Concerts: What Defines an Experience?

I recently went to a Passion Pit concert with my boyfriend. We enjoyed the band sufficiently enough to want to see them live. For me it wasn’t so much to see Passion Pit, Matt & Kim, or Icona Pop, I just wanted to share a special moment with my special someone. The night started off pleasantly, we managed to get in the middle center section of the crowd. However after the first opening act, the crowd thickened. More people shoved their way to the front to get a better view of the main band playing. While I understand the sentiment to see a band you love perform live, I don’t think that it justifies ruthless shoving and overall douchery to your fellow concert goers (hey, we all paid the same price to see the band play, so cool it pal!) When the main act was preparing for their set, the crowd grew exponentially. There was a miasma of thick smoke from a combination of marijuana and cigarettes.

Although I ended up seeing Passion Pit only through the backdrop of the big screen while I was covered in sticky alcoholic beverages from intoxicated concert-goers, I still considered it to be a memory I’ll cherish. It really only takes one moment to make the stress and frustration away from any situation. For me that moment came when the band performed “Constant Conversation.”

Everybody now, oh oh oh oh oh
They come singing through the window, singing through the trees, yeah
They’re singing through the bright spring leaves
Everybody now, oh oh oh oh oh
Yeah they love you when they need you, but someday you’re gonna need to
Find some other kind of place to go, oh

In that moment, it seemed like all the frustration of being soaked in beer and being rudely shoved aside washed away. In that moment, it felt like the two of us were part of something bigger. It was a moment of unity. The words of the song resonated to me; I felt it in my bones. Maybe it was the loud speakers or the rest of the crowd swaying together while singing in unison, but I swear that in that moment, it was as though the song had a new life. It’s these moments that make concerts worth it despite the struggles it sometimes brings. It’s the feeling of community and congregation of people who like the same thing rallying together in that moment. At that moment, it didn’t matter if you were an over-privileged twenty-something San Franciscan that just wanted to do something fun, or the biggest Passion Pit fan that saved all his/her money just to see the band live, all that mattered was being one with the music. The hundreds of voices singing “oh, oh, oh, oh, oh” created an electric feeling that can’t ever be mimicked through YouTube or multiple listens to iTunes. For me, that moment of unity is what defines a concert experience. It’s the feeling that you’re not alone, and somehow the song has touched other people’s lives too. For that moment, it seems like your voice is part of something bigger and something greater.

And while taking copious “selfies” at the concert or pictures or videos of the band performing can make the memory last longer, one also risks missing actually being in the moment. A picture is a nice remnant of a memory, but if you’re just focusing on taking pictures to preserve for later you risk missing what’s in front of you. If you only focus on capturing the moment for later reminiscence, you miss out on what you came for in the first place. You miss out on the present when all you’re worried about is forgetting the memory in the future. What good is going to a concert if you don’t even stop to enjoy the performance, to feel the power of the music that moves people and brings them to a moment of repose from a chaotic world?

I can only speak personally, but music has been a form of therapy during trying times. At moments when it seems like the world is dark and grey, I turn up the volume in my music player and just soak in the lyrics to Bright Eyes, Kevin Devine, Geographer, or the like. Music has a way to hit the emotional spot at times when I’ve felt broken and vulnerable. It’s true that it can’t provide a warm embrace that a caring friend could offer, but when I’m at a lack of words to describe the storm inside, music seems to be the only antidote.

So, when people ask me how the concert was, I turn to the time when I felt one with the music, when the words of the lyrics resonated to my heart. I’ll remember the time when everyone stopped cramming and shoving their way to the front and just enjoyed the moment. It’s these times that make the ticket prices, inconvenience of travel, overpriced drinks, and obnoxious concert-goers worth it. Despite whatever struggles we encountered that night, for that precious moment in time I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

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