As an avid music fan who goes to see her favourite bands as often as possible there are two questions that I get asked a lot, but it was only when I was asked 'Are you not fed up of us yet?' by the singer of one of my favourite bands that I sat down and really thought about it.....
You see anyone who has read my blog in the past will know how much I love music, gigs and bands and will know that I often see bands more than once on a tour and in some cases follow the whole tour, so whilst in hindsight I can see why I get asked this question so much, I've never really been able to provide an answer.
For me a concert isn't just about the music or the band. Don't get me wrong they play a huge part in it but over the years I have made so many friends and acquaintances just because of the band I am there to see, that they also play a big role. You see, if you follow a certain genre of music you will see the same faces at each and every show. As you get to see these faces again and again you will start with a nod or a smile, and then it progresses to hello and in some cases you add each other on Facebook and even arrange to meet before the shows or between shows and friendships are formed.
Some are not quite as forthcoming and although they smile or say hi, you never quite get to the conversation stage and these guys tend to be known as 'Gig guy' or 'Awesome Tattoo Girl'. You may never have spoken properly but you know they are there for the exact same reason as you, and in that respect they become a kindred spirit.
I met some of my really good friends from a chance meeting at a show!
Then there are the fan communities. These are little communities that are set up (usually by fans or friends of a band) to support a certain band or artist. I know in previous blog entries I have mentioned Patent Pending's Second Family, which is a worldwide community, Lacey's Outlaws and Ryan Hamilton's 'Traitors' which are smaller groups.
However, some groups are known on a worldwide scale like Justin Beiber's 'Belibers', One Direction's 'Directioners', Lady Gaga's 'Little Monsters' and some of the bigger bands have communities that are less recognised, like Stone Sour's 'Dead Generation', Slipknot's 'Outside The Nine' and 'Maggot Army', and Guns and Roses 'Night Train'.
It doesn't matter what size these communities are you will always find like minded people who are just as passionate about that particular band, and many of these communities offer support and friendship with very little judgement.
Then there are the bands themselves. In the current day and technological age bands are becoming more accessible. When I was a kid you could only ever see your favourite band on the pages of a music magazine or on Top of The Pops. Many concerts are 14+ so until you hit the golden age you couldn't even see them live, unless you got really lucky with an all ages show. However in the current climate for social media you can now pick up your phone and tweet your favourite singer or band and even stand a chance of getting a reply!
A lot of bands seem to be seeing the interaction with their fans as useful too. Whether it being to fund their album, create their setlist for tour or get suggestions of where fans would like them to tour and who they should tour with. Bands and artists only have to hit their Facebook and twitter accounts to find out their fans views.
A lot of bands also seem to be shunning the big record companies who build the walls between the record industry and the fans. The bands are now recognising that their band is only as big as its fan base and are now choosing to break down the imposed walls and have more interaction with their fans.
The pledge music platform is a perfect example as the bands can dispose of the major labels and their policies. The fans fund the album and in return get to pledge for exclusive goodies and quite often experience days with the band they are funding (for example studio days so they can experience an album being recorded and hang out with the band). This platform also gives the band more say over how their album is made and what material is used, giving bands more scope to experiment and be creative. I have done quite a few of these campaigns , in fact one of the bands I have pledged on is recording their album as I type.
Then there is the other important factor....the lynch pin and glue that brings it together.... the music itself.
Hans Christian Anderson famously said 'When Words Fail, Music Speaks' and never a truer word has been said. Music can provoke so many emotions and memories and has the ability to change your mood with one simple chorus.
Music is universal. It doesn't have a single language but it can unite people from all over the world. For example, if you've ever been to the opera you will know that you don't have to understand Italian to understand the story.
Music isn't prejudiced and will allow anyone to listen to it, no matter who you are. It has a style to suit all tastes and all moods. In an age where you can stream songs from the internet you don't even have to have a lot of money to enjoy it and if you attend smaller shows you can get tickets for as little as £5, which is less than a packet of cigarettes and better for you!
Music is always there for me. It can lift my spirits, console me and keep me company every time I need it. If I am down it can be sombre with me and if I'm happy it can make me dance and sing!
If ever you want an insight into someone, listen to the music they listen to. Hear the lyrics because they will tell you much more than that person ever will.
I have quite a few friends who are musicians and when I miss them I am lucky enough to be able to put my earphones in and hear them, even when they are on the other side of the world.
Gig time is also my time. It is my time to relax and just be in the moment for that short time. It is a break from everyday life. One of the greatest feelings is to be singing to your favourite song at the top of your lungs with like minded people, because in that moment you can be you, and all stresses and problems from everyday life are momentarily forgotten. The whole experience just gives you a natural high.
I have been stood in the middle of a crowd in the pouring rain listening to a band and you become so engrossed in the music that you don't notice that you are soaked to your underwear, you don't notice the thousands of people stood around you, it's like that scene in the movie where everything else in the world stops. It is just you, the band and the music.
In a day and age where there are so many atrocities happening and where humanity has forgotten how to be human, is it such a crime to have a passion for something as innocuous as music. At the end of the day I'm not hurting anyone by attending these shows and on the plus side I am supporting the artists.
On the flip side though I do describe my love of music as an addiction as I quite often find that I get withdrawal symptoms between shows and really bad post gig blues if I've done a stint of shows on a tour.
The current online statistics report that 25% of the population suffers with some form of mental health issue and cases of depression and suicide are rising. More and more people are relying on anti depressants to get them through their daily life when all I need to get me through is music and the promise of my next concert.
So I guess the answer to the questions are that I go to concerts because it's good for my mental health! It's a shame you can't get gig tickets on prescription!