I’ve dropped a lot of money on concerts. If I’m being honest with myself, I’m sure it’s approached hundreds of dollars over the past few years. Some people can relate to this; others, not so much. Why put everything into a few hours of excitement?
I know it’s just not sustainable to whip out my wallet every time a band comes to town. But I still make a point to be in the audience when an artist I really love hits the stage. The way I see it, paying for a concert is like paying for a reset button. The live music thrums through your whole body, giving you no choice but to focus on what’s in front of you. It’s a pure form of presence, a wonderful numbness.
The obvious appeal of a concert is seeing your hero up there on stage – the artist who has crooned you through a heart-wrenching breakup or belted out their anthems with you in the car on glimmering summer nights. They’re right there. The artist who’s unknowingly propelled you through all-nighters and gone with you on runs and played the soundtrack to your life, now here in living, breathing reality. It’s goose bump worthy.
However, the best thing about witnessing live music is knowing I’m not the only one feeling enchanted. About a year ago, I began making a point to turn around during shows and take a long, sweeping look into the crowd. Each time I do this, I already know what I’ll see, and it’s glorious. A sea of faces, bathed with the lights of phones and spotlights, all facing ahead and experiencing something together. I love it.
Glancing around at a concert, you’ll catch people having the most personal moments in the most public of places. They’ve lost themselves in the present, an art that has become more and more obscure no thanks to the phones in our pockets. Half-smiling and serene, or dancing vivaciously depending on the music, the audience at a concert never disappoints. They’re serenading their friends and swaying off time and smiling unabashedly at everything and anything. Best of all, the same song that’s playing out into the crowd can mean something completely different to each person listening. It’s remarkable.
If you’re on the fence about it, treat yourself to a concert. I can’t think of anything more valuable than to give yourself the gift of a happy memory, of rejuvenation, of losing your voice but finding a rush.
At her 1989 tour this spring, I was lucky enough to hear Taylor Swift’s signature between-song monologues. She said something to the sparkling arena that really stuck with me, and she’s written it in her album foreword, too. In a handful of words, Taylor summed up the real reason we are drawn to attend live shows despite the price.
“These songs were once about my life. Now they are about yours.”
The crowd roared back in approval.