Big concerts are back: How students are navigating their ability to see their favorite artists live

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Sumika Thapa

Harry Styles performs a show for his tour: Love on Tour, at the United Center in Chicago, IL.

Jillian Keppy, PV Only Editor

Some of the biggest current artists are announcing tours for 2021 and 2022, and students could not be more excited. The anticipation to get back into concert venues and experience live performances is greater than ever now that venues are allowing full capacity shows.

Over the summer, concert-goers were able to get a taste of being back at packed shows by attending music festivals and other outdoor concerts. Festivals like Lolapallooza, Bonaroo and Outside Lands made their comeback during the summer of 2021. Outdoor festivals like these allowed for people from all around the US to experience live, in-person music for the first time in over a year. Fans were also able to experience the energy of a crowd and be around thousands of other fans who love the performers just as much as they do.

Outdoor concerts were also available locally. After being cancelled in 2021, the Mississippi Valley Fair held grandstand shows with huge acts including Jason Aldean, Old Dominion and Pitbull. It was unsure whether Pitbull would appear in the grandstand lineup after his show was cancelled in 2020, so his performance was by far the most highly anticipated of the week. These shows brought in record-breaking crowds and made for an outstanding return to live music in the Quad Cities. 

While these outdoor shows over the summer were perfect for fans who wanted to enjoy live music safely, as temperatures begin to lower, more indoor shows are becoming available. There is a clear need for these shows to have the same level of safety that the outdoor shows provided, so requirements are being put in place for people who choose to attend the indoor shows. 

One example of a tour that has already begun with indoor shows and has safety protocol in place is Harry Styles’ United States tour, Love on Tour. Styles has been on tour for a month now, and his shows have been very successful in terms of preventing the spread of COVID. Masks and proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test at least 48 hours prior to entry are required for all venues for Love on Tour shows.

Junior Sumika Thapa attended Styles’s show in Chicago on Friday, Sept. 24, and believes that these regulations did not take away from the concert experience in any way. “The mask requirement did not take away from the experience at all. It was just as good with the mask as it was without it. it was heartwarming to see everyone keep their mask on because for most people it was to keep their family members back home safe,” she mentioned.

Thapa also added that the concert was a mark of moving forward as a country after a year of lockdowns and cancellations. “The relief and boost of serotonin I felt once Harry came on stage is incomparable to any other feeling I’ve had. To me this concert was a step moving forward with life while still experiencing the effects of COVID. It was the first sign that we have all started to adapt to the changes in our life post-COVID,” she shared

This surreal feeling and intense emotion that comes from seeing an artist who means to much to students is what has motivated them to put in a little bit of extra effort to see them.

Being able to get tickets to see their favorite artist was of concern for many fans when approaching the return to live shows. Joining pre-sale, looking for resale options and getting good seats can be stressful depending on the fanbase and popularity of the artist.

Junior Leila Assadi is planning on attending a BTS show in Los Angeles. “It is stressful signing up to get tickets because there are a lot of people going to the [Ticketmaster] app at the same time. From what I’ve seen on TikTok too, a lot of people have to get resale tickets, and that would be more stressful than getting the original tickets,” she mentioned. 

Assadi shared her plan for getting tickets in the least stressful way. “I signed up for pre-sale, so I am getting tickets on October 7th or 8th. By signing up for pre-sale, I can get tickets before they are available to the general public,” she shared. 

The process may be slightly more complicated with greater anticipation and traffic on websites where tickets are sold, and there is a little bit of stress that comes from entry requirements, but PV students are still committed to finding the best opportunities to see their favorite artists live.