Justin Bieber’s Believe Tour (2013)

Our Thoughts On: First Concerts

An ode to the live shows that shaped us.




Warped Tour 2009, somewhere in Massachusetts on a hot summer day. My high school boyfriend bought my ticket and I only remember seeing Jeffrey Star (which I remember being slightly chaotic), 3OH3!, and lots of mud. I would share photos but I’m pretty sure they got lost when my mom got rid of my digital camera.


Counting Crows at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, NJ in 2008. I was 10 years old, the youngest person there by about 25 years. I saved up my allowance for about 4 months to buy the ticket and went with my mom. It was around Halloween and they wore costumes for the encore, which I obviously thought was amazing. Why I had the taste of a 40 year-old when I was in 4th grade, I am not sure.

Counting Crows at the Wellmont Theater in 2008 (via Counting Crows DreadHead)


Loretta Lynn


Taylor Swift Fearless Tour (her debut stadium tour!) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, in 2010. I was 11 years old. I went with my mom, and some girls from my Girl Scout troop were also there with their moms—we didn’t have seats together, but we found each other in the crowd and waved. Taylor kept stepping back between songs and gazing around the arena and smiling with that signature red-lip look. I got chills when she performed “Should’ve Said No” under fake rain.

Taylor Swift (via Getty / Ethan Miller)


Taylor Hicks, winner of American Idol season five in 2006. I have no idea where the concert was or why we went, which arguably adds to the hilarity of the situation. I wonder where he is now…


John Prine, Charlottesville, VA in 2007. His opener was Josh Ritter. My parents sat in the very back of the outdoor pavilion so my sisters and I could run up and down the aisles and dance. We were easily the youngest audience members… by like 30 years. John Prine’s death has been the only celebrity death to really affect me; I love him so much.

John Prine in 2007 by Bill Bo Braasch


2013, Train …. Opened by Gavin Degraw & The Script. I wore Dr Martens for the first time. The blisters were BAD.


December 2012: the infamous One Direction headline moment at Madison Square Garden. Rumors had spread across Twitter like wildfire that someone anonymous named “Mr. X” was planning on committing a murder at the show; everyone believed Harry Styles himself was the supposed target. We had no idea who the opener was until we arrived at the arena, and it was none other than ED SHEERAN. In 2012, this was the moment of all moments. A crossover between the two biggest European acts. Ed came out and sang “Little Things” with the boys. No one was hurt (obviously) and I cried through probably the full first hour while wearing a bright red “I <3 1D” t-shirt.

Hannah Montana Best of Both Worlds Tour with opener the Jonas Brothers, December 2007. I skipped all the way from the parking lot to the stadium doors only to find out my price-inflated, re-sold tickets were fake. I listened to the muffled echo of “Pumpin’ up the Party” from the concrete steps outside the US Bank Area and cried.

BTS on their first US tour at Best Buy Theater back in 2015, right when their fame had only just spread to the states (what a different time that was). I camped out on the Midtown sidewalk from 7am to 7pm with a group of friends, sobbed upon hearing the news that their van had just arrived, then ran into the theater like a maniac when the doors opened. I held up a sign with Jungkook’s name on it, hoping he would make eye contact. All of a sudden, they shut down the show due to death threats trending on Twitter—someone was allegedly at the concert and planning on shooting RM. No encore, no meet and greet, no goodbyes. They fled the scene (for good safety measures of course). I went home and cried.

    Photos by Julie Kim

Kelly Clarkson, Addicted Tour, July 2006. I was six, so all I really remember is the sheer intensity of Clarkson’s voice and me crying when she started to sing the bridge of “Breakaway.” At one point, she came off the stage at this massive venue, and stopped right at the row I was sitting in, smiled and waved. I still think about that moment sometimes. That authenticity.

Kelly Clarkson, 2006, by Rodrigo Varela

The Cheetah Girls, maybe in 2006? I don’t remember anything except their microphones malfunctioning while they lip-synced. “Strut” still gets stuck in my head at least once a week.

Sara Bareilles, December 7th, 2013. I traveled from Westchester to Long Island to go with my friend Lael. We waited outside in the cold for hours, and we were so close (but not exactly touching) the front of the stage. It was Sara Bareilles’s birthday, and her sister Jenny was there. They brought out a cake at the end, and we all sang “Happy Birthday.” I bought a signed poster of her Blessed Unrest cover art. It was my 2-year anniversary of coming out of the closet; Sara turned 34, and my gay little soul turned 2!

Crowd Sings Happy Birthday to Sara Bareilles (via TakingFlightStudio)