Columns

Secondo ’16: Listen to the Music

By
Opinions Columnist
Thursday, April 16, 2015

As the sun slowly begins to shine and the birds test out their vocal chords, spring becomes more of an everyday reality. Besides shorts-wearing weather and Main Green lounging, spring also signals the beginning of the summer concert season. With big-name festivals, touring artists and our very own Spring Week(end) upon us, music is in the air and bringing in much deserved celebratory flair.

Music is both a medium with unlimited artistic potential and a source of entertainment with special significance for each individual. It is simultaneously a unifying and distinctively personal experience. Whether you’re the one making the music or listening to it, being a part of a concert is a celebratory experience of self-expression and entertainment. Performers and their audiences connect through their energy and mutual appreciation for the music that binds them together.

Brown students are lucky to have Providence perfectly centralized along the Northeastern seaboard where touring artists and groups — headlining or obscure — often stop on their way to New York or Boston. In addition to the infinite musical talent in both our school and local community, we have constant opportunities to hear tones and tunes that get us engaged and grooving.

In this of age of streaming media and societal demands for instant gratification, concerts and live music are losing appeal in presentation and purpose. Why spend a fair sum of money to hear an artist when his or her entire catalog is widely available across many platforms for a fraction of the cost, or none at all? Why even bother going to a concert with the intention of listening, given it serves as an environment for ulterior social and recreational intentions?

I jump at any opportunity for a live concert experience — whether in a box seat at Carnegie Hall for Haydn’s “Mass in Time of War” or in a mosh pit jamming to Kygo’s tropical house hits. Though different genres and venues result in an infinite variety of concert experiences, my most recent experience at a concert by Walk the Moon, an alternative pop-rock group, was the ideal example of how attending a concert enlivens the body and soul. Like a vibrational panacea, listening to music is proven to be beneficial for our mental and physical health, the Huffington Post reported earlier this year. Extensive research demonstrates that music can ease pain, improve cognitive function and reasoning, aid athletic performance, reduce anxiety and depression and boost the immune system.

Engaging with music is a whole brain activity that stimulates the nervous and endocrine systems by rebalancing levels of oxytocin. This evokes feelings of contentment, self-awareness and serotonin for better memory, mood and circadian functions. Research shows it also ignites our neural reward pathways, simulating the release of dopamine to make us feel elated, USA Today reported.

When Walk the Moon’s indie rock sound with catchy synths and soaring vocals hit my eardrums, I felt an instant infectious desire to “shut up and dance.” Each song’s hook and beat that thumped through my body felt like a revitalizing electric wave, purging inhibitions while promoting liberation. Within 20 minutes of being enveloped in the music, I felt the weight of the week’s stresses slip away as I was lifted into a good place. That’s a testament to the power of music and the quality artistry of the band. Finding yourself naturally transported to such a place is uncommon nowadays.

Synthesize music’s impact on our well-being with the additional social and mental benefits of concert psychology, and you now have an entertaining way of achieving euphoria and temporal enlightenment. Going to a concert is living for an experience and making a memory — a temporary retreat from the daily doldrums that you’ll forever revisit to tap back into that positive place, as demonstrated by a project examining the benefits of attending live music events by students at the University of California Los Angeles.

Often financial costs make attending concerts such as the ones I have described prohibitively expensive for many people. But we receive more gratification from experiences than material possessions given the lasting impressions they leave on us, similar to the effects of a vacation. There are completely free live and local concerts that can produce the same benefits for audience members and do not require a cost-benefit analysis.

As fiercely social animals, we inherently like engaging with people and becoming part of a unifying moment. Belting out choruses and dancing together are celebratory experiences that heighten our presence and connections with each other. It is also a way to appreciate and support the arts and talents of gifted people.

At a live concert, we listen to, dance to, sing and feel the music in a way that cannot be transferred on a recording. We see the band’s showmanship: exhilarating; the music: ecstatic; the moment: timeless. This comparatively tiny clip in life’s movie reel will not be forgotten, especially its soundtrack. Music is a reliable source for making us feel alive. But live music takes it a step further: With our open eyes and ears, it makes us live in the present and remember for a lifetime.


Feel free to continue the conversation with Reid Secondo ‘16 at 
reid_secondo@brown.edu.

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  • a fine piece! bravo

    thank you for standing up for live music

  • ’17er

    tbh thought this was going to implore people not to get so smashed as to not remember the concerts. Even though that wasn’t the purpose, I think you made good points about why live music is important! 🙂