Why It's Okay To Go To Shows Alone

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By Rivka Yeker

Mitski recently tweeted about going to shows alone and the importance of removing the negative connotation latched onto the idea. Mitski’s post went viral and people were sharing it via all different kinds of social media platforms. After featuring Mitski on Issue #9 of Hooligan, I am more than aware of Mitski’s integral impact on her following, so this was just another mini powerful Mitski rant that resonated with me a great deal.

Being active in various music scenes from the age of 14, I was attending all the shows I could beg my parents to pay for. Luckily, having an older brother with the same taste came in handy when needing to drive downtown from the suburbs of Chicago. While we all come from different musical paths, Freshman and Sophomore years of high school were my pop punk and hardcore phases, both genres with terrible scenes. As soon as I turned 16, I was driving to shows on my own with money I made from working at a restaurant.  It started out with local shows at pubs in the suburbs where I would spend time hanging out with metalcore bands that grew to get more recognition than expected. Being a girl actively trying to be apart of male-dominated scenes, going to these shows alone took a lot of courage. Feeling the need to dress in black band merch to prove my punk cred, I would go to shows desperately trying to mask any sort of femininity just so I would avoid questions like, “Is your boyfriend in one of the bands?” 

This point in my life was filled with creepy older men hitting on me, an underage girl just trying to mosh to terrible bands, misogynistic dude-friends, and constantly trying to prove myself and my knowledge on music I didn’t even like all that much. Finally, I had decided to throw all the sexist metalcore/hardcore garbage behind me and celebrate the whiny chaos of what is known to be screamo and the emo revival, a very popular and exciting time in 2012/2013 (?).  I started going to shows alone in Chicago, driving 45 minutes to see bands that yelled about ex-girlfriends (but on a more existential level, somehow this was more justifiable than pop punk) and began making friends with the members of the Chicago “DIY” scene. Barely knowing anyone, people slowly began becoming familiar faces whom I would wave and reintroduce myself to five times before establishing friendship. 

Now, it is never easy to bring yourself to do anything alone, whether it’s sit at a packed restaurant and eat dinner by yourself or go to the movie theatre solo but I have learned that I am much more comfortable doing things on my own because I am worried about my own safety, my own timeliness, my own happiness, and in this case, whether or not I liked the bands. As someone who is easily impacted by others’ energies and emotions, if someone didn’t enjoy something as much as I did, my mood can be brought from high to low in seconds. I would much rather focus on myself and my personal approval than feel terrible about someone else’s discontentment. 

There’s also the side of going to shows alone that makes everything worthwhile: the feeling of fully absorbing the performance. I have this uncontrollable desire to move any time I am listening to any kind of music. Whether it’s tapping my feet, aggressively thumping my fingers against my thighs, or bobbing my head, music sways me. The most recent show I went to alone was more of a concert than anything else. I bought tickets for Death Cab for Cutie and The Antlers as soon as they were posted, for both bands mean a great deal to me and I couldn’t miss it, regardless of price. After buying the tickets, I had realized that it was at the Chicago Theatre, which was all seating and not general admission. I didn’t think much about it since I was used to going to shows alone, but at same time, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect since I rarely ever go to large concerts like this one. As soon as I got there, I found my spot and couples began pouring in through the doors like a dam had just broke. Me being alone suddenly became very heightened and well, sad. Eventually, a girl sat down next to me and said that she was by herself, too. Both of us prepared for a night of intense emotions, alone together. 

The crowd itself was filled with a lot of middle aged people and randoms that didn’t seem like they belonged. For instance, the two drunk moms in front of me who couldn’t stop yelling throughout the first half of Death Cab. As stated prior, people impact my mood very easily. I physically couldn’t enjoy Death Cab because of how obnoxiously loud and stupid they were being, but eventually, they had left and I was back at ease. I had forgotten that this concert cost 60 dollars and not many people my age were willing to spend that much money on new Death Cab. While the entire night was somewhat unsettling, due to The Antlers (one of my favorite bands) only playing 5 songs and the crowd not really caring, plus the idiot moms, I think someone had answered my prayers and made everyone seal their lips from the middle of Death Cab’s set to the end. This was when my loneliness was heightened, but in a positive way. While they were playing a lot of stuff from their new album, they made sure to throw the best tracks off their old albums, the ones that had sentimental value. I found myself crying during the encore of  “What Sarah Said” as Ben Gibbard graciously sang,

Love is watching someone die, so who’s going to watch you die?

 

My thoughts and feelings started falling back in to place and my mind was slowly becoming at ease. I think about this concert a lot, for I had felt a lot of emotions in the span of a few hours. I rarely ever cry at concerts, since my tears are saved for poetry, film, and when I listen to records alone, but I found myself sobbing into the empty air that my loneliness created and it was sad, but relieving and very much needed.

Go to shows alone.

Experience something that means a lot to you without the stress of worrying about someone else liking it as much as you. Everyone has their own favorite band and everyone reacts to music differently. Your best friend may not tap his fingers against his thighs like you do, he may not even like the band you love. Life is already full of appointments, stressors, responsibilities, and complications; treating yourself to something you care about is vital and you should never let anyone negate you from feeling something the way you want to feel it.