Barricade. You glance from the stage to the empty arena behind you.
Most of the fans are still outside or waiting in line for the Meet & Greet, but you and the friends you’ve made in the past hour are already in position, eager for the show to start.
“What time is it?” Charlie asks on your left.
“6 PM,” you reply.
“So one hour and a half until the opening act,” she murmurs. “Probably two and a half before the actual show…”
“Small price to pay for this view, don’t you think?” another girl says.
“Sure,” Charlie agrees. “Not complaining, just…getting mentally prepared.”
“Are you guys into Sunset Motion too?”
“Yeah!” Your best friend grins. “We met Zach McLaren earlier! He was so sweet. And he told us…”
Time goes by faster than you realize. Especially after they open the venue doors and the place gets packed with excited fans.
You haven’t heard them scream at full power yet, but the energy in the room is palpable. You know it’s only a matter of time before they explode in—
The lights go off.
The roar that follows is so energetic it makes the walls tremble.
You focus on the stage—on Zach’s drum set—ready to come to life. It still feels like a dream that you got to meet him (and everyone else) backstage. Here, morphed into the crowd, you realize just how lucky you are—how many people would have given anything to be in your place if they’d known what you did today.
“LA, how are you feeling?” Nate White, the vocalist, comes bounding on stage. “We’re Sunset Motion and this one is called “Riot.” Sing along if you know the words!”
The audience goes wild as Zach slams a fierce beat on his drums. Their punk sound is a lot heavier than Alec’s pop-rock ballads, but the crowd is here for it too. They dance and scream throughout most of the show, and don’t seem to have gotten enough when the band finally announces the last song.
“I can’t wait for their first album!” Your friend turns to you when Nate leaves the stage.
“Me neither!” You keep your eyes on Zach, tossing his drumsticks to the crowd.
The lights come back on and the soft buzzing of the audience makes you want to walk around a little bit. Maybe go to the bathroom or get something to eat.
You can’t, of course. If you leave your spot now you’ll never be able to come back.
A small price to pay for this view, you remind yourself as you settle for the power bars you’ve carried in your backpack all day.
Alec’s crew is setting the stage for him now—and you’re happy to recognize many of their faces! They’re the backline crew, you remember James explaining.
You glance at Jeff next, hidden behind the soundboard on the side of the stage. Then you search for Ryan and Pete in the “Front of House,” working from the middle of the crowd.
It takes so many people to put a show like this together. You think of the wardrobe girls, the many catering tables, all the buses and trucks parked behind the arena… Until today you were oblivious, but you’ll never watch another concert without thinking of them again. Without appreciating not only the artist you came to see but every single hand who has worked behind him.
“Oh my gosh,” your best friend squeals when the lights go out again.
The stage is completely dark, but you’re so close you can see Alec’s bandmates sneaking to their positions. First Reggie, on the drums. Then Tom appears with his bass as Evan walks to the keys. Then you see James.
You cheer with all your heart. You love him so much! And he’s standing only a few feet away from you!
Twinkling effects light up the stage. And the crowd loses it as the band starts the mashup intro of Alec’s greatest hits, a cloud of white smoke billowing all over.
This is it. Your heart picks up speed.
Eight months, you’ve waited for this. The promise of this concert has literally given your daily boosts of excitement; has kept you going whenever things got hard. Just knowing you had this moment to look forward to made your days better.
You, Alec, make my life so much better. You watch him emerge from the smoke in the middle of the stage.
He looks startled for a second—his eyes open wide, his hand gripping hard the neck of his guitar. But then he steps toward his mic stand, electrifying the crowd with the first notes of “Alive.”
You scream the lyrics so loud every other thought vanishes from your mind.
Alec sets the audience on fire with powerful riffs and pyro effects. He doesn’t give you a break for a good fifteen minutes—jumping from “Alive” to “Just To See You Smile,” to “Until The Sun Comes Up,” to “All My Love.” Only then does he stop to talk to the audience before moving on to the piano to play your favorite song of the night.
“No More Lies” is hands down the most beautiful song he’s ever put out. Goosebumps rise all over your arms, watching him play it. You can’t help but wonder how Linda must feel right now, knowing he wrote these lyrics for her.
Alec transitions from “No More Lies” to his newest song, “No More Secrets.” Then he switches guitars and dives into another one of your favorites.
The laser effects during “City Lights” simply blow you away. You think about the video and lighting crews and gratitude warms you inside. It’s really thanks to them that you get to experience Alec’s songs on a whole new level.
“One More Try” comes next. Then Alec talks a bit more to the audience before blessing you with more of his hits: “It Shouldn’t Hurt Like This,” “Someone New,” “The Price Of A Dream,” “Life As It is.”
He only slows down after “Flying High,” when the rest of the band leaves the stage so he can play his acoustic set.
Tears flood your eyes as he segues from “Change Your Mind” into “Shattered.” This song means so much to you that you can’t even sing along. You just watch his every move as he plays it, hoping to engrave this moment in your soul.
Your friend is recording it, but you know it’s in vain. Moments like this are too precious to be caught on camera. If you don’t appreciate them in the present, they’re gone forever—no matter how bad you try to relive the memories.
“You’re incredible, Los Angeles!” Alec says into his mic. “I love you so much!”
The band comes back on stage and your chest tightens as you realize this is the last segment.
I wish I could stay here forever. You take mental pictures of Alec during “Better This Way.” And then the lasers make an appearance again for Alec’s extraordinary performance of the first song you ever heard him play, “Wave.”
“Thank you! Thank You! Thank You!” He blows kisses to the audience before walking off stage.
Calm down, there’s still the encore. You turn to your friend, not at all bothered by the ringing in your ears from the sonic assault. “I can’t wait for his next tour!”
“Same!” She wraps an arm around you, clearly high from the mind-blowing experience you’ve just had.
Charlie and the other fangirls are wonderstruck too. So you smile at them all, connected by a deep sense of belonging.
People call you crazy, hysterical, obsessive. But in truth, what you are is brave. Because you love Alec unapologetically! You dare to feel and celebrate your joy without a second thought of what people might say.
It takes serious guts to be truly this happy. Maybe that’s why most people don’t go there.
James and the rest of the band come back on stage. And your friend loses her mind as she recognizes the intro of “Only Stars.”
Alec is still out of sight but the song is building. He must be back at any second now. You just have no idea where—
Huge pyros explode before your eyes and Alec reappears at the highest level of the stage.
You scream your lungs out as he jumps up and down, giving the audience everything he has. Then he picks up the acoustic guitar to swoon you one last time with “The One I Wrote For You.”
I don’t want this night to end! I don’t want this night to end! You almost cry as he starts “Forever is Now.” You know it’s the last one. These are the final minutes you have with—
A blast of confetti explodes from overhead. And you let it rain on you, your heart swelling up with even more love for Alec.
You save the memory of this moment to give you joy and strength until you get to do this again. Because there’s no question about it—you will come back to see him again.
“Thank you so much, LA! I’ll see you very soon!”
You watch, motionless, as he leaves the stage.
“James! James!” your best friend shouts.
It takes him a second to identify where the voice is coming from but he finally glances her way.
“Can I have your setlist, please?” She clasps her hands, begging.
James glances from her to me as if remembering he’s seen our faces before. Then he kneels in front of his mic stand and unsticks the paper from the floor.
“Thank you so much!” Your friend grins.
But to your surprise, James doesn’t hand it to her right away. Instead, he runs to the middle of the stage to grab Alec’s setlist too, then steals guitar pics from both his and Alec’s stands.
“You’re an actual angel!” she says as he hands you his gifts. “Thank you so much!”
“You’re welcome.” He gives you one last smile before disappearing backstage.
“Best. Day. Ever!” Your friend beams, checking the prints on both sides of the picks.
“Yep!” You stare at your setlist, convinced there’s no possible way this day could get any better.
“We’re closing, guys.” The security guards usher you toward the exit. “Show’s over.”
You comply without protest, tiredness finally settling in. It’s been an incredible day but you’ve been standing for what…six hours? You deserve a long, hot shower and a good eight hours of sleep.
“Look!” your friend elbows you.
Zach? What’s he doing on the arena floor?
“Should we go say goodbye?” She holds your gaze, hopeful.
“I don’t know.” You frown. “He seems…pretty busy.” You watch as he shamelessly flirts with not one, but a whole group of girls.
“Pleeease?” Your friend stares at you with puppy-dog eyes.
“Fine.” You sigh. “I bet he doesn’t even remember us, but if you insist …”