From the couch to the crowd: the beauty of live music

Editor’s note: This piece was originally written back in April when the website was still being designed and the summer heat hadn’t yet hit Charlottesville.

After many long, dark months of ice, sleet and snow, flower blossoms and chirping birds have finally taken up residence in Charlottesville. This change in temperature brings longer days and thriving wildlife, but it also delivers an onslaught of live music shows and festivals as we embark into a season ruled by the promise of warmth.

So many bands and artists come out of the woodwork this time of year that it is difficult to keep track of all the talent marching through the Central Virginia area. The world has cycled into a season of rebirth, and the musicians are happy to lay down the soundtrack that will officially draw us out of our long winter’s nap. As heavy coats are packed away and the out of doors starts to tantalize us daily with its inviting sunlight, musical acts from near and far are taking the stage right here in our quaint little town of Charlottesville.

It is no secret that Charlottesville is rich with musical options when it comes to live venues. From the Ntelos Wireless Pavilion to weekly gigs at the Whiskey Jar, there are endless chances to support artists from all over. Whether you prefer music in an intimate setting, or the full-force experience of a weekend-long festival, it’s all happening now that the summer season is upon us.

The appearance of so many bands and musicians in this bustling town gives way to a big question: Why take the time to go see a musician or band play live? Attending a live performance is a sacrifice of both time and money, not to mention parking, which can often be a hassle in Charlottesville. Why go to all this trouble for the sake of live music when it is both cheaper and more convenient to stay at home listening to the downloaded files of your favorite artists?

There are many reasons why audiences flock to see their musical idols, but I think that live performances truly allow fans to access the full artist, both personally and musically in a way that Internet downloads and records do not naturally create. The way musicians choose to interact with an audience, the stories they tell, and the gratitude they express is sometimes more telling of who they are than the music itself. Suddenly, through the power of a live stage, performers are elevated from their radio airwave, record, and downloaded status to a place where their fans can join them in unison. Live shows are ultimately a celebration of not only hearing, but truly seeing an artist or band in their entirety. Stepping onto a stage in front of an audience takes a lot more courage than walking into an isolated recording studio, and making the effort to see a great band on a weeknight takes just as much drive. Everybody, performer and audience alike, has to step outside their comfort zone to make a truly great live show happen.

Then there is the audience itself. As a spectator, you can finally surround yourself with countless others who appreciate the music just as much, if not more, than you do. You can join together as one endless, singing organism, chiming in together with the pride of memorized lyrics. There is little chance that anybody will judge or question you, since the crowd has gathered for the sole purpose of supporting the featured band or artist. You can let go and enjoy being one body that comprises an entire crowd of excitement. There are no other art forms that allow people to gather in quite the same way as a live concert where dancing, singing and chanting are not only considered acceptable behavior, but are encouraged.

So, whatever your musical taste, I recommend you seek out a live musical experience during this summer season. Don’t miss out on all the real time musical offerings that Charlottesville so generously provides by checking local listings and websites for music calendars and upcoming shows. Get up, get out, and get into an experience that will truly bring meaning to the music that you already know and appreciate, or investigate a new band that you aren’t familiar with. Exit your comfort zone and see what is waiting for you on the other side of the entrance gate.


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