“You see that guy in the crown?” I said to Tristen, pointing a few rows in front of us. “Our goal is to get to him. From there, we’ll pick someone else.” He nodded and we immediately began scanning the crowd around us, looking for any sort of space we could slip into.
MGMT took the stage and I bobbed up and down, mumbling lyrics, hands dancing in the air, still looking at crown guy and plotting how we could get to him.
3 hours til frank.
We were in New York City. Randall’s island specifically, at a music festival, working our way through a crowd of angry drunk hipsters, who all had the same idea as us. Get to the front of the stage.
Now, I have this talent where I can predict the hate comments I’m going to get before I even send something out into the internet and I’m sensing I’ll get a few ‘why does it matter if you’re at the front??? If you were a true fan you would just be there for the music” comments.
SO LETS HAVE A QUICK CHAT
I’ve been heavily involved in a deeply personal, romantic and simultaneously platonic, one sided love affair with frank ocean for the past five years. I’d do anything for u baby boy!!!!
It’s hard to describe what his music means to me, so just know, it means everything to me.
At the beginning of the year, I was writing goals and hopes and dreams, and all of those good New Years resolutions we forget about 2 weeks in. (not swearing was the hardest damn thing I ever partially committed to) but some of those goals have actually been accomplished, and others are going to be. I sat down and asked myself “What does the perfect year look like?” And other than giving A$AP Rocky a lap dance, seeing frank ocean was at the top of my list. And knowing him, he’s due to go back to hibernation for the next four years anytime now so I knew I had to act quick. I checked concert dates every couple weeks.
He was playing three U.S. shows this year, so it didn’t give me too many options. I was willing to travel just about anywhere to see him, but I wanted to make it happen in the homeland. The U.S. dates were: May 27th, July 22d and July 28th.
I called Tristen,
“What are you doing on May 27th?”
“Graduating High School”
Apparently it was a “big day” and he “needed to be there” so we crossed that one off the list.
The next available show was in LA on the 22nd, but we already had bought tickets to Bali and would still be there on that day, leaving us with July 28th in NYC as our last option. We would be getting back from Asia three days earlier, but we were willing to put our minds, bodies and wallets to the test.
So. After all of this hype, after all the waiting, all the traveling and all of the OUTFIT PLANNING do you really think I would be content watching this show from the BACK? TAKE A SEAT ASHLEY.
(Ashley is the name I use for my internet trolls. It fits.)
Fast forward six or seventh months. Here we are right in the middle of it all. Crown guy is only a couple rows away, and it’s time to start moving.
Getting to the front of a concert is hard. It takes confidence, determination, and thick skin. But I love it. “GET OUT OF MY WAY DUMB HOE” is music to my ears.
You just need your tactics.
- Travel in groups.
- Choose your victims wisely
- BLAME EVERYONE AROUND YOU
-Traveling in groups is key. If you see a line of frat boys plowing their way through a crowd, grab on to bradley's shoulders and follow that train as long as you can. It’s easier, less intimidating, and ultimately, if you help them out, they’ll help you out.
-Choosing your victims wisely. This means, being very particular in who you piss off. If there’s a group girls wearing band tee’s and heavy eyeliner on your right, and a group of boys high off shrooms on your left, go left. always.
- And last but not least, blame everyone around you. (So inspiring.) Wait until a huge push, and start throwing shoulders. This is where the magic happens. DO NOT GO GENTLY INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT. MOVE YOUR FEET BABY GIRL. Then in the midst of the chaos, you say “STOP PUSHING” as loud as you can and roll your eyes a couple times, convincing all of the annoyed stan girls around you, that you're just as picked on as they are. Work’s like a charm.
And for someone who hates bothering other people, I like to remind myself that “I’m not here to make friends” (I’m so ready for the bachelor franchise) and you’re not going to get in trouble for pushing in front of someone. They can’t kick you out for it. It’s just going to make them mad for a second, but you’ll never see them again anyways right?
(I mean the entire 1975 fandom is still out for my blood, but at least I got some good snapchats)
Moral of the story kids, it's ALWAYS POSSIBLE!
whew. I should be a life coach. back to our story.
After going left, (MGMT + shrooms?? Those guys were in such a good mood they would have parted the Red Sea for us.) a couple big moves later, and we had reached crown guy. Goal achieved. We were close to the front, but not close enough. There was a sound pit in the middle of the stage, and it seemed like a reasonable point of motivation. We swallowed our pride and began bumping and grinding our way over.
2 hours til frank.
About halfway to our next spot, our journey was interrupted. God himself sent down an actual angel by the name of Solange Knowles and we danced with her under a pink sky. I'm not kidding you guys, the vibes were unreal. Maybe it was the secondhand marijuana, but she had every single one of us under a spell. She put on one of the most artistic, and beautiful sets I've ever seen live. I completely lost all motivation to get to the front, or motivation for anything else really. I had abandoned all sense of reality and the only important thing at that moment was the key change in "cranes in the sky" and Solange twerking during instrumental breaks.
She took her final bow, and all of the sudden we were back in the game.
30 MINUTES TIL FRANK!
a few things happened in those thirty minutes.
we made friends. we made enemies.
And I got so hot, and claustrophobic that I actually took off my pants and put them in my bag. Keep in mind, my outfit of choice was "its every night sis" meets "high school basketball team captain" and as soon as my pants came off I was practically naked. Something about music festivals that really let you release your inhibitions. are you disappointed in me yet mom?
Due to our Solange induced mental trip, we had lost out on time and energy to make it all the way to the front, and at this point, I had no idea if we were even capable of getting past the most loyal stan boys, with "I LOVE FRANK" tattooed on their chest. I gave myself a pep talk, saying it was still going to be the best night of our lives, no matter how obstructed my views were. Poor Kate, poor, poor, 5ft tall Kate, was screwed either way so we just decided to stop where we were and watch the concert from there.
The show is about to start. The crowd is chanting, the lights are down, I have chills head to toe!! I had no idea what was about to happen, but I knew it was going to be good. Then all of the sudden, a spotlight shines. The crowd ERUPTS into screams.
0 MINUTES TIL FRANK.
and I gasped.
MY MANS WAS 10 FEET IN FRONT OF ME!!!
Instead of using the main stage, he played his ENTIRE show from the sound pit, which was RIGHT IN FRONT OF US. Thousands and thousands of people were here watching, including every notable rapper in the game and every model from Taylor Swift's white "feminist power" squad, yet WE had the best view on the island. I couldn't believe it.
Tristen and I just kept looking at each other like "is this real life?"
It was one of the best nights of my life. There wasn't a dry eye in the vicinity and I'm pretty sure even Kendall Jenner acted excited about something for once. Spike Jonze filmed and directed the entire thing, and I felt like I was in the presence of greater beings. And frank was just... amazing. He's so talented, and humble and brilliant and I just basked in it all, taking it all in, hoping it was a dream I would never wake up from.
I have never experienced feelings like I had experienced that night, and I don't even know how to put them into words but I'll try;
it's in every way a selfish, individual, soul changing moment. It's wanting to record it, so you can freeze time, immortalize it, and watch it every night before you go to bed. But it's also wanting to hold your hands on your heart and close your eyes and be alone with the moment itself and let it happen as it's supposed to happen. It's also not about you at all. It's about the music, and how we're all listening to the same song, screaming the same song, but not one single person feels it the same way. It's me crying during self control, and it's the guy next to me crying during "thinkin bout you" and we usually never get to know why the songs mean the way they do to people. but the its the knowledge that this music changed everyone at some point, and without us realizing it, it was still changing us, right then and there.
Standing there, suffocating in a mosh pit in New York city with my two best friends, listening to FRANK OCEAN, wearing nothing but underwear, fishnets and a tube top. I realized my life had peaked. THIS WAS IT!!! IT WASN'T GETTING BETTER THAN THIS! And I even got sad. it was all going to be over soon, and I wasn't ready. I needed a couple more minutes! a couple more songs. I needed to bottle up these feelings and save them for a rainy day.
and so that's what I did.
What you just read, was essentially the bottle being opened and spilled out in dramatic story telling form.
it's peaceful when you let yourself believe that moments don't end.