Harry Styles' One Night Only show brings fans to Long Island Thousands of fans traveled to see the pop star perform.

Harry Styles' 'One Night Only' show brings fans from across the world to Long Island

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SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

People from all over the globe flew, drove, camped out for hours to see Harry Styles.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HARRY STYLES: How are you feeling here tonight, New York?

(CHEERING)

PFEIFFER: He performed his new album, "Harry's House," for the very first time last night at UBS Arena in Elmont, N.Y. And he did this fewer than 16 hours after the album was released.

(SOUNDBITE OF HARRY STYLES' "AS IT WAS")

PFEIFFER: For 16-year-old Nicki Shamali (ph), attending the concert meant piling into a van and taking the nine-hour drive down to Long Island from Toronto, Canada, even without having tickets to the show.

NICKI SHAMALI: It's a long ride to come here, and it's a hassle. It's like, eight of us altogether. And to all have to be - go in a car, drive here, listen to the album at midnight, I mean, not - also knowing that we hadn't secured tickets...

PFEIFFER: But she said the prospect of being the very first people to hear the album performed live was worth the effort it took to get to Long Island, especially after COVID scrapped most live shows for the last two years.

SHAMALI: We've been Harry fans for like, a really long time, and we've always wanted to be able to see him in a show. But obviously, in Toronto, it was cancelled, and with COVID and everything, we couldn't go to America at all. So to be able to come here and just take that opportunity, to be able to see him, even if it's just, you know, one night or whatever it is, it's a big deal, and it means a lot.

(SOUNDBITE OF HARRY STYLES' "DAYDREAMING")

PFEIFFER: Maria Sherman is an NPR Music contributor and author of "Larger Than Life: A History Of Boy Bands From NKOTB To BTS." She says attending live performances is an essential part of being a fan.

MARIA SHERMAN, BYLINE: Proximity and access being like, the ultimate goal or objective or desire of a fan - and for Harry, the way that you get that feeling of proximity or access or closeness is by seeing him live.

PFEIFFER: For Harry Styles fans - they call themselves Harries - these kind of pilgrimages to milestone events have become a tradition. Sherman says people are drawn not just to his music but to his message.

SHERMAN: He's made it a point to gesture towards socially and politically progressive ideologies that, you know, are historically forbidden in the boy band space, usually for fear of isolating an audience. It's him running around onstage with a rainbow flag, a trans flag, a Black Lives Matter flag. He's made it more of a point to sort of reflect some of the bigger critical fights of our lives and, in doing so, really reflect fans' moral beliefs.

(SOUNDBITE OF HARRY STYLES' "DAYDREAMING")

PFEIFFER: At the concert, Styles began with a small speech in which he encouraged fans to, quote, "be whoever it is that you've always wanted to be." During his performance of the song "Sign Of The Times," he took both a Ukrainian flag and a pride flag from fans and wore them. Giselle Rocha (ph) is a 25-year-old who came from Miami, Florida for the concert.

GISELLE ROCHA: He's so unapologetically himself that he's kind of taught me to do the same and not be scared. I would love, honestly, to one day meet him and just say thank you just for everything that he did for me in the last like, 11 years of my life.

PFEIFFER: Maria Sherman, the boy band expert, says a lot of the hype around this event seems to come from the ability Styles has to create a community for his fans.

SHERMAN: Because it is such - sort of like a big deal, one-night-only kind of event, you know that the people who are also making pilgrimages are as like, serious and dedicated in their fandom.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MATILDA")

STYLES: (Singing) You can throw a party for everyone you know, not invite your family 'cause they never showed you love.

PFEIFFER: That was Maria Sherman, author of "Larger Than Life: A History Of Boy Bands From NKOTB To BTS." You can stream the Harry Styles concert "Harry Styles: One Night Only In New York" on Apple Music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GRAPEJUICE")

STYLES: (Singing) There's just no getting through without you. A bottle of rouge, just me and you.

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