To the discontent of Keira De Vita, and all Swifties everywhere, we trekked to San Francisco eager to witness John Mayer’s SOLO show. In the midst of college apps and the overall stress of the first semester of Senior year, the beauty of John Mayer’s roaring guitar riffs enlightened us from our struggles.
At 4:45, the two of us joined forces and began our journey to the Chase Center. The drive to San Francisco was accompanied by “The Beatles” Sirius XM channel, due to our shared agreement that listening to the music of the artist you’re about to see is both a “cop-out” and “trashy.” After finally arriving in the gloriously safe city of San Francisco, we parked a whopping twenty minutes away from the venue—unaware of the completely empty parking lot directly outside of the Chase Center we chose to ignore. Moments after passing through security, the crowds of middle-aged parents, and their reluctantly strung-along children, who witnessed us at our lowest: logging in and out of each one of our six Ticketmaster accounts, trying to remember which one had the night’s tickets.
But, alas! We were inside and ready to relish in the wonders of John Mayer. Due to our lifestyle as broke teenage seventeen-year-olds and our in-depth knowledge of financial literacy thanks to Eric Buran, we bought cheap tickets for seats at the outskirts of the Chase Center.
Before the man himself took the stage, singer-songwriter JP Saxe opened for the crowd. He was obviously in a very vulnerable position, as he played the saddest, most depressing songs to ever exist, and sprinkled in anecdotes of his latest breakup throughout his set. Successfully, Saxe set the mood that would continue for the rest of the night—heartfelt sincerity.
We will never forget how Mayer started the show. Lights dimmed and we heard the first guitar slide into “Slow Dancing In A Burning Room.” As the audience sang along to the pop sensation’s biggest song, the significance of the SOLO show revealed itself. Mayer made a nearly packed stadium of strangers feel like they were old high school friends gathered around his living room. The show flourishes in its subtleties—the stage consisted of him, an acoustic guitar, and a microphone—each one of his hits stripped back to its most bare, vulnerable form. He often pulled back the curtain, providing personal anecdotes regarding the songwriting process and took requests from the crowd concerning the set list (which elicited him running backstage and looking up chords for a BB King song that “wasn’t in [his] repertoire”). Mayer also tossed in a couple of early 2000s clips of a baby-faced Mayer promoting his earlier work—creating a wholesome juxtaposition of a boy just beginning and an experienced veteran musician who has finally stumbled upon satisfaction.
It would be an understatement to say that Mayer is talented. The guitarist balanced both rhythm and lead sections, displaying musicianship in its most complete form. Don’t get us started on the build-up to “Neon.” Seriously, one of the most impressive things either of us has ever witnessed. Throughout the course of the show, neither of us could hold ourselves back from simply shouting “HOW DOES HE DO THAT?” or “HE’S SO TALENTED?!” It’s no secret that Mayer is at his best with a guitar in hand, but seeing his greatness in person would make even the most die-hard of Swifties add a couple of Born and Raised songs to their playlist.
John Mayer has a certain way with words. His songs act as mirrors, forcing listeners to reflect and reconsider their own life experiences. Each raspy lyric acts as guidance to all strands of emotional distress, most revolve around fear—of growing old, lonely, or unaccomplished. Our personal favorite song he played was “In Your Atmosphere.” There’s a certain sense of comradery that accompanies the line “I’m gonna steer clear/Burn up in your atmosphere.” Even more, we will never forget being a senior in high school and hearing “Stop This Train” live. The lines “I’m so scared of getting older/I’m only good at being young/So I play the numbers game/To find a way to say my life has just begun” especially resonated with us.
Sitting in our nosebleed seats, we witnessed Mayer at his most accomplished: guitar in hand, singing his favorite songs to an audience that knew every word. Taking the opportunity to see Mayer is one you will not regret, even if you have to go SOLO.