If I May: Going To Concerts Alone
Issue   |   Tue, 02/27/2018 - 21:02

In general, my music taste does not align well with that of my peers. Primarily, I enjoy a category of music known to many as “jam-rock,” wherein bands improvise long passages of music. These jams can be wandering, dissonant and altogether weird; it is no surprise that they are not everyone’s cup of tea. This is to say that often, when I am in a position to see one of my favorite bands live in concert, I don’t believe that any of my friends will enjoy the show enough to warrant attending with me. However, due to my deep love of (and probable obsession over) many of these jam-bands, I have insisted on attending the shows anyway, without a companion. At first, I was apprehensive about going to a show alone; I thought I’d have no one with whom I could share the surprises, joys and excitements of a live concert. It is true that going to a show with someone is a wonderful experience; I’d always prefer to attend with a friend if I can. However, sometimes going to a concert (or any sort of entertainment) alone makes for a calming experience.

This past week has been a stressful one for me. In addition to my normal course load, I’ve also been dealing with my summer plans and participating in the layout of a campus publication. So, in other words, I had a normal week for an Amherst student. Normally, like many students here, my stress relief on the weekend might be a night out with friends. This past Saturday, however, I instead drove an hour and a half to West Dover, Vermont to see a band — called “The Breakfast” — alone. As I drove away from my friends in Amherst and toward a sea of people I knew I wouldn’t recognize in Vermont, I’ll admit I felt some regret. “What if tonight is, like, the only good night at Amherst this whole semester, and I miss it?” I thought (foolishly, as obviously no weekend night at Amherst is ever “good”). I was already halfway there at that point, so there was no turning back.

Once I arrived in West Dover, any doubt in my decision had vanished. The venue was an old bar at the base of Mount Snow with large, cabin-esque wood framing, which gave the whole experience a rugged, outdoorsy vibe. As I was waiting in line to get inside, a man exited carrying a pizza box. He stopped at me and opened the box, revealing a full pepperoni pizza. “I was just given this pizza for free,” he told me. “Do you want a slice?” Wow. What a good omen. I gladly took a slice and wolfed it down before going in. (You might say it is irresponsible to accept food from a stranger, and I might say that you’re right. But I also might say that I will never turn down free pizza.)

I got inside just minutes before the band took the stage, which, when you’re alone with no one to talk to and can’t drink because you have to drive an hour and half back to Amherst, is ideal timing. Once the band began to play, I remembered why I loved attending concerts alone so much. While it is certainly nice to share a concert experience with a friend, there is something about being alone, silently enjoying and absorbing the music that makes me feel calm, at peace. About halfway through the concert, I realized I had barely spoken a word since being inside the venue (and if you know me, you’d understand the significance of me not talking for so long). It is liberating to not have any obligations while at a show; for me, it felt like a form of meditation. So, if there is a concert that you’d like to attend but can’t find a friend to go along with you, consider attending alone.

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