Saturday, August 7, 2010

A minor mystery

I was at a great live concert by Bob Dylan (with Shooter Jennings as warm-up) last evening (6 August), at the Zoo Amphitheatre in Oklahoma City, and I noticed something that seemed a mystery to me. While the music was going on, I observed many people in little groups that evidently weren't interested in the music at all. They were hugging, or shaking hands, or high-fiving; jabbering away with their backs to the stage. And these conversations went on and on, not limited to a few brief moments of greetings before turning back to the live performance on stage. No, it seemed that for many of the attendees, this wasn't a chance to bathe oneself in the experience of a live musical experience - it was another social networking opportunity. Going on despite the high volume of the music, representing some sort of grim determination to carry on amidst the distractions offered by the band.

I also observed many people around me who couldn't seem to rouse themselves out of their immobile stupor, even to applaud and/or cheer for the band when they finished a number. I can only hazard some guesses as to the origins of their apparent indifference: perhaps they thought the music sucked, or it was too hot and humid to attempt any movement, or they had consumed far too much beer.

If I go to a concert, it's usually because I already know the music of the performer(s) and wish to partake in the live version of their art. Concerts aren't inexpensive ... we probably spent at least half of what the tickets cost just for beverages at the inflated prices you come to expect at such a concert. Including the fuel expended going and returning, plus a late-night meal, the evening cost us more than $200. When I make such an investment, it makes sense to me to open myself up to the music to whatever extent feels right. The style of music at this concert inspired me to do a lot of standing, a lot of clapping in time with the beat, a lot of yelling and screaming, and some singing along (with the people around me protected from the hazardous effects of my singing by the loud music). In other words, I had a great time!!

I just find it mysterious why someone would go the trouble of attending such a concert, only to use the time to chit-chat or to sit on their hands, immobile. Performers feed off the energy in their audience, and if you allow yourself to give in the experience and show your enthusiasm for the performance to the performers, you get back an even more inspiring performance. I like that interaction between the audience and the musicians at live concerts. Why spend the money and take the time to attend a live performance if you're not into the music? It's not one of life's profound mysteries, but it is a minor mystery - at least to me.


Heather said...

I've voiced a very similar sentiment after just about every concert I've ever gone to. If you're not interested in interacting with the act (or band) on stage, then by all means buy the CD and just listen to the music in your car... no effort required.

Anonymous said...

I was employed at a bar a few years ago that offered live music and noticed the same problem. Our ability to communicate with many has surpassed the desire to communicate with the one. Great live performances usually require that great amounts of attention be focused on "the show".