I went to a Harry Styles concert and here’s what happened

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  • Pictured left to right: Abigail Saathoff, Abby Wahlert, Marley Millar, and Madi Barnhardt.

  • Saathoff and Wahlert wearing masks at a Harry Styles concert.

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ABIGAIL SAATHOFF, Opinion Columnist

Suddenly, the lights in the Xcel Energy Center (located in St. Paul, Minn.) flick off with a click. The crowd gets silent in anticipation of what would follow. Then the first notes of Harry Styles’ iconic song “Golden” play over the loudspeaker with colorful images of bunnies showing across the center screens. In between the repeating of the opening notes, Harry’s voice begins to play over the loudspeaker, quoting German Poet, Charles Bukowski: “To do a dull thing with style is preferable to doing a dangerous thing without it, to do a dangerous thing.”

A little bit after that moment, my home video of Styles’ first song cuts into the sounds of screaming and yelling from me and my three friends I attended the concert with; Madi Barnhardt, Marley Millar and Abby Wahlert. We had bought the tickets in the fall of 2019, planning to attend the concert on a Saturday in the summer of 2020, but the pandemic had other plans. So, we patiently awaited Harry’s word on whether the concert would be rescheduled or canceled. Luckily for us, Harry rescheduled the concert for fall of 2021, on a random Wednesday. 

In the weeks prior to the concert, we knocked on wood anytime we mentioned the concert. I think all of us had a suspicion that the concert would get canceled, and we wouldn’t get to see one of our favorite artists, Harry Styles. But, when the night before arrived, we realized that this was “actually” happening. 

The next morning we woke up at 8 a.m., all still a little cautiously optimistic, but with our vaccination cards and masks that matched our outfits at the ready. We got on the road and arrived in Minnesota at about 12:30 p.m., where we then took a pit stop at the empty Wednesday version of the Mall of America, before heading to the concert venue around 5:30 p.m., where we waited outside for a bit, before finally being checked into the concert and entering the building. 

The moment I walked in, I was immediately overwhelmed. The venue was filled with people, all who showed a negative test result or a vaccination card before attending, but nonetheless, a lot of people. But, we continued on, heading to the apparel stand before eventually walking up to the second floor of the Xcel Energy Center to find our seats. 

About 20 minutes later, the opening act, Jenny Lewis walked on stage and began her performance. It was like something out of a dream. After nearly two years of my life without live music, I finally felt like I was back in my own skin. I sat, looking at my friends to the right of me, and took it all in, letting the tears fall on my “Treat People with Kindness” tee. That moment will remain one of my favorite memories from the concert. 

The two years between buying the tickets and attending the concert were hard on all of us, moving back to our hometowns one semester into college, living through a pandemic and dealing with any of the other “fun” things that came our way. The fact that we had finally made it to this moment, was absolutely incredible, and that’s a massive understatement. 

Then the main event began with a bang, Harry beginning with “Golden,” and phasing through some favorites with his adoring fans (including my friends and me) screaming-singing along. Throughout the course of the 90 minute concert, Harry gave us dating advice, sang a song about a girl dressed as a banana, showed his support for the LGBTQ+ community, gave us many adorable moments and more, all the while my friends and I were crying, laughing, screaming, singing or all of those at once. 

About halfway through the concert, Harry slowed things down and spoke for a moment. During his chat, he asked us all to reflect on the journey we’ve taken to be here tonight and to hold our friends and family dear, before singing “Fine Line.” My friends and I, with tears in our eyes, did exactly as Harry said, hugging each other tighter than we ever had before, and forming into a group hug when the song ended. 

The concert was filled with moments I will never forget. It was truly worth the two year wait, the stress of attending a concert during a pandemic and the three hour drive. The concert was so incredible that after the fact, my friends and I couldn’t help but search for ticket prices for Harry’s future concerts in Chicago and Milwaukee, on our three hour drive home in the middle of the night.  

If you are attending a concert in the near future, here are some tips and tricks to make things a little bit easier on you;

Find a cute mask that has a filter in it – if your mask is cute (or matches your outfit) you’ll feel less inclined to take it off for pictures!

Wear a mask you are comfy in – This was one mistake I made. My mask had sequins on it which made it itchy and uncomfortable. If I were you, I’d wear a cute mask from Old Navy and call it a day!

Eat before – Not only is concert food extremely expensive and subpar, but eating requires you to take off your mask, which can be unsettling in a venue filled with people. 

Sanitize – anything you touch use hand sanitizer or wash your hands after, and avoid touching your mouth or face.

Rest before – go to bed early the night before, concerts are usually draining, but it’s a whole new level when you haven’t attended one in a couple of years, so get a full eight hours. 

Hydrate – this was one of my biggest notes. If you want to dance and have fun during your concert, you need to hydrate a sustainable amount before, or you won’t feel well, will be dizzy or could  pass out, which is no fun. 

Dress comfy – avoid heels or uncomfortable shoes that you will want to take off, pants that will dig into your stomach or a shirt that you constantly have to mess with. Attending a concert is all about having a good time, and you don’t want to have to worry about anything other than having fun. 

Don’t be afraid to ask the people around you to put their masks on –in our situation, masks were required. If that’s the case for you too, don’t be afraid to ask the people around you to put their masks on,.You may be greeted with a bit of unkindness but it’s worth a try.