Alexander 23 Oh No Not a Tour! @ the El Rey Theater Nights 1 & 2: Concert Memories

I had one of the best weekends of my life, and I'm still sad it's over. I'm wearing the shirt I bought at the show as I write this post. Friday October 22nd and Saturday October 23rd, I spent the evening at the El Rey watching Alexander 23 play the third and fourth nights of his first ever headline tour. This was my first time ever going to back to back shows and seeing the same artist multiple times on the same tour, and now I fully understand the girls I see on Instagram following artists like Harry Styles to tons of dates around the country. There is something incredible about having an amazing night and waking up the next day with the knowledge that you get to do it all over again. 

Night 1, I had a regular GA ticket and headed over around 5pm to meet up with my friends outside the venue. We weren't sure how early people would start lining up, but we wound up being the second group in line. The first group had been there since 3pm. People slowly trickled into the line until the doors opened at 8pm. I had a great time sitting out on the sidewalk and catching up with my friends in line. They had printed out paper signs that read "Justice For GTSYA" as a continuation of one of their failed campaigns to get Alexander's song "Good to See You Again" on the setlist. We looked through the setlist and strategized when to ask people to hold up their computer paper signs they planned to pass out to those around us after seeing the idea work at Love on Tour where Harry Styles added "To Be So Lonely" to the setlist after a similar fan project. 

Alexander wound up coming out after soundcheck to talk to the 20 or so people that had lined up at that point. He gave the girls that were first in line signed polaroids that his photographer had taken that day, and we got to show him our signs. He came back later in the evening and collected a couple presents from fans, and some of us got pictures with Alexander and the signs. He seemed to find the signs pretty amusing, and when he went back to the theater, he took the sign he was holding in the photos with him. 

We got into the venue at 8pm and Talia had recently been to the El Rey, so she directed us over to the side barricade where we could get an elevated spot. Despite the early entry having claimed most of the center barricade, we ended up with an amazing view. On the first night, we were over to the right side of the stage. As the venue filled, we started passing around our paper signs, and people definitely seemed to agree with the sentiment. They spread through the audience and the front rows of the barricade super quickly. We took group photos at the barricade and danced around to the preshow playlist before Max Leon took the stage. 

Max's first song of the night, "The Beach", is still stuck in my head. I find myself doing dishes and sweeping the floor singing the song to myself without even realizing it. He danced around in his Gucci suit and bounced between playing an acoustic guitar and running tracks off his laptop. I really admired his nails that were painted all different pastel colors that reminded me of the Easter edition M&Ms. 

It wasn't long after Max finished his set that Alexander came out to start the show. He has an incredible energy and stage presence that is immediately captivating. The set started with "Cry Over Boys" which was the first Alexander song that I'd ever heard. His drummer, Tyler, is also really incredible and is super fun to watch during the show for all his facial expressions. I've seen Alexander play on Instagram lives before, but as much as I love how low-key that format is, it really does not do justice to how strong of a live performer he is. I also didn't realize how great of a guitar player Alexander is. There were so many extra guitar solos and embellishments thrown into the live show, and I usually feel pretty indifferent towards extras like that, but I had a great time watching the sheer musical talent of the night as well. He did notice the crowd with their GTSYA signs, and he smirked at them and looked over to give us a nod. 

I spent all of Saturday morning so excited to do it all again. For Saturday's show, I had VIP, so I got there around 6:00pm for the 6:30pm check in and hung out with my friends until I had to go get in the proper line. They'd brought a few more copies of their sign because, despite Alexander giving them hope, he hadn't played "Good To See You Again" the night before. 

It took forever to get into VIP, and I wasn't sure how it was going to go since my last meet and greet experience with a different artist that week was definitely more than a little awkward. Also, I bought the VIP ticket before I knew I was going to run into Alexander 4 times before my VIP show even happened. Instead of going backstage, They had a series of cardboard cutouts set out to the side of the main floor, and his photographer was taking people's phones to get the meet and greet photos. Even though we technically weren't supposed to get autographs or touch Alexander, one guy got his arm signed, per his Twitter request. And we got to hand him the gifts we'd brought. The girl in front of me had a bouquet of flowers for him, and I had my letter. 

When it was my turn, he asked me "what's new", and I told him that the show last night was amazing. He told me that he thought night 2 would be even better. We briefly talked about my friends outside and their gifts, and I asked if he could play "She Loves Me" during the acoustic set because it's one of my favorites that isn't in the set. He said he definitely could. Since my time was about up, I handed him my letter that I'd written three different versions of that afternoon. He told me that he loves letters and put it into his back pocket to hold on to through the rest of the meet and greets. We posed for a photo on my phone and my disposable camera, and I went to pick up the VIP merch. 

Alexander is great at keeping a conversation going which definitely helps in these meet and greet situations, and the cardboard cutouts, as weird as they seemed at first, made the socially distanced photo one that I don't totally despise. I'd already decided I didn't care about the photo cause I had one from when we ran into him at the Roxy, but I was honestly impressed with the job his photographer did. 

Instead of distributing the VIP totes while we were in line, we were all given tickets to redeem at the merch booth. The bag is made of thick canvas and shaped like a beach bag with all the various show dates written on the front. I was happy to see it wasn't one of those flimsy bags that are usually used for VIP totes. I also picked up the tour shirt and the black heart shaped necklace with little crystal studs around the edges and 23 embossed in the back. I bought it totally impulsively because it seemed like it would complete my outfit. I went to the other side of the barricade for night two, and I quickly realized the left side of the stage seemed far superior to the right. We wound up much closer to the stage. 

Alexander came out to play 2 acoustic songs. He played "Good To See You Again" first and then mentioned that someone had asked him to play "She Loves Me". I raised my hand and said "yes" and he pointed towards me and said I had to help him since he might forget the words. He played half of "She Loves Me" and then "Caught In The Middle" before leaving right before the doors opened. My friends caught up to me, and we got our spots secured before taking turns getting merch and the free water that had been set out in a cooler at the bar. The waiting went by far faster the second night. 

It was so much fun to be familiar with a show before I saw it again so that I could anticipate all of my favorite moments. I wasn't as worried about taking it all in the second time around, and it was fun to see little variations in the show that happened. Night 2, there were more people with big signs, and they were honestly more energetic and ready to interact. One of the girls had a sign referencing "High School" that was super cute, and another group had a sign about someone's birthday which led to an impromptu rendition of "Happy Birthday". There's something absolutely electrifying about going multiple times that makes you wish you could just see the entire tour. It's not something that I'd ever done or likely will get the chance to do often, but it was amazing for the weekend. 

After the show, one of the girls in our group got tacos, and we stood outside the venue for a while at the little tables at the restaurant next door. One of the El Rey employees came out almost immediately after the show and started taking down the sign off the front of the building. He had a little grabby claw that he used to individually pick off each letter and set them on the floor. It felt like a fitting metaphor for just how fleeting live shows are both in physical time and as an emotional state. Before playing his song "Sad", Alexander gave a speech talking about how concerts are often a place that we gravitate towards as a chance to forget our problems and purely be happy for the duration of the show, but that in the outside world we might not be as happy as we are inside that building. It was a speech I deeply identified with and and reflected back on as I watched the sign go down. 

Not long after the show, Alexander walked out from around the back of the venue to talk to the fans who had waited and formed a sort of line off to the side. My friends and I hug back as he met with the giant crowd. I'd bought a vinyl at the merch counter after the show when my friends were getting hoodies, so I eventually joined the line and borrowed a Sharpie to see if he would sign it for me. When I got up to the front and made my request he replied, "For you, anything," before asking if there was anywhere in particular I wanted him to sign. I told him I didn't care, and he asked my which night was my favorite of the two while he signed the vinyl and drew an outline around himself on the cover. I told him I really loved night 2 because I could anticipate all of my favorite moments. 

Afterwards, I went back with my friends who eventually got to the front of the line after most of the crowd dissipated. We talked about "Good To See You Again" and joked around about him refusing to play it in the set. He blamed the band and bantered back and forth with my friends. Then they presented him with their odd collection of gifts from the grocery store around the corner and showed him the mini Halloween pumpkin in a party hat they'd taken into the show. He took pictures holding all the gifts, with his matching bracelets with one of my friends, and with all of us as a group holding the crumpled Justice for GTSYA signs. He was so generous with him time, and gave everyone who waited so much individual attention and accommodated everyone's requests. It was truly remarkable and a clear indication of just how far Alexander will go in his career. I've never encountered an artist so incredibly giving with their time and open with their fans. 

These two shows have established an incredibly high bar in my mind for a live show experience. It offered the perfect blend of friendship, community, and absolutely amazing music. If you haven't yet, go listen to Alexander's two EPs. They're both absolutely incredible, and he has so much talent. His music and the friends that have made because of him have really come to define my first few months in LA, so it was incredible to get to see the live show to cement that. 

If you actually want a feel for what the show was like, I vlogged both nights, and you can watch the video here


Join The Music, Musings, and Me Newsletter for Updates!

and connect online @mslaniebrice on Twitter and Instagram

More Concert Memories...

JP Saxe @ the Fonda

Gracie Abrams @ the Roxy

Chelsea Cutler @ the Greek



Comments