remembering my first concert, in the year without live music
A decade has passed since my first concert. The years since have seen countless mosh pits, shared cups of water and queues in the freezing cold, but none so memorable as the first.
A decade has passed since my now-faded ticket was printed. The block letters an artifact from pre-Covid life, read My Chemical Romance - a band that has since broken up and reunited.
Admittedly, my adolescent taste doesn’t make it onto my current playlists. But, hearing those records is like being greeted by an old friend. Those repressed memories are instantly conjured and I can almost smell my hair frying between straightening irons, and see the edges of posters long ago sacrificed to the recycling bin, curling on my walls.
My first experience with live music was an epiphany like those experienced by millions before me, and likely by thousands in the same room. The underlying feeling of leaving an old life behind, the one you had before an uninterested security guard scanned your ticket and let you behind the venue doors.
It’s pure adrenaline colliding with pre-teen hormones and heartache as each song inched closer to the end. From my seat I yearned to be at the barrier instead, watching those at the front, illuminated from the light reflecting their sweat, moving in unison.
Live music defines the experience of youth in Britain. Crumbling buildings and monotonous routine shattered by occasional bursts of strobe lights and screamed lyrics. Every lost voice and wristband, every sprint to make the last train home culminating as our adolescence.
My teenage years are over, and I know concerts will return. But still, I mourn the losses of today’s teens, forced to revisit archival concert footage via the blue light emitted from phone screens, rather than attending themselves. The sound of long-ago audiences leaking through their earphones while venue doors remain bolted shut.
Teens should be smudging eyeshadow in cramped arena bathroom mirrors, complimenting each other’s mesh tops and debating setlists. For those in small communities being Zoom-educated and socialising only on government-permitted walks, I feel sadness. Growing up in a small town can be dull and frustrating and suffocating, but it was those brief encounters with live music that made it worthwhile.
With concerts set to resume from 17 May, I anticipate a euphoric return, with crowds baptised in spilt beer and social distancing forgotten. But truthfully, I doubt any can rival the first.