As I sit on my flight home from Chicago, BØRNS is singing “Holy Ghost” in my headphones and I’m trying to find the words to say about this past weekend in Chicago. Last time I was in the Windy City, I went to see The 1975 play the Aragon Ballroom downtown and this weekend, I found myself down the street from the Aragon at the Riviera Theatre to see BØRNS. Yes, semester did just start this past week, but I wasn’t going to be missing any classes for the trip, so I jumped on the opportunity the second it was mentioned.
My friend Jamie and I arrived in Chicago Friday Jan. 26 after class with excited hearts and smiles to match. I’ve loved BØRNS since high school, but I’ve had a streak of bad luck whenever he comes to Denver. In fact, the last time he played Denver, I had finals during the day and surgery the following week, so I didn’t end up making it and I still regret it even now. But, alas, I finally got to see him on the Blue Madonna tour and it was so worth the flight to and from home within 72 hours of each other. After a nice evening with family, we barely slept out of sheer anticipation for the next night where we’d be seeing BØRNS together for the first time.
Saturday night quickly arrived, even though it didn’t feel like it at the time. We got dressed in our pre-planned concert outfits and got to the venue four hours early. We nearly froze waiting outside in the Chicago cold before doors, but we needed to be two of the first 200 people in line for merch so we could buy his album and meet him.
With numb feet and shaking hands, we finally got into the venue and purchased our signed CDs and shirts. We happily accepted our numbers for meet and greet after the show and found a nice spot on the raised railing with full view of the stage. We didn’t care about how cold we were because we were not only in Chicago again for a show, but we were going to meet the act we loved so dearly.
The openers were good, but nothing could keep our excitement for BØRNS off of our minds. As the second opener left the stage, that’s when Jamie and I began to freak out a little more as the reality was setting in. I was just so happy that we decided to return to Chicago for another concert because we both love live music and it’s a rush to go to a whole different place to see your favorite artists perform.
After what felt like a century, the lights went down and quickly came up to join the opening sounds of “God Save Our Young Blood.” Screams from every corner of the theatre rang out as we waited to see the man behind the music walk out. In a cream colored suit and coral eyeshadow, BØRNS appeared on stage and made the crowd go even wilder. I was ecstatic to finally witness the moment we’d been waiting for as I began to lose myself in the music.
BØRNS on stage. Photo by Abbey Williams.
He went from “God Save Our Young Blood” to “Faded Heart” and “Sweet Dreams” with ease and his voice sounded even prettier in person. He didn’t miss a single note despite the crowd’s noise level. There were several moments throughout the show where I felt like pinching myself because he’s so talented. The energy was high in the room and BØRNS could feel it. When he tried to speak, the crowd clapped and screamed for him and all he could do was laugh at the generosity before he continued to move down the setlist.
He played his new album Blue Madonna in full and as he continued to sing the album, I became more and more alive through my excitement and the energy surrounding me. The crowd was filled with so much love and joy that made you want to savor every second because it was flying by so fast. Soon enough, he went into “Tension (Interlude),” which is one of my favorites and I nearly fainted when he turned it into a cover of Madonna’s “Holiday.” He danced and sang with ease which made me swoon. Somehow his voice sounds beautiful no matter what he does.
When it got to my favorite track on the album, “Blue Madonna,” I realized how close we were to the encore because it’s the second to last song. I focused all my energy in remembering these moments before they slipped through my fingers. “Why do the fun times go by so fast?” I wondered as I tried to take in everything around me to remember forever.
BØRNS on stage. Photo by Abbey Williams.
Shortly after the album concluded, BØRNS left the stage and we awaited an encore, and boy did we get one. He played six songs from the Dopamine era, his debut album, starting with “Seeing Stars” (I know it’s not on Dopamine, but it’s around that time). The song was slowed down to a more a capella feel with a dreamy spotlight over his silhouette. His voice rang out like that of an angels-which I know sounds dramatic, but it’s true-and I had to close my eyes to take it all in. Then, he flowed into “10,000 Emerald Pools” and “American Money,” which are two other songs I could barely take. The visuals were so pretty to go with the ethereal sound the songs have. He then went into my two all-time favorite songs of his, “Past Lives” and “Holy Ghost.” I danced my hardest when they played because I had waited so long to see them in person.
The last song came all too soon, his famous track “Electric Love.” The crowd sang so loud and I remember looking down to see everyone dancing so freely and singing along without a care in the world, which was the coolest sight to see. Though I’ve been to a lot of shows and I’ve seen a lot of crowds, the fans that gathered at the Rivera that night were so calm, carefree and happy to be in the same room as BØRNS; they weren’t concerned about being in the front row or stealing someone else’s spot, which really made me appreciate the show more.
After “Electric Love,” he was gone in a flash and the lights came up to tell us all the show was over. It went so fast that I felt a little rush of melancholy pour over me, but then remembered we were about to meet BØRNS in a few minutes, which then made me nervous.
The line began to form when the venue cleared out and Jamie and I were about 5th and 6th in line to meet him. As we were talking and trying to avoid getting too nervous, I noticed BØRNS walk in wearing all black and cheetah print shoes while carrying a glass of red wine. His eyeshadow was still so perfectly set and his hair looked so well kept, you wouldn’t be able to tell that he just performed on stage for an hour and a half. I couldn’t believe it as I tapped Jamie saying, “OMG there he is.”
The line moved quick as girls panicked the second he said hello to them. I felt stressed for those girls because they were so panicked, but tried to focus on making sure I was paying attention to the line moving. Jamie was up and had her moment with him and before I knew it, I was going in to hug BØRNS. He said hello as his cologne immediately washed over me. He asked how I was and I returned the question followed by, “we flew here all the way from Wyoming to see you.” He looked shocked and said, “What?!” as I said, “Yeah, it’s over a thousand miles, so here we are!” He shrugged and said, “Damn, here we are!” We took our picture and I hugged him good bye, thanking him for the show. He was so kind and happy to meet fans, which made the interaction that much better. It seemed like a total blur as we tried to process what happened while we left the venue and out into the chill air of Chicago to wait for our ride home.
My photo with BØRNS.
Though it all just happened not even two days ago, I still can’t believe it’s real as I write this out; it’s all a blur. Since I could go on forever about the perfection of this weekend, I couldn’t be happier with my choice to fly and see an artist I love and respect so much once again. It was 72 hours of madness, but I would do anything to relive it all over again.