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We’re getting old, and sometimes we go to shows by ourselves.
  • But is it a good idea?

    I’ve never been one to shy away from going to a concert by my damn self, but I’m in my mid-30s now, and because most of my friends are now also in their mid-30s, and have jobs and little kids and shit, it’s starting to happen more and more often.

    Unfortunately, it’s becoming a trial. I went to The War on Drugs show last week — a $34 ticket! — and ended up having a much better time at the bar with friends before the show than I did at the venue, walking around on my own, avoiding splashes of beer, trying to find a crack of light where I could see the stage. Shit was depressing.

    Here’s another one: Last month, I went to see Ex Hex by myself. I was having a pretty good time at first, but after about four or five songs, I noticed that my ex-wife’s niece was in the audience (ex hex, har har), like six feet in front of me. This girl was about 5 years old when I met her. It suddenly struck me that the last time I’d seen Mary Timony in concert — when she opened for Pavement at The Roxy in Atlanta in 1996 — this girl WASN’T EVEN ALIVE YET.

    The rest of the show was kind of a bummer.

    I dunno. After wasting all that money on War on Drugs and having a pretty shitty time, I’ve been reconsidering my willingness to go to concerts alone. I know that, eventually, I’ll have to, if I want to go at all. I’ll be that guy in the back drinking cheap beer, not giving a fuck, owning the fact that he’s 25 years older than everybody there. But I’m not there yet. I’m in a transition stage.

    I’ll probably miss Waxahatchee next week, because even though I’m dying to see her, the show is in Atlanta, and going to shows that are 90 minutes away, alone, is even worse.

    I guess I’m just bringing this up to hear you guys talk about your experiences. Let’s hear some stories.

  • my situation is a bit different because I’m there to take photos, but i don’t mind it at all, and i usually find at least one or two friends at smaller shows who also happen to be there. but if i’m on my own, that’s ok too.

  • I’m 31, and at this point still don’t mind going to shows alone - though occasionally I’ll maybe be mildly depressed, and where shows in Strasbourg are concerned even if I go on my own I’ve lived here long enough that it is now rare that I don’t meet some sort of acquaintance who happens to be there - in some cases it’s good and in others not so much. Mostly the main issue now is avoiding exhaustion and managing to stay upright for two to three hours, but that’s probably more of a topic for the depression thread. Also I find that if the show is transfixing enough (see Josephine Foster and her husband last year, for instance) it ends up making no difference in retrospect that I was alone; I tend to get more bummed when the show is not that great or boring.

    Of the six coming up on my last.fm events, I will be accompanied at only two, I think, but that’s fine - I’m seeing Bob Dylan again for the fifth or six time in July, again in a different city, probably on my own, and I remember that the last time I went in Germany I was feeling pretty low, but am still glad I went - his concerts have become sort of milestones in my life now, and who knows maybe I will see him next year with someone I love, or I won’t and I will probably love it anyway.

  • I’ve got nothing against going to shows alone, but too often they involve a three hour trip each way for me, so most of the time I fail to convince myself to go, never mind anyone else. The age disparity thing wasn’t an issue when I saw Richard Thompson, or rather it was, but in the other direction.

  • Yeah, it tends to be more of a convenience thing…for instance, I’m more likely to go to a show at the Palais or the Esplanade (which are in my neighborhood) than going to the north side of town solo. Cost is another factor.

  • I’m 32 and I’ve gone to shows by myself probably since I was 16. I always bring something to do between bands. One time in college I wrote a rough draft of a paper in a mini notebook between bands. Eh.

    I might have gotten harassed or hit on a little bit. The last time I couldn’t get someone to leave me alone was in like 2009? I went to see Dinosaur Jr. after Farm came out, with Lou Barlow opening and Bob Mould in the middle. This 40+ year old woman was there with her 25ish year old bf. She was very drunk and talked at me a lot. And bought me beers I didn’t drink. It was really weird. And then she got mad about how she should be closer to the stage because she knows more songs than the people who were there, or something. Her bf apologized a lot.

    My current problems stem from transportation.. I hate parking in Philly. I can drive there in 35 minutes (if there’s no traffic) and park in a lot for $20 because I can’t find street parking. I can take the train from my house, which is an hour ride for $20 round trip, but the last outbound train leaves at 11:45ish so if the show runs late I’m in trouble. Or I can split the difference and drive 30 min to a cheaper train that never stops running. With every show I have to weigh the options to figure out which is best (depends on which venue, weekday vs weekend, etc).

  • I go to shows alone a lot. But basically ain’t no commute to anything for me, that probably would make a difference. Many nights it would be watching tv by myself or seeing a show by myself, so no difference in the company. I’m just as happy either way when the band is playing. Between acts it is better with friends though. On the other hand, it means that I am going to see Waxahatchee, so there’s that.

  • There’s also the thing where I’m pretty anti-social.

  • None of you are old. I’m 46 and I went to see Throwing Muses on my own last year. Normally, I would prefer to go with a friend, but if it’s someone I really want to see, it doesn’t bother me. But then I live in Brighton, which is a different sort of scene to some places, certainly in the UK. Last month at Courtney Barnett, there were lots of people older than me there.

  • Right on, Nick.

    I’m 44. I haven’t been to a show in a year maybe? But it’s not a pain for me to be at a show alone. It’s mostly a pain to get there, since I’m in the south suburbs and most of the shows I want to see are on the North side, and run until after the last train back, meaning I either have to drive or find a place to crash in the city (or bike about 30 miles home in the middle of the night). So I’m pretty choosy about which shows I go see these days.

  • I’ve almost always gone to shows alone, in a way. When I was younger I went alone because, thanks to attending small schools in rural places being my primary means of meeting people, I didn’t know enough people who liked the same music I did that were interested in going. That gradually changed as my social circles grew, but I still tended to mostly make plans independent of my pals, and if our plans coincided then great, maybe we’ll carpool or something. Trying to plan anything more concrete was a fool’s errand because everyone had their own shit going on around any event that could change on a whim. And now for the past, I dunno, seven or so years it’s been at the point where I can’t go to a show without running into someone I know anyway, so I don’t even think twice about showing up alone because there will be company readily available if I want it, and readily escape-able if I just want to take in the band. And, at this point, most of the shows I see are friends’ bands anyway, which only enhances that effect. And, pretty much all the venues in town are within 4 miles of my place, so a commute isn’t an issue. The only thing that keeps me from going to more shows is really just that I don’t keep up with music as much as I used to.

  • Xylouris/White was the most aged show demographically I’ve been to recently. Lots of elderly Greek people doing their folksy dancing stuff. A little old lady was reading a hardback novel in the corner between sets, and I was impressed. Luckily I don’t attend the crunkcore/screamo/dubstep shows that the kids are into these days.

    I did go to a party that was put on by garden variety mid-20s people about 6 months back. There were drinking games that involved asking people questions and stuff and I was thoroughly confused, old person style.

  • I’m 44 and I go to the vast majority of shows by myself, and that’s been the case for years (because I’m a loser without friends, I guess?) I don’t really mind it except the waiting-between-bands part. That can be excruciating, though, as there’s nothing to do in a bar/rock club-type situation except stare at the stage (I don’t drink) and I always feel like a goof just standing there staring into space. If the show is good, though, it’s almost always worth it, to me. I love live music so much. Sit-down type venues are better, although I now have an almost irrational hatred of intermissions.

  • So what I gather is that most of you who are totally cool with going to shows on your own have been doing so for a long time, and often simply because your circumstances required it.

    I guess my current issues stem from the fact that in Athens, a small town that attracts a disproportionate amount of good bands, going to see a show has always been at least as much a social endeavor as an artistic one. But all those friends I went to shows with in college and in my 20s have either left town or lost interest and so I find myself kind of shocked by this new state of affairs.

    It just doesn’t feel the same. It doesn’t feel familiar, and therefore it feels strange, and that makes me sad, which is depressing.

  • I started off always with friends! And then my best show-going friend moved away to college. My mom could only be convinced to see a few things. Eventually I influenced enough of my other friends to like myyyy music (obviously via the clever deployment of mixes?) and got them to go. I got used to soloing occasionally.

    My best show-going friend above, she spent like 14 years away before landing a job back in Philly. She’s the reason I go to like 2/3 of shows now!

  • I mostly don’t go to shows at all (I’m a 45 year old weirdo) but when I do, I tend to go on my own. I just went to a 5 day folk festival, essentially by myself, as the bloke and the kids weren’t at all interested. I mean, there were people there that I knew, but lots of the stuff I saw was on my own. It’s kind of weird, but at least there’s no-one to say “I don’t like this, let’s find something better”

  • I went to see ABC last night with Ellie and they were great.

  • In a strange development, I now have 5 tickets to see Twenty One Pilots at the Brixton Academy in February!

  • Just came home from going alone to see Okkervil River playing Black Sheep Boy, and it was every bit as amazing as you’d think it would be. Was supposed to go with my ladyfriend (Oh yeah, so in news for another thread probably, I have a fairly serious ladyfriend now! She’s awesome, but couldn’t make it tonight), but in a way, kind of loved being on my own for it.

  • Nice!

    I just bought tickets to see Joanna Newsom ALONE in January. Although perhaps I’ll see our erstwhile compatriot Dan there.

  • I love going to shows alone. I agree with clare - it’s kind of weird, but at least there’s no-one to say “I don’t like this, let’s find something better”… or “my feet hurt” or “i can hear you singing”.

    The first time I went to a show alone it was my first month living in residence and there was a bus taking students to an event close to the venue, and I had very little idea of how to use the subway and was pretty terrified of being late, so I hitched a ride. The student coordinators kept asking me why I wasn’t going to their event and were trying to keep me company. That was extra weird.

  • This was my best year for concerts ever. I didn’t go to many, but all the ones I went to were gold except the first one which was merely good. The ones I went to alone are in italics.

    Ministry
    Soundwave Festival (Faith No More, Soundgarden, The Smashing Pumpkins, Fucked Up, Le Butcherettes)
    Richard Thompson
    Bill Callahan
    Blur
    And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
    Lucinda Williams

  • I think going to see Bill Callahan alone is appropriate.

  • I used to go to shows on my own all the damn time (except during the year edison lived in Vienna), but now that I’m old I just don’t really do it anymore. Mostly I guess because I only go to a handful of shows every year anymore (which is partly because I’m old, and partly because I live in a place that doesn’t really have a lot of shows, and partly because the person I enjoy spending most of my time with doesn’t like a lot of the same shows that I do), and when I do it’s usually combined with a social event of some sort. The last show I went to on my own, about a year ago, was a Low concert, and while that was musically pleasant, my mood quite quickly flipped from positive nostalgia to not-so-positive nostalgia for the days when I went to shows on my own all the time. For some reason the act of going on my own to shows really reminded me that I very, very rarely went to shows with my friend Peter (who was quite proud of his terrible taste in music when he was still alive), which brought up very painful awareness that I will never again be able to go to a show, or not go to a show, with Peter anymore. So I don’t really see myself going to shows on my own again anytime soon. Hell, I even dragged S to a Jason Isbell concert last month, even though there was basically zero chance he would enjoy that (and he didn’t, though we did have a nice weekend trip around it at least).

  • We’re getting (even) old(er) and we sometimes go to shows with our kids

    So last night, I went to see teen sensations Twenty-One Pilots at the Brixton Academy in the company of Mrs Ink, both mini-Inks (13/9) and a mini-freind (13), and it was fantastic.

    It’s been quite nice getting exposed to my daughter’s music after 12 years of shoving Stars Of The Lid, Deerhoof and Jason Molina down their necks. The older one has, in six months, gone from “Daddy, I don’t think I really care about music” to a fully-fledged Kerrang! reading emo-kid whose bedroom wall wildlife stickers have been smothered with posters of Gerard Way. It reminds me of my own short-lived but intense teenage preoccupation with Goth. I can see her really enjoying that process of discovering a world that you didn’t know was there.

    It’s really funny actually, because her (and quite a lot of her schoolfriends’) favourite bands are My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy, who I first heard of (but never actually heard) about 10 years ago when Andrew was defending them on LPTJ. It’s weird that generation-old pop punk bands are still so current with secondary school music culture, isn’t it? They also like Panic At The Disco, All Time Low, there are loads of them. It’s all anthemic and self-examining but also kind of underdoggy and right-on in the post-Nirvana tradition. To be honest, most of the above are too guitary for me but in the spirit of full disclosure I should probably admit that I genuinely like Twenty-One Pilots and especially their last album, Blurryface.

    We took the train and underground and arrived around ‘doors’ time and joined the massive queue of 16-19 year-olds in black and red tee-shirts and face paint. After 45 minutes of shuffling around a couple of Brixton blocks in the company of many extremely excited Swedish 16 year-olds, we finally got in. One reasonably horrible support band later and 2 of the 21 Pilots emerged to ‘A Hard Days Night’ levels of pubescent shrieking. The rest was excellent.

  • Just bought 2 tickets to see Stars Of The Lid at a church here in Brighton. Very happy.

  • I forgot to put Mogwai in my list above, although I didn’t see them by myself.

  • I’m old and boring, and I only go to folk shows these days, but I just went out two nights in a row and had a mini folk festival. It was great. Friday was a local(ish, Sydney) klezmer/jazz/balkan/fusion mob called Chaika. Tight harmonies, wierd time signatures and really lovely. Saturday was a very local Old-Timey band, a re-boot of one from the 80s called the Black Mountain String Band. The son of one of the originals plays with them. Good fun. They were supporting Old Man Luedecke, who I love. Canadian banjo-picking singer-songwriter. He’s touring a new album, which was good to hear songs from. Because it’s Canberra and the folk scene, there were people at both shows that I knew, so while I went alone, I wasn’t on my own. The Bloke doesn’t like folk music as much as I do, and it’s Eurovision weekend, so he was happy to stay at home with Mr7.

  • Heron Oblivion were fantastic last night. (And yes, I went by myself.) That is all.

  • I would love to see Heron Oblivion. I like the record, but they’ve gotta be much better live.

  • Well, I love the album, but they definitely bring it live. The guitar freakouts are best experienced that way, and Meg Baird’s vocals are spot on. Go see ‘em.