Have you ever flown around world to see your favourite singer in their first musical? Have you slept on the side of a venue in a tent to get barrier for that all-important gig? Or gotten the lyrics to the song that touched your soul forever tattooed onto your body? Stuffed your house full of superfan memorabilia to the point that you live in a mini museum?
Okay, well you’re probably just a casual fan. That’s fine and all but, some of us like to dedicate our time, money and effort to the errant whim of a musician, to the point where it’s led us on some pretty incredible journeys.
We wanted to take a look at some of the amazing things fans have done for their favourites, paying our respects to the superfans who make the music possible along the way.
1. When Katie queued for days to get barrier at Twenty One Pilots concerts
There are three things that only another Twenty One Pilots superfan will understand:
- “Finding the confetti from the Trees finale everywhere for at least 3 months after the concert. I deadass just went for a wee and found red confetti in my pants.”
- “Can you rap the entirety of HeavyDirtySoul? No. Are you damn well going to try anyway, probably embarrassing yourself and almost passing out from lack of oxygen in the process? Hell yes.”
- “Finding yourself practically begging to be run over by a grown man in a giant hamster ball.”
Now, how Katie found these things out was flying all around Europe back in 2016, following the geniuses behind Stressed Out and Ride (and no, none of the songs are actually called Blurryface, ok?) around Europe, hitting up Copenhagen, Berlin, Prague, London, Brussels and Paris.
Yep, that’s a total of seven shows in the short time frame of a couple weeks.
Not only that, Katie would turn up to venues with a bag of supplies in tow ready to curl up on the warm and inviting pavement outside – sometimes even days in advance – all for that coveted front barrier position, during her final year of University no less.
See, something else only a Twenty One Pilots superfan will understand is the absolute catharsis that comes with listening to their music and going to shows. “We’re broken people,” frontman Tyler Joseph so rightly sings, and their shows are a place where people who are struggling with life aren’t forced to forget about it, to explain it away or even to try fix it. It’s a place of acceptance and of familiarity, where all these people including the two kids on stage just get it.
That’s why Katie isn’t alone in going so far to see the same show over and over again. Twenty One Pilots fans are renowned for their love of queuing, with shows in America regularly having people begin lining up some days earlier, to the point where it’s become somewhat of an in joke among fans.
But queuing for such a long time doesn’t come without it’s downsides, particularly considering that Europe doesn’t quite share American’s sunny weather (and that Twenty One Pilots toured here during late Autumn and Winter…). Expect to get cold, wet, sick and beyond tired.
Katie, a veritable queuing pro by the end of her EU tour had some words of wisdom to impart on fellow gig goers looking to do the same:
“Be careful if you’re going to queue up for a while; drink plenty of water throughout the day and don’t forget to eat. And please don’t go into the middle of the pit if you don’t think you can handle it. You’ll have a much better time seeing the show further back than you will from the sidelines, having just been dragged ass over tit across the barrier. Believe me, been there, done that.”
02. When I took a month out to support my favourite band in South Korea
I was also one of those people in the London queue for Twenty One Pilots (although I found my limit in arriving at 7am… for a gig that started at 9pm), which was originally where I had come across Katie’s story of travelling across Europe, and it reminded me very much of my own.
It was in 2015 and I was halfway through my degree, so I did what any sane person wouldn’t and packed up for a month over summer and went to South Korea. I met up with two of my best friends in the entire world, one from Florida and one also from the UK, and we set up camp in a little hostel in Hongdae.
See, we had all met years prior thanks to fawning over a South Korean boyband named Teen Top and we finally had decided it was time to take our fan experience to the next step and fly out to support them in promotions for their latest album.
There’s a very regimented system in promoting music in South Korea, with regular performances of singles at various Top of the Pops-esque shows each week followed by a series of “fansigns” and “fanmeets” where fans can meet and greet the musicians. It means early mornings, long trips, little sleep and an awful lot of queuing again – and that’s exactly how we wanted to spend our summer.
This trip marked my second time to South Korea, having been there a year earlier for just a week after my favourite member announced that he would be performing in his first ever musical and I made a last minute, spontaneous decision and just went.
Was it thoughtless? Yep. Did I spend a little bit too much money? Probably. Do I regret it?
Not one bit.
I got to experience Seoul in a whole new manner, and I got to do it beside my best friends in the entire world. I met people from different cultures, made new friends, discovered hidden away places and some of the most delicious food in the world. And it certainly helped that I got to see my favourite musicians nearly everyday for practically free (sign up to fanclubs, it is always worth it).
03. When Stephanie just up and moved to Korea
Like myself, Stephanie from Scotland found herself caught up in the whirlwind that is the South Korean music industry, except her infatuation lay with BTS, another K-Pop boyband. You may even recognise Stephanie’s story, as earlier this year the BBC picked it up as part of their documentary into the rise of Korean Pop.
For Stephanie though, the move wasn’t just to follow a boy band across the planet. BTS acted as the floodgate for a whole wealth of culture and intrigue that led to studying it more and more. Soon enough, Stephanie was learning Korean in her own time and researching job opportunities abroad knowing that she had finally found something that inspired her.
Now, Stephanie teaches English at an elementary school in Seoul and is able to regularly attend events they perform at in her spare time, having joined the elite superfan-fanclub that is the Korean ‘Army’, although with their burgeoning popularity worldwide, the competition for tickets is becoming more and more intense.
Follow more of Stephanie’s journey in Korea on her Instragram.
04. When a superfan got Jimi Hendrix’s face tattooed on them
Have you ever loved someone so much you wanted to get a tattoo dedicated to them?
I mean sure, as the millions of ‘mom’ tattoos will attest to, people love putting what’s important to them on their bodies forever. Whether it be an important date, their name, or perhaps an icon or symbol that acts as a metaphor for the relationship – it’s relatively normal.
But have you ever loved someone so much you put their actual face on you?
Likely not. A tattoo is quite the commitment, supposed to stay with you until death (or until someone lasers it off for even more £££), so getting someone’s portrait can be a little risky. The relationship may sour, they may reveal themselves to be a bad person, or you may simply just tire of seeing them everyday in the mirror.
But when it comes to your idol, they’ve often inspired and influenced you in life more than anyone else has, and putting that influence to skin acts as a sort of homage to the respect you have for them.
Aggie Vnek of Monumental Ink has done quite a few tattoos for superfans, including the likes of Elvis, Pink and most recently, Jimi Hendrix. “What shows your commitment and support better than getting your idol’s portrait tattooed?” says Aggie, whose piece on Hendrix shows the musical genius blowing out cigarette smoke, giving the tattoo a wonderfully dynamic effect.
“I tattooed that on a young customer that’s starting a music career himself,” she continued, “myself, I’m a big fan of horror movies, particularly the old ones. That’s why I am the owner of a beautiful portrait of Nosferatu from the movie with the same name.”
05. When Teresa collected hundreds of pieces of Take That memorabilia
Arguably, every single one of us has something we collect half-heartedly, even if it’s just assertions that “we’re not really collectors”. There is always some that, if you can get it, you probably will, although that must be first measured up to the inevitable laziness over actually trying to get it that usually gets in the way.
Not for Teresa however – a superfan who has spent nearly 30 years collecting various Take That memorabilia and merchandise, amassing a collection ranging from CDs, vinyl, and posters to sunglasses, cereal packets and even dolls.
06. When starting a cover band somehow turned into full blown music career
You’d be surprised at how many of the biggest musicians out there right now actually started out covering their favourite bands, and it goes to show that being a superfan doesn’t deserve all the negative press it gets.
Being a superfan of something can inspire you to pursue new skills, from Stephanie learning Korean to Katie practicing her writing, to acts like Panic! at the Disco, Paramore and even The Rolling Stones to pick up an instrument and the mic and start playing music.
Panic! At the Disco started out playing Blink-182 covers, and they still find time to work them into a setlist even today. In fact, last weekend the two bands headlined the American music festival Weenie Roast together, with frontmen Brendon Urie and Mark Hoppus finding time to snap a picture together.
Paramore began as a band covering Doobie Brothers, Chaka Khan and Stevie Wonder, and even The Rolling Stones started out as blues act covering Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, just like The Beatles started out by covering American rock ‘n roll.
- Read more: How Aladdin was originally Chinese and The Lion King is based on Hamlet – 9 musicals based on books and classic literature
Superfans come in many shapes and sizes, some willing to go the ends of the earth just to share a moment with their idol, whilst others may choose to actualise their inspirations into the form of artwork, collections and more. It’s led people to develop their skills, find true friends and discover new places, so don’t feel shy over confessing what gets you impassioned – chances are someone feels the same.