The Art of Seeing Live Music (A Guide for the Young)

We can’t let the art of going to see music live become a lost art. You may wonder how the act of going to a show is an art, but in reality we are participating in the music and the performance whenever we see music live, whenever we live with it. Sure, okay you spend money on the ticket and overpriced alcohol. You may think all that money could be better spent on beer at convenience store prices. You could listen to your band of choice or even a menagerie of bands caged on your computer for free. If you choose to do this, the experience is fun, cheaper and probably rowdier. But you have missed an experience, not gained one.

Consider the night of a show. You start in the kitchen surrounded by roommates and friends who don’t live with you, but who you think of as roommates anyway. You drink before the show in an attempt to combat spending money on overpriced beer at the venue but as usual underestimate your alcoholic desire. You and your whole cavalry are a bit early, by which I mean you have missed the first two opening acts, but you are early enough to watch the greying guitarist tune his guitar and stomp on effects pedals on the ghastly over lit stage. You see the drummer, who has a confidence that mixes with frailty before the show—at once disconcerting and revealing of his similar human condition.

The stage looks taller when the lights go down. It looms unlike the stage that looked so tiny when I saw NSYNC in fifth grade and swore I would never talk about again. The crowd is buzzed but not from alcohol, more from the shared experience of leaving your headspace for a brief time. The crowd hums too, not loud enough to hear. Maybe, at some point, you close your eyes and slip back. There is timelessness to the way the music unfolds.

When you open your eyes again, you see a couple making out in front of you and your troops. I mean they are really sloppy and going at it and so you can’t help but laugh and joke and ridicule them with your friends. Later, after the show, you copy the couple in an act of self-destruction with your girl/boyfriend’s roommate. You can’t say you regret it.

–It’s a Beautiful Day, No You’re Not Crazy for Enjoying Music Like Religion

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