I was on the road again, but did something a little different this time. I was in San Jose, California and ermahgerd, who should be playing at the SAP Center downtown August 14 but Hayley Kiyoko!
So of COURSE I had to get a ticket. DUH!
For those not in the know, Hayley Kiyoko is an out young lesbian singer/songwriter/director whose videos are unabashedly F/F and who also addresses other issues that LGBT people deal with. I did a fangirl blog about her, in case you’re interested.
Also, I did take a few vids of her (and PATD) and posted them to Instagram, so you can check those out. She did her Hayley thing, and was energetic, engaging with the crowd, did some of her dancing, and also drumming. She started the show, and got maybe 30 minutes.
I’m looking forward to the day when Kiyoko will be the main draw and other groups will be opening for HER. I think that day’s not far off.
Anyway, she also did “Curious,” which is one of my current faves of hers. You can see the video she did for that song HERE.
I mean, I was pretty stoked to see her, and how cool would it have been to have someone like that on the scene when I was growing up? But I’m just glad she’s here in this moment, and that young LGBTQ people have unabashedly queer music like hers to listen to.
Then A R I Z O N A also did about 30 minutes. They’re a band out of New Jersey with a cool kind of electropop-80s vibe and they’re super upbeat on stage. The lead singer, Zachary Charles, was fully decked out in 80s-style acid wash jeans and an 80s-style Hawaiian-ish shirt and omg his haircut and mustache were reminiscent of Freddie Mercury in the 80s (check out a photo of him from an interview here; he’s the dude on the left). If you’re interested, here’s their tune “Cross My Mind.” It’s made with live footage of them performing.
So the thing is, I bought this ticket expressly to see Kiyoko, though I like the music of the other bands. I figured, okay, since the other bands are cool, it’ll still be money well-spent and I made sure to get a great seat that was probably 70 feet from the stage.
Well, it turned out to be a freaking HELLUVA show all around – lighting, staging, music, background performers (including 3 violinists and 3 horn players) — and I now really dig Panic! At The Disco, too. I was neutral with regard to this act, and have been since they started doing their thing almost 15 years ago. I liked a few of their tunes, but I wasn’t a major fan.
I’ll tell you what, after this concert, I get it, now, why the PATD fandom is so passionate. It’s not just about the music, which is influenced by 60s-era rock but has evolved over the years and includes poppish and rockish vibes (they’re originally out of Las Vegas). Speaking of, here’s the Spotify link to their 2018 Pray for the Wicked album.
I’m not gonna give you a play-by-play of the tunes (you can check out their discography online and also find them on Spotify), but I was totally sucked in by lead singer Brendon Urie’s stage presence. He’s super-talented, and not only does he sing, but he plays guitar, piano, and drums, and took a turn on each for a few different songs.
He’s also clearly appreciative of the fans, and also really uplifting and gracious. Between a few songs, he talked about how grateful he was to see everyone, and how without them, he wouldn’t be able to do what he does. And I liked his messages about how everyone is a unique individual and has something to contribute. At one point, he went out into the audience while singing and worked his way through the crowd, shaking hands, doing quick hugs, and just sharing some luv.
After that, he went to the far end of the arena from the stage where a piano appeared and he started performing “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and no lie, the piano was on a platform that then was raised above the crowd and then moved high above to the stage, all while Urie was performing. The song then morphed into “Dying In LA” and then went into “Girls/Girls/Boys,” and people were throwing rainbow flags on the stage and Urie put them around his neck and performed it, and then the audience…
Well, hell. Here. Brian Thomason, a fellow concert-goer, captured it.
Seriously. Watch that. It’s freaking cool. And you get to hear Urie’s uplifting messages to the crowd. Also, during Girls/Girls/Boys, people in the audience had these different colored construction paper hearts that were passed out before the concert and held them up to the flashlight of their phones to create different color lights. Watch for that. It was SO cool. Like a rainbow in the dark.
Urie also did shout-outs to other artists. He played the lead (character Charlie Price) in the stage adaptation of Kinky Boots last year (if you haven’t seen this movie, DO IT), and noted that Cyndi Lauper did the music for that adaptation, so he and the band launched into “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”
In another tribute tune, they did Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Urie said it was one of the greatest songs of all time. Thomason filmed it. The sound’s pretty good.
From that video, Thomason actually managed to get me in it, too. LOL Not that you can actually see me, but that was my row, where I circled below, and I was dancing around in it.
All told, it was almost 4 hours of GREAT music. But one of the things that made this concert kinda special was the fact that I haven’t gone to an arena show in years and the vibe could not have been more welcoming. I’ve gone to shit-tons of concerts over the years, and this was by far one of the warmest, most welcoming and friendly vibes I’ve encountered at a show, not only because all the musicians have that vibe anyway, but the audience did that night, too.
And in these fucked-up times, GAWD it was nice to be around thousands of people all there enjoying a great show and just hanging out and sharing some luv.
So anyway, I haven’t gone to arena shows in years. Part of that is price, another part is crowd (usually yikes) and another part is logistics.
THIS crowd was awesome, as I said. And the price…well, I could afford it, so I was good in that regard.
And logistically, what I did was, I stayed in a motel about a half-mile from the venue and walked. Yay! No dealing with parking! Or having to wait for Uber or Lyft.
And, to save my old-ass ears, I did my usual thing (I learned this back in the day) — earplugs. Most of the time, a bit of napkin will do, and that’s what I improvised at the show. It doesn’t cut out all sound. You still get the music, singing, banter. It just softens the edges, so when I left the venue and took my makeshift earplugs out, VOILA I could hear without the weird “at-the-bottom-of-a-well” sound that happens when you subject your ears to those decibels for that amount of time.
All told, it was great. There were a few other olds around to see the show, but the vibe was so great and nobody seemed to give a shit that olds were there, and instead everybody danced and sang along and enjoyed the music, the stage show, and had a freaking great time.
So THANKS, Hayley, the A R I Z O N A guys, and Panic! At The Disco, for renewing a bit of my faith in humanity and for reminding me of the importance of music as a means to connect and be present.
Happy Friday, everyone. May the odds be ever in our favor.