On Concerts

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Usually I do not prefer going to concerts. I don’t like the loud music because it hurts my ears, the unequal sound distribution because you didn’t get seats in an ideal location, and then finding someone has already taken your seat and refuses to move by using the lamest reason that happens to be true: the seat numbers were messed up. Not to mention that to get there we had to go through EDSA traffic and be priced gouged by a taxi driver who was expressing voter’s remorse. Lastly, the screaming. Oh the screaming at every move the front man does. He’s just drinking water for crying out loud.
I usually enjoy listening to music by myself with my favorite pair of headphones in a quiet place or my BT headset while I’m commuting to work. My experience with music has always been a personal one, on how the songs relates to my experiences or feelings or just enjoying the details of a band’s instrumentation or a singers voice.

But this year I have gone to a couple of music festivals already. One was last February at the Goodvybes Festival where I got to watch Stars and Chvrches amongst other bands like Oh Wonder and Passion Pit, and just recently In the Mix where I came to see Panic! at the Disco along with Third Eye Blind, The 1975 and James Bay. I’ve also been going to Pete’s Place more frequently albeit largely to play roadie and number one fan to Tetel when she gets invited to play. I owe this to missing Bombay Bicycle Club and Mutemath when they visited last 2014. I don’t want to miss my favorite bands when they perform live as much as possible. Ever. Again.

So while I was just trying to enjoy the rest of the experience I focused my attention on other details of the performances. I was paying attention to how the band members interact amongst themselves, their crew and the engineers at the control booths. They have those little signals with their hands if they need something turned up or down; the eye contact and light nod to signal the next rift. I saw a crew member calmly swoop in to take a guitar deftly twirl it to untangle it from a mic stand and then walk out, all in about six seconds. How the different crews coordinate to haul, unload, pull then pack gear in between performances. It’s part ninja, part ballet. It makes one appreciate the scope and complexity of having to arrange a performance.

That’s beside the fact that the bands themselves have to figure out set lists and rehearse. Rehearsals take a lot of hours and they have to coordinate set lists to the crew and control booths which take care of the acoustics and lighting for every song and every performance.

Side note: bands get a large part of their earnings through touring than selling records. Over the past couple of years and with the rise in popularity of music streaming services, major record labels seeing a decline in profits in record sales. Festivals are becoming the thing to be in, as there’s less overhead for the band and provides a bigger audience. It’s also the best place to sell official merch, which again helps them get additional revenue.

So as I was enjoying the show and paying attention to whatever details and thinking about the enormity of this whole operation I’ve come to realize the difference between hearing performers in your record players to watching them on a concert stage. A concert is a shared musical experience in contrast to listening to music on your music player. It’s not about seeing your favorite band play their songs and sound like they do on their records, it’s about showing your love and appreciation for them along with everyone else around you; raising your hands and clapping, jumping, howling and screaming their lyrics that you almost can’t hear the vocalist sing at all, and with it giving them the energy to perform and validating all the effort they have put forth to give you a great show.

And that’s being a good fan.