He might not have stolen his pants from David Byrne, but that was the first thing I should of when he appeared on stage.
He might not have stolen his pants from David Byrne, but that was the first thing I should of when he appeared on stage.
Photo by Violeta Alvarez

Our Ears Are Still Ringing From Last Night's Harry Styles Show

Harry Styles, Kacey Musgraves
Toyota Center
June 7, 2K18

Harry Styles is at his best when he lets himself go. Lost in the music, he pumps his arm and flashes that smile and you understand why the Toyota Center was packed front to back, top to bottom, for a rare “yes, we will let you pay to sit behind the stage if you want” show. The man has charisma for days; the only pop culture male celebrity that strikes me as being that electrifying is The Rock.

One Direction, Styles' former day job, had good songs to be sure, and Styles could have spent the rest of his life making millions by writing safe, catchy earworms. Maybe in time he will again, but his current focus on “classic rock brought to the modern era” suits him so much better that it’s almost hard to believe that the reason we know about him is that he was in a mainstream boy band.

Had One Direction not been a thing, I can still imagine Styles being a success. He’s too talented and too charismatic to fail. You listen to him sing “If I Could Fly” and you can see the eventual acoustic tour he seems destined to do. You hear his updated version of “What Makes You Beautiful” and the way he thrashes across the stage and you can picture him killing it 40 years from now in a huge, Rod Stewart-esque production. You listen to him sing “Sign of the Times” and you know he’s a force to be reckoned with here in the present.

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Still, while the music was good, it was his crowd interactions that were even better. He comes off as so natural and human on stage that if he wanted to just talk for 45 minutes I would have gone along with it willingly. From singing “Happy Birthday” to helping friends sitting in different sections communicate to telling a young, male fan that crying is a totally manly thing to do, all of his interactions were good for a laugh or a warm heart.

The singles from his self-titled debut album might not have set the world on fire, but it’s a perfectly fine album that proved that Styles has the goods. Does he have an album in him that we’ll look back at as a classic down the line? Maybe. I wouldn’t bet against him. What I’m certain of is that he’ll be a live force to reckon with for decades to come, if music is where his heart is. And that smile.

When Styles is excited, it's hard not to feel the same way.
When Styles is excited, it's hard not to feel the same way.
Photo by Violeta Alvarez

So, How Was The Opener?: I’ve been in the bag for Kacey Musgraves since the first time I heard “Follow Your Arrow” and I’ve yet to be disappointed by one of her live performances. Was her 45 minute set a little on the slow side? Perhaps. I can definitely see it landing better in an afternoon outdoor festival slot. The new stuff sounds good—admittedly I would have liked to have heard “Slow Burn” but you can’t get everything—but the highlight of the set was “High Horse”, which is definitely a contender for song of the year. The crowd seemed super into Musgraves, and not just because she’s from Texas.

Personal Bias: Harry Styles was my favorite member of One Direction, but I have a soft spot for Louis too. Kacey Musgraves is a gem.

The Crowd: Painfully loud and well-versed in all things Harry Styles. You got the impression they turned up the volume extra loud on the band to compensate for how loud the fans were singing along.

Overheard in the Crowd: “Thanks! It’s a scarf. It was $19,” explained a woman in front of us to the people sitting beside her after they complimented her shirt. They went from strangers to hugging and screaming together in no time.

Random Notebook Dump: Before the show, a very nice young woman came up to me and my roommate and handed us blank sheets of paper. She told us to hold them up during “Sweet Creature” before moving along and leaving blank sheets of paper in the seats where no one was sitting. I assume she was trying to have something spelled out, and I was a little disappointed when “Sweet Creature” rolled around and only a handful of people held up their paper. Sorry to let you down, Random Harry Styles Fan With Ambition.

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