2018 In Concerts

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Hiya! I'm back—and hopefully for a while, this time. 

For the past few years, my blogging has been reduced to an annual post recounting my favorite albums from the year. Moving into 2019, though, I hope to get back into blogging more frequently—and I'm starting now. I might be a little rusty at this, but I'm making a major effort this time around, so I hope you'll join me on this ride!

Instead of wrapping up my favorite albums of 2018 like I do every year (because, honestly, I couldn't think of that many. I listened to a lot of old music this year), I thought it would be a fun change of pace to instead wrap up my favorite concerts of 2018. 

I don't keep a list of every concert I attend—although I very much wish I did, but it's too late at this point—and I definitely don't remember every single show I went to this year. But I do remember the ones that stood out, and quite a few stood out this year. 

So, here we go: my top 4 concerts of 2018.

4. All Time Low's Summer Ever After Tour @ The Rooftop at Pier 17: August 19, 2018

I'm pretty sure I see All Time Low live every single year—in fact, it feels weird if I go longer than a year without seeing them. This year, we saw them at a venue I'd never been to before: The Rooftop at Pier 17. Situated in South Street Seaport, the venue was exactly what it sounds like. And it was absolutely stunning. 

Dashboard Confessional opened for ATL and because it was summer, we got to watch the sun set between bands. By the time ATL took the stage, the sun was down and the city skyline was all lit up behind them. New York's skyline always takes my breath away—but putting my favorite band in front of it turns it into actual magic.

Even though I see ATL regularly, I never get sick of them. The only reason this show is my #4 this year is because it felt a bit more rushed than usual. Generally, All Time Low are the kings of banter on stage—it's what makes every show unique, and what sets them apart from lots of other similar acts. This year, though, I felt like there was a lot less banter than usual, and much more of a rushed flow in between songs. It might have been because the venue had a curfew, or it might have been because they were having an off day—mainly, I just hope it's not because they're trying to grow up or mature their shows. Give me the stupid, teenage boy banter! It's fun!

All Time Low haven't announced a 2019 date in New York yet, but I feel pretty confident I'll see their faces again in the coming year. And I'm already excited.

3. Harry Styles Live On Tour @ Madison Square Garden: June 21, 2018

Buying these tickets was a last minute decision that I'm thankful for every single day. I hadn't planned to see Harry live—although I'm a huge fan of his solo debut, I'm decidedly not a huge fan of seeing concerts at MSG, and I wasn't willing to drop a ton of money on tickets, either. But my friend and eternal concert buddy Lindsey was going alone, and it took almost nothing for her to talk me into tagging along. 

We didn't splash out on the good seats—in fact, I'm pretty sure we paid less than $40, and chose seats by Harry's B-Stage, where he came out to sing One Direction's If I Could Fly and my all time favorite song of his, Sweet Creature. I still don't love MSG for concerts—but this experience was worth every penny. 

Harry made a point of turning his first ever solo tour into a safe space for all kinds of people. Every single show was as much a Pride event as it was a concert, and Harry himself regularly waved various Pride and Black Lives Matter flags around on stage. At my show, he covered What Makes You Beautiful while running around with a Pride flag. He even picked up a bisexual pride flag at one point, but I didn't get many good pictures. 

Regardless of the pictures I got, though,  Harry's decision to turn his tour into a unifying event made for an incredible, and entirely unique, experience. For lack of a better way to say it, it just felt really good to be there. HSLOT made you feel welcome, comfortable, and safe—and you could tell everyone around you felt the same way, too. Harry did some incredible things with his first solo tour (including the massive amounts of money he donated to various charities), and creating this special experience for his fans is definitely up near the top of that list.

Lots of people have lots to say about Harry's plans as a solo artist and his feelings about One Direction (have you heard the rumor that he's contractually banned from every saying "One Direction" on stage or in an interview?), but, to me, HSLOT showed Harry embracing his roots, and loving his fans for following him as he takes his next step (I mean, hello, he covered WMYB for the entire tour). I've written plenty of words on my feelings about Harry and how he embraces his days as a boybander, and I could write a million more. To keep things light, though, I'll say this: HSLOT convinced me that Harry Styles loved being in One Direction. Full stop. And knowing that makes me love and appreciate what he's doing now even more.

I'm so delighted I made the last minute decision to see Harry in concert. And I truly can't wait to do it again.

3. 5 Seconds of Summer's Apple Music On The Record Event: June 15, 2018

Okay, here we go. If you know anything about me, you know I have a complicated relationship with 5SOS. I used to consider them one of my favorite bands of all time, and part of me still does. After their disastrous Rolling Stone profile at the end of 2015, though, I started to feel a little wary about them. And as time went on, that feeling only intensified. These days, I look at 5SOS through a very specific lens—often, I can't consume any content they put out without asking myself, "am I being taken for a fool right now?" 

Are 5SOS laughing all the way to the bank? Honestly, probably, at least some of the time. For that reason, I usually keep them at arm's distance these days, and abstain from giving them any money beyond my streams on Spotify (because, let's face it, Youngblood is just bop after bop). That being said, I was pretty much positive I wouldn't see them live in concert ever again, and I had absolutely no intention of paying for their Meet You There tour this year. 

But then they announced a free show. And then I put my name down for tickets, thinking nothing would come of it. And then I got the tickets. And then I found myself waiting in line with two friends on a random weekday in June, standing on the street in Hudson Yards, about to see 5SOS. 

This show was an absolute trip. We were told to arrive at 5pm, as tickets weren't secured until you were physically there. I got there closer to 6, and got in line, My friends arrived a little later, and we waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. I don't think they let us in the venue until 9. 

But they did, eventually, let us in. The space was a little weird and we were forced to mingle upstairs with weird promo material for a while. Me and my friends got some free drinks, took some pictures, and kept repeating, "I can't believe we're doing this." 

Eventually, they ushered us downstairs, where we found a strange little set up: lots of benches, and a sort of diamond shaped stage in the middle with a catwalk. We were filed in and ended up in the second row, on Calum's side, with an absolutely perfect view. Finally, I started to get excited. 

Before 5SOS came out, we watched their Apple Music On the Record documentary. It was cute—and actually reminded me, just a little, why I used to like this band so much. Then, the show itself was a promo event for the documentary, so we weren't expecting a long set afterward. We were wrong.

The coolest thing about this show was definitely how intimate it was. We were so close—even though I've been barriers at plenty of shows before, this felt even closer and more intimate. There was nothing between us and the band, and that made everything feel so real. I've always known all the guys in 5SOS are pretty tall, but I felt like, that night, I really realized just how giant they all are. It was so cool to be that close to someone you've only seen pictures of. 

Because the show was a promotional event, they played mostly off their new album, Youngblood, which had come out that same week. Thankfully, they threw in a few oldies, and I got to absolutely scream along to one of my favorite songs of all time: Jet Black Heart. For me, it was a perfect experience—and I left satisfied, knowing I wouldn't have to pay to see them live on their upcoming tour.

I went into the night skeptical and reserved, and came out reminded that, once upon a time, I really had loved this band. And they did a whole lot for me, before it all went to shit. I still feel more or less wary of 5SOS these days, but seeing them live reminded me of something that used to be beautiful, and sometimes, I guess, that's enough. 

1. Niall Horan's Flicker World Tour @ PNC Bank Arts Center: September 15, 2018

Niall! The end! 

Just kidding. I got to see Niall twice this year: once at my favorite venue in all of the world, Jones Beach, and again in New Jersey at PNC. And, as much as it pains me to say, the PNC show absolutely blew Jones Beach out of the water. 

Niall's Jones Beach show was lovely, and didn't disappoint me at all—honestly, knock on wood, but I doubt that man could ever put on a bad show, and even if he did put on a bad show, I'd still just be happy to be there because I love him and his music so much. 
this picture is from the Jones Beach show, because at the PNC show I decided I had taken enough pictures at Jones Beach and would try to just enjoy the show instead.

So, the Jones Beach show was good. After the show, me and Lindsey decided it was so good we wanted to go again—so, that weekend, we packed up and headed to her aunt and uncle's house in New Jersey. She bought tickets on Saturday for that night's show while I lounged in the pool and we drank beer. It was perfect. 

And the show was, too. Except for the fact that Lindsey got a little sick. But, oh my God, the vibe at PNC was miles ahead of the vibe at Jones Beach. It was so loud, so electric, and so fucking fun. You can tell how much Niall loves being on stage, and how much he loves all of us for showing up. Niall puts on an absolutely brilliant show, and every single time I see him I cherish every second of it. Niall's cover of Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springsteen is the biggest treat of seeing him live, made extra special by the fact that we'll probably never get a studio version. So is his unreleased ballad So Long, and, of course, my all time favorite, On My Own. There is something so special, so unmatched, about putting your hands up and singing, "You could offer the world, babe, but I'd take this instead" with Niall and a couple thousand other people. I love it so much. And I am so thankful to him for giving me those moments.

Seeing Niall live is one of my favorite things in the world, and I'm so lucky to have done it once in 2017 and twice in 2018. I'm not holding my breath for 2019 (he probably won't tour, but maybe he'll bring a new album out by the end of the year), but I'll be ecstatic if I get the chance.
you could offer the world, babe, but i'd take this instead

So, there you have it! My top four shows of 2018. This is, as I said, just a small sampling of the shows I got to see this year: a couple of honorable mentions go to the final ever Warped Tour this summer and the time we saw Liam Payne play a free show at the Beacon Theater. I loved those so much, too. 

That's all for now, but I plan to be back super soon with some more fun stuff! Thanks for reading! 

Until next time,


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