Ryan Bort, in an article for Esquire called “Why Concerts Stopped Being Fun,” talks about how we’ve grown indifferent to live music experiences because:
1) We’re distractible and addicted to our smartphones, and thus not investing in the art being performed in front of us.
Or as Jack White puts it, “People can’t clap anymore because they’ve got a fucking texting thing in their fucking hand, and probably a drink, too!”
2) Everything sounds homogenous. There isn’t a whole lot that distinguishes this band from that band, so we kinda just assume it’s all just… meh, and we reach for the distractions mentioned above.
Bort, talking about the kinds of events that exist between the small bar venues and the megastar arena shows, describes this phenomena thusly: “… in the middle of these two extremes, from Jack White on down to an exceedingly plentiful crop of indie bands popular enough to tour nationally but not really distinct enough for anyone to get overly excited about, cell phone checking and repeated trips to the bar predominate.”
3) We live our lives in shuffle mode. We’re so used to flipping from track to track, artist to artist, on our phones and iPods, in our cars, that it’s difficult to commit to only one group for two hours, especially when there “isn’t any extra shit to do at concerts” (no deep conversations, no cheap or free drinks, no video games, etc.) This is one reason why music festivals have become so popular; they’re tailored to our shuffle-mode preferences.
BUT… Ryan Bort isn’t just a doctor of doom and distraction. He’s also prescribed a remedy so simple it might just work:
What is the best way to stave off this inevitable boredom and really engage with what we’ve dedicated our night to come see? How do we reclaim the live experience for what it’s worth? It’s really simple, actually: Dance. Give in to that impulse. Don’t be scared. Go ahead and channel a little Bowie. I’m looking at you, stoic guy with the blank expression and girl who can’t see over the person in front of you. If you dance — and I’m not talking about timid, mindless knee bobbing — all of the encumbrances of the structured venue show will rescind into the periphery and you will enjoy yourself and the music in the realest way possible. A new world will reveal itself and you will be free.
What do you think? Is dancing the cure to live concert apathy? Let us know in the comments below.