Music City Notes welcomes its youngest contributing writer yet this week, Kennedy Williams. At only 14-years-old, this old soul experienced the thrill of her very first arena show on Saturday. After years of dealing with the reality of epilepsy, a condition that limited her ability to view flashing lights and deal with large crowds for fear of an unexpected seizure, she was finally cleared by doctors.
Reading Kennedy's tale is a good reminder of why music saves. It lifts, it inspires and keeps the current moving. Check out her adventure below and let us know about your first show. Do you remember feeling that same rush? We do.
Hearts were beating out of everyone’s chests as the clock struck 8:30 p.m. on July 23, 2016. Screams erupted from everyone. Excitement kept us all on our toes. Then, there they were. Our idols were running on to the stage as we all were jumping up and down. 5 Seconds of Summer, the punk rock Aussies, were right in front of us.
A night we will never forget was just beginning.
I never thought I would make it to their show. I always assumed it would just be a dream of mine to be able to go to a concert and feel the adrenaline rush throughout my body. Suffering from epilepsy from age six until age thirteen had put my dreams on halt. Anxiety disorder did not help the situation at all. However, one day in early December, my whole word was changed as my dad presented me tickets to my favorite band in the whole world, 5 Seconds of Summer. Just a year prior, the neurologist had confirmed that I had indeed grown out of my epilepsy and allowed me to slowly come off of my medicines. The news had everyone in my family ecstatic. So, as a late present, my father James and his girlfriend Mary had agreed to take me to a concert. It was the soundcheck that I had bought with my own money, though, that had me on my toes for months.
About a week before the show was when the realization hit everyone that we would soon be seeing our inspirations on stage. All of my friends, including multiple people in a group chat on Twitter, were hyped. The night before the show, my father, his girlfriend, and I all hopped into our truck and began our three hour journey to Nashville, Tennessee. When we arrived at our hotel, I was shaking and had trouble falling asleep. So many thoughts were racing through my mind such as, “What if I get to talk to them,” and, “I wonder if they are here in Nashville breathing the same air and walking the same ground as me.”
The morning came much too quickly as we woke up at six. Trust me when I say that living off of five hours of sleep can make a person go a little bit insane. We were running behind because I had no idea what to wear or what to do with my emotions. I decided not to wear any makeup that day because, number one, I would be sweating it off while enduring the immense heat, and two, I knew I would be crying within minutes.
We arrived at the arena around eight in the morning, yet soundcheck was not until 4 p.m. In the end, it was completely worth it because I was 57th in line and ended up in the first row. By 9 a.m., there were already 70 people in line waiting.
My mother had worried about me and packed a bag for me to take to Bridgestone Arena. Inside the bag were bottles of water and handheld fans with Frozen’s Elsa on them. Not embarrassing at all. (Editor's Note: Teenage sarcasm should be recognized here.)
The temperature rose to 110 degrees and we were outside until 1 p.m. My friend Brittany and I made our way into the gigantic building just before it began pouring down rain. As the staff handed us our VIP passes, we both burst into tears. This was the moment that we realized what was happening. The line of people extended so far that security had to form a second lineup.
We learned afterwards that there were over 1,500 people. Within an hour of standing in line, we could hear the boys practicing loud and clear. I just so happened to be standing right beside one of the doors that lead to the stage and could hear them clear as day. At one point, we were singing so loud that the 5SOS boys were laughing. The positive vibes from the line was enough to make anyone’s day better. After a while of singing at the top of our lungs, we were finally allowed to enter the main part of the arena where the stage was.
One woman was going around with a microphone and picking out people to ask questions for the Question & Answer session after soundcheck. I was the last one she spoke to before the boys ran out on stage. Sadly, I never got to ask a question.
The first song the boys played was one they wrote from five years ago, “Out of My Limit.” Calum Hood, the bassist, then proceeded to tell us about a time when someone in a taxi said that the name of his band was too long. He was laughing so hard, but all of us just kind of giggled at his goofiness. One of the questions someone asked the boys was, “If you were a rap band, what would your band name be?” Of course, Michael Clifford, the main guitarist, had the funniest answer: “I would name it WBWA.” We all looked at him baffled but he went on to explain. “White Boys With Attitude.” The whole crowd broke out into laughter.
More questions were asked and they provided silly or somewhat inappropriate answers. Michael, however, did tell us that his favorite song growing up was “I Miss You” by Blink 182. After the Q&A session, they played “Catch Fire,” from their latest album, and “If You Don’t Know,” a song that sadly did not make it on either album. Luke Hemmings happened to make eye contact with me as he sang the last few verses and I almost melted. Ashton Irwin was too busy drumming to really interact with the fans. Hearing the boys live sounded like perfection. They were just as good, if not way better, live. I had never been that happy.
When we were let out, everyone ran straight for the merchandise. I, on the other hand, bought my merch and then headed straight for the food. (Side note: I highly recommend the chicken quesadillas from the restaurant across the street from the arena. They are amazing.)
The line for the concert wrapped around the entire building. I was extremely relieved to find out that since I was a VIP, I could go past the line and straight to my seats. We walked to our section and I was upset about our seats. We could not see the screens at all, but we were pretty close to the stage. We could hear them perfectly, but we were very far to the left side.
Hey Violet was the first opening act and they were simply amazing. Rena Lovelis killed it were her stunning vocals, and Casey Moreta slayed his guitar solos. They even did a cover of Daya’s recently released song Don’t Let Me Down.
The second opening act was a band straight out of Japan, ONE OK ROCK. The rock band had everyone partying and feeling free. Taka, the main singer, was so hyper and excited about performing. They did an outstanding job and definitely got us even more thrilled, if that was even possible.
Then, it happened. Our hearts fluttered. Our breathing hitched. The screams went wild.
5SOS ran out on stage looking and sounding absolutely perfect. Our screams made them grin from ear to ear as the performed songs off their latest album, Sounds Good Feels Good. Michael would let us sing back to him as he killed guitar solos. Everyone in the crowd knew each word to every song. Right before Michael went on to sing a heart wrenching single, “Jet Black Heart,” the crowd screamed for over five minutes straight and he smiled and started crying out of happiness. He thanked us for letting them perform in the music capital of the world and proceeded to sing the song. Afterwards, he gave a short speech about love. He told us about how the world is on fire with violence and we should each spread a little bit more love. The entire audience hugged the person next to them as we cried and cheered him on. It was beautiful. After a few more songs, Calum brought out his new bass he bought in Nashville and asked us a very important question.
“Should I name it Nashville?”
Everyone screamed so loud that he almost dropped it. Needless to say, he went through with the name. Next up, they played their newest single from the new Ghostbusters movie, “Girls Talk Boys.” That was when the crowd was at its most hyped up point. Every single person was dancing and singing along, even parents.
The show ended all too soon. After the encore, Ashton came out on a random scooter and we all laughed as he joyfully raced back and forth on a tiny electric scooter. He stopped and handed a girl his drumstick as the rest of the boys came out. They threw t-shirts into the crowd and made a final bow. A picture was taken of them on the catwalk and was later posted on the band’s Instagram account.
We were all sad to see them go, but were grateful that they had put on such an outstanding show. As we walked out of the venue, a smile was plastered to my face. The day of my dreams had finally come true. Many girls were crying, most laughing with huge smiles, and some in shock. The positive vibes from everyone was great.
In the end, everything was worth it. Waiting in the heat all day, crying my eyes out, and having a raw throat from screaming so much was completely worth being as close as I was to the 5SOS boys. I could not have asked for a better day. Thank you 5 Seconds of Summer for making our dreams come true and helping me realize that nothing can hold you back, including a neurological disorder.