I’ve written before about the great communal experience of going to concerts. Being in the same place with others who share your love of a particular artist can be a powerful experience. On a good night, the audience can meld into one being, dancing and singing along to their favorite band. The energy of this mass can work to affect the bands’ performance. The audience and performers bounce off each other, bringing the intensity in the room up every moment. A smart performer knows how to use this energy to serve the show, tweaking the give and take of energy to create a perfect show with peaks and valleys in all the right places. A show like this can bring about some of the most elating experiences for audiences and performers alike.
In our current situation, it can be easy to think these events are a thing of the past, at least until this blows over. Quarantine is a very physical way of sequestering yourself off from the rest of the world. However, even though we may not be able to share a concert hall with 400 other people, we do have the internet. Some use it to keep others updated on important information of the time. Others use it just to stay in touch with loved ones who they may not be able to see in person.
Many musicians have used the internet to live stream virtual concerts, sometimes tagged with #TogetherAtHome. In these events, the artist usually starts live streaming on their phone and plays a few songs. In between each song, they talk to the audience watching about what’s going on, they thank healthcare workers, and so on. Seeing John Legend taking song requests in his living room, Ziggy Marley playing music with his children, or the Indigo Girls playing at home are not things you’d see at the Grammy’s or live in Madison Square Garden. These odd little concerts, with the artists home in background remind me that all of these creators are people like you and me, with lives outside of their crafted presentations of themselves. One of my favorite clips from these is James Blake’s cover of Bill Wither’s “Hope She’ll Be Happier” into “No Surprises” by Radiohead.
While this whole predicament we find ourselves in is scary, the community is not dead. Over the past few weeks, music has been something we can all huddle around to calm us. There has been a lot of coverage of these balcony concerts in Italy, where residents come out to their windows to play for their neighbors. A compilation of these concerts can be seen here:
While these concerts in Italy went viral sometime last week, similar events have been taking place in Spain, Brazil, and many other countries, photos of which can be seen here.
I see both the balcony performances and the #TogetherAtHome streamed concerts as a beautiful illustration of the importance of music playing a cohesive role in our community. This is something I think we’ve all been aware of, but it is on display now more than ever. Stay connected and stay safe.