I have learned more about myself and the way I approach relationships with others in the past few years than ever before. The most pivotal of these realizations is perhaps when I came to terms with the fact that I truly love being alone. I cherish the time I have to myself when no one else is around. For a while, I felt like I was lonely beyond repair and no level of human interaction or density of friendship was ever going to change that. I have since come understand that I felt that way because I didn’t always love myself enough to enjoy time spent away from or with other people. I know this isn’t a feeling unique to me in any way, so instead of writing about mundane self-frustration and loneliness, I want to focus on one thing that helped alter my mindset on being alone and happy: going to concerts.
Going to concerts (or anywhere else) alone is something that I never found enticing until sometime around the end of high school. After being at boarding school for a few years and starting to think about going to college in New York, I was feeling more and more independent. However, something about social situations always seemed to give me insane anxiety, and paralyzed me in a way that made me feel 100% dependent on whomever I was with. What I hadn’t connected was the idea that maybe what was giving me anxiety was the pressure of being judged by both someone I knew and the other strangers around me. I realized that worrying about that was total bullshit, but I didn’t feel like I could help it. I decided to see if I felt any different when I went to things alone, like concerts, and I did. I loved it. Concerts have always felt very spiritual to me because of my total idolization of my favorite musicians (old habits die hard). Something about seeing albums come alive and be performed the way the artists intend for them to be is continuously one of my favorite experiences. The way I feel about seeing certain musicians perform feels very personal to me because of my relationships to their respective albums. Who is a better person to share that experience with besides myself? No one, honestly. It is so refreshing to be in a sacred space (RIP 285 Kent come back soon bb) with a bunch of strangers who love the music that you love and don’t care how crazy you are/how much you are crying when *your* song comes on. Even if they care, you shouldn’t care because you are watching your favorite music come to life and that is really special. That is your moment (or 2.5 hours if it’s Yeezus). The beauty of making that your moment lies in not having to compare experiences with anyone, defend your favorite parts of the show, or argue about who loves the band more and who was more moved by the performance. That show is yours to relive in your head thousands of times and geek out to your friends over the next day (or right after the show when Arcade Fire steals your heart and you can’t make it back to your apartment so your friends find you on the floor of their dorm lobby).
My mom has a joke that every concert I go to is “the best concert ever” and she’s right, because each experience is so unique. I never feel more confident than when I’m having the time of my life at a concert I’ve been dying to go to. My favorite memories come from the shows I go to alone, and I think part of that comes with being braver when you aren’t worried about anyone judging you and finding alone time in a venue filled with people. I like to think of it as doing what I would be doing if I were back at my apartment, but 1,000x better because the music is live instead of from a record player or computer. All of the best things happen during those times. Examples:
- Devon Welsh from Majical Cloudz put me on his guest list and made sure I could get into the 21+ show at a place that’s tough on IDs and then I talked to Arthur Ashin outside (Devon Welsh is the nicest human alive)
- Dev Hynes gave me a flower at the Blood Orange record release (Dev <3)
- I saw Autre Ne Veut for the first time in Central Park (haha enough said)
- Oliver Sim did the thing with his eyes
- I saw Arcade Fire (The Reflektors) at a formal warehouse concert wearing a crushed velvet maxi dress, an Aztec print blazer, and face paint thanks to people they hired. The real royal couple (Régine and Win) hi-fived me in line and I cried with a big group of people inside and held Win while he crowd surfed (no that didn’t happen that couldn’t have happened)
These are experiences that I will never forget, and I know they are mine to keep.
I’m not discouraging anyone from dancing like crazy with your closest friends at a show that you have all been looking forward to for months. What I am saying is don’t be afraid to be the loner at a show, and don’t skip out on your dream concert because your friend can’t make it. Save a few really special shows for yourself and your favorite band. You don’t have to worry if your friend is embarrassed by your cry-singing or who got THE Instagram picture that perfectly captures The xx’s aura (impossible task—trust me). The musicians are doing what they do because of people like you, and you are the way you are because of their music. Do yourself and the band a favor and get there early, get on the rail, love yourself, talk to strangers, be confident, FANGIRL, and enjoy the best concert ever (and then another one next week).