Harry Styles: Live in Concert

It is fair to say that September 19 was a highly anticipated date. I had purchased three tickets to see Harry at the Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco in a spontaneous frenzy fueled by my seven-year-long infatuation (okay, obsession) for the artist. You see, the whole idea of me, a type-A student, skipping two days of class to see a concert on a Tuesday night was hardly admissible, but I was convinced it was fate.

The San Francisco tour date of September 19 was not only the first stop on Harry’s FIRST sold out tour as a solo artist, but it also happened to be the day after my best friend, Olivia, turned 21. In an instant I decided that it was going to be the best weekend EVER, whether Olivia liked it or not. I called her from the parking garage of U Hall on May 3rd with the proposition. It would be the first time in years we could celebrate a birthday together on the ACTUAL birthday. The concert was just an added bonus. Convincing her of my plan was the easy part, the next step- actually securing tickets for the show- was the tricky part.

That Friday morning I awoke to my 9 AM alarm, ensuring that I had a full hour to run internet diagnostic tests and make sure my fingers were in top-notch mouse clicking mode. The clock struck 10:00 AM, and I was hit an undeniable surge of adrenaline only paralleled by registration day. I think I experienced momentary amnesia, because the next thing I remember was staring at the confirmation page in pure disbelief. We were the chosen ones. Second row balcony seats. Not only would we be allowed in the doors, but we would all have a designated space above the sweaty mass of bodies, whose single-minded determination to close every centimeter gap between them and the stage would have triggered my claustrophobia in an instant. We were truly privileged.

Flash forward four months. We are in an uber, slowly creeping up the incline leading the venue. Two blocks away and two hours before doors are scheduled to open, we catch our first glimpse of the line. Yes, we had seats, but a new fear sprouted in the back of my mind. Sold out merch. We decide to risk them selling out of t-shirts and hats, and continue on to our destination, Top of the Mark.

We were mostly excited about this lounge because we read on Yelp they gave out free bread (which was false information), but secondly because of the view. When we got out of the tiny elevator on the 19th floor of the hotel, we were asked if we wanted city views or Golden Gate Bridge views. We chose the latter, and sipped overpriced cocktails while looking out over the bay.

After a few stops for pictures in the lobby, we walked over to the venue which was just a couple blocks away. Fate intervened one more time (or you could call it perfect timing), and after being stopped at a crossing signal, we walked straight in the doors, past the two lines that curved around the block in either direction. Before you report us for cutting the line, it must be stated that the ticket agent at the door was impatiently waving us on with the other attendees streaming through the door. Who were we to refuse his directions?

 

Our front of the line pass allowed us to visit the bathroom, buy our shirts, get a drink and a chocolate chip cookie, and take photos in our seats before the rest of the venue filled up. We didn’t think that our level of excitement could grow until a malfunction with the fog machine caused the fire alarms to sound. The whole crowd was unsure if there was a real threat, and I think most people were more concerned with losing their spot at the front in an evacuation than any potential danger. The flashing lights and siren stopped and it was announced as a literal false alarm.

In the meantime, Muna, an electro-pop trio, opened the evening. I was not familiar with the band but was immediately enraptured by their performance. Katie Gavin, the vocalist, thanked Harry for allowing them to be there that night and spoke to the character of the pop star. She proclaimed that this venue was a safe space that welcomed everybody, and asked the standing room crowd to respect their neighbors and enjoy the show. (At this point, I had seen three girls flag down security and ask to be lifted out of the mob that had formed. People’s excitement for the show was overwhelming their respect for one another’s personal space.) Gavin also praised Harry’s magnanimous nature, which is embodied by his merchandise bearing the slogan, “TREAT PEOPLE WITH KINDNESS.”

This humility was clearly evident when Harry finally took the stage. A floral pink curtain dropped down, and in the spotlight was the silhouette of none other than Harry himself. Holding a guitar and no longer sharing the spotlight with four other vocalists, this single visual was a sign of the new times. After his first song, Harry made a speech thanking us all for being there and “popping his cherry” as a solo artist on tour. He asserted that it was a night he would never forget, and I think we were all in agreement with that statement. At one point a fan threw a rainbow flag on stage, and Harry hung it on his mic stand, keeping it there for the majority of the show.

Harry has 10 released songs of his own, so he supplemented the lineup with a handful of covers. In an homage to the band that gave him his success today, he covered One Direction’s “Stockholm Syndrome” and their signature anthem “What Makes You Beautiful.” He also covered Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” and Ariana Grande’s “Just a Little Bit of Your Heart.”

There was no shortage of bows and blown kisses to his fans, and it still amazes me how humble Harry remains. Even more importantly, he does not alienate or insult the majority of his audience: adolescent girls. Other members of 1D have made snide remarks in an attempt to separate themselves from the childish image of their entrance to the music industry. Harry represents the best case scenario of a celebrity figure in relationship to his acquired fame.