It finally happened! I saw my queen last night. After years of stanning and months of planning, I took a weekend trip to Philadelphia with one of my best friends, the only other person I know in real life who loves Carly nearly as much as I do.
My journey began in Cape Cod, where I was on a family vacation. I drove my own car separately from everyone else, because saying bye and leaving them early was the only way I could make it to one of the northeast tour stops. I drove for four hours back to Albany by myself on Friday, where I was reunited with my pets and did some last-minute trip shopping at Target. I was so excited for the next day that I got four hours of sleep at most, but it didn’t even matter.
Despite being the furthest thing from a morning person, I woke up at 5:00 AM. I fed my pets, assembled my outfit (also from Target), did my beauty routine, and loaded up on caffeine and sugar. This was a recurring theme throughout the day: unless I’m forgetting something, I had two cups of coffee, an extra-large cherry Slurpee, a grande Frappuccino, a tall glass of sweetened iced green tea, and a venti iced chai latte. This was probably overkill, but I don’t drink alcohol or do drugs and wanted to get high on something so this was the safest bet.
When I was walking into the train station from the parking lot, I realized my heels were bleeding because I was wearing brand new shoes that hadn’t yet been broken into. They looked cute, but they were agonizing. I sat alone on the train with bloody feet until my friend joined me at the Hudson stop, and once we got to Penn Station in NYC (where we were to get off our first train and board another one to Philly) I limped into a Duane Reade and got Band-Aids. After that, my shoes weren’t an issue and we didn’t have any problems. We also had Shake Shack for lunch, and then we were off to Philly.
Once we got there, we took an Uber to the Airbnb I ordered. It was this cute condo with two beds, a bathroom, and a kitchen, and we probably had one of the best views in the entire city. We could see the whole skyline right in front of us, and it was such a sunny glorious day. There wasn’t even a screen on the windows and we could just open it up and scream out into the city. I’ll never forget what it looked like. We hung out there for a little while, did multiple drink runs from various places, and then got ready for the concert. We couldn’t stop dancing and singing Carly songs on the streets and in the stores, and we were probably really annoying but we just had to reenact the Run Away With Me music video. Sorry Philadelphia, I don’t make the rules.
We had sushi for dinner at this Japanese restaurant on the way to the venue, and I was embarrassingly bad at using chopsticks but the food was amazing. Once we were done, it was concert time! We ordered another Uber, this one with a driver who referred to Philadelphia as “Filth-adelphia,” and then we were off to see our queen!
It was probably about 6:30 PM when we got to the Fillmore, half an hour before the doors opened. The line was insanely long and went all the way around the block, which I was super surprised about for some reason. Even as one of Carly’s biggest fans she’s so much more popular than I thought she was, and I realized how many people truly follow her or listen to her. The crowd was mostly people in their 20s and early 30s, but there were a few older people. It was mostly gay men and girls obviously, but there were also a lot more straight guys than I thought there would be. Good for them that they’re secure enough to recognize good music, even if it’s not considered cool for people like them. Most people were dressed super stylishly and clearly put tons of thought into what they were going to wear when witnessing their queen, as did I. There were so many cute guys there but I told myself not to get distracted by them, because this night was about Carly and nothing could get in the way of that.
Once we got into the venue and the security guards searched my hip new Stranger Things fanny pack, it was showtime. Although I didn’t buy anything, the merch was really cute, and songs by the likes of Lizzo, Robyn, and Charli XCX were playing in the lobby. I’m not really a partier or a club person, so this whole experience is the closest thing I’ve ever really gotten to something like that. There were so many people in such a small space, half of whom were drinking, most of whom were gay, so I guess I’ve unofficially popped my gay club cherry. It was standing room only, and extremely hot. It was 99 degrees Fahrenheit outside, and probably somewhere around there inside too, despite the air conditioning which wasn’t really doing anything. The body heat definitely made it worse, and every single person there was sweating so bad but we all managed to brave the potentially triple digit heat wave for our queen.
Anyway, there was a giant shiny disco ball hanging front center stage, and we were pretty close, probably a quarter of the way back from the front to the back. My friend left to get water and she was gone for about 10 minutes, and I stayed where we were to save our good spot. I was feeling really lonely since everyone else had their friends with them and I was all by myself, but then this guy near me must have seen how sad I looked because he asked me what my favorite Carly songs were and we talked for a minute. It made me feel so much better and completely turned my mood around, and I was happy again and then my friend was back. For the most part, people were extremely friendly and I felt so safe and supported. I challenge you to find a concert with a sweeter audience.
The opening act was Phoebe Ryan. She came on at 8:00 and she was really good. I didn’t know any of her music, but she succeeded in piquing my interest and now I want to check her out. The crowd was into it and it seemed like she gained lots of new fans, so good for her!
Once Phoebe was done, there were about 20 minutes of excruciating waiting as the crew got things ready for Carly. Everyone was getting really antsy, but honestly I would have waited hours for her without complaining. Finally, at exactly 9:00 sharp, her band and backup singers came on stage to the opening of No Drug Like Me. She was going to pop up anywhere at any second and this was when all the emotions hit me and I was about to cry. I was about to see and hear her in the flesh with my own eyes and ears, and not through a screen or earbuds.
Then, there she was. Her voice, her costume, and her energy were all perfect. Everyone went wild and I was totally wiping away my happy tears about the fact that this was actually happening. It was everything I had hoped for in my daydreams about this night going back years, and even though I had sky-high expectations that easily could have been let down by anyone else, she easily met and surpassed all of them. Her vocals were even better than the studio version and she didn’t hesitate to reach the more challenging parts, which really impressed me since a lot of her peers tend to chicken out and take the easy route when performing live. Her band and backup singers were all so good and beyond worthy of sharing a stage with her, and there wasn’t a single weak link. She had the cutest jokes and anecdotes, such as the origins of Julien, and her band played along with her so well. You could tell they were all having fun, especially her guitarist Tavish. Every single thing Carly did all night was completely adorable without even trying, and that’s exactly why I love her. I must have said “OMG she’s so cute!” to my friend at least 20 times throughout the night, half of them with tears in my eyes like a proud dad.
After No Drug Like Me it was Emotion, and then Run Away With Me and so on. It kept getting better and better every minute as Carly soaked up the energy from the crowd. She just radiated all things pure and positive, and it was beautiful. Speaking of her stage presence, besides how huge the crowd was and how many straight guys there were, the next biggest surprise for me was how confident she was. I think I expected her to be more shy and awkward, but she was neither and I was so proud of her! She’s really grown so much and she made putting on such a great show look effortless. She wielded a sword, she had her band wear Carly wigs during Too Much to mimic the music video, she changed from one cute costume to the next as she let her band and backup singers shine during a trippy extended outro to For Sure, and she really just pulled out all the stops.
I adored every song she played and wouldn’t have changed a single thing on the setlist. It flowed so well, the order made perfect sense, and she really chose the best possible blend of bops, bangers, and ballads. There wasn’t a single breather song where people zoned out or got bored, which is pretty impressive considering she did over 20 songs. She even performed the “men ain’t shit” trifecta, aka Boy Problems, When I Needed You, and Party For One, which made me completely stop caring about the guys that were there. Afterwards I realized there were a few songs I really wanted to hear that I didn’t (Your Type and I Didn’t Just Come Here To Dance), but it didn’t change my enjoyment of the concert at all. It was truly magical; every single person in the crowd knew every single word to every single song, even the deep cuts and B-sides, and I don’t think I’ve ever been to a concert where that happened. Some artists are artists where people will go to their concerts just to party or hang out without even caring that much about the actual music, but literally everyone there was a complete die-hard stan of her and everything she’s ever done whether that’s her singing and songwriting or just breathing and having a pulse. How crazy is it that someone with her interesting (for lack of a better word) chart and sales history can still have hundreds of people completely obsessed with her every move at each venue? The proof is in the pudding; she’s one of a kind.
I sang, cried, and danced my heart out, and nobody judged me because everyone else in the place was doing the same exact thing. I found my people, and it felt so good. She dedicated Too Much to everyone who feels too much and loves too much, and considering how sensitive and emotional I am myself, it was like she was speaking directly to me. The cute little “Ooh whoa 🥰” thing she does before the chorus gave me so much life every time, and the little moments like that made every song she did so much more special. Even if you’re just a casual fan, please consider going. You have to see it to believe how good it actually is.
Once she was done there was obviously going to be an encore, because what type of blasphemous heathens would come to a Carly Rae Jepsen concert and not demand an encore? People were chanting “CAR-LY, CAR-LY” from all directions and she came back out to do my friend’s favorite album track (Let’s Get Lost), my favorite album track (Real Love), and Cut To The Feeling as the grand finale. We both lost our shit at such an iconic 1-2-3 punch, because we had been waiting for those ones and finally got them. I tried not to be on my phone too much during the concert because I wanted to live in the moment, but I got the perfect video of the bridge and final chorus of Cut To The Feeling. The timing and angle were just right, no tall guys were in my way, you could see her clearly, and it captured the best part of the song and pretty much the whole night. When she did her final “And take me all the way...oh whoa,” the confetti canons turned on and it was just raining confetti while everyone was jumping around and my all-time fave was playing one of my favorite songs right in front of me. I’ve never been happier...for real. I’ve watched it dozens of times since then, and am showing it to pretty much everyone I know. If we have each other added on anything, ask me and I can send it to you!
I had already decided to stan forever long ago, but I’m going to say it again for meme’s sake: we have decided to stan forever. We’ll never get sick of her ass. My friend and I both declared it was the best concert we’ve ever been to and we now love Carly more than we already did, if that’s even possible at this point. I’m now home again, and still coming off of the high and cried a few times again while writing this up. She’s never let me down and she gave me everything I could ever possibly want and more. I didn’t meet her because I thought that would be too overwhelming for my first time, but there’s always next time. I don’t really get out much honestly, mostly for dumb anxiety-related reasons, but since this went so well I’m thinking about going to other concerts once I get my money back up. Lizzo and Kacey Musgraves could be fun, and I have a few others on my list too. Traveling by train was pretty exhausting but I’m not opposed to going to Philly again; it was such a great city and the people were wonderful. Maybe I’ll even stay in the same condo again for my next concert here.
The main thing I took away from this experience was love. I love Carly, I love my friends, I love music, I love Philly, I love the LGBTQ+ community, I love myself, and I pretty much love everything right now. I hope it sticks. ❤️