As summer arrives once again and festival season approaches, many musicians kick off their summer tours. During a visit to Asheville, North Carolina to witness Flying Lotus firsthand, it dawned on me how prevalent attending live shows has been in my upbringing. My elders introduced me to a wide variety of music from infancy, so my childhood was full of music. As a music lover – self-proclaimed melomaniac – I’m completely content with spending endless amounts of time indulging in audible sweetness. The excitement and energy of a concert is intoxicating, and I’m always left craving more! It seems that some people today surprisingly enjoy listening to music, but have never attended a live performance, live show, or concert. Why aren’t more people motivated to be a part of this concertgoer culture? Are you not aware of its perks?
Discovering New Music
It’s no secret that people love discovering new music and sharing their discoveries with others – there’s something particularly satisfying about being able to recommend a new artist before anyone else has heard of them yet. Personally, I prefer listening to a new artist intimately in my own environment before I see them live. Once I get to the show, I can sing along and feel more comfortable giving the lyrics praise.
Most concertgoers do discover new music live especially with the opening acts. As we all know, the internet is constantly saturated with new music every day. who could possibly listen to everything? Going to a show where there is an average of 2-3 opening acts you are bound to come across a new artist. All your favorite artists were opening acts at one time and that’s what you can expect at a live show. There is a good chance you will see the next “J.Cole or Kendrick Lamar” waiting to be discovered so don’t you want to be one of the first fans to be part of that experience?
Meet and Greet
There’s absolutely nothing more surreal than being in the presence of someone whose work you truly admire. When I met Ab-Soul, I was mind-boggled for the simple fact; I had been listening to him for the past few years and here he was, in the flesh, standing directly next to me. Depending on the star power of the artist, a concert is the best place to meet your favorite musician. The media is known for fabricating things and creating “celebrities” for us to idolize making them seem less than human, when in reality they are just like us. Interacting personally with the individual behind the music can provide you with some insight as to who they truly are. As for Soul Brother #2, off stage he is an approachable down to earth person, and while on stage, his easy going fun loving personality is even more apparent. Jay Rock even let a homie of mine, who also emcees, spit him a few bars which resulted in Jay giving him a few words of encouragement. it was refreshing to see.
It’s so easy to talk about how attending a show would benefit one’s self, but they really do have a great effect on every level. From booking agents, tour bus drivers, security, sound technicians, hotels, all the way to janitorial staff and bartenders, there are no small parts. These are some people’s main source of income, meaning a lot of money goes into trying to bring the music to your town. Ever wonder why the local art scene in your small town or even massive city is fading, or struggling? Occasionally there are big turnouts to shows, but it isn’t enough to keep the venues afloat. Musical acts simply can’t do that for long, so realize that just like any other business the venue needs money to survive or it will die. Shows and merchandise are where the coins are. Do what you can to support your local scene. I’m not saying go out to a show even if you don’t like the group. If you don’t like the group then simply don’t go, but why not see if there’s something coming to your town that you might enjoy.
Consumers are not the only ones to blame, it’s important that the communities we live in have an understanding of its market. I spoke with Chris Ozment, Director of marketing & promotions, at the Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina and when he stated “Hip-Hop shows are the hardest to promote and get people to come to”, I was a bit disturbed. Just because a certain genre of music is blowin’ up online at the moment doesn’t mean that’s going to translate into putting butts in seats. There should be an understanding of what your community wants, then attempt to provide it for them.
How can you expect folks to leave their house just to see another run-of-the-mill musician? If something is artistically strong enough it will move people off of their couches and they’ll pay unlimited amounts for it. I’ve witnessed this first hand in my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina with the making of AMCS Bodega. It’s everything that encompasses our culture. For those who feel they have to go outside of the city to make it; the group’s ultimate vision is to raise awareness for the arts in this town. “Do for Charlotte what South by Southwest did for Austin: put it on the map as its own growing, independent culture” states Emiene Wright, journalist at Creative Loafing. It’s crucial for economic benefits that people support the arts and not via YouTube.
If you don’t live in a city that musicians are kicking down the door to perform in, then rounding up a few friends for a road trip isn’t such a bad idea. It’s exactly what I had to do for the Flying Lotus show. What if I hadn’t found people to accompany me? Then solo dolo is how I would’ve arrived (partially because I had already purchased the ticket; no refunds). A lot of people would consider going to a show on one’s own such a loner thing to do. Truthfully, a concert is one of the few things you can go to by yourself and no one would care. I felt uneasy walking into the venue to witness The Foreign Exchange without a guest, but once the music begun, I got over it. Half way through the show I spotted some familiar faces and we tore the dance floor up. Let’s say you don’t see anyone you recognize, concerts are still a good place to network and meet new people. You’re under one roof with all these unfamiliar faces because of a mutual music interest, which to me, sounds like the start of a beautiful friendship. You can meet some very interesting people and develop friendships that may last a lifetime. I didn’t think that this was possible until it happened to me. Music unites and provides a sense of belonging and social integration, so these strangers should feel more like family.
Live is not the conventional way of experiencing music, but it is unmatched to virtual. Let’s be honest, you listen to music intimately, through your ear buds, on laptops, iPods etc, but actually being in the presence of all that raw energy– can’t compare to anything. Messy, loud, sweaty and rough are just a few words to describe my run-ins with concerts. The ingenious and uncensored are best witnessed in first-person. You never know what surprises are in store at these types of events. Kendrick Lamar brought out J. Cole during his BET Music Matters tour in Charlotte, North Carolina and though they didn’t perform 9th Wonder, Rapper Big Pooh and Rapsody were all in the building. If they love the crowds energy and are feeling generous, maybe a couple of unreleased tracks will be premiered. It’s not unusual these artists have multiple hustles, so with the thought of expanding their brand, you can almost certainly find exclusive tour-only merchandise being sold (t-shirts, hats, hoodies, posters, etc…) Who knows, you might just walk out with some free stuff in hand.
Here’s to those people at the barricade in the very front row with expressionless faces and motionless bodies: Where is your concert etiquette? You should be turnin’ up. Emails can wait, don’t spend the entire show recording the gig on your smartphones, those due dates approaching will still be there, be in the moment and enjoy yourself. On a physical note, dancing is therapeutic for the mind-body-soul. When you are absorbed in the show, it’s escapism. One thing I definitely had to get used to were the bruises from being an unfortunate bystander of a mosh pit. Don’t swim against the current, just go with the flow.
The Memories Created
Everyone could use a little break now and then to get away from their lives. The trip doesn’t have to revolve around traveling to a different city (maybe even state) to see your favorite artist. Go out and explore the area; I chose to lounge on the beach for a whole evening before seeing Gym Class Heroes perform alongside Estelle and The Roots. Whether it’s you getting caught for sneaking items into the show, a woman almost stealing your camera or your face meeting the backhand side of the girl who just fainted; it is truly about the memories created on your journey.
During various conversations with people about the value in attending a live show, there were very few objections. Live shows offer an intimate atmosphere that occupies all the senses. You won’t get that from listening to the radio or watching television. The hoarse throat, muscle soreness and that peculiar ringing in your ears after the show should be worn as a badge of honor. Material things don’t last forever, so why not spend money on an experience that will give you pleasure indefinitely. You can’t put a value on good memories, because it’s not everyday that you meet one of your idols. Helping others in return helps you, it’s eye-opening to realize that doing even small things can have a big impact on others. I’d even go as far as recommending you assist someone in losing their concert virginity, they’ll never forget it. If they can accept that there may be a lack of personal space, they will survive and leave with more positive musical memories than negative experiences. Some of those bad experiences turn into some of the best stories long after the music has stopped.
These are my reasons for attending live concerts. Now, I’d love to hear from you! What are some of your best memories at a concert? Who are some artists that you have discovered and what was that like? Do you agree or disagree with me that music is better experienced live than in the comfort of your own home? How important is supporting your local music scene to you? And Why do you think some people might not go out to more live shows? I hope you catch some shows this summer and if you live in Canada make sure to visit the events category as we post tons of events in Ontario.