So, I was all set to try and tackle the NY Times crossword puzzle as the thing that I've never done before for Day #3. That was, until one of those "unexpected things" presented itself to me and I decided to go for it.
An out of town friend recently told me about this band that he was really into. He sent me one of the band's CDs, which I listened to and liked, and he insisted that whenever they came to my city, I should see them live. "Sure!" I said, pretty confident that when they came to town would be some date in the distant future.
Out of town friend called me last night and said, "Dr. Dog is playing tonight in Atlanta. You should go. By yourself. And write about it."
Reluctantly, I admitted that it was something I had never done before. It was a band I knew little about. And they were performing at a venue I'd never been to.
So I went. To the Loft. To see Dr. Dog. Solo.
That's right, friends, Day #3 thing I've never done before is go to a concert alone.
In general, doing things by myself doesn't freak me out. I've been to movies alone, dined alone countless times, and I've lived alone for almost five years. I consider myself to be fiercely independent, almost to a fault, and have, over the years, learned to be my own best friend.
And music, especially live music, is currently my one and only true love. Since seeing my first concert, Hootie and the Blowfish at age 14 at the Township Auditorium in Columbia, South Carolina, I have spent a great deal of money and a great deal of time buying music and traveling to see live music. My investment has certainly paid off, as some of my happiest memories in life happened at concerts.
Like when Michael Stipe took the stage with Coldplay to sing my favorite REM song "Nightswimming," I looked up at my then-boyfriend with tears in my eyes and whispered dramatically,"this is my favorite song." Beautiful.
Or when Band of Horses covered Hall n' Oates' "You Make my Dreams Come True" amidst my friends and I shouting from the crowd, "Irmo High School rules!" Hilarious.
And after years of seeing Widespread Panic finally hearing them play my favorite song "Wondering." My friend Greg looked at me, high-fived me and said, "This is it, Steph!" Awesome.
As cheesy as they may be, these are examples of unforgettable musical moments that alone were incredible. But what made them so important to me were that they happened alongside the great people in my life. Live music for me is just as much about the people that I get to see it with as it is about the music itself. The fellowship of friends seeing a great band. Nothing beats that. So, with the social aspect taken out of it, would I even enjoy seeing music live? It was time to find out.
Suddenly two things that by themselves DON'T freak me out, being alone and seeing live music, started to scare me.
There was the safety concern... relatively young girl out at night by herself, walking to and from her car. What if I ordered a drink and someone tries to roofie it?
But honestly, these concerns paled in comparison to the bigger issues here: What were people going to think? Would I look stupid at a concert by myself? How would I be able to have fun alone?
I stalled leaving work, postponing what I was sure was going to be an incredibly awkward evening. The friend who convinced me to go sent me a message, "Why haven't you left yet?" I knew I could stall no more.
I showed up, parked in a well-lit parking garage (for those of you concerned), and walked in behind a group of young concert-goers. I wondered, self-centeredly, if they were wondering why I was there alone or if they assumed I was meeting someone.
Once there, I got a beer (in the bottle and roofie-free) and picked a place in the middle to stand and enjoy the music. I know that I was scanning the crowd to see if I recognized anyone or to see if anyone recognized me (so obnoxious). Not long into my arrival, I had to laugh at myself for thinking that ANYONE cared about me and who I was there with. They were all there for Dr. Dog. Right on, then, so was I.
There were a few times when I liked what was happening in the show and almost turned to the person next to me to nod and smile in approval. And then I remembered I was flying solo and there were probably not going to be any high-fives or spontaneous “boogeying” going on this time around. When the guy in front of me was head-banging to a slow song, it would've been nice to have a friend there to laugh about it with. But being there alone allowed me to focus on the music and form an opinion about it completely free of anyone else's.
It turns out, Dr. Dog puts on a pretty rocking show. Sometimes they were a little too loud for my taste, but their fans are cool and fun. I'd go again if they came back to Atlanta.
I can't deny that some of my best times with friends have been at concerts. And some of my best times at concerts have been with friends. But seeing live music alone is pretty alright too. Oh, and an 18-year old Indie rocker said, "You're pretty," to me as I was walking out, so I consider the night a success.
Check out the venue from last night: http://www.theloft-atlanta.com/
Check out the band that I saw last night: