For reasons I don’t fully understand, I’ve never enjoyed going to concerts. In fact, except for plays, I’m not big fan of live performances in general. Fiction readings are usually dull as are most poetry readings. This is partly because, in my experience, two thirds of all fiction writers and 99% of all poets are not big fans of people in general and often lack confidence and a sense of performance. The result is whispered monotone droning that seems to go on quite a long time.
I call this phenomenon Poet’s Voice. Example below. (You might need to turn up the volume some):
I think part of it is that such performances, concerts included, despite their group nature, are fundamentally individual experiences. You may go to a performance with friends, but each of you must experience the event in your own way. To me it’s like going to a restaurant and having everyone spend time fiddling with their smartphones.
With readings, I have a hard time surrendering to the words, especially when delivered in Poet’s Voice. Bad poetry makes my brain switch off–even when I’m reading it–and it’s no exaggeration to say I have a harder time finishing a bad 200 line poem than a bad 200 page novel. With fiction readings, unless it’s extremely short or an entertaining reader, I don’t find myself interested in the thread of the story enough to take it all in. I’d rather sit down and read it.
With concerts, especially in large arenas, I find myself overwhelmed by the absurdity of it all. Lots of people standing about gawking at tiny figures on stage. The tiny figures on stage, however, are often broadcast via a large screen. This, to me, is no different than watching the concert on TV, except the chairs are crappier. Some concerts compensate by special effects and light shows, but that’s the same as watching a movie, except the chairs are crappier. I’m convinced that people only hold up lighters in concerts because the pain in their thumbs provide actual evidence that they are awake.
I prefer live music in small venues–and no one puts on a better show than the Flaming Lips–but even that isn’t as much fun for me as it is for others. I have a hard time surrendering to the moment. Alcohol helps, but can lead to such absurd horrors as me dancing. And no one wants that.