The Ephemeral Joy of a Concert Experience

How many people have ever heard of a post-concert comedown? A phenomenon often categorized by a sudden inability to think about anything but those two hours of euphoria, post-concert comedowns can get to even the best of us. After experiencing an unwavering flurry of excitement, it’s no wonder that we feel so devoid of purpose at the end of it all. Concerts are a uniquely human invention, one which can be the source of a joy unlike any other. The voices of thousands becoming one and uniting toward a common goal can be invigorating.

People spend good chunks of their lives just hearing voices and instruments in isolation, since music often functions as background noise in everyday life. So when we have the chance to hear that music from the source, it’s an opportunity to have the emotions we associate with certain songs manifest before our eyes. As peculiar and human as the impulse may be, it’s pretty beautiful, too.

I’ve been to a handful of concerts in my own life, all of which have left positive impressions on me. Yet, every event was different; the standout ones gave me experiences that I’ll probably remember for years on end.

I had yet to experience any sort of concert until senior year of high school, when I saw Taylor Swift at the Staples Center during her “1989” tour. A friend and I wanted to see the show together, but somehow both our moms ended up tagging along as well. Since I was only a freshly licensed driver who was yet to be scarred by the freeways of Los Angeles, maybe that decision was for the best.

Our seats were atop the steepest tier of the stadium, so high up that each step seemed to be a foot tall. We had the glorious side view, which made Swift look like a shiny speck of an amoeba.

Much to my chagrin, my phone died during the opening act, so I have absolutely zero video of the experience. Some of my main memories involve Swift bringing Ellen DeGeneres on stage, as well as my mom’s lack of enthusiasm in response to me singing every song. But let me just say: The rock version of “I Knew You Were Trouble” goes hard, and watching Swift play “Fifteen” on piano was the highlight of my life at that point. Though I wasn’t 15 anymore, I knew I was making the little girl inside of me happier than I could probably comprehend.

I didn’t attend another concert until spring break of the following year, which ended up being the Anaheim stop of BTS’s “Wings” tour. It was my first time going to a K-Pop concert; despite the fact that I was going alone, every nerve in my body was dancing to the beat of “Blood, Sweat & Tears.” I felt excited, especially since I managed to work out a trade to get a ticket on the date I wanted.

Though the traffic to Anaheim seemed like otherworldly torture, I made it to the venue with over half an hour to spare. However, the long lines took their toll, and I rushed to my seat five measly minutes before the show began. Plopping unceremoniously into the chair, I only had a hot second to take a breather before the person next to me tapped on my shoulder.

As it turned out, she was the girl with whom I had made the ticket trade in order to attend Saturday’s show instead of Sunday’s. I suppose she felt grateful that she could see both days thanks to me, because she brought an extra BTS light stick for me to use during the show! Not only that, but she also gave me an opportunity to be a part of the “rainbow ocean” project, which was organized by fans.

Long story short, the idea of the project is as follows: Fans in different sections of the stadium put differently colored plastic bags over their light sticks, with the end goal being a rainbow of lights throughout the venue. My section was blue, another one was purple, and so on.

Since I had arrived so close to the show’s start time, I was unable to receive the plastic bag necessary to participate. But that friendly girl nearby gave hers up for me, and I’ve kept both the bag and the memory to this day. As horrendously cheesy as it sounds, the ambience of the concert made all of us feel effortlessly connected. (Oh, and the music itself was great too.)

The most recent show I attended was an orchestral concert of musical soundtracks from the Studio Ghibli movies, conducted by Joe Hisaishi himself. Although my brother and I arrived 20 minutes late to the show after the GPS took us on an extreme detour, we still had an amazing time there.

The best moment was easily when “One Summer’s Day,” the opening song to “Spirited Away,” was played on piano. Because I have an extreme weak spot for both the song and piano arrangements in general, I was, simply put, dying. The “Howl’s Moving Castle” medley also hit me in my feelings, and I felt myself sitting up pin-straight so as to not miss a single thing. My brother and I commemorated that trip with a midnight Denny’s visit, which is really how any night should conclude.

In the end, a concert can mean a variety of things to any number of people, but one thing is always true: Songs are humanity’s way of decorating the limited time we have, so a gathering in the name of music is always worth the effort.