Gracie Abrams @ the Roxy 10/11/2021: Concert Memories

I had been counting down the days till October 11th of 2021 since I bought the tickets to go see Gracie Abrams at the Roxy last summer. This show felt like the ultimate reward for my growing awareness of smaller artists all through the pandemic. I was seeing Gracie on her first headlining tour at a venue that was far smaller than her actual popularity (which was confirmed when tickets for her spring tour came out with her set to play 2 nights at a bigger venue). Being the hometown show and the end of her first headlining tour, I knew this show was going to be an unforgettable night. 

So, of course, I planned accordingly. My second class of the day got cancelled, so I left my apartment right around 12:45pm to get to the venue. I'd heard that people had started lining up as early as 11:00am. When I got there around 1:30pm, I got the eighth spot in line. I probably could've gotten a similar spot if I'd gotten there an hour later, but I was more interested in getting the full experience than maximizing the waiting to good spot ratio. I'd spent so many years as a kid watching people post about camping out or lining up at 5am for Taylor Swift and Harry Styles on Twitter that I wanted the chance to see what that was like (albeit in a much smaller dose). In a way, getting to go to the venue ridiculously early felt like another way to enjoy being an actual adult, much like eating donuts for breakfast every day of the week. It also prolonged an experience that I knew I'd never want to end.

With the knowledge that I couldn't spend much time on my phone and a seven hour wait ahead, I was definitely nervous about how I would pass the time. Eventually, I started talking to the two girls in front of me who were no stranger to long waits to see the artists they loved. We discovered that we were both huge fans of Conan Gray, Taylor Swift, and Finneas along with Gracie, and we spent a while talking about them. One of the girls showed me all of the pictures from the multiple times she'd met Conan and also her Twitter notices from back when Sunset Season was his only body of work. We discussed the new song he'd been teasing on TikTok and questioned how Taylor Swift could possibly fit four albums into a tour. 

Forty or so minutes later, a girl joined the line behind me, and I turned to chat with her for a while. She'd come alone, just like I had, and we hit it off immediately. I love going to shows alone because it forces you to make friends with the people around you. Having just moved to LA, I'm trying to get to know everyone in the area that I can, so I love how concerts bring together so many people you'll automatically have a ton in common with. Also, it gives you the chance to meet people who will probably be at your other shows as well. We talked about going to college and what it's like to live LA. 

In the lapses of conversation, we'd stare at the traffic going by on Sunset. There were a ridiculous number of fancy cars and Hollywood tourist buses. It was also meditative, in a way, to have an excuse to zone out and simply watch the world without the lingering guilt of work, school assignments, or something else you should be doing. And while I love my phone and the internet as much as the next person, there was something calming about being mostly disconnected and fully present. It's a feeling I've been dwelling on a lot in the days after the show.

The number of people taking pictures of all of us lined up outside was baffling. What we were doing isn't a rare occurrence outside of music venues. The only justified filming of our group was when Benny Blanco and Gracie's boyfriend drove by multiple times in a blacked out Tesla. One of the girls spotted him across the street just before he rolled up his window. Then he made a second lap on our side of the road, and Benny was leaning half way out of the car with his signature pastel pink phone case extended.

The wind kicked up more and more the closer it got to evening, and by the time they started to prepare to let us into the venue, it was pretty brutal. I was terrified of getting dirt or part of a leaf in my eye. The venue staff were nice, but the system for checking vaccine cards, IDs, and tickets was incredibly disjointed. We kept having to pull documents in and out of our bags, which was nerve-racking in the wind. 

Eventually, we got inside. A single row of people had formed around the stage, so one of the girls and I claimed our spot in the second row, right in front of the mic stand. I ran over to the merch booth and was first in line to claim my tote bag and vinyl. It was nice to throw my tiny bag into the bigger one and have more space to dig around for my phone charger and hearing protection. The worst part of the wait was definitely the hour standing around in the venue before the opening act because we were all starting to feel hungry and tired and done with the day. 

Luckily, the crowd was sweet overall, and we had some tiny semblance of personal space without pushing or elbowing forward. The Roxy is an incredible venue because the stage is low and there's no barricade at all, so in the front row, you feel like you're practically on stage. It's extra cool with an artist as interactive as Gracie. 

Forrest Nolan took the stage as the opening act with his brother Chris running has tracks off a laptop. Chris might have stolen more than a little of the spotlight as everyone around me seemed more curious about him as the set went on. He exuded a certain assured confidence that often blends into star power. Forrest definitely had a bad case of nerves, but the crowd tried its best to be reassuring. He won everyone over with a "Love Story" cover that he made sure to note that it was Taylor's Version. 

After another long wait, the lights went down again, and Gracie took the stage. She is even prettier in real life, and she had the most fantastic gold, glitter eyeshadow. I'd never noticed the tiny tattoos by her elbows in photos before. It's interesting what becomes more apparent about people when they're suddenly right there in front of you. 

Gracie is an incredible performer. She emotes so well, and her voice is beautiful. She's also so fun to see live because she's so excited to interact with the crowd. With every song that she wasn't playing piano or guitar, she would end the number with an armful of gifts she'd been handed by the crowd from bracelets to stuffed animals to posters and cards. One girl even had an entire gift bag to hand her. She also gave group hugs, held people's hands, and took photos with disposable cameras, polaroids, and phones all while singing. Her love for her fans is so incredibly palpable. 

The show was extremely special and gave such a wonderful sense of connection that has stuck with me
through the entire week. It felt like one of those life defining moments and cemented my love for live music. It went by far too fast. 

At the end of the show, I found two of my friends from Twitter. We wound up running into Alexander 23 and stopped to talk to him because one of my friends was one of his original fans. Since I didn't get a photo with him at the Chelsea Cutler show, I got a photo this time, though it took a bit of waiting. Our conversation with him kept getting interrupted by people looking for selfies. He was definitely much more in demand than the last time I'd run into him. Seeing how mobbed Alexander was, it made sense that security had Olivia Rodrigo and Conan slip out before the lights went up. The floor was full of clusters of fans talking to Alexander, Forrest, and Gracie's boyfriend, Blake, after the show. 

When we got outside, there was a line forming for an afterparty at the bar next to the Roxy. As we stood around, we spotted some of our favorite photographers and songwriters making their way into the club, and eventually, I saw Gracie's manager carry in an armful of pizzas. Since she had an afterparty to attend, my group decided it was probably a lost cause to wait for her to come out. The other girls I'd stood in line with did wait, and they got to briefly talk to her as her car pulled out of the lot, but she didn't do the same meeting outside the venue that she had at other shows. I wound up leaving before that to catch a ride back to campus with a girl I knew from class. 

I was still on cloud 9 as I got back into my apartment. I set my new vinyl on the record player to listen to
as I got ready for bed, and I taped the set list I'd pealed off the stage at the end of the night to my refrigerator with all my other polaroids and memories. I later printed out some photos from the night and added my wristband from the Roxy. The next morning, I posted a cluster of photos from the night before, and Gracie liked my post almost immediately, which was incredibly cool. Then, I went to look through her posts about the LA show, and I spotted myself in one of the photos she'd posted. It felt like the perfect cherry on top of an amazing night. 

I can't wait to see Gracie again when she plays the El Ray in March!

To see Gracie performing and watch the experience, check it out here

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