How to Ambush a John Mayer Super Fan

They're out there.

John Mayer Bud Light Dive Bar Tour 2017

John Mayer Bud Light Dive Bar Tour 2017

John Mayer Bud Light Dive Bar Tour 2017

“John Mayer’s music reminds me of my friends back home in the Philippines,” Mariel said. “It’s what still brings us together.”

Last Wednesday night, I found myself at Taix, a classic restaurant in Echo Park, steps away from the Echoplex, where I had just surprised my cousin’s new girlfriend Mariel with tickets to John Mayer’s secret Bud Light Dive Bar Tour show.

How did we get here and why, out of all people, did I take her for this assignment? She was the one true Mayer stan in my life.

I remembered one of my cousins telling me his new girlfriend was a huge John Mayer fan. Since my cousin is like my big brother, getting to know her was top priority. I asked him if she’d be into the surprise, he said duh, and there Mariel and I were in an Uber--under the false pretense that we were getting tacos at this place called the Echoplex. She’d never been.

We pulled up to the intimate venue just as Mayer was playing the opening chords to “Gravity,” alongside the incredible Alessia Cara. Mariel stood there watching the duo just feet away from us, with her hands on her cheeks. “I can’t feel anything,” she said dreamily.

I could—but as I took in the crowd, captivated by the music without any distraction, I started to see where she was coming from. See, attendees were required to drop their phones in a Yondr pouch, which was a device that locked your cell inside a venue so you could full immerse yourself in the show right before your eyes--not through a camera.

John Mayer Bud Light Dive Bar Tour 2017

But damn if I could’ve Instagram-storied it. Witnessing Mayer IRL absolutely rip a guitar solo, to a ballad nonetheless, could convert any non-believer. Even if you don’t like his music, you can’t deny that Mayer is one of the most talented guitarists ever. This is fact.

As the show wound down, we got news that Mayer would perform an encore. Upon trading in his electric guitar for an acoustic, he asked the crowd for some deep cuts to play. “St. Patrick’s Day!” someone yelled.

“Yes!” Mariel said.

“You like this song?”

“It’s my favorite!” she replied. “It’s everything.”

She explained that at home, in the Phillippines, she often talked with her friends about Mayer's music, and his lyrics especially. She moved to the U.S. three years ago, in her mid-twenties, leaving behind her entire life for the storied American dream. “It’s a song about being in a relationship but only for the sake of it," she said, of "St. Patrick's Day." "After the sentimentality and expectation of the holidays, you wake up in March and you realized you made a relationship go on for so long just to have it.”

John Mayer Bud Light Dive Bar Tour 2017

It's true. Even if we speak differently, in language or in lifestyle, that message is universal. 

"For me, ‘Slow Dancing in a Burning Room’ defined my last relationship,” I confessed, wrapped up in the sentimentality of the moment. 

She asked me why I wasn’t a fan if I can name his songs and tell her about how they make me feel. Honestly, right then and there, I felt embarrassed about being embarrassed. I couldn’t answer in a way that wasn’t superficial. 

“You know, his style has changed so much. Now he’s playing his own sound. He’s not trying to please anyone anymore,” Mariel said. She didn’t mean it to—she was just talking about how The Search for Everything is her second favorite album—but it struck.

I realized there’s a reason why he’s a Grammy-winning recording artist who sells out stadiums around the world. Who’s sold over 16 million copies of his dozen-plus albums. His unapologetically sincere music not only connects with people, but it also connects them to each other, whether you’re inches apart at a bar or across the Pacific Ocean.

John Mayer Bud Light Dive Bar Tour 2017


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