Miranda, aka The Good Groupie, and I have been friends for years. We renamed each other after characters in Francesca Lia Block novels almost as soon as we started talking (She is Alabaster Duchess and I am Lady Ivory from Girl Goddess #9). It was music that brought us together and she remains the most passionate person I know when it comes to live shows.
In my world, music is the most real form of magic there is. It doesn’t matter who I’m going to see. As my ticket is scanned, the wrist band wrapped around my arm, and I step into the venue’s hallowed halls, I’m transported to another world. One where guitar riffs and drum fills reign supreme. One where lyrics are magical spells, spoken and sung, that wind their way around my body, into my veins and pump right through my heart.
Music is the magic that keeps me alive, so I have no choice but to believe magic is real. If I didn’t, I’d cease to exist.
I started going to shows on a regular basis when I was 18 years old. My friend Mel and I would drive two hours to the big city from the tiny east Texas town where we went to school at the time just to get our fix. Mel introduced me to most of the less-mainstream music I started off listening to, which usually meant we found ourselves at small venues in the sketchy part of town.
On the outside, the city buildings were covered in graffiti and the streets were filled with trash and broken glass. Most venues looked like one good gust of wind would send them crashing to the ground. But once we stepped inside and took our places in front of the stage (usually front row – we were serious about our music), it felt like I was somewhere else entirely.
The thrill of the house lights finally going down as the first band would take the stage always sent butterflies fluttering through my stomach. The din of the crowd excitedly welcoming the opener to the stage would send pulses of energy through my body, and the moment the first song of the night began, everything would turn electric.
That electricity would slowly build with each band – contained, but growing more intense with each song until the headliner took the stage and with their first note, it would explode and my whole world would be colored by the melodic tones of guitar strings and piano keys, backed by the thunderous crashing of kick drums and china cymbals and fed by the pulse of the bass lines.
As the candy-colored stage lights shone on my face, every last note, lyric, ‘ooh’, ‘aah’, and breath would flow through me like it was my life blood. The lines of every song would echo through my body, filling me to the brim with a buzzing so intense, I swear I got high off it.
In those moments, nothing else mattered. The world was perfect, I was happy, and the magical power of music swarmed around me, picking me up and carrying me off into a beautiful oblivion.
I got addicted easily, and I found myself filling my calendars with tour dates rather than homework assignments and project due dates. The intense happiness I experienced at shows could last for weeks at a time. When I was searching for something to fill me and make me feel whole, music filled a void in my heart and in my soul. It made me feel complete. It made me feel alive.
Nearly 10 years later, I still go to shows at least 2-3 times per month. While that intense connection I used to feel has lessened some, it isn’t gone. Not by a long shot. I don’t think it could ever be forgotten. It’s too much a part of who I am. It’s why I’m constantly scanning venue calendars and local band’s websites, looking for my next catharsis through notes and lyrics.
At 18, I wanted so badly to believe there was something magical in this world that could be truly good and pure; something that could transform me into the girl I didn’t know but wanted to become; something that would carry me through the hard times when there was no one else to turn to.
And music, true to form, like your soon-to-be favorite band falling in your lap by happy accident or a song that perfectly describes the feelings you can’t put into words coming on the radio exactly when you need it, I didn’t find the magic I sought.
It found me.