Chelsea Cutler x Quinn XCII @ The Greek Theater 10/6/21: Concert Memories

This has to be by far the most unique concert going experience I've ever had. It took me days to even sit down to write this concert memory because it's taken me a while to process the events of Wednesday night. Too many truly amazing things happened to fit them all into a blog post, so this is really only a brief summary of what happened. I considered not even writing a concert memory for this show since it was so out of the ordinary for me, but I wanted to tell a very different concert-going story than I normally get to. One about friendships, spontaneity, and the power of keeping your eyes open. 

Usually when I go to a show, I bought the ticket months ago at presale, I know the artist's entire discography backwards and forwards, or at the very least, I made the plans a few weeks ago and know some of the artist's songs. That is not what happened Wednesday night. As some of you know, I had a ticket to see Holly Humberstone at the Roxy that night. I'd been really excited to go since I discovered her songs "Vanilla" and "Scarlett" a few weeks ago. I couldn't head out to the venue early because I had class till 5:50, but I had plans to head out as soon as class let out. Having to go to that class totally changed the trajectory of the evening. 

While we were waiting for our music class to start, one of my classmates asked if anyone would be willing to go see Chelsea Cutler with her at the Greek. Because I had other tickets, I didn't volunteer at first. Then one of my friends called me over to see if the show I was planning to go to was the same as the girl wanted to see. I went over to talk to them and started to come around to the idea of going to the show. There were $4 tickets because the scalpers were getting desperate, and I knew Jeremy Zucker was going to come out as a guest. I also liked that Chelsea was playing an outdoor venue, and going to a show with friends was far more appealing than going along. I agreed to go with her, and then my friend and another classmate agreed to come along too. 

As class started, we whispered to each other trying to quickly make a plan for the evening. I was already dressed and ready to head out to a show, but we all needed to head back to our places to drop off our stuff and get ready to go out. When we met up to leave for the show, my friend and I fussed over the printer for a while because our tickets said they were void unless printed. Is this a venue policy? Because I saw so many people walking around with awkwardly large printer paper tickets like ours that I wondered if we'd jumped into a time machine back to the 2000s. 

The Greek is a gorgeous venue, and I really fell in love with it as we drove up the hill through Griffith Park to get there. There are massive evergreens stretching up behind the amphitheater which gives it the ambiance of being in a magical woods in the middle of the city. This isolated spot was amazing for the vibes but horrible for finding an Uber home (as I'll get into more later). I am not traditionally a fan of amphitheaters, but I was really impressed by how good the view at the Greek was (and also how large and high def their screens were too). We were in the upper bowl section, so not particularly close. I can't comment on our actual row, though, since we never really found it. 

Despite having to get four girls together to leave and then make it across town, we still managed to arrive halfway through the opening act. Tai Verdes started off the show, and even though the amphitheater was possibly more than half empty through his entire set, I was impressed at how quickly he won over the crowd. My friends informed me that he'd come up through TikTok and had recently started gaining more attention. When he played his biggest song, the audience was 100% with him and singing along. We spent his set deciding which seat we wanted to tentatively claim as ours until someone with a real ticket told us to move. Everyone we talked to that night was in a seat that was not their own, which was hilarious. 

In the gap between Tai and Chelsea Cutler coming out, we got pushed out of a few sets of seats that we'd chosen, and every time we had to leave, we just moved farther forward down the upper bowl. Eventually, we wound up huddled together on a tiny set of stairs down to the first row, so we were technically blocking an exit, but we escaped getting yelled at because it wasn't the main exit. I do have to say, the ushers at the Greek are incredibly vigilant and were thoroughly checking everyone's tickets to access the lower seating areas and the pit. Our random shuffling landed us up against a railing directly across from the sound board and VIP boxes, and for a bunch of music industry students, that was almost as big of a win as landing barricade. 

Chelsea came out pretty quickly in an oversized T-shirt with the most relaxed attitude. Only one of the four of us really knew Chelsea's music well, but she won over half the group on outfit alone. I knew two of Chelsea's collaborations (with Jeremy Zucker and Alexander 23) and of course all the lyrics to "Mr. Brightside" which she covered at the end of her set. Even the songs I didn't know were tons of fun. It felt like a major main character night dancing in the back of an amphitheater to mildly sad songs under the tiny pinpricks of stars. 

Jeremy came out pretty early into her set, which had me losing it for the first time that night but not the last. I've been obsessed with CRUSHER lately, and I do love "you were good to me", so I was ready for that to be the highlight of my night. Jeremy totally forgot the first verse (a little mixed up still from the COIVD booster), but that didn't matter to anyone in the audience. 

Then I got an even bigger surprise when I started to sing along to another Chelsea song I couldn't place and my friend leaned over and said, "I wonder if Alexander is going to come out". That's when it hit me that I knew the song because it features Alexander 23. And if I was excited for Jeremy's guest appearance, I was really excited when Alexander popped out of the wings for his verse. Alexander did an amazing job, and it made me even more excited to see him both nights at the El Ray. 

I was having the time of my life by the time Chelsea's set ended, and it was still about to get 100x better. When the lights went up, we walked into the concourse beneath where we were standing to stretch our legs. Half our group broke off to get food while I stayed back with the girl who encouraged all of us to go in the first place. While we were standing against the wall, I looked down the hall and spotted a face that was shockingly familiar. I grabbed my friend's sleeve and whispered, "Is that Alexander?" Before I could react, she'd called out to him, and he stopped in front of us. She told him that they'd met at a Chelsea show before the pandemic, and I stupidly blurted out that he answers my texts sometimes from his mass texting system. He smiled and seemed amused. Then he asked us where we were from, and, per usual, I got the customary bemused response when I replied, Wyoming. Then, that five minutes of my life got even wilder when Zach Sang walked up and grabbed onto Alexander's arm. My brain immediately went "that's Zach Sang", but I was pretty sure my eyes were playing tricks on me at that point. The only thing I absorbed from that moment was how Zach's nails were impeccably polished with a different design on every finger. Alexander talked to us a bit longer, gave us both quick hugs, and continued on his way. I wasn't sure how to ask for a photo, so there isn't one, but I'm more than okay with that. 

I'd made a joke on the way there that I'd wanted to run into Alexander 23 that night, but I truly scared myself with how well that manifestation worked out. We ran into another artist while waiting for our friends to get back from getting food, but we were both slightly disappointed we'd missed the chance to talk to the Zach Sang. 

And then he came back. In hindsight, it wasn't that amazing considering we were standing across from the entrance to the lower bowl and he'd left to get a drink, which would require coming back to that gate, but at that point in the night, it felt pretty miraculous. Slightly more mentally prepared, I was able to call out to him when he walked back by, and he stopped to chat with us. He asked for both of our names and repeated them back to us like he was attempting to remember them which struck me as incredibly sincere and surprising considering we were two random girls. 

We both had lofty aspirations in regards to the Zach Sang Show, which we proceeded to tell him about, and he was super encouraging. We took turns taking photos, and then I actually got through the two things on my list of what I wanted to say if I ever got to meet Zach Sang (something I had definitely never bet would happen). I told him that he needed to have Conan Gray back on the show and that I appreciated the way that he was so thoughtful and respectful in his interviews. He seemed really pleased to hear that and was super enthusiastic in his responses. If you were ever curious, Zach Sang is exactly the same in his interviews as he is in real life. I admire him so much as an interviewer, and I listen to every episode he puts out, regardless of whether I like the artist, so it was extremely surreal to actually get to speak to him for a not insignificant amount of time. 

It got even more surreal the next day when my friend sent me Zach Sang's story that we were in. The person he was with had taken a photo of us talking to Zach (which I hadn't noticed at all) and captioned it "we heart Zach Sang fans" which Zach reposted the next morning with a smiling emoji. Amazing. 

On that high, we filed back to our made up seats to watch Quinn XCII's set since it was a double headlining show. I was floating on cloud 9, and since I didn't know Quinn's music to start with, his set is pretty much a blur besides when Ashe randomly came out to make a guest appearance, barefoot per usual. I danced my butt off and had an absolutely amazing time. After the show, we ran into even more artists and industry people, and it just compounded how surreal LA concerts can be, even outside of the people who headline. Artists tend to bring tons of friends and family to the home shows, and I think COVID causing such a long break in touring brought out even more people than usual. 

Half the group bought pullovers to commemorate the night at the merch stand, and then we tried and failed for an hour to get a ride share home before one of the group member's boyfriends had to drive out to the Greek to pick us all up. A word of warning if you go to the Greek and plan to take a ride share, it is very hard to get out of there. We talked to a number of groups who struggled and didn't even try in the worst of the post concert rush. But we were having such a great time together, we didn't really mind the wait. 

Most of the time, it's the artist who makes the concert experience for me, but this show taught me that concerts can also be absolutely wonderful for the people you go with. It was my first show ever going with friends instead of alone or with family, and I know why people spend so much time trying to convince their friends to go with them now. It is tons of fun and a surprisingly good way to get to know people. My takeaway from that night is that spontaneous choices are usually the most magical, and it's okay to go off script. Because Holly sold out both nights of her show, I was even able to sell my ticket to the other show. I would've loved to have a chance to see Holly Humberstone play live, but I got to make memories with new friends at my new school that I am going to cherish forever. And I also got to meet two people that I admire an incredible amount to make the night even sweeter in my memory. So even though this isn't a traditional concert memory, it still has the same take home message. Concerts are magic.

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