AnyroadsWelcome to Your Weekend PlansJulia Gazdag

When was the last time you went to a show? If it wasn’t last night, you need to get on it. Live music is it. It’s the reason sound was invented. Also, feelings. The two are connected like peanut butter and the roof of my mouth.

I would die without live music. I would fall over and stop functioning. iPods and headphones are all well and good (get yourself a good pair of headphones and it is ON), but seeing a band live can’t even be compared. It can make or break your relationship with that music. I know most of my favorites come from people I saw do great live shows and some live shows were so bland they ruined my love for amazing songs.

I’ve moved twice for music. I’ve never moved for a boy. I’ve never moved for family (except that one time I was ten and it was either going where my parents were or… well, nothing. I mean, have you met my mother? Don’t mess with her). I’ve contemplated moving for cuisine but didn’t actually do it. But I moved to Austin to go see shows. I even got to make a film about it, which was pretty amazing. I also moved to Portland for music. So if you’re planning on relocating based on auditory preferences, we can talk, but I’ll point you directly to these two cities.

Sometimes I don’t even know what’s going on in my complex little emotional world until I’m standing in front of a stage in a dark room and it’s just the music and my brain ticking. Going to shows with friends is fun but going solo is like therapy. I get into a whole different headspace.

The first time I saw Irving (a Silver Lake band who are no more, but their bassist is the lead in Sea Wolf), it was 45 minutes of a crazy fun adrenaline high. I felt like my heart would explode from too much happy. I was in love with the world for days. It was disgusting, like a sweet, gooey girl scout Samoa left in the sun. The day after my grandmother died I had tickets to a Voxtrot show in New York, at the Bowery Ballroom. I wasn’t in the mood to go out but I didn’t want to stay home and have always had an intensely visceral experience with their music. Standing in the balcony, isolated because I was by myself yet not alone because I was surrounded by people, the music seemed to channel and siphon my mourning. It actually made me feel better. When I saw Death Cab for Cutie, without any warning, I started sobbing like a baby. Their music carries a lot of life in it. Eventually I just let it happen and sat down halfway between the stage and the end of the field and just turned into a human fountain. Call me emo; it was amazing.

If you’re not sure where to go or what to see, just google your town’s name and the words “show list.” Odds are you have one. Or just go through the calendars of local venues, then look up the bands. If you want to test drive some mp3’s for free, look up the band on the Hype Machine (google it – you can send me a fruit basket c/o Hello Giggles. You’re welcome.). But trust me – one show week, even a month, will change your life.

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  1. You are completely right! I am the most like myself (and actually feel somewhat comfortable in my own skin) when I’m at a live show! Recently I saw Farewell Continental 2 different nights at intimate venues and also saw Bruno Mars/Janelle Monae w/Mayer Hawthorne at the GIbson. It doesn’t matter if the venue is big or small, just being surrounded by the music, the atmosphere, and a ton of people enjoying the same beautiful experience.

  2. May 15. I was feeling a little blue, brought on by a combination of “Sunday Feeling” and a doozie of a hangover that all the Vitamin Water in the world couldn’t help cure. I had a pair of concert tickets burning a hole in my wallet and, as hard as it was to roll my ass off that couch, I finally got up, got ready and headed down to DC to meet my friend and head to the show.

    There we were, parked in the 3rd row (the first and probably only time in my life I’ll have such money seats) when Fleet Foxes took the stage. And I haven’t been the same person since.

    • Fleet Foxes will do that! I saw them a fee years ago in LA and it was an incredible show.

      My life changing 3rd row show: Paul McCartney. I can’t even… Oh. Mah. Gawd.

  3. Wow, this was awesome and right on time. I just moved to Austin from Houston a few days ago. When you live in non- Austin Texas cities, you’re usually pretty skeptical of the hype surrounding Austin. Truthfully, I still am, but this post reminded me to branch out and give it a try.

    • http://www.showlistaustin.com/

      (White White Lights at the Mohawk this friday and Dana Falconberry – amazing – there next Wed)

    • I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOU. Go to Red River between 6th and 11th street. The Mohawk always has good shows, Beerland, and of course Emo’s, and then on 6th between Red River and I-35 there’s Beauty Bar and that place across the street who’s name I always forget. Those are the basics. Then there’s just bands and shows you should check out that happen around town.

      Also, go to El Chilito on Manor (North of I-35) and have a breakfast taco and think of me. I miss their breakfast tacos super bad.

  4. Everything you have written is the honest to God truth. I try to communicate this feeling to people who don’t get why I go to so many shows, now I can just direct them to this!

    • I’m not sure if you’re saying that I just wrote a new Bible, but I can go with that. Let’s fine me some minions!

  5. Seriously, you are speaking my language. I’m an LA native (still living in LA) and I average 2 shows a week. Portland and Austin are amazing, but I feel so plugged into the music here that it would break my heart to leave. Live music is my #1 stress/anxiety buster. Not buster, obliterator. It makes my body move without my head telling it to. It even makes me forget any aches and pains in my body. I first connected with my boyfriend over our mutual obsession with live music and show junkiedom. Thanks for posting this; it’s always lovely to hear from those people similarly obsessed :)

    • Oh man. LA has the BEST crowds. They get soo into it! I feel like if you go to enough shows you don’t need to make time for exercise. Troubadour > jogging. Btw I don’t know if you’ve been to shows in New York but I swear, the Troubador is like the Mercury Lounge of LA.

  6. So as I was about to write that we are soul sisters, I noticed the previous commenter already stole my thunder. Perhaps we can all united by moving to Boston/NYC together? I think you’ve underestimated the East Coast sound.

    • I’m pretty sure we’re all soul sisters. NYC is amazing. When I lived there I swear I single handedly kept the Mercury Lounge in business.

  7. I think you’re my soul sista. I work intern in a music venue unpaid because live music is my life. I feel lost without it.

  8. I havent been to a show in a good while so me and the husby were talking about maybe getting tickets for a chili peppers show this fall…. But now it is totally on! WOOWOO! thanks girl.

  9. The kind of energy that certain artists are capable of communicating is fucking amazing and I think you can only really ‘feel’ it in it’s entirety when you see that band play live.

  10. Seriously, I underestimated how much going to shows would change my life, but over the last couple of years I’ve gone from seeing maybe one or two bands a year to maybe two or three a month, and it’s brilliant. It sounds ridiculous, maybe, but there’s nothing like standing in the crowd and singing along with an awesome band, letting your voice get lost along with everyone else’s, being completely in that moment where nothing else matters but the music.

    The only downside is that, yeah, a bad show can completely ruin a band for you, even if they’re great on record. But that’s been pretty rare.