Halsey and Machine Gun Kelly Night 1 of Super Bowl Music Fest @ the Crypto.com Arena 2/10/2022: Concert Memory

I can't believe that after so many years, I finally got to see Halsey perform live. For a little history, I've been a Halsey fan for a really long time now. I always loved "New Americana" when it would come on the radio, and every new Halsey radio song was assured to be a hit in my family. But it wasn't until the fall of 2019 when I was really starting to get fully invested in music for the first time that I really started to fall for Halsey's complete albums and her story as an artist. Of all my favorite artists that I've held close for so many years, Halsey is probably the one I find myself in the most. Manic cemented the fact that I would likely follow Halsey forever, and I convinced my family to drive to Salt Lake City in the summer of 2020 so we could see Halsey live ourselves. 

And then, as we all know, the world ended and the Manic tour played maybe 4 shows in Europe before ending its run for good. While I had quite a few shows planned for that summer, the Manic tour hurt the worst. Halsey had already talked about how they weren't sure how much more touring they were going to do after the Manic shows wrapped, and then she announced she was having a baby. While I was overjoyed Halsey was finally getting to experience something she'd wanted for so long, it also made me wonder there would ever be another tour. Then, in a very pleasant surprise, Halsey announced the If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power amphitheater tour for this summer a few weeks ago, and I bought tickets to two different stops. Then there was also her appearance at Super Bowl Fest at the Crypto.com Arena. 

As Ticketmaster does, they surcharged the tickets a hefty amount, and I told myself I'd get to see Halsey's full set this summer anyway. I resisted an impulse buy while keeping a promise to myself that I would be there for Halsey's first set back in two years. I lived too close to the arena to miss it. Even though I couldn't convince a single one of my friends to go with me (not for lack of lots and lots of trying), I got online when I got home from class well after doors opened to check ticket prices. When I found a Lower Bowl spot for $20, I knew I couldn't pass up the chance, even though heading to a stadium alone felt incredibly daunting. 

I held my breath while my aftermarket ticket scanned in, and I easily got into the concourse to wind my way around the outside of the stadium till I found the door to my seat. On my way there, I stumbled into the merch booth and the one night only special edition shirt that Halsey Twitter had been lit up about all afternoon. I bought it, justifying the purchase with the fact that I hadn't bought any IICHLIWP merch besides the vinyl all era. I couldn't squeeze the shirt into my tiny, clear crossbody, so I ducked into a bathroom to switch my new shirt with my crop top that had a better chance of folding up small enough. 

Now proudly representing why I had come, I found my way to my seat in a mostly empty row in the middle of Machine Gun Kelly playing "I Think I'm OKAY," his Yungblud collaboration being held together by Yungblud's disembodied voice coming through the speakers. I can bop along to half of MGK's stuff, so I was intrigued to see how the second half of his set would go. While his vocals were much rougher than expected, his banter with the crowd was a funny bright spot between songs.

A couple minutes after I settled in, Halsey made her first appearance of the night to sing their duet "Forget Me Too," and I was immediately in awe of how amazing Halsey's voice is live. I already knew that from the countless videos I've watched over the years, but it felt surreal to experience in person. The second guest of the night was Willow who performed her new collaboration with MGK, "Emo Girl," after pulling out of Billie Eilish's world tour as one of the opening acts right before. 

MGK finished his set by bringing a handful of kids from the crowd and one adult super fan on stage. The fan was instructed to stand under a pipe that looked straight out of Mario Kart for the duration of the final song. The singer instructed fans to get their phones ready to video, but the slime never came, and MGK announced that his whole team needed to go watch more Nickelodeon to figure out how proper sliming works. I genuinely couldn't tell if the slime never coming to fruition was planned or not. As all of this transpired, the house lights came on as a final signal that he really needed to get off the stage. 

After the hour of intermission, the lights went down again and the opening notes of "Nightmare" started ringing out through the stadium. Halsey crashed onto the stage, and the pyro radiated waves of heat even half way back through the venue. It was wild, and I was on my feet screaming, jumping, and singing along. Unfortunately, Super Bowl Fest attracted one of the most disappointing crowds I've ever seen. Almost no one was up dancing, and even starting back during MGK's set, there was a slow but almost constant trickle of people leaving, which could've in no way had something to do with the performances that were happening because the crowd didn't seem particularly interested in the first place. Aside from two girls a few rows above me who were living their best life, no one else around me seemed invested which was a real bummer because one of the best parts of any show is the communal experience. 

During her second song, "Castle," even with a broken foot, Halsey did the famous "Castle" jump and called for the crowd to do it along with them. She called out LA for always being too cool to participate, though the jumping got progressively better throughout the song. It seemed like the casual listeners didn't realize that Halsey shows are participatory experiences. 

The set list was incredible, and she played nearly all of my favorites from Badlands to IICHLIWP. I was thrilled to find "Gasoline" and "Colors" still making the set, and my two favorite songs from the newest album, "You Asked for This" and "Darling" made it as well. The set had nearly all the greatest hits combined with a few fan favorites. Halsey had talked about crafting a one night only set of just her favorite songs to play for the return show on Twitter in the lead up to the event. It did not disappoint.  

As much as I wished I had someone by my side, it was also special to get to have these moments on my own to purely get to ruminate on my personal connections to these songs. During "Graveyard," I had flashbacks to spending 2020 driving around my tiny town in our Subaru blasting my Manic CD way too loud on the radio and singing along. "Colors" took me back to when I first was teaching myself to play piano, attempting to play the song over and over again and taking notes on how you construct a song. "You Should Be Sad" had an even more incredible energy yelling, "I'm so glad I never ever had a baby with you," now that Halsey does have a baby in a relationship that's safe and secure. I put my hand on my heart like it was some kind of national anthem as I sung along to "You Asked For This," thinking about how it's become the anthem that has propelled me through so many rough moments of being alone in LA. And I cried at a show for the first time ever listening to Halsey sing "Darling" as I felt surrounded by so much love and tender care. It made me think about missing my family and just how precious time is. 

The banter and stories between songs did not disappoint either. At one point, she wondered aloud how a baby came out of her, ducking down to look between her legs for dramatic effect before quipping about how watermelons at the grocery store give her flashbacks. There were sweet and sincere moments, but mostly, they were hilarious. 

Halsey's energy is truly out of this world, running, jumping, and doing the splits around the stage all while dealing with a broken foot. I can't imagine how painful that was, but they never once let on. Seeing it from so far away, there were times that I had to remind myself this was happening in real life and not on my TV screen like I'd watched so many Halsey shows before. It felt surreal that I was actually standing there in real time in the same room as Halsey hearing these songs at maximum volume. 

It's made me even more excited to get to see Halsey play her own shows on her own tour this summer surrounded by fans there to give it their all. I truly left feeling like it was a show that I could watch every night over and over again and never get sick of it. I'm extremely grateful that everything was able to come together that night despite quite a few road bumps getting there. 

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