Just Outside The Driftless - Niall Horan from One Direction

  Just Outside The Driftless - Niall Horan from One Direction
by McKenzie Propp
10/01/18 Driftless Area Magazine

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Editor's Note: Every once in awhile, we here at the Driftless Area Magazine will cover personal interest stories that are “Just Outside” the Driftless Area, covered by a Driftless Area Writer. This is one of those stories.

I recently did some research on the music taste of the United States. The southern region grooves to country, blues, gospel, and soul. The westernmost region jives to alternative, indie, folk, and rock. The eastern coast jams to rap, R&B, jazz, and electronic. I couldn’t help but wonder what type of music the Midwest region listens to?

When I found myself in possession of tickets for my sister Savanna and I to see Niall Horan in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the State Fair, I was overjoyed. My sister had been trying so hard to get me to buy tickets for her and I to go, but I was tentative because I didn’t know any of his music, and I didn’t know whether or not I would like it. Regardless, I have been to many enjoyable concerts in the driftless area, so the thought of getting my sister there was enough motivation to get me through the 5 hour drive.

On our way up, I made sure to listen to Niall and his opening act, Maren Morris’ music so I could sing along and have a better idea of Niall. When we arrived at the Minnesota State Fair, it was crazy! There were people running around everywhere, the lines were almost too long to bear standing in the sun, and there was essentially nowhere to park because of how populated it was.

Through all of the noise and the crowds, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of comfort in all the festivities that were being held and all their smiling faces. My sister and I were a little late to the party, seeing as we couldn’t find a place to park and the fair sprawling 5 city blocks! So as soon as we got our tickets to get in, we sprinted to the grandstands.

The hospitality of the Midwest is one of the most prominent traits of the area. When we arrived at the floor level of the grandstands, we must have looked very lost because a worker approached us and asked if she could help us in finding our seats. She lead us to the bottom of our section and wished us a fun time as we started to climb the many stairs all the way up to the very top of the grandstands.

Because we were late, the opening act, a talented young artist by the name of Maren Morris, was probably halfway through her set. From what I know based on celebrity gossip from the west and east coasts, is that the sole purpose of going to a concert is to see the main artist. That doesn’t make any sense to me.

I would think somewhere within the imaginary concert etiquette manual, there is a section that mentions how you should at least listen to the music of the opening act to get more of a sense for the music’s culture. But maybe that’s just a midwestern thing.

From the moment I could hear Maren Morris singing, I could hear the entire audience singing right along with her. They knew every word to every song. I was in complete amazement of the absolute unity that music had created in that moment. She was just the opening act, and to have the entire audience show her such love and acceptance was something I hope to never forget.

She kept saying how grateful she was to have been welcomed with such open arms, especially because she was opening for a globally known artist who had been on world wide tours since 2010, and her music wasn’t exactly considered “popular”. But we accepted her all the same.

Once Maren was done with her set, she thanked us one last time and left. We waited about an hour between Maren and Niall for the crew to set up the stage. When Niall came out on stage, the entire grandstand bursted into one harmonious scream. Niall used to be in a band called One Direction and, as a band, they went on five world wide tours together, so they all had been to the driftless area before.

When he came out on stage, and after we all had quieted down, he explained that it felt so good to be back in a place that really respected good music, and that he had been looking forward to this destination on the tour for a long time. Everytime One Direction would go to Chicago, Milwaukee, or Minneapolis, I would go!

And everytime without fail, they would always compliment us on how much kindness and respect we showed them as fans. They always told us that they had felt so welcomed in the Midwest, and the more I thought about it, I couldn’t think of any better way to describe the feeling of being in the driftless area; welcomed.

As Niall began to sing and play his guitar, my sister and I danced in front of our seats. I had hoped for closer seats and had thought I bought tickets that were just a level above the floor. But, they weren’t bad seats in the grandstand, I just felt bad for my sister, who was more excited than I was to go, and I had gotten the farthest seats away possible. We had both bought merch t-shirts between sets, and that’s when I had the best idea. We were going to get Niall to see us! Since we were all the way at the top, we both had a lot of extra room due to our seats being in front of the security walkway.

We grabbed our shirts, jumped behind our seats to have more room, and whipped them in the air above our heads like crazy. The show continued on, and we were still whipping our shirts around. He was probably two or three songs in when mid-song, he asked how the entire audience was. While he was walking across the stage in front of each section, his eyes scanned the crowd.

I heard him chuckle into the microphone and say, “How are you guys doing up there?,” and pointed up towards us. I had forgotten to wear my glasses, and I wasn’t really paying attention because of my reckless dancing, but when Savanna yanked me by my arm to face the stage I knew he had seen us! He yelled, “I want you all to have that much fun tonight!” and continued on with his singing.

Savanna and I were more than thrilled! Out of all 7 concerts I have been to, never once could I get the artist to acknowledge me. And who would have thought of all places, all the way up in the nosebleeds, it happened!

The concert went on and my sister and I enjoyed every last minute of it. He sang, we danced, and it was pure bliss. The last song of his set had come to a close and he remained on stage while the band played him out as he continually thanked us over and over again for our continuous love and support for him.

He said he would be back very, very soon and that he is so thankful that he feels as welcome as he does, in a place like Minnesota. Music has a beautiful way of connecting so many people together. We all share one common goal when we listen to music: to feel something, to be able to let go of our stress, grief, or misery. We listen to music to appreciate it, to live through it, and to love it.

If I have learned anything from going to this concert, it’s that you don’t have to know the artist or their music to enjoy being there and living in the moment. Music was made to unite people, and this concert did just that.

Many people from many places with many different backgrounds coming together as one to enjoy a beautiful gift that was given to us … MUSIC! It is what we are about. So to answer the question about what the Midwest’s favorite type of music is?

I would like to think that as a community, we welcome all genres, all types, and all who share our common goal as the driftless region does: UNITY.

America’s Music Preferences by Genre   
Hogan, Marc. “Interactive Map Shows America's Music Preferences by Genre.” Spin, 31 Mar. 2015