By China Marsot-Wood
What is it about live music that inspires me to do what I do — go out, after work, night after night to watch, and photograph, and listen to, and write about strangers playing music? It is a question I couldn’t answer immediately, so I’ll ask it differently. Why are musical events so important for so many of us, myself included?
A concert brings us together. In a society where connections are increasingly hard to obtain, a live set gives us opportunities to see faces, feel that connection, in real time and space. We also get to meet strangers with similar interests, bringing spice to our lives. Going out solo is the perfect catalyst for these encounters. Doable at concerts since it minimizes the chances that some drunk dude at that bar will approach you, just ’cause he thinks you’re looking for a hook up.
Live concerts are like gambling. In fact, it’s the best gamble there is. The highs are incomparably high, the lows are still pretty okay, so it’s very easy to become addicted to the experience. Like yours truly.
Sometimes the magic happens, other times not. Musicians aren’t always to blame though. It’s about the interaction with the crowd (crowds can be a real pain in the ass). In 2005, while rarely attending concerts, I got dragged kicking and screaming by a friend to see the White Stripes in an arena. The whole thing ended with me in the first section after accidentally entering the mosh pit, and now I was kicking and screaming for a different reason. I had never felt so good. The Whites Stripes have since become a driving force in my life. I take a chance every time I enter a venue, but it’s always worth it. “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans”¹ right? Took me a while to get that, but I’m living it now.
If you’re a musician reading this, don’t stop touring, even though it really might suck at times. Don’t give up on the live experience. There will be long, hard times when it comes to money, but we all know it pays off in the long run. Crowds understand and are thankful. I hope you realize this.
I write and draw for a living, and find most of my inspiration buried deep in these live music situations. Writing is all about the experience of life. It’s also about describing the abstract beauty that exists in a song or performance. As for drawing, I often try to relive the concert with music at home. If the concert was good, I will buy the vinyl, and will play it over and over again for a week. Then I draw. I am not so much of an outlier, I’m a pretty typical fan. And I’m the reason you should keep touring.
¹ Cartoonist Allen Saunders’ quote from 1957 (not John Lennon, as some of us believe).
China used to avoid going to shows because she felt uncomfortable in crowds. Then in 2005, a friend convinced her to go to a White Stripes concert. That changed everything. In an ongoing attempt to recapture that magical moment, she has become an avid concert-goer and decided last fall to share those experiences in her personal blog, I Won’t Be Home Tonight.