Sometime this year I started a Gmail label called “tickets” so I could better track the shows I go to. I’ve gone to a lot. There are eighteen emails with this label and I imagine I’ve gone to at least a handful more of impromptu shows. So this comes to somewhere around two dozen shows I’ve gone to, many with openers and co-headliners. Even without having gone to a festival, this year I’ll probably have seen upwards of fifty different bands, artists, and performers.
So where’s this leave me? Probably with a bit of hearing damage but also with several unforgettable (and some very forgettable) experiences. I’ve been willing to see just about any kind of show this year ranging from hardcore shows to dancey DJ sets to Brooklyn-based folk music in a room of about ten people. I’ve seen the greatest concert of my life and walked out of a show after three minutes.
These performances have been across the board. I saw The Ghost Inside, Thrice and Refused and found myself in the pit each time. These shows aren’t about the musical experience so much as they are about being fully present and letting the music, the crowd, and the venue take their toll on your body.
One of the more memorable shows this year was when I saw Snow Patrol at the 9:30 club. I went into the show almost entirely unaware of their catalog. I went because it was live music (and I had a crush). I didn’t expect much since all I knew of them was their song “Open Your Eyes.” Going with no expectations allowed me to focus entirely on the concert experience. I didn’t have any songs I wanted to hear, I didn’t know how well they performed in another venue, I just knew I got the treat of seeing live music. They commanded the stage at the 9:30 club with their energy and musicianship in ways I haven’t seen from other bands.
These shows have taken me all over Washington DC and connected me with people who I probably wouldn’t have connected with otherwise. I’ve seen beautiful concert venues and I’ve stood in a room of five people while a guy and girl sing about being in love with each other. In the coming weeks I’ll be seeing a band from my middle school years, a hip-hop producer, and a South African dreamy electronic synth-pop band. I have no need to take every concert seriously, shows should be fun. At the same time, I find something magical in watching people pour out their heart and souls through music. I hope you get to experience that magic soon.