Students love Harry Styles’s Love On Tour
Editor’s Note: Trapeze staffers Mary Andolina and Greta Kirby attended the Harry Styles concert Sept. 24. Here are their takes.
My favorite moment of the Harry Styles concert was not the thousands of cell-phone lights fans projected during “Fine Line,” nor Styles’s ecstatic performance of “Kiwi,” but rather our walk into the United Center.
As we pulled up to the venue, hundreds of fans stood in line for the pit or were walking toward the entrance in ’70s-inspired outfits and bold eye makeup, influenced by Styles’s distinct fashion.
The environment felt exciting and welcoming despite the required masks and other COVID-19 protocols (everyone had to show proof of vaccination or a negative test).
OPRF senior Gia Reid also attended the concert, but while we were in the nosebleeds, she was in the pit. Our experiences felt pretty similar, despite our different seats. “We made so many friends in line,” she said. “They were all so nice.”
We agreed it was surreal to actually see Styles in the flesh, a moment we had been waiting for for the longest time. Reid started looking for tickets around a year ago, and bought them in the spring. I had had my tickets since 2019, and had been waiting since Styles first postponed in summer 2020, a total of 640 days (not that I was counting).
The moment he rose onto the stage, my heart froze. Here I was, seeing the person I had obsessed over since I was 9, when I saw him in my very first concert by One Direction, Styles’s former band.
His second album, “Fine Line,” shows the duality of life, the highs and lows of living and loving. The concert felt very true to that theme; it had me smiling until it hurt and crying quite a bit. It hit me hardest when he played his emotional album closer, “Fine Line,” especially when he sang the words “We’ll be alright.” It reminded me of moments of loneliness and desperation. But, as I looked around to those around me and saw them reacting similarly, I instantly felt less alone. Everyone at that concert, including Styles, had experienced pain and loss but also light and love.
Other students feel a similar connection to Styles and his music; I frequently get compliments on my water bottle, a blue Nalgene decorated with stickers of Styles. It usually leads to a conversation about our favorite songs, favorite “eras,” or really anything else Styles related.
The day after the concert, it was so fun to see everyone wearing their “Love On Tour” merch. White t-shirts decorated with red and black checkers and bunnies crowded the hallways. I felt inclined to converse with people I had never talked to before. Asking where their seats were, what their favorite song was and “didn’t he just look so good?”
“This year I’ve probably made the most friends or acquaintances ever for the sole reason of Harry,” Reid said.
The friendliness and openness I’ve experienced with Styles fans at OPRF is truly a unique experience, and one I have greatly enjoyed.
Maybe it’s because of his music. Maybe it’s because of his charms, good looks, striking British accent, and captivating tattoos. Or maybe it’s through messages of support and love, with his famous slogan “Treat People with Kindness.” No matter the reason, Styles has connected the student body and allowed for unexpected connections of kindness, friendships, and a space to be vulnerable.
The lights go down and a crowd of around 23,000 people, mainly teenage girls, goes wild. Harry Styles slowly rises from a trap door on the black stage at Chicago’s United Center. My best friend and I are standing in the nosebleeds, screaming. Was this really happening? Were we really there?
Love On Tour was delayed for over a year because of the pandemic. The roaring cries of the crowd were deafening as Harry stepped up to the mic. The band started to play Harry Styles’s hit single “Golden.”
After waiting for this night for over a year, I was finally there, ready to dance and sing and cry along with Harry Styles.
Junior Julia Rosen, who missed the homecoming dance to see the concert Sept. 25, arrived with her friends at 5 a.m. to wait in line to pick up wristbands for their spots in the pit. “We got there when it was still dark out,” said Rosen. “We had folding chairs and snacks; it was like a little campsite.”
Rosen said her decision to skip homecoming to go to the concert was an easy one. “My friend bought the tickets long before we knew when homecoming was,” said Rosen. “When we found out the concert conflicted we were a little bit disappointed, but we knew we could never miss the concert.”
I saw the concert Sept. 24, so I was still able to attend homecoming the day after. I watched Styles dance around in a sparkly black shirt and purple pants with matching suspenders, waving around a pride flag and later a Black Lives Matter flag.
Not only does Styles preach equality, he actually does the work to make it happen. During his first solo tour he released limited edition pride-themed merch, with profits going to GSLEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network), an American education organization working to end discrimination and bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in K-12 schools. In 2020 he attended a Black Lives Matter protest in LA following the death of George Floyd. In addition to the protest, he released another limited edition merch collection, with 100% of the profits going to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization.
I had never before been to a concert that didn’t just focus on the music, but focused on making everyone in the audience feel seen and accepted. The name “Love On Tour” felt very appropriate.
In November 2020, Styles came under a lot of fire after wearing a dress on the cover of Vogue magazine. Although some conservatives were offended by Harry’s display of “femininity” like political commentator Candace Owens, who reacted to the cover declaring “bring back manly men,” a lot of people applauded Styles’s courage to go against the gender binary and set the example that it is OK to be exactly who you are.
Harry reminds us to be ourselves and to “treat people with kindness” (Harry’s signature catchphrase).
“A lot of people are pretty closed-minded,” said Rosen. “But then when they become a Harry Styles fan maybe they realize, ‘I shouldn’t judge people.'”