When I purchased my Love On Tour tickets in November 2019, I never imagined that almost two years would pass before I would see the show. 18-year-old me was just excited at the thought of seeing Harry Styles live in concert again, confident that my splurge on pit tickets would be well worth it come June 2020.
Obviously, things didn’t go quite like I planned, as the COVID-19 pandemic brought everyone’s lives to a screeching halt. Even after Styles’ announced a rescheduled date, it was unclear how the concert would go on or if it would be possible to attend as the pandemic raged on. But thanks to the introduction of vaccines and a lot of safety precautions, it became possible.
So, 15 months after the original show date, I traveled from campus to Washington D.C. with two of my friends to attend Love On Tour. Arriving about two hours before showtime, we had plenty of time before the show to roam around, taking the time to admire all of the stylish fans outside Capital One Arena — many of whom dressed to match Styles’ vibrant aesthetic. I, myself, selected an outfit meant to match the cover of “Fine Line,” the not-so-new-anymore album that the tour was for. Blazers, lace and sequins were among the popular motifs replicated, however, everyone did have one accessory in common — a glowing, green vaccination pass.
To attend Love On Tour, ticket holders are required to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours prior to entry. A mask must also be worn at all times while inside the venue, regardless of vaccination status.
A day before the show, fans were welcome to visit Capital One to shop at the merchandise stand early, vaccinated customers receiving a coupon for $10 off. Vaccinations were also offered onsite for those not yet inoculated but who still wished to receive the discount. It’s great to see an artist as popular as Styles trying to encourage fans to be safe.
Styles has also partnered with HeadCount and REVERB for Love On Tour. The REVERB Eco-Village can be found inside each tour venue, where fans can register to vote, pledge to take action for the climate or make a donation. Anyone who does so will receive a limited-edition tour water bottle.
While these incentives may seem small, it is rare to come across affordable, let alone free, merchandise. A discounted price can be very enticing and this is a great way to motivate unvaccinated individuals to get the shot. It is important to remember that getting vaxxed is currently the most effective way to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19. If someone’s not so keen on science and they’re willing to listen to Styles, we will all be safer because of it, especially in a sold-out crowd.
Upon entering the venue with my friends, I felt a bit strange. How was it that I walked these same halls three years ago to see Styles without a mask? Without a vaccination card? Without apprehension? No matter how many precautions were put in place, going to a large event was daunting.
We maneuvered our way through the sea of people at the entrance of the pit, finding a spot near the barricade on the opposite end of the stage. My worries were quelled as the area was much less crowded. Feeling more at ease, we began to sing along with Styles’ preshow playlist, gearing up for the show to come.
After the opening act Jenny Lewis gave a stellar performance, a message from Styles himself played over the speakers. If you could still hear over the noise made by thousands of screaming fans, thrilled just to hear the sound of his voice, you might have caught Styles’ preshow speech.
“Thank you guys for getting vaccinated or tested to be able to come here today. Myself, and the entire Love On Tour team, has done the same and we are all taking the precautions we can to make sure these shows can happen safely,” he said. “I know things are a bit different, but in order to protect each other, I also ask that you do your part by keeping your masks on while in the building and during the show. I’ve always found that you can tell the most about a person from their eyes anyway.”
With that, it was time for the concert to begin. Everything felt so surreal as the arena went dark and colorful lights began to flash. The audience erupted in cheers, exhilarated that after almost two years, the moment we all longed for had arrived — and it was definitely worth the wait.
Styles, as always, was an electric entertainer. He spent most of his time dancing all around the massive stage, grooving and stomping to the beat of each song. Moving down the set list, he nailed most of the challenging high notes present on each track. He may be well on his way to becoming a star on the silver screen, but he is first and foremost a skilled vocalist.
The most memorable moments of the night came from Styles’ interactions with the crowd. Whether he cited a random fact about D.C. streets, celebrated the fact that a new president has entered office since his last time in town or playfully commented during a song, he kept the energy upbeat throughout. He also took the time to be gracious, thanking fans again for supporting him throughout the years and taking precautions before coming to the show.
While the security guards and employees I encountered were great at reminding the irresponsible individuals around us to put their masks back on, I still saw multiple people roaming around the pit sans mask. However, employees at Capital One Arena and members of the Love On Tour team are not to blame for this — ignorance is. Wearing a mask is a very small price to pay to retain some normalcy and hear live music again. Those who chose to ignore the rules and put others’ safety at risk weren’t heeding Styles’ advice to “treat people with kindness.”
Fans who followed the rules are the ones who make it possible for events like this to continue happening, moving us closer to something that slightly resembles the before-times. But if other artists take the same precautions as Styles’ did to put on his incredible concert, I’m optimistic that shows will go on.