I’ve never been to a music festival and I have definitely never gone by myself. But as I was walking back to my car Saturday night, head in the clouds after all the performances I had seen at Oaktopia and with the clamoring of the UNT Stage being torn down on my right, I was struck by the fact that this had been one of the best three-day experiences of my life.
So for all my friends, classmates and neighbors, who are on the edge about going to see live music, I’ve put together five reasons why you should absolutely do something like this at least once.
1. People feel better about spending money on experiences
According to a research study conducted by Travis J. Carter and Thomas Gilovich, people are happier when they spend money on experiences rather than material objects because the “high” will have more value and last longer:
“…because our experiences become our memories, they are more truly a part of the self than are possessions (Carter & Gilovich, 2009). They are less easily undone or mentally exchanged for something else. Mentally exchanging an experience involves deleting a part of the self, something that people are understandably reluctant to do (Gilovich 1991).”
For the people who are averse to spend their hard earned dollar, consider where you spend the most money and ask yourself if it is worth more to you in the long-run than saving it for a-once-in-a-lifetime experience. What I frequently see is people going out three or more times a week to buy a six to eight dollar meal. Let’s do the math. Multiply eight dollars by three days by four weeks and you have a little over 85 dollars saved just by not eating fast food for a month. Incredible, right? Healthy and frugal.
2. Live performances bring people together
Human beings are social creatures. While I could research the exact person who pointed it out “officially,” I would ask that you recall your first social sciences class. The history of civilizations, tribes, countries, government, etc.—we’re strengthened by our natural ability to unite. That’s why the family unit exists. Though I won’t argue that there aren’t outliers to this statement.
Going to a concert brings students into contact with people they may have never had a chance to interact with before and may never have a chance to again. It encourages bonding between friends who attend music performances and is the supreme “fill-me-up” of social get-togethers. And it’s a way to widen cultural perspectives.
3. Music is inspiring
Something my art professor said to the class really struck a chord with me last week, so I’ll share it with you: Dr. John Calabrese was speaking about twentieth century works of art and abstraction when he suddenly turned the conversation around in an almost epiphanic way: “Music,” he said, “is the ultimate form of abstraction.”
Music accomplishes what art and writing can only attempt to do. It is non-representative of nature. Hearing and sight are our most powerful senses—and they are also senses that affect pleasure, or release “happy hormones,” which make people more efficient and productive. Therefore, live performances provide visual and auditory experiences that activate our brain in a way that TV or purchases cannot do. Music performances, shared with other human beings, create memories. These memories become nostalgic and can still provide a sense of contentedness or happiness after a long time period like Carter and Gilovich found in their study.
The moral of this story is simple. Trade materials for experiences. Value people over objects. Create memories and be happy. Do not let concerns about the here and now prevent you from trying new things. Think “big picture.” You may find that you even learn something about yourself.