Music

Five Things I Learned At A One Direction Concert

Don’t let the high-pitched shrieks of their pre-pubescent fans drown out the real message here; One Direction concerts are a place for learning.

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Before Monday night, I’d never intentionally listened to a One Direction song, but I still knew a whole lot about them.

I knew they started out as dorky-lookin’ dudes on The X Factor, before Simon Cowell took them under his tanned, pop-magic-making wings. He would stand as close to them as possible, in an attempt to steal their youth.

I’d somehow picked up all of their names, and I knew Niall was the blonde one, and that Zayn was the one with the dreamy eyes and the cheekbones.

So broody. Such cheekbones.

I knew that Harry, the one with the sweepy hair, dated Taylor Swift. I think it ended badly and people were mad about it, but all I really took from that whole relationship was that their faces look good swapped.

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Using my sleuth-like powers of deduction, I had also picked up that they were quite a hit with a younger, female crowd.

There are websites dedicated to weird fan fiction, a movie, and pretty much every household item you can imagine has been turned into merchandise for the lads. There’s even a documentary called Crazy About One Direction, so I figured there must be some sort of reason behind the hype.

I went to their concert at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on Monday. Four bizarre hours later, these are the lessons I took away.

#1: Being Surrounded By One Direction Fans Is A Surefire Way To Make You Feel Like A Towering Weirdo

I’m not the tallest of gals. Normally in a crowd I’m struggling to see past the people in front of me, and have spent many a concert trying to strategically place myself so I can see in between them. I’m also not particularly old-looking for 20. I still get carded at bars, and still haven’t quite mastered the art of dressing like an adult.

But when everyone surrounding you has a median age of twelve, and they’re short twelve-year-olds, you instantly become aware of just how out of place you are. I had to keep turning around to make sure I wasn’t blocking any views, probably giving me the seedy air of a predator.

Accurate depiction, minus the athleticism.

I wasn’t young enough to blend in, but I’m definitely not old enough to pass as a chaperone. A blatantly sobbing girl gave me a look of withering judgment well beyond her years when I laughed during a serious moment. It’s only at a 1D concert that you feel more out of place than someone holding a giant, sparkly placard and weeping.

#2 A Band Called 5 Seconds Of Summer Exists

One Direction were supported by 5 Seconds of Summer. I had never seen or heard of them, but apparently they’re a proper band from Sydney whose album made it to #3 on the Aussie charts. They’ve got one and a half million followers on Twitter, and 675k Facebook fans. I don’t know how I missed them. I must be getting old.

They play their own instruments and one of them even had pink hair. Basically, they’re heaps punk, and stuff.

The comments on the clip for ‘Heartbreak Girl’ (5.5 million views) are almost as crazed as the comments on 1D videos, so my guess is they’ll probably go far.

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#3 One Direction Fans Are Pretty Good At Yelling

Everyone told me it was going to be loud. ‘This ain’t my first concert,’ I thought. ‘I can deal with loud.’ I was wrong.

“Not pictured: Me, clutching my ears and wincing.”

Not pictured: Me, clutching my ears and wincing.

Imagine the most incoherent, shrill, excited screaming you possibly can. Then multiply that by ten thousand, and imagine it right in your ears. This was the sound of the crowd before 1D even took to the stage.

At regular intervals throughout the night, the 1D boys would tell the crowd to scream louder. Niall even made everyone promise to be the loudest crowd they’d ever had.

Fuck you, Niall. Fuck you and your stupid blonde head. I’m not going to be able to get this ringing out of my ears for days.

#4 Concert Parents Are Great

Trailing behind the swarms of young girls came their tired and confused-looking parents.

There’s blogs dedicated to dads dragged along to 1D concerts, and Rod Laver was full of ‘em. My personal favourite was a man we dubbed ‘Buff Dad’. Buff Dad looked like he hit the gym on the regular. His biceps were bulging, his tan was the right shade of orange, and his hair was gelled to perfection.

His face remained stoic and unmoved for every single song, his hand on his daughter’s shoulder — but if you looked closely enough you could see Buff Dad’s sandal-clad foot tapping slyly away. I loved Buff Dad more than anyone else in that crowd.

arnold-schwarzenegger

One Direction: on the workout playlist of Buff Dads everywhere.

As well as the bewildered mums and the visibly angry dads, there was a contingent of parents singing along at full volume. It must be nice to have a kid in tow so you can go under the guise of supervision.

I see through you, concert mums. I saw you squeal when Liam sung that high bit. You can’t fool me.

#5 One Direction Are Actually Pretty Damn Good Entertainers

This is the part where I lose whatever miniscule amount of street cred I ever had. I kind of, maybe, really enjoyed the concert.

They’ve only got two more shows left after a run of more than a hundred this tour, and they’ve really had time to perfect this whole ‘stage presence’ thing. They answered Twitter questions – if Zayn were a biscuit he’d be an Oreo, and Louis would be a chocolate digestive, in case you were wondering – and bantered with the crowd in a surprisingly genuine way.

Perhaps more surprising was the revelation that 1D are all really talented. They danced, beatboxed, played guitar, and sang. Once you looked past their side-swept hair and skinny jeans, which are admittedly quite distracting, you could hear five amazing voices.

Don’t tell anyone, but I kind of get what all the hype is about.

Yara Murray-Atfield is a freelance writer who produces current affairs radio show Panorama. You can follow her on Twitter @YaraM_A.