Meeting JP Saxe @ the Fonda Theater 10/19/21: Concert Memory

Almost a week ago now, I started off a packed week of show by heading over to Hollywood to see JP Saxe play the Fonda Theater. His LA show was highly anticipated because Julia Michaels had mentioned that she might make an appearance to support her boyfriend. It was also the biggest night of the entire tour. 

I got there around 5:00pm because meet and greet check in was at 5:30pm. It was the first VIP show I had planned since the start of the pandemic, and the day before, I'd gotten an email where I found out that the reality of COVID meet and greets including the "socially distanced photo" that no one was aware of prior to that email. I was curious to see how it would all play out. I went to meet and greet alone, but I had an extra ticket to the show, so my friend planned to meet up with me when doors opened. I made small talk with the couple in line in front of me while they gave us all the necessary wristbands for entry and walked through the metal detectors. 

The meet and greet took place on a secret rooftop patio area with fake turf and eccentric murals painted on the walls. It was a really cool area of the Fonda that I had no clue existed. There were maybe 30 people there for meet and greet, and we all just formed a line to the right side of the yard next to where they had a camera and a white screen for photo backgrounds. JP's team wasn't accepting phones to take photos, so the meet and greet photo was set to get uploaded to a drive the next day (this is something that is still changing tour to tour at the moment). Before JP came out, we got a speech about staying six feet away from JP, not touching him, and we were informed that we couldn't even hand him gifts or get autographs. This last rule struck me as pretty dumb, but we all accepted the terms and filed in for our photos. I took photos from the side for the couple in front of me, and they did the same for me. I honestly like the candids far more than the actual posed photo I got later, so those were the only ones I shared online. I'll add the official photo to the post so you can get an idea of what they look like, but I'm definitely not a fan of it. 

The meet and greet was pretty quick. I didn't have a ton to say, and the COVID distancing rules fit a bit disorienting. I showed him the envelope my letter was in and told him that I really admired his work as a songwriter. I also mentioned that I'd discovered his music through Julia, and he told me that Julia was going to be at the show that night. We took the most awkward photo ever, and I walked over to the other side of the lawn. I found his best friend and meet and greet/merch director, Emilee, to give her my letter since she'd offered to take it. Once we'd been let inside, I had another conversation with her about working in the music industry that was one of my favorite parts of the night. After half an hour, we all gathered around JP, and he sang an acoustic medley of songs that didn't make it into the set and then finished with an unreleased track that's coming on the deluxe edition of the album. It was incredibly cool to stand a few feet in front of JP while he played and sang without even a mic. Getting that really intimate mini show definitely made paying for the VIP upgrade worth it despite COVID's unfortunate effect on the meeting and greeting aspects. 

We were taken back into the upstairs area of the Fonda to wait while Amy Allen, the night's opener, finished her soundcheck. When we got into the main room of the Fonda, I was struck by how much it looked like a proper theater. There were whimsical murals on the walls and elaborate stage riggings. I wound up in the second row right in in the center, but I was stuck behind a row of two tall people, which was unfortunate. 

Soon after doors opened, I got a text from my friend to put my hand up so she could find me in the crowd. I shot my hand into the air, unsure if I was tall enough to make a difference, and in a few minutes, she was standing next to me. We spent the wait for the opening act catching up and giggling. Going to shows with friends is an absolute blast and makes all the waiting less painful. 

I was excited to see Amy Allen even though I didn't know any of her songs. She's an incredible

songwriter, and I have been a huge fan of her work with other people for a while now. I figured I'd like her solo music too, but I decided to hold off from listening to the couple singles she had on Spotify until after the show. I was totally swept up in her set. I wrote an entire piece about Amy following the show because I loved her music so much, but it was so much fun to turn back to my friend and excitedly nod at each other as we fell in love with her songs together. We both agreed we'd have to go back to the merch table to meet her after the show. 

JP took the stage not long after. He displayed an incredible amount of musicianship throughout the night. I wasn't sure what his stage presence would be like, but he adopts the extremely normal guy affect from his social media presence and morphs it into an ease on stage. He has a confidence in his musical abilities that truly guides the performance, and he played some incredible piano sections throughout the set. His talent spoke for itself, and his humble, down to earth attitude that's found across his work shown through. 

At one point, he accidentally knocked over his electric guitar off its stand, and he made a joke about how he'd always thought about rockstars who intentionally break their guitars on stage and how it would be ridiculous if he smashed one. He thought it was fitting that it was clumsiness that did this particular guitar in. His speeches between songs were incredibly sincere, and the set flowed well. The feeling that guided the show was very similar to his Instagram lives where he casually chats with fans and plays songs every couple weeks. It just felt easy and unassuming. 

He also made it clear how important and appreciated his two band members were to him. I always appreciate when artists include and feature their band in the live show. He brought out Mau y Ricky who had flown in from Columbia to play the Spanglish version of "Hey Stupid, I Love You". The most anticipated special guest of the night arrived just in time for the last song. Julia took the stage in thigh high boots and a white coat to sing "If The World Was Ending", her breakthrough duet with JP. It was incredible to get to see both of them on stage together at once. Julia and JP are truly the most iconic songwriting power couple. I love Julia, and her Inner Monologue Tour made me absolutely fall in love with music on a deeper level and with GA shows in particular, so it was really special to get to see her on stage again. 

At the end of the show, we made our way to the merch stand where we got to meet Amy for a few seconds and get a very quick picture that I am not sharing because I really don't like how I look in it. But it was cool to get to chat with her for a second. My friend went and bought her t-shirt to remember the night and showed up to class the next day wearing it with the bottom tied up just like Amy had the night before. 

Like I mentioned in the Chelsea Cutler show post, there's an incredibly fun layer to going to shows with people you already know. It makes the waiting go by faster, and it adds an extra dimension to the night where you're both enjoying the show and enjoying each other's company at the same time. They create some of the best chances to make memories together, and it's fun to have someone to share looks with and throw your arms around during the show. I walked away feeling full of love and joy and totally in awe of JP's musical talents. 

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More Concert Memories...

Gracie Abrams @ the Roxy

Chelsea Cutler @ the Greek

Cavetown @ Hollywood Forever

Julia Michaels @ House of Blues