I don’t know when or how it happened, but the live music experience has changed. The warmth that used to fill venues, a tangible energy that bubbled and blossomed in the bonds made between strangers, has been replaced by a prickly and sticky heat that exerts itself in the form of cranky elbows to the ribs and an unspoken agreement not to interact with those around you (unless they have a doobie you’re trying to sneak a puff of). Maybe it’s just that we are the first generation that values the video—the tangible evidence of attendance—more than the experience itself, and this means audiences are never fully present, their experience mediated and dampened by the screen held in front of their first. I fear that this loss of this vitality is symptomatic of a larger (and unnerving) societal trend of people growing apart from one another, too invested in hollow interactions mediated by a vacuous internet to interact and engage with other humans in the real world. It is depressing to think that the venues where I grew up (in both literal and figurative senses) and which hold my fondest memories might one day be obsolete, replaced by videos and virtual reality, but I would prefer that than to see the state of live music continue its current trajectory and end up void of all meaning.
Or so I thought.