Last Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending Julia Michaels Inner Monologue tour. It was everything I imagined it would be and more. It was full of magic, love, acceptance and vulnerability wrapped in a warm hug of camaraderie and balloons.
I am a more recent fan of Julia's. When Inner Monologue Part 1 was released in January, my Twitter feed was full of praise for one song in particular: Anxiety featuring Selena Gomez. I was intrigued because I've been a fan of Selena's since her days on Disney Channel, so I decided to check it out. Upon first listen I was impressed by the utter honesty and fearlessness of the track. And as I continued to listen to the songs following it I noticed it was a theme on the entire EP. Julia doesn't hold back, and it's the most attractive quality about her.
As the year progressed I discovered friends of mine were very into her and exposed me to her first EP, Nervous System, more specifically a track titled "Pink," which needs no explanation. If you haven't heard that song you must listen to it immediately. So, when Inner Monologue Part 2 dropped, I was stoked to devour more from this raw, unfiltered young woman.
When I found out she had a tour date in New York I felt like I needed to go. I'd seen videos of her performing, unapologetically and full of joy, and friends described it as one of the best shows they'd ever been to. I needed to see for myself, even if that meant going alone. So, on October 30th I took the train into New York to see Julia headline Webster Hall.
While waiting in line I met three other girls that became my buddies for the night. It was nice to have people to talk to before the show started, and although the crowd got a little rowdy I appreciated their energy once the show started.
Her opener, a charming English chap, Rhys Lewis, definitely warmed the crowd up nicely for the night ahead. His voice was soothing and you could clearly tell he belonged onstage. The way he crooned into the microphone, jamming on guitar and singing of heartache, one couldn't help but fall in love with him.
When Julia finally took the stage, it was electric. The connection she had with us, and the way in which the energy bounced back and forth from the stage to the crowd and back, her dancing, her band's enthusiasm and the crowds excitement was intoxicating. From the moment we heard the first few chords of the opening song start to the last notes of the final song, none of us wanted the night to ever end. Julia's passion for her music, what she went through to create it and where she is now, she lays it out before her audience. Not only does she open herself up but the crowd does the same, and we have a mutual love, respect and acceptance for one another.
If she wasn't singing she was smiling so wide her face shone like sunshine. She giggled and smirked throughout her set and eyed the crowd like we were the love of her life and she couldn't believe she could ever be so lucky. She had dance parties across the stage, encouraged the crowd to sway and hold the flashlight on their phone in the air, and became enraptured when we screamed every single word back to her.
She shared her story through her music and we therapeutically echoed the words back to her. When she said jump, we jumped and I could actually feel the floor move beneath me. She commanded the stage and the crowd like I've never seen before. In the middle of the show, she made her way through the crowd, stood among us and made as many people near her know they were appreciated. She held their hands and didn't let go, she waved to others and she beamed when we erupted in applause. Whenever she couldn't say "I love you" she just held her tattooed palm in the air, and we did it back. Somehow Julia was able to make every single person in that venue feel seen, heard and loved.
At one point during the show Julia explained that her show was a "safe space" and she had us scream it back at her. It was a beautiful moment. This is the reason I see live music. Concerts have always been my escape. They are where I feel seen, and understood. Julia explained that we are leaving everything else "out there," and enjoying where we are right here and now. And that's why I attend so many concerts. Even if I go alone, it doesn't matter. I go because there is nothing like screaming the lyrics to your favorite song with the person that brought it to life. Watching them go to the place they were emotionally when they first wrote or recorded it right there onstage is a type of a magic that can't be matched. When the artist allows the audience to feel everything and says "we don't judge here," for those 2 hours life doesn't seem so overwhelming. Julia shared her ups and her downs, but most of all she gave the crowd the ultimate gift: she accepted every single one of us in return.