“When I was at home I was in a better place,” wrote Shakespeare in act 2 scene 4 of As You Like It.
But what is home?
Home isn’t necessarily defined by the concrete walls of a house. Sometimes, it is the walls of an arena or a stadium.
Home isn’t necessarily a room filled with blood relatives. Sometimes, it’s thousands of strangers with whom you simply share a common interest.
Home isn’t necessarily dinner table conversations or arguments about what to watch on TV. Sometimes, it’s the ear-splitting sound of music fans, screaming along to the songs which their favourite artist is performing in front of them.
Sometimes, home is a concert.
But why are concerts home? Why can being inside a venue overflowing with sweaty bodies for two hours make you feel more at home than you have ever felt in your own house? Is it down to the music? The artist? The audience? The songs? Just the general atmosphere? Or maybe it’s home because it can’t be explained why it’s home. Perhaps concerts are home simply because, in a packed stadium of 80,000 fans, ‘home’ has 80,000 different meanings because being there means something different to everyone who bought a ticket.
The energy which overpowers a concert venue as the musician takes to the stage is indescribable. That moment when the lights dim and the curtain falls, millions of emotions are buzzing through the air. Suddenly, the moment feels like an amalgamation of the life stories of every person in that building. You physically feel yourself connecting to those around you, as if you are joined hands and have the same blood flowing through your veins. You feel your heart swell and your knees weaken as, suddenly, everything you have ever wanted is right there in front of you. Suddenly, time freezes and transports you to a place completely outside of reality, a place free from prejudice, anxiety and troubles. A place which releases any negativity from your mind and allows you the freedom to be nothing and everything at the same time.
The next hour or so is surreal. Words could never do the feeling of hearing live music justice. The electricity which rushes through your body as the venue erupts into song, the goose bumps which scatter across your skin as what you’re convinced is an angel sings a ballad before you, the excitement which radiates from everyone in the room as the first beat of the biggest hit plays… they are not things which can ever be expressed neither in writing or speech. They are simply things which must be witnessed by the eyes and ears and felt by the heart.
Concerts change you as a person. You leave each feeling like a new version of the person you were a mere two hours ago, and you wonder how you have survived your life thus far without that one concert. They ignite a fire within you which never truly goes out. They inspire you to live the rest of your life as the most authentic you. No matter how many concerts you attend, how many different artists you experience live, no matter how big or how small, each one adds value to your life. They fill you with purpose. They remind you that hope is alive in the world. They remind you of the sheer power of music and how, in a world of seven billion, you could never truly be alone so long as music exists.
As you walk out of those venue doors, you’re hit with a wave of fulfilment, a sense of ‘wow I can conquer anything.’ Your soul feels warm and your head is spinning in the best possible way…and then, once the wave of excitement has washed over you, the tsunami of sadness comes even faster. No matter whether it’s the middle of December or beginning of summer, as you leave a concert and begin your journey to the place you call ‘home,’ a sudden coldness takes over you. A sudden freezing sensation clogs up your bones because you realise that you aren’t going home, you’re leaving home. As you leave a concert, you feel homesick.
Home has very much become a social construct. The idea no longer need refer to a building made of bricks and mortar. In 2018, home can be anywhere in the world. A place you visit frequently or a place you’ve only been to once. A place where you’re surrounded by people or a place where you’re totally isolated. A place of deafening silence or a place of roaring noise. A place of serenity or a place of chaos. Home is anything, anywhere or anyone that provides a sense of belonging. A place which fills the heart and empties the mind.
Concerts provide safety but also the thrill of knowing something could go wrong at any moment. They act as a vacuum away from society but also fill the greatest voids in our lives. They bring smiles to our faces and tears to our eyes. They touch us in a way that no physical being ever could. They transform our pain into art. They relieve us of the societal pressure placed upon us to fit into a box. They smash that box into smithereens and just give us a chance to truly live as ourselves. No matter the state of our surroundings, the corruptness of our governments, the wreckage we call ‘family’ or the hurt we feel deeply inside our heart, concerts and music are the common denominator. They are the incredible force which, as Bono said, can change the world because they can change people.
I conclude with a quote: “Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.” -Hunter S. Thompson