Paying for an experience

I often hear people say that live music is too expensive; that it’s not worth the ticket costs. I do agree that concert tickets are pricey, but the costs really haven’t changed for many years. I paid about the same amount for tickets when I was in college as I’m paying today.

One thing that has changed, though, is (stupid) ticket fees that get tacked on to each sale, plus tax, of course. But some smaller venues are ditching the big ticket sellers, and that has helped a lot, since the venue’s ticket fees are a lot lower.

As a small-business owner and entrepreneur, I especially have to watch what I spend my money on. I have to pay rent each month, after all. But I still do my best to see as much live music as I can when my favorite artists roll into town. Living in Minneapolis, we’re pretty spoiled with the amount of killer shows that take place here. So, yes, I go to quite a few shows each year. I actually work music-show costs into my monthly budget.

One such killer show took place last Tuesday night. Surprisingly, it was at the Target Center, which is unusual for me, since I don’t go to many “arena shows” anymore. But my favorite band, The Black Keys, have sort of graduated from the smaller venues and their recent tour brought them to the Target Center, right across the street from First Avenue, where I saw them in 2010 (one of my favorite shows of all time).

The Black Keys on 05.15.12 at Target Center (photo by Jeremy Nelson)

The Black Keys on 05.15.12 at Target Center (photo by Jeremy Nelson)

I found myself about 25 yards from the stage, squished amongst 11,000 other concert-goers (no, not all of them were on the floor with me, but it seemed like it). And once the music started, I went somewhere else. The Keys just do that to me. Their music sends me to a different planet. There were many times during the show that I found myself looking up into the rafters, and as my physical body was moving to the music I felt like my mind—or my soul?—was somewhere else, floating above the crowd.

It’s happened many, many times before, and it’s such an amazing feeling. The word “amazing” is massively overused these days, but I mean it truly—it’s an amazing feeling.

The day after the show, I was driving and listening to the Keys on a CD in my car. I found myself literally dancing in my seat to the songs, especially the ones that were played live the night before. I also found myself visualizing the show, and the band playing those songs—what it looked, sounded, and felt like the night before.

To me, that experience is what we’re paying for when we plunk down our hard-earned money for live music. No, a live music show is not a tangible object like a painting or a piece of handmade jewelry is. But when we pay for a ticket to a show, we’re not only paying to see a musical act perform, we’re also paying for an experience. And so many times it’s one that not only sticks with us for days after the actual event, but for a lifetime.

What are your thoughts about seeing live music? What band or artist have you seen that you still remember vividly today?


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