On October 1, 2016, I woke up at five-thirty in the morning to make a two-and-a-half hour drive from Athens back to my hometown. By two in the afternoon I was leaving again to make an hour drive to Atlanta to accompany my sister to Charlie Puth’s “Don’t Talk Tour” at Tabernacle on Luckie Street. Arriving hours earlier than we needed to, we were lucky enough to find parking right next to the building and were able to get in line—I shouldn’t have been surprised that there was already a line by this point. So we proceeded to sit, watered-down Starbucks teas in hand, and just people-watched for a while. (You can do it endlessly in Atlanta; it houses some rather odd individuals.)
At six-thirty, it was time to open the doors and let the crowd in. By this point the line was going up and around the block, the growing excited murmurs and screams of teenage girls growing increasingly louder. After a thorough pat-down and bag search (they really weren’t playing with security this time around) we were in. My sister and I, not usually a huge fan of standing for hours on end, made a beeline for the balcony seats and were lucky enough to find some almost front-and-center, although there are really no bad seats in Tabernacle. We threw our stuff over the seats to claim them and went downstairs to explore.
In the main hall they were handing out free Three Musketeers bars—miraculously, Three Musketeers is my favorite candy. They were doing an Instagram-hashtag sort of thing to promote both the candy and the tour, so my sister and I made sure to grab one each. Even further downstairs was the merch table. My first of very few complaints was the merch. Not really the most appealing to me, and more expensive than a lot of merch I’d seen before at concerts. Thirty dollars for a shirt, fifty for a hoodie, and ten for a hat. It wasn’t dramatically more expensive, but I was still a bit shocked.
We made our way back to our seats, but not before grabbing a few bottles of water—priced at four dollars a pop, but what can you do? Then it was time for more of the waiting game as we approached the beginning of the tour’s opener, Hailey Knox. She’s a newer artist who just released her EP, “Awkward.” She came on stage with only a footpad and an acoustic guitar, so originally, I wasn’t incredibly impressed. However, by using recording/loop technology she created complicated melodies and rhythms and was truly an amazing one-woman show. Usually I don’t tend to pay too much attention to opening acts, but Knox has some serious talent. Once her set was over my sister and I rushed downstairs back to the merch table, as she was holding an impromptu meet-and-greet before Charlie’s set. We were near the front of the line and once we met her, she was genuinely one of the nicest people in the music industry that I’ve met. She personalized every signing she did, she talked to the people that came to see her, and she’s just a really awesome person. We’d just heard her and met her, but within ten minutes my sister was star struck, and rightfully so.
Finally it was time for Charlie Puth’s set. We’d made it back to our seats and were arranging our things when the lights went out. Aside from the ear-busting screams of about a thousand teenage girls, his intro music was…interesting, to say the least. It was a strange electronic pop sound that, in retrospect, greatly resembles the instrumentals of many of his other songs. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it; my main concern was just that it was far too long, and as it continued the audience became increasingly bored with it. Eventually, however, he and his band came up on stage and the show began.
For one guy, he’s pretty entertaining. I was pleased to find that he was exceedingly kind and appreciative of his audience; at one point he literally stopped the concert to sign a vinyl, and the poor girl he reached out towards looked like she was on the verge of fainting. It was simultaneously the cutest and most ridiculous thing I’d ever seen, but I also never really went through a boy-band/boy-crazy stage as a kid, so I guess I just don’t relate much.
His music was fantastic. He’s one of the few people nowadays for whom it can be said that his voice live and his studio voice are essentially the same. Hearing him in concert was like hearing him on the radio, and it was clear he wasn’t lip-synching. I was amazed with his amount of sheer talent, not to mention his musicianship; the boy can slay a piano.
His set was well-mixed. He had hits, some from his album that only his fans would know, and of course, a new song from his newest record. Everyone was singing along, making the show an adorably fun time for my sister and myself. It was obvious how much fun Charlie was having, too, as this goofy, toothy grin almost never dropped from his face. In an age in which so much popular music is vulgar, exceedingly sexual, and downright inappropriate for kids my sister’s age, it was nice to see something that was just some cute, jazzy pop music that people of all ages could enjoy.
After his set (and the unsurprising encore, which included the still heart-wrenching “See You Again”) we headed out a side door and found girls already lining outside of Charlie’s tour bus. I always feel bad for stars when I see things like that; it just looks so busy and overbearing, I don’t understand how they handle it after just doing a two-hour set. But alas, I pulled my sister through the crowd and we began our journey home.
All in all, it was a fantastic concert. I came in only knowing his songs that played on the radio, and I left a fan. I uploaded a few clips from it to my Instagram and it was obvious how dedicated his fan base was; after only giving it a few tags and a location, I’d reached 30,000 views within about twenty-four hours. I was shocked, but at the same time not so much, as I could definitely see where his fans’ obsession came from. Charlie Puth is a ridiculously-talented musician, something that I think can’t be said for many modern music artists. His passion and dedication to high-quality music is apparent in every performance he does, and it was a truly inspiring experience to see him live. I highly recommend picking up his newest album, entitled “Nine Track Mind,” and giving it a listen. It just might surprise you.