So I'm writing this a few weeks after the fact, but I wanted to quickly write out a tour diary for the recent show I saw at the House of Blues in Houston to kick off my concert memories. The show was on a Sunday, and I woke up super early to get on a plane with my dad to get to Houston. What should have been an easy few hours of flying turned into an absolutely crazy disaster. I was 90% sure we weren't going to make it until I was actually panting on the walkway in front of the House of Blues. There was a ground stop in Houston that caused us to miss our connection. Once we landed, we managed to get on a plane that was set to land at the same time meet and greet started. I'd bought meet and greet a few days before when I saw it advertised on Julia's Instagram stories, and I couldn't believe I'd have a chance to meet my songwriting idol.
In the few minutes before we had to catch our new connection, I changed in the bathroom in Denver and tried to put together a quick version of the make up look I'd planned. It was crazy leaving a city that was freezing and had snow on the ground and arriving to a 90 degree, muggy October evening. I picked up a Jamba Juice and my dad bought a random shirt in the Denver airport because he only had his long sleeves and we were going to have to rush straight to the venue.
As we waited for our second flight, I was DMing with a girl I'd met on Twitter when I'd first bought meet and greet. She was coordinating a fan project, and we'd been discussing meet and greet logistics. I owe that girl the last shreds of my sanity on that day because she kept sending me encouraging messages that it looked like we were going to make it.
We were the first off the plane, and I sprinted harder than I'd ever run in my life all the way through the terminal to the parking garage. I was sweating and breathing hard and my platform hightops meant I could barely move my feet, but we made it into the car and out onto the freeway. I did my best to touch up my glittery, purple lipstick that I'd been dead set on wearing even though the road was super bumpy and it wasn't the smoothest application. When we got there, the girl from Twitter helped me again, letting me know we had to climb up stairs and escalators to get to the box-office. We got to the security area and despite everyone having already gone in, they raided around to get us inside. We made it to the back of the line before they'd even headed back stage, and even though I didn't imagine arriving all sweaty and running on only a greens and apple smoothie, I don't think I've ever felt more relieved.
They moved us into a stairwell that snaked to a small landing area, and, immediately, we could all hear the music Julia had playing over the speakers. Of course, she had an interesting playlist. I remember Camila Cabello coming on while we waited. The song was actually how I started talking to the two girls standing in front of us in line. We all immediately agreed that we liked that one song but "Easy" was even better. As we climbed the steps, we started to be able to hear Julia's voice drifting down as she met the people in front of us. The line moved super fast, and, after a certain point, you could actually watch other's meet and greets happening which I think is super cool. This is the only meet and greet I've ever been to, so I have nothing to compare, but on vlogs I've seen about other tour's meet and greets, they often take place behind a curtain. Watching others go first helped me prepare for my own experience.
When we made it up the steps and were only a few back, a guy on her team stepped forward and handed my dad and I our passes that we missed when they were first handed out. I finally felt all the adrenaline from the day's travel slipping out of me. I made it. I was a few feet away from my favorite songwriter on the planet. Ya, maybe the day hadn't gone totally to plan, but it was perfect now. I can't speak for anyone but me, but I think my dad had that moment when the song changed to "Slide Away" just as it was finally our turn. It's his favorite Miley song and does sort of make things feel like everything will be all right in the end.
I didn't realize it at the time, but as I walked up to Julia, my dad stayed back by the photographer and got our whole interaction on video. After she hugged me, she complimented my lipstick which made my heart soar because even though I had to let go of a lot of my plans for the evening, I'd stuck to that one and she actually liked it. I got to say what I wanted to say about how she inspired me to start songwriting and to take myself seriously because she'd done it at my age, and she said to keep going because we need more female writers which meant the world to me. I don't think I stumbled over my words too horribly and I'm pretty proud of myself for staying in the moment, but I did get to give her my note I'd written out the night before incase I forgot anything.
For the picture, we took a selfie in front of the ring light and then she took a family one with both my dad and I. Afterwards, she signed my lanyard and asked more questions about our crazy travel day that I'd mentioned offhandedly at the start. She seemed genuinely interested which shocked me. She hugged me one more time before I left, and I was on cloud nine. I didn't know what to expect from the meet and greet because from watching vlogs, I know that they can go so many different ways, but there was no rushing, and they were so chill about everything. When I looked back at our three selfies, I was shocked. I thought I'd hate the photo as I haven't liked a photo of me in about a year, but I'm kinda obsessed with the photo. It wound up so cute!
Then, in probably the saddest turn of events of the evening, we had to exit the building and line up outside again to wait for the doors to officially open. Even though I'd put on shorts in Denver, my only shirt was a long sleeved thermal top, and it was so hot and humid! On the plus side, I reconnected with the girls from the meet and greet line, and we passed the time discussing music we loved and a lot of Taylor Swift stuff. It felt so good to talk to people who cared about music and Taylor as much as I did, and it was so much fun swapping opinions.
When we finally got inside, I went right to the merch booth to get my hands on a shirt that was short sleeved and not gross feeling from being outside. I've never had much luck with tour shirts, but I loved the blue tie-dyed "Fucked Up Kinda" shirt so much I gave it a try. I threw it on in the bathroom and passed the old one off to my dad.
One of the girl's had just seen Julia's show in Dallas, so she knew right where to have us stand to have the best view. I'd never been to a general admission show, and, while I wasn't nervous, I was glad I was with someone who knew what she was doing. My dad went to go sit at a table with another girl's parents so we formed a huddle and waited out the hour for the opening act yelling over the crowd while we got to know each other and discussing our music tastes and our lives. Only one of us lived in Houston, our ages spanned from junior year of high school through college, but it was one of those perfect, random situations where you just click. I'd completely lost my voice by the time the opening act came on. I opened my mouth to scream and nothing came out. I'd never heard of Rhys Lewis, but the girl who'd seen the show reassured us that he was both amazing and British so I was sold... With a guitar and a keyboard player, he managed to hold the audience's attention with some pretty cool songs. I've learned to pay more attention to opening acts because I've technically seen Shawn Mendes and the Script and a couple other shows I'd pay good money to see now as opening acts I didn't fully appreciate at the time.
After that, there was more downtime while we waited for Julia to make her appearance at 9 which was way later than I'd bargained for, but the adrenaline kept me from feeling my sore feet or how exhausted I really was. Also, going from mountain to central time was working for me. We'd gotten amazing spots, one person back from the barrier, right on the taped line she walks through in the middle of the set, and we'd managed to create our own little bubble of personal space in the body to body crowd.
I was already having the time of my life, and then Julia hit the stage and I felt truly alive again as cliche as that sounded. I think I'm still on a high from that concert. The energy in the room, her energy, her joy. I sang at the top of my lungs and bounced on my feet and it was so much fun to have people to turn around and share your excitement with. I also never realized how good her songs are for crowd participation. From the prechorus of "Happy" to screaming out "Well I'm not a priest so fuck your confession" as a giant group, I have never felt more a part of something or like a weight had been lifted off of me. I've been to quite a few concert, but this sensation was new. Like we were all in it together- every audience member, Julia on the stage, her band- we all experienced every emotion all at once. We laid out our pain and washed it away with music. It was exactly what I needed.
When the lights came up, we all filed out into the muggy night together, still in awe of the performance. I'd loved the first part of the encore when she brought out Rhys to sing Niall's part in "What a Time". It worked perfectly. I still felt like I was getting a giant hug from Julia and the audience. I wondered if I'd ever sleep again. I have a couple clips from my favorite songs that I kept to look back on, but I was really proud of myself for staying completely there during the show. Unlike the 1989 tour, I didn't feel like I had to film every second. I wanted to bop and dance and thrive to my favorite songs more than I needed the physical memories, but I'm all for capturing a few souvenirs. Honestly, I think people should concert with their phones however they're having the best time, so long as their phone stays in their personal space and out of other people's views (which is important to me because I'm short).
If I wasn't obsessed with concerts before, I'm thoroughly hooked now. It made the pain of shoving my feet back into my high tops at 5 the next morning and waiting out plenty of plane delays all alone worth it. I listened back to all of Julia's songs and found new parts I loved about them having seen them played live. Things I hadn't noticed before. My last minute trip to see Julia Michaels is probably the most impulsive and adventurous thing I've ever done, and I'm honestly shocked I went for it, but it's definitely realized that life is about saying yes even when you know that there might be some rough patches on the way.
I did a podcast episode about this on my podcast, The Empathy Factor. If you want to hear more of my thoughts on Julia's music, listen to it here on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/julia-michaels/id1477631142?i=1000456423396 or get a direct MP3 here: https://cdn.simplecast.com/audio/1c4d0e/1c4d0e23-336e-483d-aa4f-1cf152392552/07babd06-887f-4e3f-9e5e-2ca30c4ddb00/julia-michaels-real-version_tc.mp3