COLUMN: Concerts are unique, unifying force

Technology is one hell of a thing. Safely tucked into my cozy bed, I was able to watch the entire Kendrick Lamar Coachella set live from my laptop. Would I rather be there in person? I’m not too sure, since Coachella tickets cost an arm and a leg these days, but I imagine the experience was unlike anything else.

To see one of your favorite artists live is truly a privilege for a number of reasons. In many ways, a live show gives you a sensation that a digital recording will never give you, and that is seeing an artist perform with emotion and raw energy on stage. Artists bring their A-game when it comes to performing at Coachella especially, since it’s one of the most energetic audiences most artists will ever play for in their lives.

Seeing a mixed crowd of original and new fans coming together to see their show is a dream for an artist. Nearly everyone has heard of Lady Gaga by now, but maybe some fans are only familiar with her fantastic first album, The Fame, which means they haven’t heard her more socially conscious albums and songs that she made more recently. Every audience at a festival like Coachella is expecting one thing and one thing only: to hear some good music and have a good time.

Kaytranada is one artist who, in my opinion, embodies this sentiment when he performs. Whether you’re familiar with his music or not, he’s going to make sure you have a great time constantly moving on your feet to the good vibes he’s playing. Before Coachella stages, he played to much smaller audiences in much smaller spaces. Despite these limitations, he was able to get everyone moving and grooving, which is truly a beautiful thing; everyone came together to enjoy some good tunes and have a good time.

This is also why I think concerts are one of the greatest wonders in this world, since people can put aside their differences and come together over an artist they enjoy. I’ll never forget my first concert: Disclosure’s Wild Life at Freedom Hill on Aug. 2, 2014. It was one of the last things I did before leaving for my freshman year of college, and it was definitely one of the most memorable.

Throughout the night, I saw an Indian man rhyme with a black man to every line of every song ScHoolboy Q played, an entire section of a crowd lose their minds when Ryan Hemsworth dropped a Waka Flocka Flame song in the mix and a 40-year-old man stay in the front row with a group of 20-year-olds for Disclosure’s entire three-hour set. By far, my favorite moment from that concert was when my friend gave a guy who didn’t speak a lick of English and had been dancing nonstop to Disclosure two thumbs up, to which he responded with a large smile and a quick hug.

This is the power that concerts can have. People from all over the world, of any race, age and religion, can come together and share an experience with other people just to have fun. If people showed each other the same kind of compassion and kindness I’ve seen at concerts, the world would be a much better place. There’s a general understanding that everyone attending a concert will follow the motto of  “Peace Love Unity Respect”, an acronym that was born in rave culture many years ago. I think that the world could use some PLUR right now.

Writing this column for a year has helped me think some things out, especially when it comes to music’s larger role in life other than just as entertainment. Concerts are a testament to the necessity of music to allow people to come together. The next time you want to break the ice with someone you want to get to know better, ask them who their favorite artist is. Ask them what their best experience at a concert was. Ask them what the last song they listened to was. Ask your mom and dad what their favorite album was when they were your age — shout-out to my No. 1 fans, Mom and Dad. You might learn something interesting about someone based on the kind of music they’re into, and it might even bring you closer together. Why? Because music makes the world go ’round.

Thanks for reading. It’s been fun to write for you.

Spencer Lee is a junior majoring in narrative studies. His column, “Spencer’s Soapbox,” ran every other Thursday.

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