Broke College Student Attempts to Buy Concert Tickets at 3 AM Challenge (IMPOSSIBLE)

My journey at the concert series RE:SET with Steve Lacy in Columbia, MD.

By Campbell Wood

Betsko, Sam. Steve Lacy and Campbell Wood pointing the microphone to the crowd and. 10AD. 

On June 2nd, 2023, I had begun grocery shopping over the summer in my hometown on the app Instacart due to the lack of funds in my personal bank account after a chaotic yet exciting freshman year at good ol’ James Madison University. The fortunate thing about Instacart however, is rich people in D.C. are too lazy to shop for their own groceries, so batches are readily available for prices ranging around $10-20. (Don’t worry, WXJM is not (yet(?)) sponsored by Instacart) Luckily I had gained a lot more free time because of school letting out in May, so I was able to rack up a good amount of dough in a short period of time.

A few weeks earlier, I found myself disappointed to find that Steve Lacy was coming to Merriweather Post Pavilion in the DMV on July 17th for the traveling RE:SET outdoor concert series, featuring an opening artist lineup like James Blake, Toro Y Moi, and Fousheé, at a relatively cheap price at that. The moment I had earned enough money shopping and delivering groceries to the good people of Northern Virginia, (703 REPRESENT) I purchased my RE:SET Steve Lacy Tickets off Ticketmaster.

Weeks went by and my life went on an emotional roller coaster in the days leading up to the concert. Exciting things such as me performing “Creep” by Radiohead with my hometown friends at the Crayola House, making art, seeing Dead & Company, Lauryn Hill, black midi, shattering my iPhone, buying a brand new blue one (RTPWIF), meeting a beaver, moving into my house, (come to my birthday party) meeting the lead singer and frontman of Illiterate Light, Jeff Gorman had all occurred before the big night on Friday. Then finally on June 17th at 5 PM, I drove home from Harrisonburg after a fun night out and drove out to Columbia, Maryland to see Steve Lacy in the flesh perform some of my favorite songs of all time. 

After a long drive of 1 hour and 13 minutes, and a little too much money spent on gas, I arrived at Merriweather Post Pavilion waiting for Steve to perform. However, I did get a little hungry on my way up to the lawn. All I wanted was a hot dog.

I got settled around 4:50 PM, 10 minutes before the concert was supposed to start. The first opener, Fousheé, performed a variety of songs from her discography, such as the TikTok viral song “Deep End”, a screamo rock song appropriately titled “stupid b*tch,” a cover of Lauryn Hill’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You,” and even a new song she was anxious to perform but sang wonderfully. Then after about a 45-minute break, the second opener, Toro Y Moi, came out on stage around 6:30 PM. The singer/producer did many of his usual chillwave songs like “Ordinary Pleasure”, while also performing EDM songs such as “Shooting Stars.” I mostly didn’t pay attention to his set until an orangutan driving a golf cart appeared on screen. 

Golf, Ten. Orangutan Driving a Golf Cart. 6 June 2023. 

James Blake took the stage with his piano around 8, and played some songs I didn’t recognize, so instead of watching I created an Evite for my birthday party on July 21st (please come to my party dm for addy) and invited everyone I know for CAMPBELLPALOOZA 2023.

After dozing off for a bit, Sir Blake started to play songs I recognized, like his melodramatic, self-produced song “Godspeed” by Frank Ocean, which James sang himself elegantly, a difficult thing to do when being compared to none other than Frankie Ocean (check out my last article.) His set finished with the Frank Ocean cover, and the anticipated wait for Steven Lacy began as the sun went down. After a quick tinkle, I walked to the barrier of the lawn to get the best seat possible for the rest of the show. The tickets were totally worth it, as the view was immaculate, matched with my height of 6 feet and 1 inch. Then at 9:20 PM, the Gemini himself came out onstage wearing a long black trench coat and signature sunglasses. 

Steve Lacy BeReal in Columbia, MD. 17 June 2023. 

With a smokey entrance, Steve walked on stage to “Helmet”, one of my all-time favorite songs by Lacy. The anxiety of waiting for him to come out had exploded into a wave of ecstasy (the emotion you silly) and a crazy serotonin boost as I danced with these girls next to me who did not know any of the words. Then he performed “Buttons,” a song I had recently discovered and fallen in love with was extremely powerful and compelling to witness Steve perform. To my surprise, his next song was “N Side” from his 2019 album “Apollo XXI,” a personal favorite of mine that made me very nostalgic. 

Steve Lacy in Front of a Background of Colors in Columbia, MD. 17 June 2023. 

Around the beginning of this song, my memory grew a little fuzzy because my phone had died, which allowed me to enjoy the concert after Steve had instructed the audience to “put their screens down,” (hang up and hang out bruh) and I listened. He continued the show, addressing the audience and explaining how he almost broke out in tears due to the crowd singing the verse to his opener “Helmet,” which received a resounding “ahh” from the audience. He performed a multitude of my favorite songs such as “Mercury,” “Ryd,” “Infrunmami,” “Playground,” “Some,” “C U Girl,” “Sunshine” with Fousheé, “Static,” and of course TikTok and Billboard famous hit, “Bad Habit.” He even performed a few new, unreleased songs in the style of punk rock which I am very excited to appear as a track on what I hope is his fourth album.

He would take breaks throughout the show to always acknowledge the audience and thank them for being such great fans and listening to his music, which was very heartwarming to hear as an old fan of Lacy. He would comically dance around the stage making jokes about his own songs like in “Static” referencing a toy, and cracking up the audience with his remarks. Steve finished off his impressive set with an evident performance of his most favored song, “Dark Red.”

Overall it was a great show and I learned that Lacy is an astounding performer, landing pretty high up on my concert rankings list. (I’m gonna show off real quick sorry not sorry) 

Steve Lacy was charismatic and fun to watch as he pranced around stage and sang his most entertaining songs in the arena under the great big blue sky. He was hilarious with his witty remarks and chill comments in between songs, keeping my attention on him the entire time, unlike other artists I’ve seen live. However, the trait that stood out the most in his performance was the fact that he kept reminding the audience of how much he loved them and cared about them and thanked us for being there and listening to the music, which made me question, why would he consistently remind us of this during his set? As I got to think about his comment, It might have to do something with his reputation at live concerts, smashing cameras and telling moms to “be quiet” before Helmet at the D.C. show. Or you know, something along those lines. 

xX Long live college radio Xx