Twenty dollars (plus approximately six dollars for “fees”… questionable, but not worth your attention).
Three hours (plus approximately thirty minutes for transit to and from the destination).
Eleven-hundred strangers (plus approximately one friend for companionship, eight recognizable yet nameless classmates, and a grad student that TA-ed the dullest English classes you’ve ever taken).
The result? A heart-filling, life-giving, perspective-changing experience.
If I have a soft spot for recorded music, then I have a gooey spot for live music. We’re talking about summer fling turned lifelong marriage. Falling head-over-heels in love might sound intimidating (commitment levels these days seem to be at an all-time low), but rest assured, this is a bond you secretly crave and won’t regret. The best part? It can happen to anyone at any time.
It starts slowly, innocently even. The event pops up on social media. Perhaps Bandsintown sends you an email. Perhaps someone clicks “interested” or “going” to the event on Facebook. Perhaps Instagram listened in on your late-night jam sessions and decided to pleasantly surprise you with a concert ad on your feed (guilty as charged). Perhaps you get a text with a link to “Ticketmaster” from a friend. The possibilities are almost endless — what matters is that you are notified about a band/artist/group/musician coming to an area near you to perform. Live. In person. Within sweat-flinging-from-lead-singer’s-forehead-and-landing-on-your-forehead distance. This time, the perspiration will belong to Nicholas Petricca, the lead singer of “Walk the Moon.”
The spark has been ignited once you’ve been exposed to the event. No longer is fate the sole driver of this relationship, no longer are you just a passive passenger. Action is required. AKA, it’s ticket-buying time. Sure, you might face a few moments of hesitation, and a pestering voice in your head might ask:
- “do I really need to go to this concert?”
- “should I be spending my money on ‘extraneous’ activities?”
- “what if another invitation/event comes up that night?”
- absolutely, this is essentially a matter of merely surviving versus truly thriving
- duh – what else is money for?
- dear FOMO: it’s not gonna happen
The decision is crystal clear: it’s go time.
Making the first move is often painted as a paralyzing, complicated, overwhelming experience, but it’s not. It’s simple, it’s beautiful, and it comes with a side of adrenaline. What’s not to love about that?
Click a few boxes, type a few words, verify that you are a human being alive on this planet, and voila, you’re done. You have successfully secured your ticket to a night overflowing with soul-filling energy.
This is where the heat picks up, for anticipation is a beautiful but unruly beast. Plus, if you’re like me, imagination quickly and easily adds fuel to the fire. Thus, it’s time to prepare for the Big Night. What does this entail? First things first: earbuds in. At. All. Times. Lip-sync lyrics (“oooOOOO ANNNNNNA SUUUUUUN”), visualize dance moves (#longlivetheheadbob), brainstorm potential set lists (always include encores) – go the whole nine-yards, my friend. You might suddenly find yourself googling increasingly more and more obscure facts about the band members in question: How many pets did the drummer grow up with? How tall is the band’s manager? What is the bassist’s favorite cuisine? Does the lead singer still have wisdom teeth? You get the idea. Do yourself a favor and embrace this curiosity; run full steam ahead; you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
Before you know it, it’s show-day. Nerves are high, but excitement is higher. The butterflies in your stomach probably feel more like puppies playfully romping over one another. Have no fear, though, for your preparation is paying off as even the most ordinary sounds orchestrate a fantastical melody. The rustling of the wind complements the sing-songy beat of your footsteps; the bustling in the dining hall is a catchy, unpredictable refrain; you perceive a rhythmic pattern while listening to your professor lecture – you might even begin to wonder if this 76-year-old PhD holder was a rapper in their past life. You are neither losing your mind nor diving in too deep. You are simply ready for a life-altering experience.
It’s T-40 minutes until doors open. Heart rate is accelerated, but there’s no need to be alarmed. Your trusty concert companion is in their respective room, getting dressed. I attempt to simultaneously straighten my hair and brush my teeth, but this, in addition to frantically hopping around the room with one shoe on while searching for my phone that I swear I was just holding, is optional. One of the countless blessings about concerts is that there is zero pressure to appear a certain way. This is an event where individual style is welcomed with open arms. So go ahead, slip on those worn out jeans and give that vintage tee shoved in the back of your drawer some TLC. Wear your favorite pair of shoes; it’d be unfair to exclude them after how far they’ve carried you. I opt for black jeans and a blue long sleeve shirt with a semi-open back. Paired with no jacket, this is arguably a questionable decision based on the weather (12º F) and the outside line-time (25 minutes). But sometimes sacrifices must be made.
Transport yourself to the venue as you see fit; my preferred method is to grab a ride there and then walk back (the post-show time is a sensitive period, during which reflection, discussion, and fresh air is highly recommended). Some might argue for the importance of arriving to events like this early; although they’ve got a point, doing so would eliminate an entire portion of the concert-going experience: crowd maneuvering. So I say, cut it a bit close – if doors open at 7 PM and the show starts at 8 PM, arrive at 7:43 PM. Allot a few-teen minutes for the line (a perfect time to soak up the initial, pre-show vibes that your fellow line-mates are emitting). We get inside just after the opening band starts, which is a perfect time to navigate through the crowd.
A bit of wiggling and slinking is usually possible and always worthwhile. Remember: this is a match made in heaven; you are meant to be at this venue, at this time, with these people. Allow the stage’s magnetic pull to guide you toward the front of the congregating mass of fans. Alternatively, talk to your concert companion about your exact route to maneuver through people so loud and for so long that others notice and assist you in your mission. We’re all in this together, folks. Once your prime standing spot is secured, settle in. Get to know your neighbors, survey which shoulders to look over, ensure everyone seems to have a semi-decent grasp on which way is up and which way is down. For us, this includes momentarily gawking at the multiple over six-feet-tall humans standing smack dab in the middle of the floor and briefly noting the person who is already interpretative dancing with closed eyes.
The crème de la crème of the evening is moments away. You can almost taste it, and you are practically salivating as you float through the minutes separating the opening band from the main act. Hang tight, pal, and remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You’ve been training for this.
Absolute, undeniable, raw joy erupts from every corner of the room as the moment you’ve been waiting for arrives. This is always the appropriate response, but especially when the band’s walk-out song is a beautiful rendition of the “Circle of Life” from The Lion King. Faces light up, bodies become one, and spirits are freed. Welcome the force encompassing you, sweeping you up, carrying you away. This is living in its purest form.
The rest of the night brings new meaning to the word “pizzazz.” Nicholas works the stage; his crisp, white-on-white outfit paints him as an angelic-like figure, and the sparkle in his eyes adds to his celestial appearance as he whirs around. Seeing musicians in their element, soaking up the spotlight, glowing from adrenaline, reflecting back the enthusiasm of the crowd: it’s a sight to behold. Lock eyes with a best-friend or complete stranger while scream-singing lyrics (shout-out to the woman who turned around and yelled “CROSS MY HEART AND HOPE TO DIE / TAKING THIS ONE STEP AT A TIME” with me) – you will feel unified on a whole new level. Experience songs without the filter of audio engineering – it is authentic in a heart-filling way. Immerse yourself in the environment, hazy air, sticky floor, neon lights, pulsating beat and all – it is enlivening.
Telltale signs of a good date are: #1 to not want it to end and #2 to want another one once it does end. As soon as “Walk the Moon” exited the stage, the crowd, myself included, uproariously chanted “encore, encore, encore!” There’s sign #1. Sign #2 presented itself as I snagged a flyer advertising upcoming concerts while we made our way out of the venue. The biting cold Providence air replaced the stuffy, claustrophobic atmosphere of inside. Blood pulsated purposefully through my body. My eyes squinted in response to the ear-to-ear grin spread across my face. To both feel content and pine for more is an enamoring contradiction.
You are an element that contributes to the magic of events like this. Continue to feed your soul with experiences that offer a unique combination of adventure, comfort, connection, and vitality. It will support and perpetuate your own soul-fulfillment and the soul-fulfillment of others. Isn’t that what you’re seeking in your relationships anyway?
Artwork by Katia Rozenberg
Edited by Joanna Walsh