What is so great about live music? Why not just invest in a really nice set of headphones for your iPod and listen to whatever you want on Spotify or Pandora? It's certainly very simple and you can listen to whatever you want.
There is nothing wrong with buying and listening to recorded music, it's what everyone does a majority of the time. But music can also be a largely social experience, and is meant to be shared with others. High school is a great time to start exploring music in all its different mediums, especially the live performance. Here are some things that you will experience that may persuade you to explore some nearby live music opportunities:
The Trip: In many cases, going to a concert may just be an excuse to get out with your friends or family. The anticipation and speculation before arriving are hard to match. You begin to play their music nonstop, picking which songs you'd like to hear. Depending on your venue, you should always get there a little early. Most places will sell mostly general admission tickets, which usually means first-come, first-serve. If you play your cards right, you could be very close to the stage.
The People: Some of us are more social than others. You might find yourself interacting with others, or perhaps just sitting back and people watching. Regardless of how you are with crowds, once the band comes out and the music starts playing, you and everyone around you will become part of something really profound that you would have a hard time finding anywhere else. The amount of energy in a room with live music is always incredible because a musician's performance gets so much better when they are playing to an active and engaged audience.
The Music: Live music is exactly like it sounds -#8212; a huge transfer of energy. The artist plays, the people cheer, the musicians get more pumped, the audience gets more into it, and so on. Each type of venue has its advantages: large arenas create a huge sound and allow for the roar of big audiences, while smaller venues are much more intimate and personal; you really can't go wrong. However, if you only listen to recordings, you will never experience the on-stage craziness, random surprises and general hullabaloo of the live scene.
There is much to be said about the relationship between the band and the audience. No good band just goes on stage, plays their songs, and heads off. That would be fairly uneventful and uninteresting. The highlights of concerts come when the band and the audience interact with each other, like having the audience sing a popular chorus or inviting them onstage to dive off in a not-so-graceful fashion. It's great to be familiar with the material that they're playing, but if they put on a good enough show, a band that you have never heard of should be able to win you over forever in little over an hour.
A lot of people say music is a form of meditation in its own way. Even though we generally associate meditation with peace and quiet, the energy live music creates has that rare ability to wipe our minds for a bit and create one central, powerful focus.
For all these reasons and more, head on out and check out live music in all its forms. Don't miss out.
(Joe DeMars is a student at St. Vincent High School with a strong interest in journalism. "I have a lot of interest in writing because it's so easy to just sit down with a pen and begin expressing yourself creatively," he says. "Journalism gives me a chance to apply myself to things that are real, current and very interesting.")