If Harry Styles hasn't already proven to the world he's broken out of his boyband shell, his live shows are definitely getting the job done.
I'll go ahead and make my bias clear — I have been a One Direction fan for years and was screaming bloody murder for the entirety of Styles' stop at DAR Constitution Hall on Oct. 1. But this concert was beyond words; it was powerful, intimate, entertaining and full of love.
Styles' production started with the singer's silhouette showing through a floral curtain while the opening bars of "Ever Since New York" rumbled through the venue. The curtain dropped and deafening screams filled the room as Styles, donning yellow bell bottoms and a black button down, humbly performed one of his debut album's most anthemic tracks.
Throughout the evening, Styles made a point to express deep appreciation for his fans, encouraging them to be kind and be themselves.
"Please feel free to be whoever you want to be in this room," Styles said before playing his groovy rock song "Carolina."
The pop-star-turned-rocker took a moment to have audience members hug the strangers around them, danced around stage with the rainbow pride flag and pink and blue transgender rights flag, stopped his set to check on an audience member who passed out (the lucky girl also got one of his personal on-stage water bottles!) and held the flag of Puerto Rico while encouraging people to help victims of Hurricane Maria.
Those moments not only made the event more unique and memorable, but were also a show of Styles' great character and made the experience far more intimate. I felt like I was in the presence of a (very cute and talented) friend.
Styles performed every song from his self-titled album, One Direction classics "Story of My Life" and "What Makes You Beautiful" and two covers — Ariana Grande's "Just a Little Bit of Your Heart" (which he wrote for the pop icon in 2014) and Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain."
The wide range of songs Styles performed showcased his talents as a vocalist, guitarist and entertainer. His slower songs gave him an opportunity to focus on his sound, while his faster tracks allowed him to strut across the stage with attitude and ferocity. His Freddie Mercury-esque stage presence was a treat to watch. He seemed comfortable and free.
The best part of the concert wasn't the music, though. It was the incredibly warm and happy space created by roughly a thousand people from all backgrounds and experiences singing, dancing and enjoying music that has been a part of the roughest times of their lives. Most of Styles' fans are roughly my age, (19) and have brought his music through breakups, graduations, sleepovers, divorces, trauma and terrifying political decisions. Nobody needed to hold back their admiration for the artist.
Without the bondage of cookie-cutter pop music holding him back, Styles became the best version of himself: an honest, carefree, passionate rock star using his platform to encourage his fan base — made up mostly of young women — to be unapologetic and compassionate.