that Greenwald’s hair is beautiful. I’m still disappointed that I dropped BOTH Price’s drumstick and Collins’s handout, but his coming down to the floor to dance with us more than made up for it.
Attending these shows after living life chronically online for the majority of the last 2 years has reminded me to appreciate music stripped down to its rawest disposition and step out of my comfort zone. I’m looking forward to seeing all these beautiful artists again (hopefully soon!) and exposing myself to the music industry one concert at a time.