I kind of alluded to this in my last post, but I love music. One of my favorite memories as a kid is sitting in front of my parents’ record player, looking at the pictures on the album sleeves and reading the lyrics. So it’s not terribly surprising that, as I got older, live music became pretty important to me. The thrill of anticipation while you wait in a dark, crowded theater, knowing what you’re in for while still having no idea what to expect of the next three hours…there’s really nothing like it. I’m always checking Bandsintown and other social media apps to see if my favorite artists have posted shows in my area, or if I have to use my jealously hoarded vacation days to trek to some far-flung place to see them (although, let’s be honest, that’s exactly why I hoard my vacation days).To me, trying to capture those feelings over and over again is worth the effort and the time and the planning.
But it wasn’t always. For something that has come to mean so much to me, I actually took a pretty long hiatus from it and my rediscovery of it recently has been pretty life-changing (and I can say that with no exaggeration). I went to a lot of concerts growing up – my very first one was everyone’s favorite English ‘80s hair band, Def Leppard, in 1993 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in upstate New York while my family was vacationing in the area (my love of ’80s hair bands is something I will NEVER apologize for). Throughout school, I was always going to shows, which was a nice perk of living so close to both Philly and Camden. But after I graduated college, I moved about an hour and a half away. Not a huge distance, but far enough to be inconvenient. And that was when my concert-going came to a screeching halt. I went to a handful of shows in those early days of me being a south Jersey expat, but there was a five-year span where I didn’t attend a single one. I know – if you know me now, you’ll find that pretty hard to imagine. It’s not that I didn’t want to go – it just seemed like SO much work and hassle. I was lazy.
That changed with Elbow. After years of lacking the motivation to drive ALL the way to the city, the distance suddenly didn’t seem like such a big deal, especially for something so amazing. I remember using the words “euphoric” and “transcendent” to describe that particular show, and years later, I still get chills thinking about it (have I mentioned how awesome Elbow are? Seriously. Why the hell haven’t you checked them out yet?). So having been a witness to something wonderful and special, why on earth wouldn’t I want to feel that as much and often as possible?
That was the little nudge that got the ball rolling and now it’s like a damned boulder accelerating downhill with no hope of stopping. I’ve been to over thirty shows in eighteen months. The reason it got this bad is a post for another day, but now you know that I’ve reached the point where I’m willing to plan lengthy trips around shows. And that’s exactly what I did this past weekend. Three of ’em in four days (and would have been four in five if AC/DC hadn’t cancelled), all bands I was dying to see, ten total trips across the Delaware River, about five hundred more miles on my car. I’m exhausted and feel physically sick from lack of sleep and dehydration. But I cannot wait to do it again.