As COIN singer Chase Lawrence sang “Crash My Car,” the last song in the concert setlist, he locked eyes with senior Bela Guise. A daydream became reality—he sang the final words and tossed her a flower, leaving her awestruck.
For music lovers, concerts are the ultimate fan experience, but after nearly two years of cancellations, refunds and rescheduling, many high school students are seeing concerts for the first time ever. Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino referred to 2022 as a “roaring era” for concerts, as fans are excited to see their favorite artists live again—in 2021, Live Nation’s second-quarter revenue was 677% higher than the previous year.
A number of modern pop culture icons have made appearances in Orlando this year, including Sabrina Carpenter, Conan Gray, Lil Nas X and Pitbull, and Hagerty students are filling the seats.
photo by Bela Guise
At most concerts, artists enhance their setlist with lights, big screens, backup dancers and more. Senior Bradley Uhler describes this environment as “electric”—at the Lil Nas X concert, there was butterfly-shaped confetti, strobe lights and a dance crew, making it an unforgettable experience.
“The live production with all the lights and effects come together to make an amazing show,” Uhler said. “Everyone is in the same place to connect over the artist and just have a good time.”
But it is not really the lights, setup and special effects that make a concert special—it is just being there. When freshman Shayla France arrived at the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert in October, there was a two-hour rain delay. This might seem upsetting, but for France, it only made the event better.
“The rain delay was absolutely worth it,” France said. “After Thundercat and The Strokes finished, the Chili Peppers opened with my favorite song by them, which was sick. I had such a great time.”
Sometimes, the experiences can be even wilder. While on a random person’s shoulders in the pit of a Denzel Curry concert, junior Noah Albano was dropped backward without warning and began to crowd surf.
“It was a crazy feeling and I locked eyes with the opening act,” Albano said. “I wish I could’ve done it while Denzel was performing.”
Although many fun memories can be made at concerts, some things can go wrong. At the Conan Gray concert, the fans were rude and constantly pushing each other around, according to Guise. This made her feel unsafe and hindered her ability to fully enjoy the concert.
“It was so surprising because Conan is a really nice person, but his fanbase just isn’t,” Guise said. “If I went to a Conan concert again, I would try to avoid people and not socialize with any of them because they’re mean.”
Still, all concert-goers have a common goal: to dance, sing and bond over the music and environment. For junior Savannah Towne, this is the best part of any concert.
“It makes the concert experience so much better when you can tell that everyone is also enjoying it,” Towne said.
photo by Bela Guise
The opening act
For avid music fans like France, going to concerts is not an impulsive, last-minute decision; it is one made months in advance. A big Red Hot Chili Peppers fan, France bought her concert tickets for their Sept. 16 show at Camping World Stadium as soon as they dropped to assure that she got seats close to the stage.
“I try to buy tickets earlier so I don’t end up with bad seats,” France said. “I am a huge fan. It was completely worth it.”
Other fans, such as Uhler, buy concert tickets on a whim. On the morning of the Lil Nas X concert, he checked Ticketmaster to see if there were any nosebleed tickets left, but what he found was shocking: pit tickets for $37, a drastic contrast to the original price of $400 or more. Uhler ended up in the third row.
“Going to see Lil Nas X was so out of the norm for me,” Uhler said. “I got super lucky.”
But preparing to go to concerts goes past buying tickets. Harry Styles’ “Love on Tour” made dressing fancy for concerts a big trend; fans would take photoshoots and make TikToks beforehand to flaunt their outfits. Although Guise could not attend “Love on Tour,” she has adopted the idea of turning each concert into her own fashion show, buying her outfits online months before an event. For the Conan Gray concert, she wore a black crop top and cargo pants, looking to match the vibe of the music and everyone in attendance.
“I like planning out my outfits because concerts are one of my favorite things ever,” Guise said. “When I dress up, it makes them even more fun.”
For many, planning what to wear is not as important as planning who to go with. Uhler likes to attend concerts with his family, as they all share a similar music taste and it gives them a chance to have fun together. On the other hand, Towne goes with her friends, whether they are big fans of the performing artist or not. At The Killers’ concert, Towne and junior Hannah Martin arrived late and had to run around the Amway Center to find their entry point. Their spot was not as good as they hoped, but it did not matter.
“It was just so much fun to be there, going with [Hannah] made it better,” Towne said.
To assure that they can dance and sing at every concert they go to, Guise, Uhler, Towne and France all listen to the artists’ music on repeat leading up to the event. France likes to focus on the artists’ most popular music, as that is what they are most likely to play. Towne takes it a step further: she looks at the concert setlist.
“I’ll literally only listen to the setlist for a couple of days leading up to the concert,” Towne said. “I know pretty much every lyric because of that.”
photo by Apple Music
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour
While any concert is a big experience, they all might take a backseat to the biggest tour announcement of 2022, if not ever. Just weeks after the drop of her tenth studio album “Midnights,” Taylor Swift announced that she would be going on “The Eras Tour.” Swift will include songs from all ten of her albums in her setlist, with a special emphasis on her newest album. Fans were thrilled and immediately turned to Ticketmaster to sign up for a presale code. Even before the dates were announced, Guise saved up money.
“I really like Taylor Swift. I’ve liked her since I was 2 years old,” Guise said.
Prior to the sale date, Swift’s management team, Taylor Nation, sent out “boosts” to fans who had purchased her album or other merchandise to assure that real fans would secure presale codes—not scalpers. Fans who had purchased tickets to the canceled “Lover Fest” were also given a boost. This was meant to increase the probability that fans received a presale code.
Even with these boosts, buying tickets was harder than a Taylor Swift ex-lover trying to stay out of her song lyrics. After being selected for a presale code, fans were told to log into their Ticketmaster account at 10 a.m. on Nov. 15 and wait in the ticket purchasing queue. Before 10 a.m. even came, the site crashed, causing many fans to fall behind. When Uhler and his mom were finally able to get into the queue, his heart dropped at the words on the screen: “2000+ people ahead of you.” He reached the end of the queue multiple times, only to be kicked out.
“It was really annoying that I followed all the steps to be in the queue and it meant absolutely nothing because I was still stuck waiting for hours,” Uhler said.
Guise also had problems buying tickets beyond the queue. While trying to complete her purchase, her credit card transaction was flagged as fraud, and she had to find a different card to use.
“It was asking me to put in my social security number and all this other weird information that I didn’t know,” Guise said. “I started crying. I thought I was going to lose the tickets.”
Both Uhler and Guise were able to get tickets, but they came at a high price. For three floor seats, Guise paid $1000, which is roughly the same price that Uhler’s family paid for six seats in the lower bowl, but when it comes to fans getting that once-in-a-lifetime concert experience, it does not matter.
“It will absolutely be worth it,” Guise said. “I’m so lucky that I got them.”