Concert-going is one of my favorite pastimes.
The number of concerts I have been to exceed the number of years I have been alive.
I have been going to concerts with my own money since I was a junior in high school; which is to say, I take day-trips outside of the city to attend concerts in Austin, Houston and El Paso.
This year (and the past year), I have been able to stay inside the city for more concerts. The San Antonio local music scene is lively; there are plenty of opportunities to see local bands in various venues throughout the city. Venues such as Paper Tiger, Alamo City Music Hall and The Aztec Theatre help bring live alternative and indie music to San Antonio.
More recently, I attended Maverick Music Festival—a locally grown, indie, live music alternative (as boasted by the festival’s Facebook page).
While both concerts and festivals bring music to the public, the different experiences between concerts and music festivals is surprisingly jarring.
When it comes to festivals, the majority of the line-up must draw me in. I won’t go to a festival for only one artist or band—not for the outrageous prices of one-day tickets (or two-day passes), food, drinks and merchandise.
Festivals operate on a hurry-up-and-wait system. You’re in a hurry to get to the venue on time and then — you wait and wait (almost the whole day) to see the bands and artists you really want to see.
Concerts, especially the ones with only standing room, involve a tiring process of waiting in line after line (often in stages): waiting outside of the venue, waiting for your special wristband and then, waiting as close to the main stage as possible to wait for the main act to finally appear.
Recently, in an effort to combat ticketing bots and scalpers, artists and venues only allow for people to pick up tickets at will call as opposed to classic mail delivery or convenient print at home options to receive purchased tickets.
You don’t have to be a diehard fan of one band to attend festivals. Festivals are often ways for bands and artists to be seen by hundreds of people not familiar with the bands and artists. You can discover and see bands you might not otherwise have known about. Festivals can be a gateway for a potential fan.
If you’re not used to being outside (often in the hot Texas heat) and being around large crowds for long periods of time, festivals can be exhausting and overwhelming (especially for introverts). Sometimes, one concert is good enough for any live music lover.
Concerts offer a more intimate experience; you get to see a band’s full set and you are guaranteed to see them (either from against the barricade separating the crowd from the stage or from all the way at the back of the venue).
Concerts usually have one or two openers depending on how big the main act is. You’re not just paying for one act, you’re paying for the opening acts as well. This can be a drag when you don’t like or don’t know the opening acts, especially when you might not be able to go out and come back inside the venue.
I prefer concerts over festivals. I would rather see a longer set by a band I love with other people who love the band , too, than see a shorter set and watch the set with a larger bunch of people who don’t really know the band. The only reason I like festivals is the prospect of seeing multiple bands I might not normally see individually.
I normally dislike large crowds (or any crowd), but I make an exception for concert crowds because of their energy. I go to concerts to be a part of something bigger than myself, to experience the immediacy of live music and to be present in a series of fleeting moments that cannot be duplicated (even if an artist or band plays the same exact songs every setlist or if you see the same or band twice during the same tour).
I dislike taking photos at concerts because photos take me out of the moment. If I’m so focused on getting a good shot, I’m not actually experiencing the music happening right in front of me. While photos can attempt to document such moments, there is more to be said for actually living in those moments.
For me, nothing (aside from live theatre) beats the emotions live music evokes in me. Whether you like concerts or festivals, both place an importance on experiencing live music.