Concerts

How the One Direction Concert in Glendale Illustrates Everything Wrong with the World

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See also: One Direction Fans at University of Phoenix Stadium Slideshow: One Direction at University of Phoenix Stadium

I actually really, really wanted to see this show. I got it in my head that gigantic pop music concerts, of which I have attended very few, are somehow cultural events. Of course, it's complete crap in terms of music, but it's about the spectacle, man! I asked myself, what if I had seen Britney Spears or N*Sync before they were washed-out tubs of grease? What if I had been there when Madonna came out flaunting her ass when it was still naturally taut? Just think of the pure excessiveness, the warrantless flaunting of wealth, the razzle-dazzle and pizazz and godless gluttony of it all. Back when it was still hosting death matches, I'd probably have gone to the Flavian Amphitheatre, too.

Because of this, I volunteered to attend this atrocity exhibition, trying my best to restrain my cynicism. Keep things untainted, you know. I live in some sort of bubble, because I had never heard a One Direction song before tonight. I assumed they sounded like crows barfing just by the company they kept, but I never sought to prove it. Yet here was my chance to live an unsavory dream of witnessing the opulent bowel movement that constitutes Top 40. I wasn't going to have a bad attitude about it. Or at least, I tried not to.

So I rode west toward the enormous pimple known as University of Phoenix Stadium, the bleak mass of steel and tawdry red paint that exists to further drive Glendale into debt. The sheer blob of traffic warranted almost an entire police department to direct it. A news crew or two were there, while kids were bused in. Yes, literally bused in, on a long row of banana-colored school buses -- whoever you fine folks at Blahblah Academy are, you sure have your priorities straight.

The stadium was practically swarmed with young women, dashing in all directions, screeching with frantic joy. The air was rich with the smell of Plasticine cheese, cut grass, burning diesel, sweat, and estrogen. The stands were squished full to the rafters and seemingly for no reason at all, hordes would scream, their echoes bursting out suddenly, rolling away in waves, echoing, dying away and then starting over again.

Where the hell was I?

I had missed all but the last few glimpses of opener 5 Seconds of Summer, only snatching the tail end of some song about brand-name underwear. I had no idea who they were, but as I tried to find my seat, I paused to take in the completely insane stage.

The giant letters, buzzing with lightbulbs, the street signs and marquees blazing, screaming at the world, "Look! Look! This is what Modern Man can make! Look!" It appeared like they dumped a TGI Friday's up there, but the stage was bigger than any chain restaurant I've ever seen. It must have taken a number of days to construct. Impressive doesn't begin to describe it.

Then, it flickered away. An illusion. It was just a projection. Oh. I stuffed earplugs into my skull (what a godsend those were!) and settled down. Instantly, I was bombarded with advertisements. Ads for Nabisco. Ads for a new Disney movie. Ads for a new Disney TV show. Ads for a One Direction app. Ads for another One Direction thing. Ads for One Direction perfume -- the boys, I assume it was the boys, were suspended above a table, swinging, they reach out, reaching for the perfume, kicking, shoving, grabbing, one of them grabs it. You saw that. Now buy this.

The "Macarena" played, followed by a bulletin explaining how to not die at a concert. Hint: don't stand on your chair. No one was paying attention. The lights dipped. Screams. On the stage corners, pyrotechnics fizzed. Screams again. I loved that. I watched the smoke and wondered where it went. Lights strobed, the screaming at max now, the boys took the stage, they took their microphones, they started to sing.

I have no idea what they sang. Maps flashed across the many screens that made one big screen, so maybe it was a song about traveling or being lost. With my earplugs in, I could barely make out lyrics, but I'm on the verge of tinnitus as it is, so I had no choice. I had to guess.

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Troy Farah is an independent journalist and documentary field producer. He has worked with VICE, Fusion, LA Weekly, Golf Digest, BNN, Tucson Weekly, and Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Troy Farah