Recently, I asked my friends to name the first concert they attended. I quickly learned how easy it is to tell someone’s age by the artist they named. Clearly, some of my friends came of age in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. But we all shared an experience of a first concert.
My first concert was (after researching the exact date) December 20, 1985. While some details are fuzzy, I remember my brother (who was 5 years older than me) had bought us tickets to see the Thompson Twins at the Patriot Center on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.
Not only was Fairfax pretty far from our home in Southern Maryland but it was snowy and the weather was a mess. And I was nervous. But my brother, in his typical devil-may-care attitude, decided the drive was no problem and off we went.
We were seated way back and up high which was fine with me. I was so excited to see a real live band and couldn’t wait to sit and listen to the music. But when we got to our seats, nobody was sitting. Everyone was standing and dancing. Dancing was something I was mortified to attempt in public and especially in front of my brother. So I stood awkwardly, listened to the music, and got my coveted t-shirt to prove that I was there.
Flash forward to over 30 years later and I’m stumped to find a Christmas present for my husband, the man who has it all (or can buy it all if he wants). He’s a huge music lover and I did a little research to find a concert he might get really excited about. And I found it: BASTILLE.
I’ve never really intentionally listened to Bastille’s music but I seem to know a lot of it. My husband tends to find a song or a band he likes and plays them over and over and over again. And I didn’t really hate them. I just felt a little saturated.
So the tickets were the perfect gift and I knew I’d most likely be his concert companion. And shortly after I bought the tickets for the EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, VA, I realized that this was the Patriot Center. Over 30 years later, I was returning to where my concert-going really started.
What’s Changed Since My First Concert
Let me start with the obvious: MY AGE.
When I was 15 years old, I was scared to death to be on a college campus and felt so young and awkward. For this concert, I was also surrounded by college students but this time I felt more like a protective mom.
At this show, though, I noticed a wide range of ages. Old folks (like, older than me), kids, college kids, and general 20 and 30 somethings.
The funny thing is that we ALL had to show our ID to buy alcohol. I don’t think beer was even on my radar in 1985
My seat assignment got better!
Back in the day, a concert meant either nosebleed seats or lawn seats. Being older, having a wee bit more income, means we can splurge on better seats.
The staging of shows is more high-tech.
Sometimes, artists are there to put on a show. And by show, I mean a theatrical show. It’s big, it’s entertaining, but it’s never really very intimate. I like smaller venues (which this actually was – it seemed so much bigger when I was younger!) and I like backdrops that compliment the show and doesn’t overwhelm the artist’s stage presence.
Things That Have Changed Since My First Concert (for the better)
Maybe it’s the age of social media that’s changed things. It used to be them, the artists, up on stage, and us, the fans, down on the ground watching them up on a pedestal. Now, that fourth wall is gone and artists recognize that fans are fans because they feel connected to the music and to the artist.
And finally, the biggest change and the BEST change is that most artists recognize that using social media at a concert is not an attempt to infringe on their artistry. It’s to share the love of their music.
Everyone has a phone. Everyone is doing a Facebook Live or Snapchat or Instagram. There are no lighters at concerts during the slow songs. Everyone, instead, holds up their cell phone light. It’s actually a beautiful use of technology.
And through that technology, I’m able to share with you how amazing the evening was.
If you don’t know Bastille, I recommend checking out their music. And if you haven’t been to a live concert in a while, skip the early bedtime for a change and recapture why music is the great unifier.