Okay, so this is the story of when I somehow managed to meet my favourite band ever. I’ll give you some backstory to set the scene, and am writing this up before my shocking memory shoots it into oblivion. There are pictures included for the eyes. It’s long winded, but..
Now, not many of my friends like the same music I do, it’s been that way for a long time. I often find myself going to concerts of my favourite artists with people who are just not as in to it as I am, and it just doesn’t feel as fun.
Now, over 10 years ago, when Myspace was m’thing, I made a friend called Leanne - same name as me, but she lived down South and I live in the North of England. Now, somehow, we managed to remain friends ever since, it was always on the outskirts of each others lives, but we talked. We liked the same bands and would always Tweet (hey, we’re growing up, Myspace was OUT), each other favourite lyrics from certain albums, etc, then one day I asked if she liked Twenty One Pilots, and we started talking about them.
Anyway, I would say around summer last year Leanne messaged me that TOP were touring, which I knew, but they were playing my local date (Manchester) in November, the exact day I flew to America on holiday. Sucks, right? Not that I had anyone to go with! And neither did Leanne. So when they announced new UK tour dates for early 2016, Leanne had messaged me, and again, I said I had no one to go with and neither did she. I had talked about going down to London but I was doing a qualification outside of work and was quite busy. The tickets went on sale and Leanne messaged me that she’d bought a pair and would either find someone to go or go alone, so I said FUCK IT! I’LL GO!
Fast forward to present day. Okay, mid Feb. Everything was ready to go for me going down to London. I was excited and scared to meet Leanne after so many years, and then to just see my favourite band play live. TOP changed everything. For so long I felt like I was losing my mind because nobody understood what I was going through in my own head, and I couldn’t gather the words to express it. Twenty One Pilots could. I found a part of me in their music and I knew I wasn’t alone. I would say Leanne felt the same. We could tweet each other our favourite lyrics and we’d know how the other was feeling, when those words would just be lines in a song to those who don’t understand.
Okay, we’re getting to it now. So I was due to travel to London on Wednesday 25th Feb. On the Thursday before, a competition was posted on Twenty One Pilot’s Facebook page about a secret handshake competition to win meet and greet with the band. Leanne tagged me in this saying it sucked that we couldn’t do this as we won’t meet until the day of the show, to which I replied, we could try a split screen where we both film a handshake and lay them together. We didn’t have long to learn a handshake and it was super basic but at least we tried, right? I sent my footage to Leanne who edited it and it looked SO much better than I could have expected! She had mentioned that we’d been friends for 10 years and were meeting for this band. I didn’t pay much mind to this as there had been so many amazing entries for this competition, I just wanted to be put out of my misery to know who had won. Tuesday rolled around and we were complaining to each other that they must have just told the winner privately, and we wanted to know what handshake had won. I was at my office job minding my own business on Tuesday afternoon when Atlantic Records UK followed me on Twitter. I didn’t think much of it as earlier that day I had Tweeted a screen shot of Apple Music recommending me a Dr Luke playlist like “hm, no thanks”, and I thought it was related. UNTIL..I got a tweet from Atlantic Records asking me to follow them as they had some important information about the Twenty One Pilots competition. EVEN STILL at this point I thought they were just letting me know we hadn’t won, as we had been publicly moaning about it. So I screen shot the Tweet and sent it to Leanne like “THIS BETER BE REAL” as I was freaking out at my desk. I then had to leave my desk for work stuff for about 20 minutes and couldn’t follow up any conversations or anything, so I got back to a DM from Atlantic Records telling me we had WON the competition to meet the band and to email them my information. Okay, I almost cried at my desk. I am 25. I sit with people who I would refer to as “proper adults” (aka - they have their shit together). One of them commented that it was nice to see me actually get excited about something.
Okay okay, I’ll fast forward to the day of the show. My train from Manchester was due to arrive in London at 2:30 and we had to be at Brixton Academy to meet the label rep at 5. This didn’t leave a lot of time to get to the hotel, “freshen up” and eat. Oh, and more importantly..DRINK. I was emailed by the label that as well as the meet and greet, they wanted to film a little about Leanne and myself and how long we’ve been friends, and I would say I’m never camera ready, so I was nervous as fuck. So was Leanne. This is why we needed some dutch courage to settle our nerves. So we got some food and a couple of cocktails then headed to the venue. By now we were excited and slightly hyper. Here, have a picture of me phoning the label rep and doing my excited dance:
You’ll have to excuse my face, I can’t afford to do anything about it. So, we found the label guy at the side of the queue and he called some guy who met us at the production door. Now, a quick Instagram stalk tells me that this guy is called Jordan? I think he’s the band manager, correct me if I’m wrong. He took us backstage and lead us upstairs and into a room which just so happened to have a sign outside saying “Spooky’s dressing room”, so Leanne and I (mostly me at this point) were freaking out, as we were left alone in the room whilst they went and got the people to do the filming, We calmed down enough and they came back with a camera lady and a sound guy and I think a guy called Mark (Reel Bear Media on Instagram) - I really struggled with these guys names as they already looked like people I knew in real life. So Mark sat down with us and talked about how we met, and why Twenty One Pilots. And on reflection I’m so mad at myself for not explaining it as well as I could, I don’t think I justified how much they mean, but how can you explain something so intimate to a room full of strangers? To say that this band found the words I didn’t have the courage to say. I think the interview went well, albeit a little awkward ‘cause we had zero time to prepare. Then…they went to get the band.
The camera stayed in the room as they were filming this bit, too. They said it was for a piece for the bands Facebook page, but I don’t know. I know Mark interviewed quite a lot of people and they filmed the show we were at, so it could be something bigger.. Okay, so we were sat waiting, when the door opened, and in walked Josh Dun followed by Tyler Joseph. Josh walked over and introduced himself to us, shaking our hands, then did Tyler. (Now, for the record for if this video is ever released - our brains didn’t engage and we didn’t stand up to say hi which is so UN-BRITISH OF US!!), but I digress.. Josh was surprised to hear we were both called Leanne, then asked if it was spelt the same, before spelling it out, then asked if we were just adding loads of Leanne’s on to Myspace (which is EXACTLY what I was doing!). I can’t even remember all too much about what was said, but we had to show them our handshake. We’d never done it together before and it was SUPER lame, which we explained, but I bargained that we’d show them ours, if they showed us theirs. So Josh asked if they should go first, to which I said no, because they’d be a tough act to follow, so we did ours, and Tyler said “..is that it?” to which we were like..LOL yes. But he elaborated like, it should have a bigger finish. They then did our handshake and tried to add something a little extra on, before showing us their own handshake, which we all know is super ace.
Let me tell you the PRESSURE I felt when talking when both Josh and Tyler would turn to look at me or Leanne as we spoke. It was like, whah, these two humans that are like, huge in my life are LOOKING and LISTENING to little old me. I don’t deal well with strangers and big groups of people, so this attention was already unnerving, but I think I handled it well. We then did a “fake picture” for the camera, so they just filmed us in picture pose. I asked Tyler if he wanted to go in the middle, and he was all like “we’ll keep the Leanne’s together”. So we got our fake picture. Then they did another real picture:
The fake picture which was done first, I had my arm around Tyler, but moved for the real picture as I thought we were done, which resulted in me looking like I had a million other places I’d rather be. (I didn’t - I was hyped!) Once the camera had left the room we could talk about more private (I guess) things, things Tyler doesn’t want to talk about with cameras there, he said, and just listening to someone who (in my opinion) writes some of the most amazing lyrics talk about these things was inspiring and I felt extremely lucky to hear him say these things himself..to us. I know a lot of people don’t get that chance and I am truly grateful.
After this, it was about 5:45 and we had to go get in the queue, which was fine as Leanne had o2 priority queue stuff. We got into the venue and the view was good, we were quite close. Oh yeah, did I mention..I’m 5′1″. I can’t see for shit in most places, and I’m not very good with crowds. It was okay, though, and some guys nearby let me switch places with them as they were taller. I had warned Leanne if we split of it gets too much for me I’d just be at the side. The show started and everyone surged forward but I was alright dancing and stuff but then a couple of songs in, I couldn’t see Leanne, I couldn’t see the stage really and, not to sound like a pretentious twat but I kept knocking my engagement ring and my watch, and I’ve already had to get that watch sent over from Disney World before as my original one broke, and my fiancé would skin me alive if I damaged my ring, so I went to the side.
Honestly, I felt a ton better at the side. I could see, and I could breathe. Yeah being stood alone I felt a little bit paranoid kinda dancing and singing to myself, but I didn’t care, it’s Twenty One Pilots, and I feel like everyone who goes to there show, in one way or another, goes for the same reason, they find something in their music that speaks to them. So I had an amazing time.
Both Leanne and I had said way before even the competition that there was going to be something different about this show, than any other show we’d been to. This one meant more from the get go, it was going to change us. And it did. We met the band, that was something I hadn’t even let myself even think to be a possibility, and they were such nice guys, their whole team was, and all my expectations for that show was completely exceeded. So, Twenty One Pilots - I thank you, from the bottom of my shitty heart.
Only Few Understand.
(All pictures are my own or Leanne’s - please do not use without permission.)
I’d like to thank @twentyonepilots for putting on a truly incredible and beautiful show last night. They are hands down the most talented, creative, loving and inspirational band around. It was unlit |-/