Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the one activity I missed the most was attending live concerts. In 2019, I had purchased tickets to a few of them that were inevitably canceled (R.I.P. Lover Fest) or delayed well into 2021. As someone who has a countdown app on my phone, just to countdown the days until I get to go to a concert, knowing that the future of concerts remained a mystery was difficult.
The last concert I went to, before the pandemic began, was for the band Bleachers in December 2019. The lead singer, Jack Antonoff, decided to spontaneously put on a few shows in late 2019 as he worked on the band’s third studio album. Known as the “I Love Making This Album But I’m Also Losing My Mind In Here and Need to Come Out and Play Tour,” I was very lucky to attend this concert, especially knowing now that the world would come to a standstill three months later.
Flash forward to May 2021, Bleachers announced the release date of their upcoming album Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night. Alongside the album, an accompanying tour was planned to take place the following autumn. Being the fangirl that I am, I got myself a ticket. I had no idea what the future would hold, or even if the concert would take place by the time October rolled around, but that little glimmer of hope was enough for me to hold onto for over half a year.
Summer passed by, the album came out, and my Saturday nights became significantly less sad. I moved out of state for college early in the fall and spent a good portion of my free time trying to meet someone who liked the Bleachers as much as I did. I was really hoping to find someone who was attending the show as well. Being an introvert, it was difficult to go out of my comfort zone, and I almost accepted defeat. I had never been to a concert alone before, and with every passing day, it seemed like I would have to go by myself. Until I came across a Reddit post asking if any Bleachers fans on campus were planning on going to the concert.
On a mid-October Friday night, I ended up taking several Uber rides and the most interesting train ride of my life with strangers I met on the internet. We eventually got to the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles about forty-five minutes before the doors opened. There was already a line that had begun to circle the building. Different groups of people were talking about their lives and how excited they were to see the band again. For most of us, this was the first concert we had been to since the pandemic began. The energy waiting in that line was abuzz with anticipation I had never felt before.
Fifteen minutes before the doors opened, a member of the Palladium came out to check the line for masks and vaccine cards. The Palladium required a mask upon entry and proof that attendees received the COVID-19 vaccine. When it was my turn, like everyone else, I received a stamp on my hand that was later checked at the door before my ticket was scanned.
The line moved pretty quickly. The doors opened at seven, and we entered the building around a quarter past. The wait after that was the worst part. People continued to file in as the pre-show playlist played over the speakers. For nearly forty-five minutes, I stood in a crowded room full of people who were just as enthusiastic about Bleachers as I was. However, the anticipation was killer.
The opening act was Claud, the same artist who opened for Bleachers when I saw them in 2019. It was a real full-circle experience for me. I saw the same band and opening act that I saw during my last live concert experience before the pandemic. After Claud’s set, it was another twenty minutes before Bleachers came onstage, and the best night of my year began.
I lost my heartbeat in the drums, danced to every guitar strum, and screamed out the lyrics to the songs that comforted me since the world shut down. For the first time in nineteen months, I was able to cathartically celebrate with other people after everything we had all been through. The band played like it was their last show for a very long time. The crowd bounced like it was the last concert they would attend for decades.
If there is anything I have learned over the past twenty months, it’s that nothing is permanent. Plans can change in the blink of an eye. But if the opportunity presents itself, and you believe it is worth it, take the risk. I have no idea what the future holds for concerts. I don’t know if I will ever experience a night like this again. The next concert I attend may not even require masks or vaccination proof. I genuinely have no clue. I do know that I am extremely grateful for this entire experience because the memories I made will last a lifetime.