What makes a 1D concert beautiful


Screaming girls are a big part of my life. Us screaming girls get together and have fun screaming. But never before had I witnessed a display of screaming girls quite like the masses at the One Direction concert on Aug. 29, in the Houston Texans football stadium.

This was my first ever pop concert. As a child, I had never gotten to see the Cheetah Girls or Hannah Montana or the Jonas Brothers or Kelly Clarkson or anything in that vein. My parents took me to see the Police. Which was cool but … they were really old. These days I go to concerts on a weekly basis, but they are more intimate occasions at smallish venues like The Mohawk or Red 7. Venues full of stoic hipster dudes smoking American Spirits and occasionally initiating violent mosh pits. No screaming girls.

But I love One Direction. More than I probably should. To be honest, I don’t even listen to them that often — but when I do, their music washes over me like liquid gold, bringing me back to the glowing daze of “summer ‘09.” Yes, One Direction! You may “Rock Me!”

My mom, my sister and I drove down to Houston on Friday afternoon. The three of us would be attending the concert together. A Connolly family ladies night! So cute! In the car, my sister wore a Harry Styles mask we had bought in London and sang along to every song off of every album. Several drivers passing us on the highway almost crashed. It must have been a horrifying sight to see Harry doing the macarena in the car next to them.

When we arrived at our hotel across from the stadium, I finally realized what I was in for. The lobby was decked out in balloons and merchandise. Clusters of preteen girls were decked out in t-shirts from the last tour. Parents were decked out in exhaustion, and it was only 6 p.m. In case I hadn’t already admitted it to myself, I was reminded that I wasn’t a superfan by any means. Was I ready to take on a stadium full of these battle-scarred 1D warriors? I buckled my overalls, double-knotted my Adidas and headed into the fray.

As I mentioned, I’d never been to a pop concert before. And I’ve never been to a football game either, college or professional. This whole “stadium” concept was entirely new to me, and I didn’t particularly like it. The food sucked, the air conditioning was insufficient and I couldn’t figure out how to get onto the floor. But when all was said and done, and I was seated in my seriously good seats, I got ready to sit back and enjoy some great-sounding music.

That was wishful thinking on my part.

First, I had to endure the montage of music videos that played before the opening band took the stage. There were only six videos playing on a loop. Half of them were by a dude named Olly Murs who the record label was clearly trying to shove down our throats. There was also a commercial for the new 1D scent. Each time the ad played (which was too many times) every girl in the stadium screamed her head off as if Zayn and Harry had actually just appeared on stage … and not just on a screen … for the eighth time.

My bitterness was mounting. Maybe I should have just given my ticket to my sister’s friend, as I had considered doing at the last minute. The boys were hot and their songs were catchy, but this was not my scene. And then 5 Seconds of Summer played their set. And it sounded awful. Yeah, the music was uninteresting, but it was generally inoffensive as well. What I mean is that I couldn’t hear anything. The sound quality in the NRG/Reliant stadium is known to be, as I found out through later research, exceptionally bad. On top of that, there were the screaming girls. And the obnoxious 8-year-olds in front of me standing on their chairs, jabbering away to each other and shining their iPhone flashlights in my face.

All of these troubles continued throughout the night. My experience, however, was salvaged by the pure joy of seeing Harry, Liam, Louis, Niall and Zayn in action, up close and personal.

I had never been more impatient for a show to start than in those moments leading up to One Direction’s grand entrance. Forget the evenings spent in sweat and discomfort, waiting for an ACL headliner or sitting through three local opening bands during SXSW. That night in the Texans stadium taught me a new type of anticipation. Everything was worth it.

“Straight off the plane to a new hotel!” the boys sang, kicking off the show with the title track off their latest album, Midnight Memories. And what do you know? Suddenly I was one of the masses.

I was a screaming, crying, jumping, head-banging girl.

The night only got better, with “Kiss You” flowing into “Rock Me,” and a memorable “Best Song Ever” encore finale. They even played my favorite “obscure” track, “Better Than Words.” Niall and Liam told us so many times that we were “literally the loudest crowd ever” and I kind of actually believe it. My sister’s ravaged vocal chords the next morning were proof of that. But what I remember about the night wasn’t really the set list or the jokes. It was the weirdness of the experience.

There is a different kind of intimacy to be found in each concert atmosphere. Seeing a Weezer cover band sing happy birthday to their drunk friend in a crowded room makes for a funny story. Moshing at a Mac Demarco show and smiling at everybody you lock eyes with because the music is just that easy-goingmakes you feel like you can truly make new friends through music.

But being in a stadium with thousands of screaming girls? That is a camaraderie all its own.

Click here to buy the Harry Styles mask seen in the photo