TikTok took Eleni Sabracos to a place she never thought she’d go — to a FaceTime meeting with her idol, the English singer-songwriter Adele, where plans were made for a future onstage visit.
Sabracos, 24, has been a huge fan of Adele’s for the past 10 years, since she was a student at Bryn Mawr School and sang along to the pop star’s tunes over the car radio.
“My brother and I blasted her songs all the way to school and all the way home,” Sabracos said. “Adele makes music that anybody, no matter your singing ability, wants to sing it in the shower, in a bar or in your car.”
But after four near-misses to see Adele in concert, including last weekend when the singer postponed a long-planned series of concerts at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas that Sabracos had tickets to attend, the Timonium native has still never seen her idol perform live.
“Adele has canceled every show I’ve tried to go to,” was the caption for a series of TikTok videos, where Sabracos channeled her comic despair. By Monday night, more than 10.3 million people had viewed the video.
In the four days since posting the viral video, Sabracos has appeared on NBC’s “The Today Show” and on CBS’ “Inside Edition.” She has been interviewed by radio stations in Australia, Ireland and Great Britain.
“This shows the crazy power of social media,” Sabracos said. “Five years ago, I posted the exact same story online and nothing came of it. I posted it this time on TikTok and it’s completely blown up.”
The first time Sabracos didn’t attend an Adele concert, she was a high school student and, she said, had no one to blame but herself.
Her cousin invited her to check out a promising but relatively unknown singer appearing at Baltimore Soundstage. It was a school night, so at the last minute, Sabracos decided to stay home.
“It was Adele,” Sabracos said, her voice reverent. “At the time, she was nobody.”
The video describes Sabracos’ three subsequent and increasingly desperate attempts to see Adele perform live, beginning in 2016 when, as an Ithaca College student, she bought tickets for an Adele concert at Madison Square Garden. (“They were fake tickets.” she says on the video. “But nobody felt bad for me because I bought them on Craigslist.”)
In 2017 Sabracos flew to London, only to find that the concert had been canceled after Adele developed nodules on her vocal cords. (”Mind you, I risked my life flying to London on this cardboard airplane that is now discontinued,” the video says. “It was surprising the airplane could fly.”)
And then, over Christmas, Sabracos’ younger brother, Luke, bought her tickets to the opening night of what was to be Adele’s three-month Las Vegas residency.
The siblings were already in Nevada when Sabracos learned that the residency concerts had been canceled as well. A tearful Adele told fans in an Instagram video that the show wasn’t ready, in part because half of her crew members had fallen ill with COVID-19.
“We ran out of time,” the singer said. “I’m so upset and I’m really embarrassed and I’m so sorry to everyone who has traveled.”
Though Sabracos never expected her video to have this kind of impact, she has spent a decade becoming comfortable with appearing on a screen.
As students at Bryn Mawr high school, she said, she and her cousin launched the school’s first YouTube channel when they decided to film their original podcast, “Mawrtian Transmissions.”
Now, she’s based in New York and works as a freelance television producer. Her credits include “The Real Housewives of New York City” and “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.”
So she knows what works on camera: how to string together a series of individual shots that tell a larger story, how to alter her voice for comic effect and how appealing a complete lack of self-consciousness can be.
Shortly after the Las Vegas concerts were canceled, a disconsolate Sabracos stopped by Adele’s pop-up store, where gift bags were being distributed to concert ticket-holders as a consolation prize. As Sabracos waited in line to collect her gift, something strange happened: the other people in the store recognized her from the video.
“Everyone wanted to take photos of ‘The TikTok T-shirt girl,’ " she said. (Sabracos talked on the video about making T-shirts as gifts for the singer and her 9-year-old son, Angelo.)
Someone from Adele’s public relations team noticed the commotion and stopped by. Before Sabracos knew what was happening, the staffer had whipped out her cellphone and Sabracos was chatting on-screen with an apologetic Adele.
“Adele said that when the show is rescheduled, she’ll fly me out to Las Vegas and bring me onstage,” Sabracos said. “She said, ‘We’ll have a photo together.’”
A follow-up video that Sabracos made of the encounter ends with her screaming in front of the fountains at Caesar’s Palace: “I just FaceTimed Adele!”
Sabracos said that Adele will probably never realize how much that FaceTime meeting meant to her.
“Adele canceling her show ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me,” she said.