Music has been around for ages. It is a form of entertainment that many people use to pass time, to help create a specific emotion, or to reinforce an emotion that they are currently having. These are typical examples of music being used on an individual basis through headphones. Music has many more functions for the individual person. My focus for this blog is not on what affects the music has on an individual, but what it is able to do to a group of people. It is a form of escape from the stress and obligations of our busy lives.
Ann Cvetkovich touched on this concept in her book “The Archive of Feelings” when she mentioned the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. She said “performed live, the song creates an opportunity for the audience to shout out the words as a group and affirm the many kinds of survival that bring them together”. She said that these live shows “form the archive in which my own feelings are deposited”. In my own experience with live concerts, I have experienced the same thing. Cvetkovich spoke of a collective “trauma” occurring in each of the attendees that brings them together and unifies them. I’d like to clarify through my experience that it does not take a traumatic experience to pull people together and enjoy these live shows. I personally haven’t really had a noteworthy traumatic experience in my life. However, that hasn’t hindered me from having an amazing, communal experience when I go to a concert.
When I go to a concert by a band that I have been listening to nonstop and know all the songs by heart, the feeling of community is indescribable. In most cases, the people around you love the songs as much as you do. They are singing along to every word just as you are. The lyrics don’t have to be speaking about a traumatic experience or anything negative, its about the atmosphere that the music creates. Songs with positive, encouraging lyrics are just as powerful as traumatic, negative ones. The music behind the words has a profound affect on the movement and mood of the audience. Alternatively, dance concerts and festivals have very little words at all in their music and the feeling of community and acceptance is just as strong. An article in the Los Angeles Times talks about the Electric Daisy Carnival or EDC. The Electric Daisy Carnival is a massive festival that plays Electronic Dance Music, or EDM. This music typically has very few lyrics and is focused on the music and the beat. In this article, sociologist Yale Fox said “When everyone is listening to music at the same time, they’re all stimulated in a similar fashion … there’s something magical about everybody moving to the same beat.”(1) So, whether it has words to sing along to or not, the music has a way of bringing people together and putting everyone in a collective mood. Both the sense of community and the escape from stress are factors that will continue to make live music an unbeatable source of entertainment.
(1) “Electric Daisy Carnival, EDM Thrive on Escapist Atmosphere.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2015. <http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/la-et-ms-electric-daisy-carnival-20140621-story.html>.