Going to Concerts Alone Pt 1: Music Is My Boyfriend

Plenty of people wouldn’t dream of going to a concert alone. There are really tons of reasons not to: 

  • How do you hold your ticket and your drinks and your jacket at once?
  • Who do you turn to to *check in* emotionally?
  • What do you do after the show? Just like… go home in silence?

But for me, NOT going to the concert was never an option. I have a crush on the music I like, and when I have a crush, I crush HARD.

So recently I bought ticket to see my crush Depeche Mode live at Madison Square Garden on Monday, September 11 and went alone.

As with crushes, you can’t really control what kind of music you like: you just like what you like! Then, down the line, you may notice you have a type. Maybe a lot of the guys you like have the same interests, like skateboarding and art. You start realize they all kinda dress the same (like skinny jeans and Vans) and sometimes even look the same (like David Duchovny, Chandler Bing and Christian Slater).

Well at least, that’s how I am. I like guys like the ones I described and I like music with synthesizers, bass guitars, and gothic lyrics sung by men with deep voices.

While I don’t wish my tastes were different, I do wish they were a bit more common. Part of the reason I’ve found myself alone at so many concerts (so many boyfriends, so little time) is because I don’t have the same taste in music as my friends. So if I want to go see live music, I’m usually not gonna have a lot of friends who want to join in.

You know how in high school some girls would hang out at the boys’ football practice to flirt? Well a lot of those girls are my friends now, which is great, but I would rather go to the skatepark to flirt with the guys there!

So my friends and I just don’t invite each other out when it comes to this. I really can’t expect them to put in all the hours I would at the skatepark if they’re not looking for that kind of action. 

And that’s what’s happened to me and music. I hang out with people who have crushes on popular music, while I’m scribbling ~*Dave Gahan*~ in my notebook with hearts around it.

Now, everyone LIKES music. Everyone has crushes. HEY: a lot of people even LOVE music! And a lot of people are MARRIED! I know I’m not unique here for having these feelings. What does make me a little freak though is the way I deal with the feelings.

I’m crazily susceptible to emotional manipulation (which is often the intended affect of music and live theatrics) because I’m an empath. I have the inconvenient (and hard to control) ability to absorb and become affected by others’ emotions and outputs. So music can give me chills. It can make me cry. And apparently, it can make me ignore all my antisocial, agoraphobic tendencies and push me into an arena full of strangers on a Monday night.


When I was really young, my Mom left me in the car with the radio on while she picked up my sister from daycare. I heard the song “We Are The Champions” by Queen for the first time and I started crying.

Shortly thereafter I attended my first concert: NSYNC. I cried when they took the stage. And I didn’t even like NSYNC that much! I was just overcome with emotion because of the spectacle.

Now imagine that kid going through puberty and having to deal with HORMONES on top of this damned personality.

Yes, I got worse, and I started crying at a lot more things. Mostly music and art, along with all the regular stuff.

I cried at things like:

  1. my college’s production of RENT
  2. the sudden appearance of two drag queens at a bar in Barcelona
  3. a very casual singer/songwriter performance at a comedy show
  4. a youtube video of a teenager singing Kate Bush
  5. a youtube video of a drag queen performing Kate Bush
  6. the pure thought of Kate Bush

For reasons unknown, but heavily speculated, 80s Pop and New Wave* is what hits me the hardest when it comes to music.

*The Smiths, Tears for Fears, The Eurythmics, Cocteau Twins, etc etc. To give a greater example: I saw a Duran Duran concert in MIDDLE SCHOOL (that is, 2006) at the age of 12. And I didn’t even have to be dragged to that. I WANTED those tickets and got them for my BIRTHDAY.

Similar to how you develop your sexual preferences during puberty, I believe you develop your taste in music then to: you have urges that push you towards a certain type (for me it was BOYS) and then are also affected by popular culture (I had a crush on DANIEL RADCLIFFE for a while just because of Harry Potter) and your friends’ taste as well (I bet if you had asked me back then “is Gerard Way hot?” I would’ve said yes).

In high school I learned about what type of music I liked (and wanted to like) the same way I started having crushes. Following a mix of natural preference and a desire to fit in with a cool crowd, I started purposefully incorporating music into my personality. Of course, as high school habits generally go, the stuff I got into then became a jumping off point for the rest of my life; a gateway to the person I’d become.

I made new friends and, yeah, one of them had her “hip” pierced, so you know what kind of clique I was in. These “alt” or “indie” girls introduced me to pop punk and emo music, (like Panic! At the Disco, which I abbreviate to P at the D now*) and indie rock (like Beck and The Dandy Warhols).

*I also abbreviate My Bloody Valentine to My Bloody V but that nickname hasn’t caught on for them yet

While alone, in the wake of the internet, my peers googled butts and boobs (and invented *sexting on Habbo Hotel), while I refined my tastes as well on archaic sites like MySpace and LimeWire. I taught myself about the pillars of rock and roll like the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Who, The Velvet Underground, David Bowie, and The Ramones. I loaded up my iPod and traded playlists with my friends.

*I did that

That’s when I started going to live shows as well. At an age when we couldn’t get into bars or clubs on weekends, a great alternative to drinking stolen booze in someone’s garage or basement was going to shows. We saw Arctic Monkeys, Morrissey, Snow Patrol, Silversun Pickups, OK GO! and The Red Hot Chili Peppers to name a few. I’d go to shows with friends and make a night out of it; it’s really how I learned to love being in the city.

To be fair, I also saw some incredibly uncool bands and have to own up to that. I went to a Streetlight Manifesto show (ska!), a Bayside show (they have a song called “Megan!”) and even Warped Tour (ugh). Most embarrassing of all, I had a phase where I followed both the bands Metro Station and The Jonas Brothers, simultaneously.

Then a cute boy made me a mixtape and… I’ve been fucked up ever since.

He sent it to me as a link through some website where you just uploaded songs and could click through them. I remember so distinctly the songs on the tape and how I fell in love with the artists. There was “Here in the House” by Depeche Mode, “Mesopotamia” by B-52s, and a ton of Smiths stuff– a lot of deep cuts in there.

I was so moved, for a brief time The Smiths became my entire aesthetic:

A photo of me wearing my signature Smiths shirt in San Francisco. Being a 16-year-old smoker was also my aesthetic.

As fun as it was to fall in love with this boy and the music he introduced me to, when the union fizzled so did the one connection I had to the music I liked. He introduced me to the stuff then ditched me once I was hooked, leaving me with no one else to get my fix from.

When I discovered the music I love, I fell for that 80s new wave and post-punk sound. Today, I still listen to those classic 80s bands, but now I’ve added contemporary artists with a sense of nostalgia to them (like Tamaryn or George Clanton, for instance). It’s kind of like dating a guy who looks just like your ex: they’re younger and cooler but also an echo of what came before.

By the time I got to college, I was over this mixtape boy, but still excited to be on a college campus in Los Angeles where I had an exciting chance to meet other ~like minded individuals~ whose complex interests overlapped with my music tastes! Finally, a place where I’d find another person who liked what I liked again!

The first week of school, my music loving roommate (thank god) went to the FYF Fest 2010 with me. It was a great lineup. And I couldn’t believe my luck: first week of college and I was going to a MUSIC FESTIVAL with a NEW FRIEND who LIKED THE KIND OF MUSIC I LIKED.

Well, turns out she talked a lot about loving the same music as me (Pixies, Iggy Pop, Buzzcocks, etc) but in reality had a real fixation with dubstep and spent a lot of time doing drugs and going to raves (not my thing). At the concert, I ended up watching one set alone, Panda Bear, because her and her boyfriend wanted to see whoever else was playing.

Then in 2011 we went to FYF Fest again, this time with a larger group of friends– girls who liked the same music as me AND liked seeing live music. Of course, this time around at the festival we took drugs and watched EDM in a tent at the peak of our high. I was too shy to ask if anyone wanted to watch Broken Social Scene with me instead.

Other memorable college concert highlights include such legendary acts as *DJ A-Track* and *Rita Ora* so you can see how the rest of those four years panned out.

Of course, I must admit, it wasn’t all bad music-wise: great friends I met later in college saved me from having to go to a few shows alone. I’d routinely drag these friends, who I met through the school’s theatre department, to an 80’s disco in Hollywood with me (to dance!) One time, my friend Maura even bravely accompanied me to an Animal Collective concert so that I didn’t have to go alone:

She even took this photo of me outside the venue where I look very chill so she is a saint.

As you can see, college was really not what I thought it was going to be. Sure, I met the like minded individuals I was looking for, but barely anyone who understood that specific part of me– my taste in music.

So in 2014, after almost four years of suffering through the FOMO of not seeing every show I wanted to, I bought a ticket to see a band I loved at the Los Angeles Staples center, 9th row. My first concert alone.

Okay so the concert was One Direction which literally negates everything I said about good music being a part of my personality, but certainly proves that I’ll do crazy things for a crush.

I mean, LOOK at him!!!

My first REAL concert alone was TR/ST months later in San Francisco, at a time when I had just graduated college and was feeling independent and adult. The only friend I invited declined because he “didn’t like live music” and I couldn’t take my Dad because he had already begrudgingly gone with me to see New Order that summer.

After my Summer in California I moved again. Once more, I arrived in a new city completely ready for those ~like minded individuals~ that I was to meet in Bushwick, Brooklyn: the hipster capital of America… the home of “Girls” on HBO… the place where music THRIVES… 

Flash forward to 2017 and here I am alone at a Depeche Mode concert.

NEXT WEEK — How I went to a Depeche Mode concert alone and lived to tell about it.

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