Why Concerts?


Concerts are weird. Why do people go to concerts? I know people who love going to concerts, particularly summer festivals like Bonnaroo or Coachella. They post photos on Facebook of themselves in bikinis or tie-dye shirts, lying on the grass or drinking a beer by a tent, and they talk about how awesome the experience was in their feed. This has always struck me as weird, not just that these people go to concerts, but how the event lives on digitally — and I’m always here wondering in a kind of banal Baudrillardian way: do they go to the concert for the concert itself, or so they can say they went? I don’t care either way, but both alternatives seem exhausting to me. It seems exhausting to go somewhere and stand and listen and spend so much money on tickets, parking, drinks, merchandise, etc. It seems exhausting to be in a relationship with the rest of the world, that this movement needs to documented and uploaded to a social network, so as to say “Hey look at me with my friends at this great concert!” I guess I just don’t have the wherewithal to do it. Wait, what am I doing right now? (I’m doing work. Is working my identity? Do I know no personal life or leisure time? What moves me to live in this way?) I went to a concert Sunday night at the Nikon Theatre in Jones Beach, to see the Deftones and System of a Down, and, by most accounts, I had fun. And it wasn’t just because of the alcohol. It was because everyone around me genuinely seemed so happy. People were crying at certain songs. People were dancing. People were moshing their heads off, completely losing it (in the best possible way). And at one point it started to pour and no one was ready for it so we all got drenched, but the audience didn’t care, because something probably more powerful than the weather brought them there. And I got it: people go to these things to feel uplifted and to share the amazing feeling with thousands of other people. Concerts unite, they concert. They’re a beautiful spectacle of conformity. That’s the appeal.

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