It’s 4 in the afternoon at the Kia Forum in Los Angeles, two-and-a-half hours before doors open for Harry Styles‘ Monday night show, one of the final 15 residency-style concerts the Grammy-winner is hosting at the iconic venue. But the atmosphere outside is hardly the calm before the storm. In fact, it’s a glittery, brightly colored, feather boa-filled party filled with hundreds of young fans, lined up through the parking lot and down the street to ensure a spot standing as close to the stage as possible.
“We got out here at 3 a.m.,” 26-year-old Jalyssa Brown tells Billboard, as she’s sitting on the pavement with her friend, Kaitlynn Beeler, 22, so close to the front of the line that they’ve seemingly guaranteed a great spot. “We didn’t sleep because it was so cold, but we wish we could have slept.” Ahead of her are dozens of fans who have been waiting even longer.
Beeler then explains that they waited in line with other fans from 3 a.m. to 10 a.m., and then after seven hours, they receive an “early general admission” wristband, which allows them to be one of the first to enter the venue. The fans are then encouraged to go home, rest and get ready, before returning at 3 p.m. to get back in line until doors open at 6:30 p.m. To pass the time, the groups keep it fun with card games, making TikToks or simply just talking to each other.
While there is inherently some risk of danger when young women are camping out overnight in a major city like Los Angeles or New York City, where there were similar scenes outside Styles’ shows at Madison Square Garden in August and September. But there’s strength in numbers when it comes to Styles fans, affectionately called Harries. “I fully slept on the street by myself, two feet away from a random car,” 19-year-old Julianna Malek, who was standing with a group of friends she just met, shares. “Harry is the only artist that I would feel safe camping by myself for. I knew this morning that I could come and make friends and be OK.”
“If we meet someone and they’re a die-hard Harrie, we know they’re going to be a good person,” one of Malek’s new pals, Darcy Callaway, 28, adds, before 24-year-old Olivia Nicholas agrees. “I would trust anyone here,” she says.
And, yes, they have a specially planned bathroom schedule. “I’m queen of pee,” Brown jokes. “You pee before you leave, and then again when you get here because there are Porta Potties. You get through the line and they let you pee again. Hopefully, by then, you’re fully drained but, if not, our number is lower so we’ll get inside then have five minutes to pee. But we haven’t been drinking water. It’s planned all day long.”
For the average music fan, waiting more than 15 hours outside in the cold just to see a concert might sound strange or even absurd. But talking to these fans for just a few minutes, it quickly becomes clear that all the time, effort and money spent is for more than their love of the 28-year-old star. There’s a sweet sense of community among the Harries, something that Styles himself often encourages throughout his shows and in songs like Fine Line‘s “Treat People With Kindness.”
“I think it speaks for itself when we can be like, ‘Oh we can name everyone in the line around us.’ Everyone is so open and kind and wanting to connect,” 24-year-old Cressie Rynne explains, before Malek chimes in, “Most people here have followed Harry since his 2011 One Direction days, so we have such a huge piece of our lives growing up with this man. It’s surprisingly a very connecting factor.”
“I mean, we just met her 10 minutes ago,” Rynne says, pointing at Malek, who begins to gush over the noticeable variety in races, ethnicities and sexual orientations among the fans in line. “His message is so positive and he provides such a safe space for so many different identities of people. That’s one of his biggest attractors,” she says.
And, of course, his looks don’t hurt. “Have you seen him?” Nicholas says with a laugh.
Welcome to The Contenders, a midweek column that looks at artists aiming for the top of the Billboard charts, and the strategies behind their efforts. This week (for the upcoming Billboard 200 albums chart dated Nov. 26): Two of the most historic names in rap and rock compete with a solo Directioner, as each of them try to knock Taylor Swift’s Midnights and Drake and 21 Savage’s Her Loss out of […]
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