It all begins with a beat. When the drummer hits the bass drum and my heart thumps in perfect sync. And then I hear the guitar riffs, and then the lyrics resound in my head. I look at the stage and I see that the vocalist’s eyes are closed, seemingly in a trance, and I mimic him. I close my eyes and listen to the world around me — the loud music blaring through the amplifiers, the murmurs of the people standing beside me, and the echo of my beating heart. I am standing in the midst of strangers, alone with my thoughts, and I feel as though I am transported into a world of magic.
This is what it feels like to go to a gig alone. Well, for me, at least.
Go ahead and call me OA — I won’t mind. As someone who suffers through bouts of depression and mania, and the occasional vomit-triggering anxiety, the gig experience is something that changed my life.
It’s kind of ironic — how I find serenity in a place of noise and cramped-up spaces— but I have always had a strange penchant for being alone in a room full of strangers, and going to a gig alone gives me exactly that.
My very first gig experience happened when I was still grieving from my father’s death. It was a few months after he died, and I was barely 18, trying to keep myself from drowning in the depression that I didn’t know I had at the time. I made an impulsive decision to go out of the house at 9 p.m just to watch a certain band that’s since been #cancelled play. I couldn’t care less about the people around me. I stood in front of the stage until all the bands finished playing, not giving a damn about the fact that I didn’t even know any of the songs. The image of the guitarists’ hands strumming their guitars, feeling their music so passionately would replay in my head for the next few days. In that moment, I forgot the darkness that loomed over me, and I began to see a life outside of my bubble.
I’d like to think of these solo nights out as breathers. Now that the little time that I get for myself goes to sleeping, going to gigs is like taking a vacation from the hustle and bustle of my everyday routine. It’s kind of ironic — how I find serenity in a place of noise and cramped-up spaces— but I have always had a strange penchant for being alone in a room full of strangers, and going to a gig alone gives me exactly that.
During gigs, I’d see people from different cliques. Music junkies and avid fans, gig producers, performers, newbies and curious cats all crowding together in their own little corners of the venue. But when the music starts playing, it’s suddenly one community again, with hands up in the air, heads bobbing up and down to the beat, not a care in the world. Only the music matters. And that very scene is enough to assuage whatever turmoil I have. It makes me feel alive.
As I write this story, I am suddenly so aware of the fact that my habit of going to gigs alone is so deeply intertwined with my depression. I am a person who doesn’t tether her feelings to anything, who tries to shy away from feelings altogether, afraid of attaching my emotions to something temporary. But looking back to that first gig, I realize that the experience has impacted my life in more ways than I could ever imagine.
I am in a much better place now. I have learned how to keep my depression at bay, thanks to therapy and medication, but I would always be thankful that I found sanctuary in going to gigs. It’s there where I learned to love the local music scene, where I met and befriended a few people, and where I know I could always go to when times are hard. Maybe the time will come when I will grow tired of the scene, when the music won’t make me feel the same way. Until then, I will keep going, beer in hand, smiling to myself. See you at Route?