Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Fangirl Experience: Owl City Concerts

The Fangirl Experience is a monthly column suggested by Jaime Heller, featuring contributions from both our staff and our readers. Everybody has those moments when being a fangirl feels like the world has become perfectly balanced. It's those moments when you feel a stir in your heart that maybe you've made the right decision in falling down the fandom vortex. When, in the words of my good "friend" Zachary Levi, your "unbridled passion for something, or things, defines who they are as a person without fear of other people's judgment." It's that moment you want to share with the whole world, scream to the rooftops, about what happened. Maybe it's a small moment, maybe it's a big one. But every fangirl has one--or will have one--and we would like to share ours with you.
Because our Initiative would be nothing without the Experience. 

By Jaime Heller

The first time I heard about Owl City was when “Fireflies” became a chart topping hit. Everybody knew it; everybody was singing it. It peaked my interest, but I wasn’t convinced it was “anything special.” Until my sister bought his CD, Ocean Eyes. She’d listen to it and so would I.

And I was enchanted.

It wasn’t “Fireflies” that swept me away into a whimsical world of daydreaming and song. Yeah, it was one of the songs that contributed and to this day I’ll sing it loudly while listening to it as I drive down the road. But it was almost everything else by Owl City that caught my attention and tripped me head over heels.

I memorized all of Ocean Eyes, becoming a bigger fan than my sister (though she definitely shares in the love for Adam Young and his talent). I eagerly anticipated new music, listened to old music, and become a little bit of an obsessive fangirl. I hadn’t known I loved music that much.

All Things Bright and Beautiful arrived and I didn’t think I could fall any more in love with Adam Young; but I did. In fact, I cherished ATBAB more than I ever did OE. Every song spoke to me, made me feel like dreaming, and jumpstarted my imagination. From “reality is a lovely place” to a song about the “saving grace of the galaxies” and even to the half-rap, half-singing of “Alligator Sky” I was smitten. Owl City easily became my favorite musical artist.

Adam Young released a CD for his old band, Sky Sailing, with old songs. These too swept me away and I sat in the back of my high school math class writing lyrics on the side of my paper and daydreaming about a story based on the songs (Yes, I know, crazy. But hey, I did it. And it’s become something special to me that I keep close to my heart).

But listening to his music, poring over his lyrics and their meanings, and relishing the wonderstruck feelings I gain over and over each time I listen to him wasn’t enough. I wanted to see him in concert because I knew it would be nothing less than perfect.

There was a concert near where my sister was soon after the release of ATBAB. I wanted to go so badly, but a four hour drive wasn’t really an option for my sixteen year old self. So instead, I bought my sister a ticket and sent her money to buy me a shirt (and gave her a knitted owl hat). She went with a few friends and said it was a magical night.

Because the concert was held at a Christian college, Adam had the opportunity to speak more freely about his faith, and thus, he played my favorite song of his “Meteor Shower.” My sister tried to describe the experience to me, which was amazing. Apparently, the “Meteor Shower” performance had extra sound effects, such as what was like meteors or shooting stars whooshing by. I can only imagine what it must have sounded like.

Thus, I still longed to see Owl City in concert. A few years passed, and I had kind of lost my hope that it would happen. Life happened, I got busy, I graduated from high school, and college was just around the corner.

As was Owl City’s next and latest CD, A Midsummer Station. I had to buy it before I moved into the dorms of my college but couldn’t until later. Much to say, my first semester of college was deeply lived out with this CD as the soundtrack (not that my life in any way reflected it, but I was constantly listening to it).

And then came the day that I saw his next tour line up.

He would be two hours away. The closest he’d probably ever be and it was reasonable driving distance if my sister came to visit. And it was only a week or so after my birthday.

I thought I was seeing shooting stars.

I begged for tickets for Christmas. My sister wanted to go. She would drive up to take me. I had a friend who has a birthday a week after mine, who incidentally adores Owl City just as much as I do.

We had to go together. The three of us.

But I didn’t get tickets for Christmas.
I thought my chance had gone past. I would have to wait until the next time. Again.
But then my mom, out of the blue, nonchalantly said something about my sister and me going. And I *internally* screamed. It was happening! I was going to see Owl City!

It was a cold day. We—the three of us, me, my sister, and my friend—stood outside in line for while freezing. My tummy was flopping all over the place with excitement. Only a few more minutes until we’d enter. Only a little while after that until he’d be on stage. Only, only, only…

I remember the lighting was dark, we were in the middle of the crowd (standing room only), it tightly packed, and my sister had hold of my arm. There were a few more obnoxious people in front of us with signs that blocked the view during specific songs and also they were being pushy and dragging their friends in front of us (aka cutting in front of us rudely). But we were content.

We stood for a long time waiting. We stood as the opening band played. I can’t remember their name or if they were good because once Adam Young and the Owl City band stepped on to stage I was lost in a dream.

It was a beautiful experience that my words fail to describe to the capacity that I would like. I know I was exhilarated to be there. It was the best concert I had been in a while—or perhaps ever.
He played mainly songs from A Midsummer Station, which was okay—not my favorite, but still amazing to hear. I was floating among clouds, rocket ships, and dreams. ‘

When it was over—my life changed forever—I returned to my dorm room and wrote about the experience. Here are a few words I penned that night:

“I just came back from the best concert of my life. It is one I have been dreaming of for a long time now, and it has now come true, which is fitting for who it is. The band is Owl City, the singer is Adam Young, and my heart is soaring high on clouds and happiness. It was pure loveliness. Pure joy. Pure hope. 

[I am not sure I can quite express just how magical and beautiful and astounding the concert was.] I go to a lot of concerts with a lot of variety of bands. I have been to many amazing concerts with fun songs and breathtaking moments, but this was a whole different level. This was THE ONE. THE ONE concert I have always wanted to go to. The concert I have been waiting to experience since I first fell head over heels in love with Adam Young’s voice, his style, his tempos and his upbeat optimism. [The dreaming and the joy and the imagination expressed in his songs is more than magical. It is incredible and unique and enchanting. Enchanting. I am wonderstruck. Completely and utterly wonderstruck.]

It was not only beautiful because I believe he makes beautiful music, [the whole atmosphere was beautiful. The light show, the other band members, my sister and my friend beaming at me from both sides… it was all fantastic. But my favorite part of it all was the little quirks and smiles and faces and interjections Adam Young made during the songs. He laughed. He smiled. His eyes wandered up the stars that were not quite viewable with the ceiling in the way, but it was almost as if I could see he was starting up at them. There was the crazy dancing that made me laugh hysterically and feel warm inside as I realized I probably look exactly the same when I try to dance around to music (I am highly uncoordinated). Looking up at the stage at him singing, I saw a little boy living a dream. I saw a kid on Christmas looking around with big eyes at the presents. I saw a man truly blessed and humble about where God has placed him in life. And that was the most incredible thing of all.] 

[The magic and wonder of the night will eventually fade. It already has. I am exhausted from the excitement and the heat of the moment. The feelings and the memories will fade back. The ideas and songs and the beauty of it all will become just a dusty old memory that is hidden away into the cobweb corners of my mind. But the knowledge of what I felt, what I experienced, what I saw and what I dreamed will live forever. I have been struck with a lightning bold of inspiration. Looking up at the stage, hearing words of gratitude from his lips and knowing only a few years ago he was a kid making music in a basement and now he is standing on stage surrounded by a crowd of people who know the words to every song, I see a glimpse at dream come true. And I want that dream. I want that dream with my writing. And I am not going to give up. I’m going to be that girl who a few years back was writing stories in her dorm room late at night, scribbling scenes and ideas down on paper in chicken scratch handwriting, and I am going to tell the world what my heart and my head can I agree on. And that is dreaming and not giving up on that dream. 

I’ll follow the light through the dream and disasters and I will shine brighter than a shooting star.]”

Maybe Owl City isn’t for everybody, but for a daydreaming girl from a small town, he is every inspiration I need. I proudly declare my “Hoot Owl” citizenship and listen to his songs without shame. The only thing that could have made the night better was if my favorite song, “Meteor Shower,” had been performed.

But there’s always a next time, right?

By Sky Destrian

There's always that first fandom. The first time you found yourself completely head-over-heels for something. In many ways, Owl City was one of my very first fandoms.

My love for Owl City has been around for so long that I almost can't remember when it started. But of course, I know it started with the ever-popular hit, Fireflies. I heard it, and while everyone else was getting sick of it, I was playing it a million times on YouTube. I branched out into other songs after that (one of my favorites was Rugs from Me to You). When it was time for Owl City to release another recording, I pre-ordered All Things Bright and Beautiful. That's about when the hardcore fangirling began. The moment I got it, I ripped open the package and ran upstairs to listen to it. It was magical, really. That's still one of my favorite albums, and those songs have made their way into my subconscious.

I was a hardcore fangirl, I have to say. I watched all the videos and all the songs on repeat. I ordered a pack of Owl City t-shirts with one of my friends (and still wear them! You can see one of them in my bio photo here). I had dreams about the music. I read his blog and soaked in the words. I wrote my own blog posts about him. I was obsessed. 

I suppose it's no surprise that I had to see him live.

A couple years before I found Owl City's music, I had heard of Mat Kearney and Owl City touring together. They had come to my state. At the time, I didn't think it was possible for me to go, so I didn't pay much attention. I regretted that later in life when Mat Kearney and Owl City became my favorite artists ever. So when my friend messaged me saying that Owl City would be coming to Denver in the summer, I knew this was my chance. I knew I had to go.

We were very nearly late. Car trouble and general delays made it seem like we may not make it there on time. We made it to a family member's house to scarf down some dinner, then left for Bluebird Theater. Once we got there, the parking was atrocious. We had to walk quite a ways till we got to the theater, and as someone with a chronic illness, it wasn't easy. Add to that some confusion over whether we could bring our water bottles in, and by the time I got into the cramped, hot theater, I was exhausted. I very nearly cried as Owl City's opening act was playing, because I was exhausted. And would it all be worth it?

Oh dear past me, you shouldn't have worried. It. Definitely. Was.

The stage got quiet and a gorgeous instrumental song started playing (I think it was Umbrella Beach or Hello Seattle?). The lights started to flash. They were all sorts of colors and shapes, projected into the darkness. Honestly, the way Owl City sets up his shows are exactly befitting to his music: they. are. magic.

Every song was beautiful. It sounded just like they did on my CD player, that very first summer that I fell in love with his music. When I get sad, sometimes I still think about how beautiful the vocal riff in "Gold" sounded when Adam Young sang it live. I also think about screaming along to WAKE ME IF YOU'RE OUT THERE at the top of my lungs. I cannot express what a good feeling that is. 

After the concert, my friend and I took pictures next to his luggage, true to our fangirl form. As we left and drove along the highway, with the city lights bright against the dark, I was... well, "wonderstruck, blushing all the way home."

While some of the concert has faded from my memory, the mark of it indelibly remains. I would go so far as to say I was changed by the experience. That had been one of the hardest years of my life, but because of Owl City, I forgot about it all. After wishing for years, one of my greatest dreams had been fulfilled. I had seen a glimpse of something beyond myself. And for just one night, magic was real. 

In conclusion, this is what happened: I was able to rest assured... 'Cuz dreams don't turn to dust.

P.S. - Thank you, Adam Young, for your music. In times of sadness and pain, you have helped me more than you know. I was a little girl who dreamed, and because of you, I continue to. Thank you.

Have you ever had an out-of-this-world fangirl experience? The Fangirl Initiative wouldn't be complete without the help of you, our readers. We want to hear and feature your stories and tales. If you have a fangirl experience you'd like to share in this column, let us know!


  1. Oh man, this post is awesome. Yesyesyes.

    I grew up listening to Owl City. My dad first discovered "Of June" back in 2007 and shared it with the rest of us. I was instantly a fan. I got to go to his All Things Bright and Beautiful (still my very favorite album!) Concert in Chicago, and it was one of the greatest nights of my life.

    Although I'm still a huge Adam Young fan, I haven't been listening to his stuff as much lately. That will certainly change when his new album comes out!

    1. Yay! I'm glad you liked the post. :)

      I love hearing how others discover their love for something... especially Owl City. ATBAB is definitely still my favorite album as well.

      You should definitely look at some of his singles he's been releasing more recently. And hopefully there will be a new album soon (Come on, Adam!) :)

    2. Thanks so much! Glad you liked the post. :D

      So glad you got to go to the concert! That must have been so amazing. I, too, can't wait to hear his new music! My favorite, most recent song of his is Beautiful Times ft. Lindsey Stirling. ♥ Gah, so pretty!