As I find myself approaching the later years of my life (my 30’s) I often pride myself in still being able to keep up with modern trends. Social media? No problem. The newest memes? I already saw them. New dances? I practice them every day in the mirror while brushing my teeth. And, of course, I like to pride myself on being able to stay current with music. But as I get older, there’s one thing that I find myself increasingly losing interest in: going to live performances. Unfortunately, I keep aging, but the target show audience age for current music stays around the 16-21 age range, which ends up being a crowd that I generally don’t want to be a part of.
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What happened to me? When did I become this crotchety old man who wants the kids to shut up and stop dancing so that I can enjoy my tunes? Maybe it just comes with age. But last night, BROCKHAMPTON performed in Seattle, and I wasn’t going to let some fear of drowning in Gen Z’ers stop me from seeing America’s best boy band. And then, I saw this as an opportunity to perform an experiment: What if I changed the way I approach preparing for live shows?
My routine for going to shows has been the same since I was in college: meet up at the pre-game, drink as much as possible so you don’t have to pay venue prices for alcohol ($11 for a can of beer? Tuh), and smoke the entire time. It’s the intoxication equivalent of calorie-loading at the end of the day to save money on food. It works while you’re in college, but as you get older, it gets less practical.
So this time around, I skipped the designated pre-game, instead opting to smoke some weed, chill with my roommate (who was also going to the show,) and listen to the album. For the night’s adventures, I decided to spark up some Legend of Nigeria. It’s a sativa-dominant hybrid with a high THC percentage and a lot of cerebral buzz, making it the perfect strain for a show like BROCKHAMPTON’s. Here are some things that I stopped and thought about to make sure I enjoyed the show, regardless of it being all ages.
[caption id="attachment_17175" align="aligncenter" width="2268"] BROCKHAMPTON, Seattle, WA Source: Abzu Photography[/caption]
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What Type of Energy is the Show Going to Have?
For example, you’re not going to pick the same strain to smoke for a BROCKHAMPTON show as you would for a Bon Iver show. I knew BROCKHAMPTON was going to be hype and extremely stimulating, so a strain that would induce a heavy body high and zombie-like features would not be ideal. Or, if you are the type of person to have a panic attack in crowds, maybe you’d be better suited for a higher CBD content strain.
The other thing you need to consider is concerts are a great place to socialize and bond with people, especially during the downtime between sets. Pick a strain that will allow you to be social and open to new experiences. If the venue allows for it, bring an extra joint to smoke and share it with the people you meet! If you’re friendly with the people around you, your experience is more likely to be a positive one. Remember - everyone else is in the same venue because they’re also fans of the artist(s) and the music, so you have something in common! Bond over that. This is especially true for all-ages shows - don't be mean to the people around you just because they look like they're 16 (but also, maybe don't share your weed with anyone at an all-ages show.) You also enjoyed music when you were 16, so just let them live their lives. If you don't want to be there, there's a 21+ section just calling your name.
Also, here's a little concert hack: if a mosh pit unexpectedly breaks out, it’s nice to know the people around you have your back if you happen to take a tumble. My roommate lost his Apple Watch in a pit at Bumbershoot, and although it was D.O.A, the crowd was still friendly enough to give him room to pick it up.
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Allow Yourself to Feel the Music
This is a little bit more of an abstract piece of advice, but pick a strain that really allows you to feel the music. Of course, this requires you to know yourself and to know how strains affect you. But in my opinion, whatever you’re smoking while you’re at home alone listening to music and singing in the mirror with your eyes closed is what you should be smoking for the show. Find a strain that allows you to react to the music freely without any inhibitions, and run with it. You'll only enjoy the music as much as you allow yourself, and cannabis can be a good tool for opening up.
If you’ve never been to a show by the artist you're seeing, do some research. Obviously, you need to do this in order to pick the right strain, but conducting a vibe check helps you be mentally prepared for anything. For example, the first BROCKHAMPTON show that I went to was at Capitol Hill Block Party in 2018. I was extremely drunk and in the immediate center of a wall of death that I wasn’t prepared for. Had I done my homework, I would have either a. Picked better positioning for the show or b. Been prepared for the massive shit show that is a teenage-angst riddled mosh pit (i.e. not drunk.) This second round, I did both, and I enjoyed myself, not as a bystander tolerating the crowd, but as a willing and active participant. For a lot of the show, my eyes were actually closed, and I wouldn’t notice it until I opened them again. But because I picked the right strain, the live performance of one of my favorite albums of 2019 became an almost religious experience (no, I’m not talking about Kanye’s Jesus is King or his ridiculous Sunday Services.)
Knowing there was definitely going to be moshing this time around, I was able to plan accordingly. The weed I smoked that was supposed to make the moshing tolerable actually helped me to understand the purpose behind the activity. And for the first time in my life, I joined in on the mosh, released some energy, did whatever the music made my body do, and most importantly, had fun. So what if I looked like Shaq moshing in a crowd of people smaller than him? I didn't care - I was high and I had fun.
Choose Your Friends Wisely
When going to a show (especially if you’re standing in GA) the only thing you can control is who you choose to be in your immediate vicinity. At an all-ages show, it can be easy to get caught up in the fact that you’re the oldest person in the room and be annoyed by every child who bumps into you. And if you have a group of people with equally negative energy, nobody is going to enjoy themselves. Instead, choose people who are just as excited about the show and the music as you are. I went with my neighbor and a coworker. We were all there to connect to the music regardless of our surroundings, and because of that, we were able to actually enjoy the crowd. As a general rule of thumb, I find that if I wouldn’t sesh with someone because of their personality, I probably won’t enjoy a show with them either. And as it turns out, my concert-buddies are also my smoke-sesh buddies.
Know Your Tolerance
You don’t want to get too high and be the reason you and your entire group have to leave the show three songs into the set. I recommend using cannabis to enhance your experience, not mask it. If you know that one joint will have you feeling right for the rest of the night, stick to one joint. There’s no point in smoking, or even going to the show, if you’re glazed over and catatonic for the entire experience.
You also need to be aware of what I call your “concert tolerance.” There are many times where I became over-ambitious and made my way to the front of a crowd that, two songs in, I knew I wanted to be out of. And that’s okay. The most important key to enjoying a concert is your own comfort. If you can feel yourself needing air, move to the back of the crowd. The air smells better and there’s more room to move. If you’re ready to go home, go home! Life is too short to do anything you don’t want to in your free time. Just make sure you tell your group before you bounce.