I still remember the first time I went to a concert alone, about 5 years ago. I was slightly shaking the whole time. As I walked towards the temporary stage by the harbor, I held up my phone pretending to be FaceTimeing someone. On my other hand was a beer I'd just bought (I don't drink beer), hoping it would magically dissolve away my nervousness.
Standing far away in a corner, I talked to the screen for a while, even called some friends, before finally accepting that I came alone for a reason: I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. I kept doing it again and again.
Fast forward to today, I could go to another continent alone just to participate in my favorite activity.
At this point I’m so comfortable with enjoying concerts by myself, I don’t even bother trying to appear the opposite.
What I've learned is that it's really easy to make small talk and new friends. You don't need to be an extrovert to do that.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are some things I find useful to have:
Japanese folding fan, like this one. It gets really hot in the crowd sometimes, especially if you're in the middle of the dance floor. When you fan yourself and others, people may shoot you with teary eyes as if you've just resuscitated them. Some might start chatting too.
Gum. Very popular in demand, people need it for various reasons and if you have one (or two), it's greatly appreciated.
Glitters/Stickers. Sometimes when I feel particularly social that day, I'd hand out glitters or stickers just for fun. Concertgoers are basically XL-size kids.
Chapstick. A clear lip balm. Probably not the most hygienic thing to share, but chapped lips can become very dry and even painful. I remember going around and asking people for one.
Hair ties. If you have long hair it gets quite annoying to constantly hold your hair up. Doesn't hurt to have an extra one for sharing.
Wear a unique item. When I wear funky graphic shirts, or hats with specific references, some people would comment on these. You naturally open a conversation on where you get them or why they're special to you.
Sunglasses. For when you can't be bothered to make small talk and just want to be left alone:)
There's no way to summarize this other than to say: if you enjoy doing something, just do it, even if it might look scary or silly, even if you can't find people to do it together.
Onto the best performances I've seen in 2022:
First Place: Camelphat
I listened to Camelphat's music a lot back when I was a college student. Now that I'm older, I've grown out of that phase. While in Ibiza, I almost skipped out on their show because I wanted to see another artist, and I was exhausted. Thankfully, I soldiered on anyway.
What an amazing production and impeccable mixing. Ethereal visual projections are surrounded by circles of red lighting rigs, paired with bursts of pyrotechnics against the backdrop of a dark Baleric sky. Crowds lose themselves to the euphoric journey Camelphat confidently brings everyone along. Bravo. This is a performance not to be missed.
Second Place: Stephan Bodzin
I have to admit that I'd never heard of Stephan Bodzin before finding myself in his all-night-long set. A friend suggested the iconic De Marktkantine while I was in Amsterdam, so I thought I'd check it out. I'm glad I witnessed a class act at a superb venue prior to its closing in June 2022.
No fancy visual effects, no luxurious setting, just a master at his craft, whose passion for music shone brightly and infected everyone at the club. The experience felt intimate and personal. His music is mesmerizing and compelling even after hours have passed, I did not feel a moment of dullness.
Third Place: Boris Brejcha
I've been intrigued by Boris Brejcha's "high-tech minimal" style, which I don't know much about. The anticipation for this show was very high. Not only did I buy the ticket as soon as it went on sale, but I went all the way to Nîmes, France just to be there. Lucky for me, Boris Brejcha absolutely delivered.
The ancient Roman amphitheater turned into a hypnotic, oscillating wave of notes. The layers of sounds he used are novel to the ear and rare to find anywhere else. At times I gasped, wait you can add that to a song and it still sounds so good, so groovy?
If you know any good artists, please kindly shill them to me. I'm always excited about new acts I've never heard of.
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