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A Mere Experience

“A live concert to me is exciting because of all the electricity that is generated in the crowd and on stage. It’s my favorite part of the business, live concerts.” – Elvis Presley

People spend their hard earned cash on a multitude of things. Some take “retail therapy” to heart and find joy in purchasing the most fashionable of clothing and accessories. Others cannot help but be up-to-date with all the latest forms of technology, from the newest gaming systems to buying every iPhone known to man. For me, my guilty pleasure involves seeing as many concerts as humanly possible.

I love live music. To be fair, I love all music in general. But there is nothing comparable to having your favorite musician perform within arm’s length of you.

One of the first concerts I ever went to was on Feb. 11, 2007. My father took me to see Billy Joel at the old TD Waterhouse Centre. I was so anxious and excited to go and see this amazing legend perform. After singing for 2 hours straight, I nearly lost my voice, but I didn’t care. While we may have been in what some would consider “the nosebleeds,” it was still one of the most special experiences I have ever had, if only because of whom I got to share the moment with.

After that night, I was hooked. I would insensately check Ticketmaster once a week just to see what new acts were coming to Orlando. As a result, I thought Mardi Gras at Universal Studios was the best thing ever because included with the purchase of a park ticket would be admittance to that night’s Mardi Gras festivities, including the nightly concert. I would usually go during my Spring Breaks in high school with one of my best friends and we’d spend all day riding all the rides, having tons of ridiculous teenage fun, and then at night, we’d rock out and enjoy amazing sets from Earth, Wind, and Fire, Huey Lewis and the News, and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

Fiona Apple, Ke$ha, Sugar Ray, Ziggy Marley, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Evanescence, Edwin McCain, The B-52s, Taylor Swift, Tears For Fears, The Killers, Counting Crows: the list goes on and on. Each one was a different, more exhilarating experience than the last. Now, I do not claim that I am an expert at “concert-going” by any means, but there have been some key things that I have learned over the years that have maximized my concert experiences to the fullest.

For instance, venue is vital. In the Orlando area alone, we have a plethora of places to choose from, such as Hard Rock Live, the new Amway Arena, UCF/CFE Arena, House of Blues, Firestone, and The Beacham. If it’s all general admittance/standing and you want to get the most bang for your buck, you have to get their one to two hours early if you have any hope getting close to the stage. These shows are usually the most intimate and my favorite to go to, but be ready to have to stake your claim a little and push the drunks off you. You’ll get to know the people around you really well by the end of the night. Yet if you’re going to places like the Amway or UCF, it’s a whole other ball game. You’ll want to look at the venue maps and know where you’ll be sitting for the night. Sometimes shelling out that extra $50 is worth not having to strain your neck and squint your eyes the whole night just to “enjoy” the show. While these concerts are by no means personal, these are the shows that epitomize what the real “arena rock” experience is all about. Artists can turn a simple album into a full on rock opera production, full of pyro and laser lights galore that will knock the wind right out of you.

Also, if you know someone interested in going to said concert as well… GO TOGETHER. Four out of my five top concert experiences have been shows where I have gone with a good friend or family member and was able to spend the whole night sharing this amazing experience with them. Seeing Paramore last Tuesday would have been an awe inspiring experience regardless of if I went with someone or was alone, but it was truly phenomenal having my friend with me, if only to spend the rest of the night talking about what an awesome show we just saw and how badly I wanted to make Hayley Williams my wife. But that’s for another installment entirely…

In the end, there is nothing as electrifying or quite as special as going to see a live show. To be one with the greater crowd, as soul-touching music is played by the musicians who wrote and performed these pieces with all the heart and soul they have is pure bliss. I always find it surprising when someone tells me that they have never been to a concert before, because for me, I know that these people are missing out on an amazing opportunity. It’s one thing to listen to a song on the radio or play a video on Youtube, but hearing these songs played live is a whole other world. So if you do nothing else in this world, go to a live show sometime soon. If not because of me, then at least do it for the King.

The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of The Sandspur, its staff or Rollins College.

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