Since I came to Boston, I’ve been fortunate enough to get my hands on a bunch of different concert tickets. As I’ve said previously, Portland is not necessarily a hot spot for shows, so this has come as a wonderful surprise to me moving here. In the past four months, I have gone to a handful of shows and I’d like to share my thoughts on them a bit. Furthermore, as I go to more shows over the course of 2020, I will make it a goal to write at least a little bit about each one I see. This is as much a way to share the experience as it is a way for myself to record what I’ve seen for my own benefit.
As I have said before, music is a fundamental piece of who I am, and going to concerts is a big part of my life. What started as my ten-year-old self attending a Mudvayne concert in Portland has evolved into a full-blown obsession with live performances from electronic house to the jam-band likes of Phish, and everywhere in between. Look up Mudvayne – my friends and I were going through a HEAVY metal phase from 6th – 8th grade, which probably coincides with the incredible teenage angst that afflicts all of us at that age. But anyways…
For $30 (usually more but whatever) you can enjoy a night you will (probably) never forget, if only a small piece. Concerts are an ethereal experience, one which I find akin to a religious one. The lights, sounds, movements of the band and crowd, smells from the smoke and the bar, the dancing, the head bobbing, the venue – all of this swells up into a gargantuan mind-warp which puts me in a state of incredible ease for some reason.
I think what is so great about live music is it makes you live in the moment. Something all of us fail to do much of the time in our day and age. It makes you really focus on the moment, what you are seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling and sensing in general around you. When you’re in a venue listening to a show, whether because you paid $50+ to see the band or you’re their biggest fan, you are there at least for an hour. In these moments, it’s best to try and listen, to experience what is in front of you. Otherwise, it’s a complete waste of your money and time, in my opinion. That’s not to say every show is for you. And believe me, I have walked out of a few earlier than I’d like to admit. Regardless, it is a privilege to be in attendance when a true artist is putting their craft out on display for the world to see. I consider it a fortunate occurrence.
I won’t try and get prophetic here, as I know many of you know what I mean, but my point is this: concerts are something to be cherished and enjoyed. The raw talent we get to be exposed to on stage, the individuals willing to put themselves out there, with all their vulnerabilities, and produce music despite what people might think – is truly incredible. Good or bad, talented or awful musically, everyone who get up on that stage is a treasure. This is because they do what the vast majority of us won’t ever do: publicly and unselfishly do what they love and share this love with others. It is this love that brings everyone at the show a little closer together, regardless of where you come from. We should remember that without these kinds of people, the world would be a very quiet, dark place indeed.
It makes me realize the potential humans have to bring people together. This is what I call a “shared experience”. A concert is a very personal experience as much as it is a group one. You are a part of a crowd, but you are also experiencing the music for yourself, alone. No one can hear the music for you. They can certainly share their ideas, and the sharing of ideas after the show is sometimes the best part – but you are still the one viewing it from your eyes, generating your own opinions and narratives. The best part though, is that everyone can walk away from a show feeling something incredibly similar or incredibly different. What is amazing to some could be horrible to another. Or something you find exciting could be boring to someone else. But in those times where you are sitting in a show, loving every minute and vibing out with your pal(s) or just yourself- that’s really what it’s all about. Sharing in the moment and living in that moment. I think that’s something we can all learn from the shows we see, if anything. To be present in what you are doing so you can get the full experience. Besides, you probably paid to be there. So why not, right?
The experience of live music continues to give me hope for the future, and I could write on this forever. More for another time, though. As long as we have live music, we will have shared experiences. And shared experiences mean the chance to experience something together, but individually. The whole point is living in the moment and enjoying life for what it really is. And in my opinion, life sounds much better with a soundtrack behind it.