My Experience at a Harry Styles Concert During COVID-19

Photo courtesy of Roger Harris on

Olivia Becchina, Staff Writer

Over the past year and a half, there have been multiple missed opportunities and events due to COVID-19. Hearts were broken when popular artists like The Weeknd, The 1975, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, and many more were forced to postpone their tours. Many were undoubtedly eager to see their idols perform, which caused much frustration and anticipation.  

This, however, was not my experience. Harry Styles was one of many artists who postponed their tours. I had become an increasingly bigger fan of him while struggling to stay sane during my time learning remotely. Styles’ North American Love On Tour was first scheduled to begin in June of 2020, and at the risk of offending lifelong One-Directioners, I was not familiar with his music at the time they were released, in the fall of 2019. In the summer of 2020 however, I began listening to his music since “Adore You” and “Watermelon Sugar” were wildly popular. 

A few months later, it occurred to my sister and me that tickets might still be available for the rescheduled dates, and we hurried to TicketMaster. We were overwhelmed to find there was an availability to see Styles at Madison Square Garden on October 4th, 2021. Unlike longtime fans of Styles, who had been crushed at the news that he was being forced to reschedule, I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity to see him.

With the increasing threat and uncertainty surrounding the Delta Variant, the possibility of Love on Tour being postponed a second time couldn’t be ruled out. But in July, Styles confirmed that the North American shows were on, and with them, various COVID-19 entry protocols. All guests ages 12 and older were required to show proof of full vaccination, and those ages 4 to 11 could show a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of the concert instead. 

As I stood outside the Madison Square Garden stadium, I was overwhelmed with the sights of boas and heart glasses, glitter and intricate makeup as a blur of people sped by. There seemed to be an unspoken dress code for Harry Styles concerts. He and his band members are known for their grand attire when performing, and in an interview with Howard Stern, Styles stated that they care greatly about their shows.  Although I noticed a fair amount of the singer’s merchandise and homemade fan t-shirts on people passing by me, the majority were dressed in extravagant tops and patterned pants with platform boots and blazers. It was no ordinary affair, or at least it certainly didn’t look like one.

Before entering, I briefly waited in line and had to present proof of vaccination along with an ID. Those checking were moderately strict and thorough. Faculty at the venue worked like a well-oiled machine, moving through the process efficiently.  

Upon entering the building, there were immediately three counters visible selling merchandise. Despite the hectic atmosphere, people stood socially distanced. The various t-shirts and posters could only be purchased with a card, no exceptions. This was the case for all establishments inside Madison Square Garden. Cash was taken under no circumstance and no workers touched the cards of customers. Overall this made the exchanges extremely covid-safe.  

As I walked through the many different areas, except for those occasionally posing for a picture, all people were masked. When I entered the arena, however, this wasn’t exactly the case. 

My seat was located in section 115, row 10. In other words, the first section up from the ground floor, or as Styles’ tickets were marketed, the Watermelon and Cherry pits. Many fans removed their masks and walked down closer to the stage to take pictures. Those surrounding my seat also ate at a leisurely pace. This fact wasn’t entirely shocking to me, but noteworthy, as the security monitoring the entrance of each section remained quiet and unbothered. As I waited for the show to start, recordings of Styles’ voice came on three times, expressing his thanks for our willingness to be vaccinated and safe, as well as reminders to keep our masks on. At the start of the show, Styles’ band members walked on unmasked from the middle of the stage

Throughout the show, I will admit, it was difficult to sing with real effort without my mask falling down, and for the performance of “What Makes You Beautiful,” I gave up trying to fix it and yelled the words. Harry and his band kept the energy high for the entirety of the show, dancing and having conversations with fans; it was truly a performance outside of just playing the songs. He made jokes with fathers who attended with their daughters, and acknowledged the significance of what we had all experienced collectively over the last year and a half with COVID-19. The energy in the room was palpable when “Treat People With Kindness” started, a joy you could feel as Styles ran down the walkway with pride flags in his hands. It was truly heartwarming and exhilarating to be a part of a night I will never forget.