The Empire State Building is lit in red and white
Photo: Reuters

New York is where everything happens! All the best places to visit, restaurants to try, and concerts to attend. Unfortunately, I live 5 hours away from New York in Washington, D.C. But when I heard that my favorite group, Swedish House Mafia, would be performing their last tour worldwide, and that their closest stop to me would be in New York, I decided I had to go (don?t know Swedish House Mafia? Check out this link).

Of course there was a catch; the concert was happening on a weekday, in between classes and internships. Wow.

I bought the tickets months before the concert in March and immediately started formulating a game plan to make sure that everything would run smoothly and on time. I would leave right after my morning class and, if everything went according to plan, get to New York just in time to make it to the concert. And if I left as soon as the concert ended, I could get back to D.C. before 8:00 am the next day.

I booked the bus tickets early on to get a cheaper price and gave notice to my supervisor at my internship that I needed to take time off.

By the time the day came I was super-excited. The night before I checked the weather and, finding out we were in for a pretty cold day, packed all the things necessary to keep me warm: coats, scarves, gloves, hats, earmuffs, you name it. After my morning class, my friend and I hurried off to Union Station to catch our bus. It was even really cold in the morning, yikes.

My game plan was to sleep all the way during the trip to New York so I would be wide-awake for the concert. It started at 8:00 pm so I was guessing it should go on until around midnight.

We were on a pretty tight schedule. We took the bus at 2:00 pm and arrived at around 7:00 pm. Our plan was to take the subway and explore New York?s underground, but it was too late, too cold, and we were too hungry. So we grabbed a taxi instead.

Even that took around 30 minutes because of the heavy traffic, so when we arrived at the Barclays Center we were almost more excited to go eat than to go inside and find our seats. We ate at the very famous halal gyro carts that were conveniently right across from the concert hall and enjoyed every bite of it.


When we finally went into the venue, about 15 minutes before the concert was set to start, it was what we had imagined it would be: super enormous. Lots of people and a huge lobby where they were selling merchandise.

The biggest surprise for me was the seats. We had bought the last budget-friendly ticket available, because we missed the first sale by a couple of hours and couldn?t be picky. Well, our section was almost level with the ceiling. We were so high up that the first thing I saw when looking out were the flags that were hanging down from the ceiling.


Each row itself was so narrow I was even able to feel the people in front and behind me moving around. Wow. It was really an experience being in close proximity with what felt like half the population of New York under one roof.

The concert was beyond epic. Just as the opening act ended everyone was jumping in their seats screaming ?Swedish House Mafia!? I could feel my adrenaline pumping and a rush of thrill going through my bones. And nothing had even happened yet at that point.


When the lights were turned off and we heard the beats amplifying through the speakers, we knew that SHM had officially entered the building. The lighting and the visual effects were amazing. Colors changed from red to blue in a blink of an eye. I?m pretty sure I witnessed all the colors known to mankind that night. I just stared at the stage with my mouth wide open. I was so excited to be seeing them on their last tour for their last night at New York.

You know it was a good concert if you can?t hear anything but the audience just having a good time, and that?s what happened. The euphoria was indescribable.

But sacrifices had to be made. Our bus was leaving at 1:00 am on the other side of town, and because our seats were so far up we knew it would be hard to make a quick escape if we waited until the end of the concert. So we left our seats at around 11:00 pm and just waited around in the lobby trying to listen to the rest of the concert.

I was so mad - they had my favorite song as the closing number and they even had balloons and confetti fall from the sky. But we had made the right decision. As I expected, the concert ended at around midnight and a swarm of people immediately began fighting to get down the narrow and high stairs. I was glad to already be out and in a taxi on my way to the bus stop.

We made it there earlier than we expected; we were even the first to arrive. So before our five-hour trip back, we walked around 34th Street and found a McDonald?s that was open. The temperature was almost freezing, so we wanted to kill two birds with one stone by keeping our bodies warm and our stomachs full for the journey.

After we arrived back at Union Station D.C., reality hit us hard. We arrived at 6:00 am, so luckily the metro was already up and running. We hurried to the metro, which we had to ride for thirteen stops to where the car was parked. But we were so beat from the night before that we ended up falling asleep and waking up at the end of the metro line!

We were so exhausted and happy to get that couple hours of sleep we just laughed it off. When we finally got to the right stop we dashed to catch our morning class. And, after everything we had been through, we made it ? 8:00 am.

I didn?t even fall asleep in class, which sometimes happens without needing a trip to New York, if you know what I mean. After classes finally ended we had a hearty lunch and passed out for the rest of the day.

All in all, the experience was valuable and the memories will last forever, and I would do everything over in a heartbeat. But I wouldn?t do it just for any old concert. Don?t get me wrong, it was fun, but I missed my sleep and my heater ?