I was a terrible concert-goer before I met my husband. A classic newb, I over-thought every detail.
Deciding whether or not to even go was the first hurdle. Was I even part of the right crowd to attend? Cool enough? Old enough? Too old? Did I know the music well enough? Once I decided to go, getting ready became a barrage of difficult decisions. My hair, makeup, outfit, purse, what to put in my purse, all decisions I’d make, then question, then make again. It took half a day just to get out of the house.
Arriving on the scene did me no favors. The lights and crowds overwhelmed me. I compared myself to the crowd, again doubting my “right” to be there. Once the music started playing, I worried about my moves. Should I sing? Mouth the words? Make up words? Should I dance? Sway? Bounce? Which body parts should I move? Was I moving enough? Oh, heavens, was I flailing now?
For years, I mostly avoided concerts; they really just stressed me out.
But then, I met a live music-lover, who would later become my husband.
Big shows, little shows, he loved them all. He’d go to a late-night show on a Tuesday. He’d meet friends, or go alone. If someone gave him free tickets to someone who didn’t fit his usual taste, well, he’d go “check it out” anyway — and usually enjoyed it.
He’d take me along, and he patiently taught me to understand the ways of his people, he taught me to soak it in. I used his wisdom to develop my own “Concert-Going for Amateurs” how-to list:
▪ Pick a show. Any show, really. Sure, going to see a favorite band is a huge treat, but watching a performer is a special experience. They’re putting their passion on display. Appreciate their talent. Get dressed. Put something on and then step away from the closet. When in doubt, a black shirt and jeans will pretty much always do. Nobody can see you in a dark crowded room. Put on comfortable shoes.
▪ Bring the right stuff. Got your ticket, your ID, some cash, and lip gloss and gum? Good to go.
▪ Move with the music. Or don’t. Your choice, your style. It’s all good.
▪ Observe. Do they have more or fewer instruments than most? Is the sound rich? Raw?
▪ Pay attention. Be curious. Ask questions. My husband has tracked down U2 tickets twice — by paying attention. If you notice a large crowd standing at the back of the arena, go stand with them. If you see someone hanging around taking notes, ask them what they’re doing. Ask your taxi drive where the band’s staying. And don’t forget to bring something to have autographed!
These days, we go watch live music often. We see shows when we’re traveling, or travel just to attend a concert. We let each other pick — and if someone picks one the other can’t stomach, we let them go with friends. We take our kids, who assume that attending concerts must be super-lame because their parents like to do it. We listen to bands in bars, and sometimes shell out a small fortune for arena and stadium tours.
Soaking in the experience has become our favorite date night, and a defining part of our relationship. And I know, I never would have done it without him.
Reach Overland Park mom Emily Parnell at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter:@emilyJparnell