Why I Love Going to Concerts Alone
High school teaches us a lot of things. Some are good, like trigonometry and geography. And some aren’t, like the idea that doing stuff alone is inherently uncool. Whether it’s shopping or seeing movies or even just grabbing froyo from your favorite neighborhood spot, we learn to feel irrationally embarrassed about being caught doing conventionally social activities all by yourself.
But it’s a big lie. Sometimes you’re just craving froyo, you know? All it takes is doing something alone one time to realize how awesome and exhilarating—and indulgent, even!—it really is. You can spend too much time trying on shoes you can’t afford at your favorite store; you can see the weirdo indie film you want to see; and, you can stand in front of the frozen yogurt spouts and sample every single flavor. Twice. But the hands-down best thing to do alone is go to concerts.
Before they were selling out arenas, I saw bands like The 1975 and Catfish and the Bottlemen play venues the size of my parents' basement. This has nothing to do with being ahead of the curve or super well-connected; it’s just a result of a) living in New York and b) having a long-running, occasionally embarrassing Hype Machine obsession. But because they weren’t always the Coachella lineup-topping acts they are now, I would have had to beg a friend to come along with me. Sometimes I did! “I promise they’re going to be huge” is a vow I’ve made many times in my life, to varying degrees of success.
But if the sucker you talk into coming along doesn’t feel as moved by the music as you do, it ruins everything. You don’t want to feel self-conscious when tears involuntary spring from your eyes the second Matty starts playing “Robbers”—a thing that has happened to me—and you don’t want to disown your pal when she says she just “doesn’t get” them.
When you’re going to a show solo, you go as early as you want and stake out a spot free of tall dudes and those couples who do the weird arms-wrapped-around-each-other sway dance people do at concerts. If you show up early, you can shamelessly eavesdrop—and I can say from experience that pre-concert eavesdropping is the best out there. And if you show up late, no one's going to stop you from elbowing you're way through the crowd. I'm not going to say I've used the old "My friend's right up there!" lie, but I'm not going to deny it, either.
Don’t get me wrong: It’s fun to share things with people. I once lucked out big-time and saw Justin Bieber surprise the crowd at a Chance the Rapper show. I was so close I could grip the stage—and see JB’s endearing attempt at a mustache—and though it’s something I’ll never forget, it’d be fun to have a friend to say, “Remember that time…” But who knows? If I'd had a friend with me, I might not have made it so close.
Besides, when you’re at a concert alone, you’re not really alone.
You’re surrounded by fans who are singing along with every single word (or pretending to, at least), just like you. They're obsessing over the set list and trying to catch the drummer's eye and wondering exactly what moment they should walk outside in order to catch the band during their post-show smoke.
The whole experience is going to be a little terrifying at first; maybe even the second time, too. But eventually you won't think twice about buying a ticket for one. Summer concert season is coming up—go see your favorite band. I'll look for you in the crowd.