I was standing in an abandoned warehouse somewhere in Cleveland, listening to guitars and fiddles while the singer wore light-up jewelry. I was certain I just discovered the future leaders in alternative music. OK, alternative pop. And for a year or so there, catching all of Seafair’s gigs I could, I remained convinced. Then they decided to take a break, one that still isn’t over. The all-knowing music scout in me didn’t see that coming. But the joy that exuded from those shows? I still believe I could’ve been right.
I waited four years to see Lorde in concert and once the day finally came, my dad and I made the trip to the stadium in Columbus. If there were people seat jumping to get closer to the stage, it’s possible that it could’ve been us. Her setlist was magical and I still remember that show like I saw it yesterday. Sometimes it pays off to break a rule or two.
When I found my seat at Taylor Swift’s Reputation Tour, I couldn’t move. Temporarily frozen, I felt my eyes begin to water. I was going to be able to see everything on stage clearly. For a theatrical performer such as her, and a superfan such as me, it made all the difference.
And then there was the time I probably could’ve cried watching Heart. Sure, it was their reunion tour, and it caused quite a buzz. But it dragged and dragged and I probably could’ve cried of boredom. You can’t win them all.
I’m by no means a music expert. I know little music theory— as my musically inclined younger brother reminds me frequently— and my only musical skills are keeping a beat and playing the clarinet at a very average level.
But I’ve grown up with music. My dad played songs on the guitar almost daily throughout my childhood and my parents played CDs just as frequently. Now, we have about five guitars, two ukuleles, two trumpets, a piano and more that live in our living room. There are more of them than there are of us.
Music has always been valued within my family, and it has always been there for me growing up, whether I was lonely, sad, happy or confused. Most of my fondest memories are associated with music. I can look back on a surplus of albums, live shows, vinyl records and marching band halftime performances, all of which allowed me to experience such strong feelings of being alive.
When people say they don’t like music, I bounce back and forth between general distrust of their character and amazement at how they’re able to get through life without it. I try to veer as far away as possible from the label of music snob, but I can’t help questioning how people survive without it (and I also can’t help criticizing the Grammy nominations each year).
Sometimes people enjoy music but don’t make it out to concerts. This makes me think about all of the improvements they’ve undoubtedly missed at their favorite artist’s shows, because live music is almost always better. It also makes me think about how much money they must be able to save when they’re not dropping money on tickets every few months. They also don’t need extra gas money to travel to the shows that stop nearby, cash for parking at the venue or money to book a hotel room unless they want to drive home until 2 a.m. on some random weeknight. It almost makes me wonder if they might just be onto something.
Regardless of the inconveniences and hits to my bank account, I still believe that it’s worth it. After all, there’s a direct correlation between my happiness and the proximity of shows I have lined up in my calendar.
The incorporation of music into my life at such a young age grew into one of the most positive influences I’ve ever known. But it’s never too late to start, or to pick a hobby back up. You’re never too young or too old to buy tickets to a show or to fall in love with some tunes.
Music is for everyone, no matter our age, identity or background.
The proof is in the white-haired gentleman with a walker who stood next to me in line for a punk show, and it was in my parents’ eyes as they listened to me, just barely able to speak and still in diapers, singing along to the Ramones alongside them.
Contact Alexandra Sobczak