Fletcher @ The Fonda 3/2/2022: Concert Memory


Fletcher was major check box on my Concert Bucket List from 2019. I'm a bit amazed at how many artists from that list I've managed to see since the pandemic. This show even exceeded the wildly high expectations I'd built up over all those years. Back in the fall, I splurged for the VIP soundcheck package for the chance to get to experience the show as close-up as possible since I'd been looking forward to it for so long. But that meant that the day started off pretty early. 

I got to the venue around 4:20pm, which was about 10 minutes before the email said we were required to be there. Like most shows I go to alone, the first wait felt by far the longest since everyone around me in line had already come with friends. Slowly, the VIP line started to snake around the block as other fans slowly trickled into the GA line behind two dedicated fans who had come early and prepared with camping chairs, blankets, and giant headphones. We got checked in and received our wrist bands as well as VIP lanyards, which were pre-signed by Fletcher. Comparing laminates with other fans, we found that each were slightly different and some fans got heart doodles or extra messages mixed in. 

When we finally got into the building around 5:00pm, we were handed a plastic, drawstring bag with our VIP merch which included an embroidered Fletcher bucket hat and a pair of thick socks. We crowded around the barricade to wait for Fletcher to take the stage. She came out in her own merch, an oversized Bitter long sleeve, and a pair of cargo pants with her hair up in a claw clip. She said hi and asked what we were all most excited to hear before playing through pieces of a couple songs for the "soundcheck" portion. 

This package seems to be a new popular trend with VIP tickets, almost totally replacing meet and greets. Honestly, it makes sense because you can sell far more premium tickets if they don't require individual face time with the artist. Still, I find these a little silly because the artists aren't actually sound checking and adjusting levels during this portion. But Fletcher gave the most dedicated reenactment I've seen, bringing out her full band for the experience. Then she sat down on the edge of the stage and dangled her feet over the side to start the Q&A. Though we'd been sent a link to submit questions a few days before, Fletcher just asked if we had any questions and took them by raised hands which was much more casual and inviting. 

From cute questions about favorite memories or favorite songs to play on tour to more heartfelt and emotional questions about coming out and figuring out your path in life after college, Fletcher took each one with an immense amount of care and thought, taking the time to look each fan in the eye as she answered their questions. I asked her for advice about being in a music industry program in college since her story of going to NYU's set me on the path I'm currently on. I'd also written her a letter and asked who I should give it to. She leaned forward from the stage and stretched her arm as far as possible to take it from me. 

I'm not going to transcribe all of the Q&A conversation since her answers were so lengthy, but if you're curious, I posted quite a few portions from this part of the evening in my show vlog on YouTube. 

After Fletcher left the stage, we were ushered out of the theater to get back in line for another hour and a half to wait for our early entry. This is part of the root of the issue of the night. While Fletcher was nothing but amazing the entire time, this show was very poorly managed and many of us in the VIP section were struggling by the end of it due to lack of a place to rest and no chance to hydrate. Luckily, in line, I met two girls who had also come alone, and I had a great time getting to know them which made the time pass faster during this wait. 

When we were let into the venue, there was a new jolt of exhilaration, but that was short-lived. We had an hour and fifteen minutes to go until the openers were set to take the stage, and the pit quickly became stuffy and overly packed with people. We wound up between the second and third rows, and there was hardly room to twist around in that audience, let alone leave to find water as the general ticket holders poured in and elbowed their way into preferred spots. 

At 8:30pm, Amelia Moore took the stage and surprised everyone since G Flip was the only artist advertised on the billing. She said this was one of her first shows she'd ever played and did her best to engage the audience as her bright orange bob flipped around her shoulders. Then around 9:00pm, G Flip took the stage. They're a really unique performer because they're a drummer and lead singer, which isn't super common. I find drummers fascinating, so I found their set pretty intriguing. It was also interesting to watch G Flip and their band cycle through the different instruments. The guitarists ended up playing bass, their backing drummer eventually grabbed the guitar, and G Flip went between bounding around the stage with the energy of a golden retriever to playing elaborate drum solos. The coolest part of their set was when the lights were cut and they played along to a track with glow in the dark drumsticks. 

It was another hour after G Flip took the stage for Fletcher to come out making it one of the latest start-times of any show I'd been to. Everyone around me seemed even more exhausted and done as time ticked by. Those on barricade rested their heads on it. The ventilation was horrible, and people were pushing. While I appreciated the security guard taking a moment to get the crowd's attention and give a lecture on the importance of mask-wearing and taking care of each other, following through on that sentiment would've looked like handing out water to those of us struggling by the barricade and keeping a better eye on that situation. It got to the point where I almost left before Fletcher took the stage. I always have important rules around hydrating and eating before leaving for shows to avoid this, but the way VIP was arranged made this impossible, and I hope those coordinating tours will put more thought into the realities for fans. I'm honestly shocked that no one passed out that night.

Once Fletcher took the stage, those feelings didn't go away, but she was so captivating, I knew I had to see the set through. She's an incredible performer with stunning, strong vocals – even after having to get a steroid shot and IV the day before to save her voice for the show. She'd constructed an elaborate set for her theater tour, one her business manager had pointed out as a money losing venture which she told the audience in a talking break, but Fletcher was right in saying that it made the show better. She recreated the tagged, dirty city streets that so many of these songs bloomed out of. With ladders to the roof over each of her band's little cubbies, she was able to elevate herself and add new dynamics to the visuals. 

What struck me most was how gifted of a dancer Fletcher is. Clearly unchoreographed yet perfectly set, she moved through the stage with grace and intrigue, hitting little dance moves whenever the song called for it. It struck the perfect balance between the highly choreographed and visually fascinating majorly produced shows and the more mellow ones where the artist is left to pace around the stage for lack of a better idea of what to do with their physical presence. It captured Fletcher's stunning ease and star power. She screams "pop star" without overtly trying. 

Mid-show, Fletcher jumped onto the barricade to keep up a new tradition for this tour. In her words, "signing titties, consensually." As she moved across the audience, she signed boobs but was also offered shoes and other random items that people wanted signed. One girl asked for her forehead to be signed, and while Fletcher questioned whether she'd really want that done in permanent marker, the girl insisted and she complied. One woman about ten rows back got one someone's shoulders and completely flashed the crowd, which was a bit bazar. Fletcher didn't seem to quite know how to respond to that.

When the marker ran out of ink, Fletcher hopped back on the stage to sing "Sex with My Ex" in a quiet, moving moment. Another of those thoughtful, reflective times came when she sat on the top floor of her set to sing unreleased track "You Ruined New York City For Me," which is maybe my favorite song Fletcher has written. She mashed up this track with Billie Eilish's song "Happier Than Ever," playing the shorter version that just features the dramatic ending. 

In the encore, Fletcher played the guitar herself for another unreleased song called "For Cari." After singing the first few lines, she stopped the song and told the booth that she couldn't hear any of her guitar player, Nick, in her in-ear monitors. As they worked on solving the problem, Fletcher used the moment to quip about the importance of asking for what you need. Then she continued this new song, dedicated to the personal version of herself that's a work in progress. 

The show ended with a moving rendition of one of her newest releases, "Healing," which felt like the perfect note to end the show on as Fletcher launches a new chapter with this tour. 

Fletcher is such an amazing, genuine artist, and I can't wait to see her when she tours again. I can definitely see her live show reaching arena sizes one day as she releases her debut and subsequent albums because she put on such an incredible, large scale show, even within the constraints of a theater. She's fostered an amazing connection with her fans and a prevalent sense of safety, inclusion, and love in each of the rooms she enters.

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Comments

  1. When did you get the email telling you what time you should arrive as a VIP?

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