By Jordan Cooper
When I first moved to Austin at the beginning of 2010, the chance to see live music consistently played a big part in my decision to relocate there. Growing up in a conservative East Texas town, getting to see bands perform was rare. After attending SXSW in Austin in 2002 and visiting friends in the city often while I was in college, I saw that it lived up to the hype as being the “Live Music Capital of the World.” However, once I got there, I ran into a problem: What do I do when I want to go see a show and no one wants to go with me?
Despite having friends living in Austin already, not all of them were as eager to go see bands they had never heard of at small clubs and bars on random weekday nights as I was. I will admit that, at first, I was hesitant to go alone. It was definitely outside of my comfort zone. Who do I talk to in between sets? Who do I turn to and yell “this band is awesome!” or “this song sucks”? I had only had concert experiences with friends in the past, so it felt a little awkward to be standing in a crowd alone.
My mindset completely changed during my first time attending Austin City Limits in 2010. Although I showed up to the festival with a group, it was inevitable for us to get separated once bathroom breaks and beer runs started. I found myself alone, floating my way through the crowds. Once I came to terms with the fact that it was highly unlikely I would find my group again, I felt a sense of freedom in the fact that I could now, essentially, do whatever I wanted.
Gone were the worries of checking to see if everyone could see the stage, if anyone needed to use the restroom, the debates of when to leave this set to make it to another one across the park. I realized that although I had lost my friends, I had 70,000 other “friends” in the park all there to enjoy the festival just like me. I witnessed LCD Soundsystem deliver an electric performance as the sun set behind the crowd, tried flirting with Warpaint for the first time from the front row and held up Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips in his plastic encasing as he walked out into the crowd. From that moment on, I realized seeing concerts alone may not only be enjoyable, but might actually be preferable.
There is a lot of coordinating that goes into attending shows with a group of people. When and where do we meet? How close does everyone want to get? Will we be able to find each other if we need to go to the bathroom? These can all cause stress before the show even starts. It can be even worse when going with a significant other. The worrying about their experience can actually take away from your own personal enjoyment of the concert. There is also the dreaded “can we leave early?” question that can arise. “Leave early? And miss the encore? Are you crazy?!” Speaking from experience, this can lead to tension, both during the show and long after the concert is over.
Going to a venue alone gives you the flexibility to move through the crowd and find a spot that is just perfect for you and you alone. We all come in different shapes and sizes, so when you are in a group, it is not always easy to find somewhere that suits everyone. Rolling solo also eliminates distractions. While I agree that sometimes it is great to share concert experience with friends or significant others, there are also times when you want to focus on the show itself and get lost in the music, and not have your chatty Cathy friend next you trying to show you their Snapchat. Which reminds me, while we are on the topic of concert etiquette…
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:
If you are going to a show so you can chat with your friends, go to a bar instead so the rest of us can hear the band we paid to see!
Please excuse me while I step down from my grumpy old man soapbox, but seriously – if you are talking loudly with your friends during a headlining set of a show, have some courtesy and either save it for afterwards or consider moving to the back of the crowd.
So next time you want to go check out a band, consider only putting one ticket in your cart at checkout. Get there when you want, grab the perfect spot and enjoy the undistracted and stress free environment of getting lost in the music. You may never want to go with a group again.
Featured image by Katherine Cantrell.