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Confessions of a Concert Addict! Are You a Live Music Junkie Too?

This is a picture of the lights on the stage during a Coldplay concert. It shows the video screen as well as the lights on stage and the laser lights going into the crowd.
One of my favorite concerts this year was Coldplay. Amazing music, lights and special effects!

 

Hi! My name is Christine, and I’m addicted to going to concerts.

Maybe addicted is too strong of a word. I’m what some people would call a “live music junkie”.

I go to a lot of concerts. Not as many as some people I know, but a lot. I go to more concerts in a year, than some people go to in their lifetime.

I go to so many concerts, that I use a spreadsheet to keep track of what shows I go to, for fear that I’ll forget about something that I bought tickets for.

We are on target to go to 50 different concerts/festivals this year. Within those 50 shows, we’ll have seen more than 100 distinct artists.

When I know tickets for a show I really want to see are going on sale, I will block the time on my calendar at work so that I’m sure I can be available to buy the tickets. We also travel for shows, so if I hear rumors of a show that I know we will want to go to out of town, I’ll pre-emptively book a hotel room that can be canceled so that I know I have somewhere to stay.

So why do I do it? What is there about a live show that makes me spend money on the tickets and deal with the crowds? Why am I willing to travel around the world just to see my favorite band play?

Read on!

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SO, HOW DO YOU BECOME A “LIVE MUSIC JUNKIE”?

I didn’t grow up going to concerts. In fact, I didn’t go to my first concert until I was 17. It was The Cure at the Palace of Auburn Hills (outside of Detroit) in 1989. The Cure is my favorite band, and my boyfriend (who happens to now be my husband) bought us tickets to the show. It was an amazing experience! Not only was it my first show, but he got us great tickets – on the floor just a couple dozen rows back from the stage.

While that was an amazing experience, it would still be many years later before I started going to a lot of shows.

When I was younger, there were a lot of obstacles. Money to buy tickets was a big one. Let’s face it, tickets are expensive. Additionally, I lived in Toledo, OH at the time, which was not a hot spot for attracting a lot of bands. If you wanted to see a big name artist, you had to travel to Detroit or Cleveland to see them.

As the years went on, I started seeing a few concerts every year. At the end of 1998, we moved to the Philadelphia area. Suddenly, a whole new world was opened to me. Philadelphia has a bunch of live music venues – both big and small – and a lot of bands come through. The number of concerts I went to each year slowly started going up.

But, what really got me on the live music bandwagon was my husband’s love of the Dave Matthews Band (DMB). He loved the band, and would go to every time they played a show in the Philly area. By the early 2000’s, the band started playing a 2-night stand every year in Camden, NJ (just across the river from Philly). At first, I would just go to 1 of the 2 shows with him, and he would go to the other with his friends. I slowly started to realize that I was missing some of the songs I liked by not going to the second show, so I started going both nights.

 

Picture of Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds on stage during their show at The Mann Center in Philadelphia.
While the full Dave Matthews Band didn’t tour this year, we did get a chance to see Dave Matthews with Tim Reynolds three times this summer.

 

In 2014, we decided to make the “pilgrimage to the Gorge”. For those of you not familiar with DMB, they play a 3-night stand at the Gorge (located in Washington state about 2 hours east of Seattle) every Labor Day Weekend. Going to “the Gorge” is the mecca for a DMB fan.

That same year, we decided to combine our summer vacation with seeing a couple more DMB shows in North Carolina and Virginia, for a total of 8 DMB shows that summer. Going to the Gorge was an amazing experience. If I wasn’t hooked on DMB shows before, I became hooked that summer.

So, when DMB announced they were doing a European tour in the fall of 2015, we had to go! We ended up planning a trip to Germany (Munich, Frankfurt, and Berlin) and Poland (Gdansk) to see the shows. All of the shows were at tiny venues and we were “on the rail” (which means right in front of the stage for you non-concert going readers), for 2 of the 4 shows.

After that trip, a live music junkie was born!

SO, WHAT BANDS DO YOU GO SEE?

My musical taste is all over the place. The only music that I really don’t like, is country and hard-core rap. Outside of that, my main criteria for seeing a live show, is that I want the musicians to a) actually play/sing and not lip synch, and b) have some talent.

I’ve seen a huge variety of artists. Everything from Anne Murray to Harry Connick, Jr. to Nine Inch Nails. There are a handful of bands I have seen multiple times and will see (and travel to see) multiple times per year. The band I’ve seen the most is Dave Matthews Band. I’ve seen them around 60 times. But, I’ve also seen U2, Coldplay and The Cure around 10 times each.

 

This is a picture of U2 on stage during their Joshua Tree tour. The large video screen that showed images throughout the show is behind them.
We were pretty high up, as you can see in this picture, but seeing U2 this summer on their 30th Anniversary Joshua Tree Tour was a highlight for me during this concert season.

 

When my husband took me to see that first Cure concert in 1989, he asked me what my bucket list of bands was to see. We have slowly crossed every band off that list, with Depeche Mode being crossed off just this month.

 

This pictures shows Dave Gahan - lead singer of Depeche Mode - during their recent show at Madison Square Garden in NYC. There is a picture of Dave on the large video screen behind him too.
Depeche Mode was one of the bands I followed when I was young, and was on my bucket list of shows to see. I crossed them off with a show at Madison Square Garden in NYC a few weeks ago.

 

WHAT ARE YOUR MOST MEMORABLE CONCERTS?

Concerts can be memorable for different reasons. For example, I will always remember seeing Counting Crows in the late 1990’s at the Stranahan Theater in Toledo. It’s memorable, because it was probably the worst concert I’ve ever been to. The opening act was horrible. She couldn’t remember the words to any of her own songs. She even started one song over because she screwed it up so bad. The Counting Crows were horrible as well, switching up all of their songs (they changed Mr. Jones into a ballad).

Some of my most memorable concerts are as much about the whole experience, as they are the music. I was lucky enough to see Prince live a couple of times. We happened to be in Las Vegas on the weekend that Prince opened up a short residency he did at a small club in the Rio Hotel. We got tickets for the second night of the run. Seeing Prince was an experience in and of itself, but seeing him in a tiny club was amazing. At one point during the show, he came out into the crowd, and I was able to get a few feet away from him.

My most memorable DMB show was in Berlin, Germany. It was the third show in our four show Europe run. We got a spot on the rail and were just to the right of Dave. During the encore break, Dave’s vocal coach – Raab – walked over and handed us a set list from the show that Dave had drawn a picture on. Having that souvenir made that show even more memorable for me.

But probably my most memorable concert and best live music experience happened just this past May. Tears for Fears was one of my favorite bands growing up. When they were first popular, I was too young to go to one of their concerts. While they toured when I got older, they never came to Philly. This year, they went on tour with Hall & Oates, who luckily is from Philly and always plays here. We got to the show, and I camped out my spot on the rail. I ended up being directly in front of Roland. The show was absolutely amazing. They played every song I wanted them to play. I sang! I danced! I screamed! I even cried! At the end, I was lucky enough to get a set list.

 

This is a picture of Roland Orzabel from Tears for Fears. He's directly in front of the camera, singing and playing guitar.
My view of Roland from Tears for Fears! I was so close, I could almost touch him!

 

A picture of me holding the set list from the Tears for Fears concert with a big smile on my face.
Now this is one happy lady! Me with my set list after the Tears for Fears show!

 

WHY DO YOU GO?

Honestly, there is nothing like seeing one of your favorite bands live in concert. It brings the music to life! There is something about being in the building with your favorite musicians. Even if you aren’t on the rail and close enough to touch them, just seeing them in person is a rush.

There are some concerts that are just a huge party. The sensory experience is over the top. If you’ve seen a Coldplay show recently, you know what I mean. There are lights. There are huge video screens. The sound is incredibly loud.

One of the benefits of going to live shows that I never expected, however, is the friends I’ve made. I’ve met people from around the world who have become friends through our concert experiences. I now have concert friends from Poland and Germany, as well as all across the U.S.  My DMB “family” have become some of my best friends.

SO HOW DO I DO IT?

Going to concerts is an expensive habit.  But, I believe in spending money on experiences instead of material things.

For some tips on getting tickets, read the story I did earlier this year.

Just Buy the Tickets…. But How?

 

TOP 10 TIPS OF A LIVE MUSIC JUNKIE

In line with the theme of my blog, here are my Top 10 Tips if you are (or want to become) a live music junkie!

Tip #1: Invest in a good pair of earplugs. Concerts are loud, and if you go to enough of them, it will effect your hearing. Regular earplugs just mute the sound and can ruin your experience. I use Vibes, which bring down the decibels without affecting the quality of the sound.  You can get your own pair of Vibes by clicking on this link.

Tip #2: Pack your patience. There will be a lot of people. They will intrude on your personal space. There will be lines to get in the venue, lines at the concession stands, and lines for the bathroom. Accept it and don’t let it bother you.

Tip #3: Don’t pack a bag (or a purse, ladies). Unless you are at a day long festival (and even then I don’t do it), there is no reason to bring enough stuff that you need a bag. All you need is your money, ID, phone and keys. Ladies, you don’t need lipstick and the 20 other things you carry around in your bag. It slows you up through security and gets in the way. During the Depeche Mode show, the lady next to me kept hitting me with the purse she had on her arm during the show as she was dancing. Annoying!  If you have to have something to hold your stuff in, get a wrist clutch.  Here’s a link to a cute small wrist clutch that comes in some cool patterns.

Tip #4: Wear comfortable shoes. If you’re like me, you will be standing/dancing the whole time. Those wedges may look cute with your outfit, but they aren’t comfortable when you’re on your feet for hours.

Tip #5: Plan your bathroom trips. There is nothing worse than being in the bathroom line when the band plays your favorite song. Ask my husband how many times he got to hear “Spoon” this past summer during the Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds shows (they played it at 2 of the shows we went to, and he was in the bathroom both times). Hit the bathroom when you get there, and then limit what you drink during the show so you don’t have to go again.

Tip #6: Get in shows for free. For a lot of shows, you can volunteer and get in for free. See my tips in Just Buy The Tickets (link above).

Tip #7: Never leave early. At almost every show I’ve ever been to, the best songs are played during the encore. I’ve seen people walk out of shows early to “beat the crowd”, and miss something extraordinary that is played in an encore. If you are invested and there, just stick it out to the end!

Tip #8: Don’t talk during a show. If you want to talk to your spouse/friend/colleague, go to dinner or go out for drinks. I want to hear the music, not how your kid scored a goal in their soccer game.

Tip #9: Combine your concert and travel into one. If we are going to travel for a concert, we try to go to places we’ve never been, and make a vacation of it.

Tip #10: Have no regrets. If you want to see your favorite artist live, make it happen. Someday they will stop touring. Or worse, they will pass away unexpectedly. I can’t tell you how many people I know that said they which they had seen Prince live before he died. I saw him twice, and both times were amazing.

If you’re a fellow live music junkie, I hope I expressed the way you feel about live music as well. If you’re not, come join us! We’re a cool group.

Are you a live music junkie?  Do you have other tips for going to a concert?  Comment below or e-mail me at tips2livebywriter@gmail.com.

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