“He Doesn’t Even Know My Name” – A first-hand account of the Shawn Mendes Illuminate World Tour

Aubrey Pierce

After waiting 341 days, the day had finally come: August 19, 2017. I was going to meet Shawn Mendes. As his 738th follower on Instagram (out of 25.5 million), I had waited for this moment since the day he became famous via Magcon.

In September of 2016, tickets for the North American leg of his Illuminate tour came out, and Washington D.C.’s Verizon Center was on the list of venues. My mom had one stipulation about going: “I will not go to this concert unless I get to shake the kid’s hand,” she said.

Did she actually think I had a problem with that? Thirty minutes after their release, I had tickets: Section 4, Row J, Seat numbers 9 & 10.

Then five months later, in February, I got meet and greet tickets three minutes after they were released, and I cried so much.

We left August 18, the day after my 16th birthday. We were staying with my grandparents at their house in Arlington, Virginia. I got three hours of sleep that night, and woke up at 6 A.M.. We had to be ready by 10:30 to go out to eat with family, and then get to the venue on time for my meet and greet. I spent three hours getting ready.

I did my makeup twice, changed my outfit at least seven times, and ate lots of donuts. At 11 A.M., we left to go to Rockland’s BBQ. By 12:30, I was extremely restless and convinced everyone we had to leave. When we arrived in Chinatown, my mom and I got out of the car and walked to the Verizon Center. We waited in a line in order to get our VIP passes.

There, many people were in line alongside Shawn’s tour buses. I made some friends in line and spent almost the entire four hours outside talking to them.

At 4:30, Shawn’s manager, Andrew Gertler, and his bodyguard, Jake, came out to let us know they were ready for us to go through security. When we walked in, they checked our bags, gave us our VIP laminates, and sent us to yet another line.

As we entered the venue, Shawn was soundchecking in the arena. He was right there. He was singing his hit song “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back.” Usually, my mom gets upset when I dance and freak out over a Shawn Mendes song, but this time, everyone was freaking out, even her. After waiting in this line, they moved us up closer to the curtain where the meet and greet would happen. It was time.

They began splitting us up into groups of 10. I was in the fourth group out of fifty. Our group consisted a family of four, me, my mom, and the two friends I met in line, Hannah and Erin. When they walked us up to the curtain, Andrew took my bag and set it on the table. He said we were allowed to take our phones in to take pictures of the museum, but not once we got passed the last curtain.

When we entered the first curtain, me, Hannah, and Erin were beginning to get nervous. We were about to meet Shawn Mendes. We took pictures of the museum, which included props from the “Mercy” music video, his lucky flannel, his favorite stuffed animal, his awards and guitars, and much more.

I remember stepping up to the last curtain and saying how cute the picture of Shawn was next to his bodyguard, Jake, and then Shawn was just there. Jake opened the curtain and I could not move. I stood there in awe for about five seconds until Jake had to literally push me towards him.

I do not remember how I got to him, if I ran, walked, I have no idea, but I gave him the biggest hug I have ever given anyone. I was so happy. He did not even look real, no joke. I said, “I love you so much,” and he asked if I was ready to take the picture. In all honesty, I do not remember getting into the position that we took the picture in. It all happened so fast. But, when my picture was taken, my mom told Jake that she was with me and she came to take a picture as well. He told us to enjoy the show and we started to walk away.

As I reached the curtain to walk out, I turned around, ran back, and hugged him again- I am honestly surprised Jake did not arrest me- and said, “Oh my gosh, I love you so much.” He said, and I quote, “Aw, I love you too. Thank you so much, sweetie.” I walked out of the curtain and started crying. I was literally bawling my eyes out. It had really happened, I laid eyes on, touched, and spoke to Shawn Mendes.

After we left that area, Andrew gave us our signed posters and bags and we walked down the venue to wait in another line.

It was about 5 P.M. by now and we were waiting for our Q&A session with Shawn. By 6 P.M., we were downstairs singing and talking to Shawn Mendes. I did not get to ask him a question, but just seeing him three feet in front of me was so surreal. After the Q&A, we got first access to the merch table. I got a Shawn Mendes blanket, Shawn Mendes shorts, and an Illuminate World Tour shirt.

I changed into my concert shirt, and my mom, Hannah, Erin, and I waited outside the arena talking about our experiences with Shawn. At 7 P.M., we were allowed into the arena to get to our seats. Charlie Puth was set to open the stage for him at 7:30. We got to our seats and it was time.

While I was happy to see Charlie Puth, I did not pay attention much due to the fact that my dream was about to come true: I was seeing Shawn Mendes sing live.

At 7:30, Puth took the stage and sang all of his hit songs. By 8 P.M., his set was over and 8:30 rolled around with an amazing opening scene for Shawn. He sang every song I love, including “Stitches,” “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back,” “Mercy,” “Ruin,” and “Bad Reputation.” It was so unreal. He saw my sign that said it was my 16th birthday, and he smiled!

After the concert, I suffered from major PCD (Post Concert Depression) and to this day, I miss him with all my heart. Soon, I will get the opportunity to see him again, but until then, my next countdown is to the release of his third album, which is predicted to come out in January of 2018.