Live Music is my Drug of Choice (The Eternal Pursuit of the Sweet Spot)
Some things are meant to exist in a single moment, then never again. It's easy to forget that in the world of instant gratification, social oversharing and permanent documentation we live in. I'm grateful for the ability to capture memories and chronicle the stories of our lives, and I use it to my advantage daily. But that makes us readily able to forget what doesn't need to be broadcast to a bevy of followers and what should be actually, genuinely over when it's done.
When we recognize those moments, they tend to cause us to pause and soak it all in. That makes us more present and appreciative. They're the moments that make us feel more alive, knowing that we're really, truly experiencing them, often with other people who are—gasp—in the same room as us. I often have to fight off my own urges in order to experience these moments; I've been jamming with other musicians only to fall into a killer groove, creating a spontaneous burst of euphoria that my less-enlightened instincts want to record and have forever. But reaching for a recording device takes me out of the moment, and once I decided these moments are supposed to exist then and there and should dissolve into the ether after they've passed, they became more meaningful to me. They became a brief high that served as a nice reminder of the impermanence of everything.
That "high" that I speak of, though, is visceral. And when you get a good one, it's better than any drug I've ever taken (though to be fair I've never done heroin, so take that for what it's worth). So it became my addiction, and it turned out that for me there was only one way to achieve the purest form of this high I was experiencing: the live music "Sweet Spot."
In Search of the Sweet Spot
I go to a lot of shows. Some might even qualify it as a "shit-ton," though I know people who go to more than I do. The reason is simple: when I go to a good show that hits the Sweet Spot, I've never felt a more transcendent feeling of connection with humanity. That sounds a bit pompous, but it's 100% true. What is the Sweet Spot, you may ask? I don't have a good answer for that, because I can only assume it's different for everyone. But in my mind, there is a time when a good concert hits its stride, everyone is in the groove together (what's with me and "grooves?") and suddenly you feel like a single organism united in the moment with a common cause, happy, admiring the beauty of the experience together, and appreciating something amazing that you all created and are a part of. On days when the world seems like a pretty shitty place, these moments wipe the slate clean and remind me that underneath it all is something good.
Not every concert hits a Sweet Spot. Sometimes I don't like the show or people are being loud and annoying around me or the venue sucks or I'm just tired and uncomfortable and cranky. But that's why I go to as many shows as I can, to maximize the potential for a Sweet Spot to be found. Because I am addicted. Live music is my drug of choice, and I keep going back. Because in its own little way, it's a testament to the human condition and what we really want: to be a part of something, something good, with other people, before our time is up. It's the beauty of the temporary and the satisfaction of The Collective.
Find Your Drug
There was one time when I went to a killer show, and the person in front of me (who was in the front row directly in front of an electric performer) had his phone out recording the entire set. I just felt sad seeing that. He was trying so hard to capture a moment that he wasn't fully experiencing, only to experience it even less by watching the footage later, if that ever even happened. When I go to a show, I take my phone out once or twice to allow myself to try and get one good photo for posterity. Then I put my phone back in my pocket and let the moment find the Sweet Spot. I don't say this because I think I'm better than anybody (though feel free to bask in the glow of my abject superiority). I say it because as a general rule it as served me well and made me happy. That's worth a lot.
Now, live music may not be your thing, but I encourage you to figure out what is. Then pursue it like crazy and try to live in the Sweet Spot as much as you can. When it's over, be grateful and look forward to finding another one at another time. Just because these moments are ephemeral doesn't mean we can't seek them out as often as possible. For me, music is my religion, concert venues are my cathedrals, and when it all comes together and hits the Sweet Spot, very few things exist that make me feel better than that: transcendent, connected, purposeful. Put that shit directly into my veins, please.