Two weeks ago, I finally ventured outside of Claremont to downtown Riverside to see Bad Suns open for a band I had never heard of called Angels and Airwaves. Even though I arrived at the venue only an hour before the doors opened, those 60 minutes felt much longer than in the past, when I used to regularly wait outside of venues for three hours before doors opened to get the closest spot to the stage.
Once inside the venue, I was reminded of the annoying wait that’s full of anticipation where I switch between going on my phone and eavesdropping on the conversations of the people around me. Like always, it’s coupled with somewhat eclectic music playing courtesy of the venue.
Once the first opener, 1990nowhere, comes on, excitement starts. I sway and sing along to songs I vaguely know while feeling empathy for the band, as they have to perform to others that are mostly indifferent to the music playing. After they finish their short set of five songs, the waiting game is on once again, along with a mental game of guessing how long it will take for the next opener to come on and what could be holding them up.
Finally, however, Bad Suns arrives. A jolt of excitement courses through my body as I stand on my tippy toes to finally see the faces that I have only seen through a screen before. I shamelessly dance and sing along to the songs that helped shape my sophomore year of high school. I hear the extra loud ringing of the guitar and the connection between the band members. There is a continual sharing of energy, from the other individuals in the crowd to myself to the band members, after which it is given back to the crowd.
Concerts represent more than simply music being played; they represent music coming to life. You can see the guitarist’s part and how it carries the song, as compared to the lead singer’s vocals. You can see the emotion put into each of the lyrics being sung. You can see the physical labor it takes to perform a song. Music is meant to be shared and while it is enjoyable to listen to it alone in your room through your Airpods, nothing can beat a concert.
I left the venue feeling the way I always do when finishing a concert: full of joy – not only for fresh air and being able to regain personal space once again, but also because nothing makes me feel as alive as listening to live music does, as cheesy as it sounds.
This concert was not particularly unique in Bad Sun’s set or their stage set up. However, it still reminded me of the collective energy a group of people can hold and how much it can impact one’s mood. It reminded me that music is supposed to be made and played with emotion and that that energy is transmitted into the crowd during a concert. The songs felt more real and tangible because I could see the emotion behind the song and the lead singer’s imperfections while singing. Even if I emotionally bond with a song when I stream it, hearing it live creates a whole new level of connection.
But most people tend to listen to music through streaming. This technology of streaming and music recording has brought so much to the music world, making it not only more accessible for listeners but also revolutionizing the ways in which music is shared and recorded.
Don’t get me wrong, I love nothing more than being able to listen to whatever song I want whenever I want, but music is meant to be heard live. I relish being able to hear the varying changes and imperfections when seeing an artist perform live compared to the recorded version. This may include a longer instrumental introduction or an extra guitar solo in the middle of the song.
Performing live grants artists freedom to explore and show features they may not have been able to include on the recorded version. Live music easily allows the crowd to unpeel the layers that are put together to create a song.
I encourage you to take advantage of live music even when you don’t know the artist, because live music’s infectiousness will undoubtedly leave you glowing.
Ava Hinz SC ’25 is TSL’s music columnist, and she’s from Los Altos, California. When she is not nerding out about music podcasts, she is most likely finding a coffee shop to try their iced chai or talking about the time she met Jojo Siwa.