The Importance of Live Music

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Last night I saw The Goo Goo Dolls and Matchbox Twenty in the same venue I had my first concert at fifteen years ago. Though it has gone through many name changes the venue remains the same. There’s the humming heart beat drum beat, open fresh air, the surprise set list and marijuana scented nights where if you aren’t sitting in the covered seats you can look up and see the stars and the moon. 

Live music makes me remember how much I love certain lyrics. It makes me fall in love with bands all over again. Live music brings up all sorts of memories, nostalgia and emotions in a different ways. I can only attempt to explain this by saying that I have “so many feels“. The goosebumps from just the right words, tears of remembrance or recognition and excitement by the song choice are just part of the experience for me. Add in awesome friends, silly iPhone pictures and constant singing/ dancing/ crowd participation and you have the perfect formula for an awesome live music experience.

I used to leave every show with a new t-shirt and sleep in late the next day in a sort of concert hangover. And now even though the live shows I go to seem to be less frequent (having responsibilities sometimes disrupts the necessity/ ease at which attending concerts used to have), while I am there I always experience the same emotions, excitement and sense that yes, I am alive.

Just as Rob Thomas came on stage last night he said something truly amazing, and I feel like it summed up everything. Rob started to explain how we all came to this venue tonight with stuff on our minds our own problems and issues but he proposed that “we forget about that for a second… for this little time this it our time… we are going to play music and you guys are going to have a good time… And when it’s all said and done we are going to go back to our lives and you are going to go back to yours, and we’re all going to feel like we celebrated life together because this would be a missed opportunity tonight if we did not. So who wants to celebrate life together?”

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Great Woods, Concerts and Anthem

Today is the fifteen year anniversary of my first concert. I was thirteen at the time, a friend of mine had promised to get us tickets to this concert before I had even contemplated it would be possible to see this amazing band live. People did that? I hadn’t even stopped to think they went to shows and saw bands perform.

In the months before the concert, I’m not sure what happened with tickets but I think false promises and failed friendships led to nothing more than shed tears. My mom and I managed to find two tickets, maybe it was online. It was 1998, did the internet sell tickets back then? It was probably through customer service at Filenes, which is now Macy’s. And I met a girl a few towns over who sold us her extra ticket. My mom, my cousin and I had lawn “seats” to see Hanson at the Albertane tour.

I bought a t-shirt and a lanyard and a tour book. I stood as close as I could to the front of the lawn section, separated by two or three rows of girls in front of me while my cousin and my mom hung back in the less cramped lawn. I lost myself inside the music and screaming. I don’t remember the show, not really, but I remember the feeling of standing alone with strangers who all had something in common with me.

Fifteen years ago I knew that Hanson would always be my favorite band. My mom chalked up my “obsession” to a phase I was going through, and humored me as long as she could. It wasn’t a phase, and I knew it back then (but who’s to say I wouldn’t have changed? Outgrown them? It doesn’t matter, because I haven’t) that they were forever in my heart.

That’s how things happen with me. They get stuck in inside the crevices of my heart and stay there forever. People, ideas, songs.

So last week Hanson’s sixth studio album Anthem came out. For a while I didn’t have any words on the album. It didn’t feel like Hanson to me, something was missing. The songs blended together. But I wasn’t paying attention. I hadn’t even stopped to pick out voices and know that Zac was singing lead on a lot more songs than I realized. I hadn’t stopped to figure out the lyrics, either. And when I first listened, a few of the songs were missing from my collection.

Those, it turns out, seemed to be the most important songs – for me – on the album. Anthem was made in a short amount of time by a band who wasn’t sure if they were going to make another album. The fact that Anthem almost didn’t exist really has an impact on the way I view a lot of the songs as well. It’s a little more rock than normal, and a little more… something else. Distanced, in a way. My three favorites are: Scream and Be Free, Tonight and Juliet.

Scream and Be Free because it’s about knowing and feeling and being. It’s about living right now and expressing yourself. Tonight is about living for the moment, as well. It (intentionally) includes titles and themes from a few past songs like On The Rocks and This Time Around and it’s one of those songs that you know will be the final song at a concert. It’s also one of those songs that makes you wonder if this is the end. Is this the last song?  And Juliet because it’s sweet and upbeat and there’s something about the tempo that pulls me in.

You can listen to Anthem on Spotify here but it would be super awesome if you support the band and purchase the album. Hanson in on their own record label producing their own music and it would be awesome to see them get some recognition especially in the form of album sales. They made it up to #8 on the iTunes list when the album came out last week.

Do you remember your first concert?

xo.Melanie. Kristy

You Make Me Wanna Listen to Music Again

Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/iheartradio/4479385064/sizes/o/

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Last month I saw Adam Lambert in concert at a sold out packed show at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel in Providence, RI. My cousin dressed up like Adam complete with a microphone that smeared glitter all over my arm. We were surrounded by a diversity unlike one you’d see at many other concerts. There were groups of glammed out Adam look alikes, gay boys sharing kisses, girls who loved Adam just as much as we did, twelve year old children, older women with their adult children. I was guilty of not taking the time to really listen to Adam’s album, so I knew few of his songs but that really didn’t matter.

The atmosphere was electric. Adam appeared in a huge over coat, and he wore a top hat with feathers coming out of it. We reveled in how HOT he must be, as we were simply sweating as we stood there. He danced around, he took the time to talk about love and relationships and what some songs were about. He made out with his straight bassist and sat on stairs in the center of the stage at one point to sing a slower songs.

I was struck by how sexy he was, and I admired his stage presence. He really knew how to be on the stage and I’m sure that stemmed from his years in musicals and theaters but it really added to the concert.

I left the show with three thoughts in mind: 1. I NEED WATER 2. I need to listen to this album on the drive home and 3. He made me want to listen to music again.

Not that I don’t listen to music because I certainly can’t drive without a CD playing. But I remembered a time when music was my passion; I was completely moved by finding new music, going to concerts and making mix cds. Lately, however, my need to listen to music has melted away. The need for fiction has replaced that for music. And though I’m not sure if anything will change, I think it’s nice to know and recognise ways that you’ve changed. It’s good to realize how you are different especially if you want to reclaim parts of your old self. So thank you, Adam Lambert for making me want to listen to music again.

Still Listening

Still Listening

“They don’t know what it’s like to love one band,

one silly piece of music so much it hurts.” – Almost Famous

Sometimes I find it hard to believe they exist. I temporarily forget about the hours of love I’ve put into this band. I forget about how A Song To Sing was the first song I listened to when I got This Time Around. I forget that Underneath reminds me of developing photos in the dark toom at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

It’s nights like last night when I am going to see them as if it’s a regular occurrence that gets me. Nights when I stand there and it’s all so surreal. Instead of feeling the anticipation, I am confused because this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be instant friends and sing alongs in line. It’s supposed to be hours of excitement, necks craned to sneak a glance and endless wonderment. It’s supposed to be a group of my friends who know all the words, not me and my own doubt to memorize the new album.

The shows start off surreal in an odd mixture of familiarity and something else all together. Just before Isaac, Taylor and Zac appear, my excitement is at its highest. The moment the music begins to play I’ve forgotten how to breathe, I can’t stop smiling and the beat takes over. Everything comes rushing back in the form of cords and piano keys. I am at home, where I’m supposed to be.

I used to be so proud to shout it out, tell others that Hanson is my favourite band. I was happy and defensive, stubborn when I tried to convince you of their worth. Now I find myself trying to avoid announcing it to the work crew that Hanson is who I am going to see. It’s not that I’ve stopped caring, it’s that I’ve realized that no one else does. I can go without a round of co-workers singing Mmmbop terribly (and with the wrong words). This makes me feel like I’m harbouring a secret, indulging in a guilty pleasure, but it isn’t that at all.

It’s that Hanson is so ingrained in who I am, I don’t need to explain it to anyone else because they will not get it, even if I want them to. To them, Mmmbop it a long forgotten one hit wonder by boys who don’t exist anymore. It doesn’t matter though, because I’m still listening and that’s all that really does matter.