How Do Concerts Make You Feel?

            If I asked you the question “how do concerts make you feel?”  How would you respond?  

I love this quote from Tom Petty, “Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things.”

            Music has always had a special place in my heart.  (Check out my blog post on my first sound healing experience Initially I began going to concerts to see pop stars, like many other women my age did.  My first concert was Debbie Gibson, followed by New Kids On The Block, MC Hammer, and other big names that sold out stadiums.  As I got older, and moved to Los Angeles the number of venues I was exposed to widened.  I was able to see performers in small spaces, interact with them, meet them, and see them on a frequent basis. The time between their performances, I spent listening to their music, embedding the lyrics in my body and mind, and singing along with them in the audience at their next show.

Benefits of a Concert

            How do concerts make you feel?

            Let me count the ways: 

At Ease                       Introspective               Quiet                           Young

Bright                          Joyful                          Reflective                    Zany

Connected                   Kind                            Soulful

Dreamlike                   Loving                        Trusting

Existential                   Moved                         United

Fueled                         Nostalgic                     Vixen

Gleeful                        Open                           Woke

Happy                         Poetic                          Xrated

As you can see it brings up everything in me.  In addition, research by the Psychology of Music found that people who went to more live music and concerts were happier .  People may hate live shows, particularly in large stadiums.  Yet there are so many types of live shows you can attend to have this experience.  So I asked myself again this question, “how do concerts make you feel?”

Are Concerts Worth It?

To be immersed in a tiny historical church watching your favorite musician perform equates with a sacred experience.  I didn’t know what to expect when purchasing tickets to see Rachael Yamagata at the St. Pancras Old Church in London.  I simply thought it was a renovated building repurposed as a performance space.  The hectic one hour drive, then one hour tube ride into Friday London afternoon rush hour kept my head in a frantic dizzy spell. I began to question if I made the right decision to see a musician perform one more time.  It seemed to be a lot of work for a concert. I had to coordinate dog sitters and stay overnight in a hotel. Was a concert worth this effort?   My busy chattered mind ruminated this logic.

            But then my friend and I stumbled into St. Pancras Old Church, the doors were not open yet. And therefore, there was time to wander the graveyard that surrounded us.  This space was one of the earliest locations of Christian worship from the fourth century.   Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy wrote about this church.  The infamous Hardy tree stood here, that included numerous gravestones that were moved from their original location to the trunk of this tree, due to the building of a railroad. 

  The tree grew around the graves.  Early feminist writer from the 1800s Mary Wollstonecraft was buried here.  In the midst of fast paced London was the luscious oasis of greenery.  It slowed the pace of my mind and body.  Before wandering into the church, you felt as if this was already a spiritual place, where people have gathered for hundreds of years gathered to worship.

Take Me To Church

            Now we would worship in a different way.  As I entered the church, it surprised me they sold alcohol.  This is still a functioning church.  To have a beer next to Jesus felt sacrilegious for the Catholic school girl in me. When I told my friend this, she offered.  “Why is that? Jesus transformed water into wine?”  This led me to further question why we must fit spirituality into the confines of a traditional box.  The performances that would follow that night of the opening act Worry Dolls and Rachael Yamagata felt like a holy experience.  

            Musicians, as well as all of us, have the capacity to connect with the Divine or Universal Energy in order to create.  The Worry Dolls talked of being vessels for particular songs, and even had a song titled “Let the Light Shine Through.”  The song reminds us of the light children are born with, but we all seem to have the capacity to lose as we maneuver throughout the world.  At one point they had joked about something on stage, and there was a loud startling noise that erupted from an amp.  The performers joked, “Is that you God?”  We all laughed, but there was an awareness that the spirit was present. Let me remind you that these performers are not Christian Singer Songwriters.  They are indie artists, but their spirituality emanated through their performance.

Soundtrack To My Life

            Then Rachael Yamagata got on stage and it actually stopped my breath.  I observed that I unconsciously held my breath as she sang, and played the piano.  It was as if I wanted to minimize everything occurring in my body, to allow the space for her performance to awaken.  Rachael has been a staple in my life from the time I was 25.  For over 15 years through crushes, heartbreaks, marriage, divorce, and more crushes, heartbreaks she has consistently been there for me.

Her music and lyrics matched what I couldn’t say.  There is a roughness to Rachael’s voice. When she sings, it creates a stillness in the room. It re-awakens a sadness within.  She also has been a source of familiarity for me, as I have seen her almost every year I had been living in the U.K.  To see a favorite musician from the U.S. reminds me that home isn’t too far away.  Therefore my trek that night felt like a musical pilgrimage towards home and multiple versions of myself, just for one night.

How Do Concerts Make You Feel?

            How do concerts make you feel? Although so much of her music can be quite depressing, she alluded that it could heighten levels of suicidality if it was simply one depressing song after another.  But she was playful about it, in how she revealed the stories behind the inspiration of these songs. She laughed as she remembered who she wrote the song about. She joked that it was written about a “restraining order obsession” kind of love.  Yamagata continued that since this person has since married and has children, she is dedicating the song to her new obsession: her cats. 

 As she sang the lyrics, “I want you, and no one. No one else will do…” images of her cats were projected in the background behind her.  Rachael plays and molds her once depressive state into art that we can all relate with and enjoy. At other times, she brought in upbeat melodies and audience interaction.

            Rachael told stories throughout the show, which is a necessary skill for a true musician.  One involved her first open mic experience 20 years ago and the horrors that arose from it, but it was necessary on her musical journey.  She invited anyone in the audience who was a musician or wanting to be a musician to join her onstage to sing a song.  Several people opted to take the offer, and the audience cheered them on throughout the entire performance.  It was a beautiful experience to watch this artist offering an opportunity to upcoming artists with a supportive audience in a church.

Purpose of a Concert

          One of the most spiritual moments of the evening was this song Duet that had an interlude, and the entire audience filled with strangers hummed to the tune in unison.  This was a church experience.  Loneliness transformed to community, if only for one night through the shared appreciation of music from this artist.  Her old love wounds were transformed to music. Light now shined on those difficult moments. This in turn sparked the lanterns in all of our hearts to collectively be lit as well.  To be in the presence of an artist’s work, whether music, painting, dance, garden, poem, or elegant building is transformative.  It stirs our souls, reminds us to appreciate the vicissitudes of life, and perhaps has the capacity to ignite our creative genius.

            Therefore if you ever question going to see your favorite musician perform one more time, take the chance.  Your pace of life may be momentarily transformed.  You won’t regret the spiritual experience that is at hand.  You will be taken to church.  

            How do concerts make you feel? 

Rachael Yamagata and Me post show, after I gifted her my book.

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