Remaining Sane While Consuming Live Music

A small bout of self doubt has delayed me from getting on top of a new blog post.  Considering it’s not even been 2 weeks I don’t think that’s all that shabby seeing as I’ve let writing funks go for over a year before.  It’s never an issue of feeling as though I don’t have something to say, with me that has never been a problem.  I suppose it always comes back to that self consciousness factor with a pinch of perfectionism that makes me feel relatively unsatisfied with a lot of my creative pursuits.  I can understand the evolutionary purpose for delusional confidence but I still scratch my head at how feelings of inadequacy are of much use.  I suppose it’s all some kind of balancing act, and for me there is no question that craving the feeling of invincibility can easily get me in trouble.  Maybe I’m just not mentally stable :P.

Anyhow, what’s going on in the world of me.  I recently survived the experience of attending 2 days of the Bumbershoot Festival in downtown Seattle.  Music, arts, food and stuff.  Earlier this year I recall reading a variety of things about the Coachella Music Festival and thinking “why would I ever want to be a part of that?”  Yes, I know some very good acts come through and that seems to be the draw, but so many others aspects of it seemed straight animalistic.  While I know Bumbershoot is not really comparable to Coachella in scope, I think there are indeed some similarities.  However, the fact that it took place in the city and is considerably smaller may be the things that allowed me to feel that attending was a worthwhile endeavor.  I got to see Nacho Picasso (a deliciously dark underground rapper) Kendrick Lamar (riding high off of a critically lauded debut album and an epic verse calling out his rivals) Crystal Castles (which took the cake for the weekend easily) Alt-J and MGMT (both intensely respectable in their performances).  Oh, and not to forget Gary Numan, a dude I had never heard of but apparently has been around and is some kind of pioneer in electronic music.  His Nine Inch Nails-like set was quite the sonic punch to the face.  It was nice to participate without having to go primal in order to feel like I was soaking in the music and talent sufficiently.

But there is certainly a yin and yang aspect to the whole thing.  I mean, I’m only 28, but being there definitely made me feel old.  I know others might roll there eyes at such a statement, but this appeared to be the place for the youth that weekend.  At this point in my existence, I think I’ve gotten over the need for clamoring about while snaking my way towards the front of the crowds.  I attempted during Kendrick Lamar and it literally turned into human sardines before his set started so I peaced out.  Furthermore, while not hating on peoples desire to experience music through a chemically induced haze, I certainly get the feeling some people are there for the drugs first, the grinding bodies second, and somewhere on their list falls the music.   When it comes to the lines and waiting, common courtesy generally goes out the window.  One couple was rather insistent during the Deerhunter set on doing a little reversal and trying to get the boyfriend on the girlfriends shoulders….so he could get a better view I guess.  I can understand how it sounds fun after a few beers, but there are people around and if you fail miserably it might not just be his head that takes the brunt of this hubris.

Having said some of that, I still don’t consider myself the type for pooping on the party.  Mostly it was all good.  There is truly something to say about hearing the music at insanely high volumes, my intellect tickled by the technical aspects of the music while my body is viscerally assaulted by sound and bass.  The back to back experience of Gary Numan and Crystal Castles had a definite transcendent element to it.  In the right setting, with light, sound, people, and performance mixing together in the proper way, something occurs that can only be described as spiritual.  It isn’t otherwordly or supernatural, but it invokes that sort of sensation, the kind I would get much more frequently as a child.  I couldn’t properly describe the experience of seeing/feeling/hearing the light mix with the swirls from the foggers as the music poured over the crowd, the same crowd Alice Glass fearlessly surfed on top of while belting her vocals.  That’s when whatever might deter me from these surroundings becomes irrelevant because I know this is a place where the mundane is forgotten, where worry, tomorrow, and future can be set aside for a moment without having to accept nihilism as a life philosophy.

So I think shows are still something I can do.  I don’t have to become a wild man to enjoy and I still think a very worthy memory can be gained so long as I stick to seeing the artists I truly admire and want to see.  Worthwhile to consume with no wicked comedown.

Music listened to during writing:  How to Destroy Angels

Last Movie Watched: Dr. Strangelove

Great album just discovered: Mondo by Electric Guest

Nagging gripe that seems to be increasing in how utterly annoying it is:  Totally craptastic iPhone battery life (it’s borderline criminal)

An observation: Sometimes there is shirking the conventions of music with brilliant results and sometimes there is just making noise

Recommendation:  Werner Herzog’s ‘Encounters at the End of the World’ and Eugene Jarecki’s ‘This House I Live In’…both on Netflix, check em out.


2 thoughts on “Remaining Sane While Consuming Live Music

  1. When I saw DJ Tiesto and DJ Rusko live, both were some amazing experiences, something about the ambiance with lighting, graphics, fog, bass, and lasers made it definitely otherworldly and a full body/senses experience. I can only imagine Crystal Castles after listening to them being even more otherworldly and novel.
    I also noticed at concerts people can be unaware of people around them who are trying to watch and listen to the music and will get competitive about keeping their area on the floor or about gaining a better spot. Which is human nature right to be selfish? Well, I think there is a way to be considerate at a concert and not block or invade other people’s space if you really try, but hey, one trick I have found out that comes in handy is wearing tall heels, haha, if anything.

    • There are definitely measures to be taken to assure that the experience is still enjoyable. For me, seeing the stage from some distance isn’t so bad anymore, I almost feel like I get a greater sense of how the show was intended to be experienced. It is true that a handful of people can kind of spoil it for everybody else. One of the more annoying tendencies is for people to think pushing back when they get pushed is somehow a solution. What ends up occurring often is a 2-3 hundred person sea saw back and forth. There will be people which restore your faith in humanity and others who quickly do the opposite. The key is to keep it about the music and not let the annoyances ruin the overall deal.

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