I am just back from yet another fantastic show at DC’s 9:30 Club. As is usual for me, I went to the show alone.
This tends to confuse people. Whenever I mention to someone that I’m going to a concert, the second question (“Oh, who are you going to see” is always the first) is “Who are you going with?” “Nobody, I’m just going by myself” usually elicits either befuddlement or sympathy. People assure me that I’ll have fun anyway, or suggest that going by myself won’t be too bad.
Going to concerts by myself is my most favorite thing ever.
Having other people around is stressful! Perhaps I am too concerned with other people’s happiness, but if I’m bringing someone else to a concert, especially if it’s a band that I’m familiar with and they’re not, I always become more concerned about their welfare than my own. Are they enjoying themselves? Are they getting bumped? Is it too crowded? Do they like the music? Are other people blocking their view of the stage?
And then I get self-conscious about myself. Am I singing? Am I singing too loudly? Am I dancing too much? Do I look like a fool? Do I look like I’m having too good a time? Do I look like I’m not having a good time?
Of course, there is also the question of where we stand while at the show. I have seen three of my most favorite bands while trapped in the balcony, because I was there with other people, and that’s where they wanted to go, and I’m too much of a people-pleaser. It was like watching a concert on television. There are a handful of bands I am really quite fond of, and when they’re playing a show, I want to be right up in the thick of things.
There’s a certain sort of energy generated in the first few rows of a good crowd that I am firmly convinced has healing qualities. And if this means that stage divers are landing on my head, or there is a large quantity of squealing and cheering in my immediate space, I’m okay with that. Hell, it’s part of the experience. It’s more than worth it, for the feeling you get from being there, from being part of the crowd. And I simply can’t lose myself in that if I’m with someone I know.
Plus, depending on the crowd, I sometimes make friends with whoever’s standing around me. Certain bands draw a certain type of person, and if they’re as excited as you are, they’re probably talking about it. I have chatted, played cards, shared candy, and even waltzed with strangers standing next to me at shows. (The waltzing was appropriate, I promise.) I’m not responsible for these strangers, and they’re just as into it as I am. There’s no pressure!
The one huge exception to the “concerts are always better alone” rule is this: going to a show with the person who introduced you to the band. This works, for reasons I can’t entirely identify. If, like me, most of your closest friends are scattered across the country and globe, this is quite the rare occurrence. But, if somehow, you, the band, and the friend that got you into that band in the first place are all in the same city, it can indeed be a magical experience.
So what about you? Do you go ever go to concerts alone? Is it your favorite thing, or something you only do if you can’t convince anyone else to go with you?