I long for live music in a packed stadium

A student describes her last concert before the COVID-19 pandemic began and discusses how much she misses seeing her favorite artists perform live.


Looking back at old videos and pictures is a habit of mine. I long for visuals that remind me of normalcy in the most abnormal time I’ve ever experienced.

I stare at pictures of myself in crowded fields and stadiums, pressed up against thousands of people who came for the same reason — the experience of watching and listening to live music. 

There’s a certain connection between every single person in the space. The energy of the artist pours down the stage and into the crowd, flooding each concertgoer with bliss.  

Concerts are beautiful because everyone, no matter if it’s a couple hundred or a couple thousand people, has at least one thing in common: they want to be there to see the artist live.

In May 2019, a year before the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled live music, I was surrounded by thousands of people at the Governors Ball Music Festival in New York City. 

I was there mostly to see Brockhampton and Tyler, the Creator, but artists like Blood Orange, Mitski, Hippo Campus and Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever also performed that day.

My two best friends and I lay in the green fields of Governors Island listening to music and waiting for our favorite artists to come on stage. When it was time for Brockhampton to perform, we rushed to the stage and dove into a crowd of fellow fans. 

The sun set over the New York City skyline as Brockhampton played their closing song, “1999 Wildfire.” Watching the pink-and-white sky envelope the city while hearing my favorite band play my favorite song live was serene. 

I could feel the stress, anxiety and worry of the week before then wash away. I felt connected to everyone in the crowd, to life and to the music. 

Later that night, Tyler, the Creator performed his album “Igor” for the first time live. After listening to the album for weeks and memorizing every word to every song, it was exciting to sing and rap along. 

We danced and jumped along to “New Magic Wand,” rapping his lyrics so loud we couldn’t even hear his voice above our own. 

I couldn’t help but glue my eyes to the stage, smiling at his every move and singing along to every word. Seeing him live that night was like tying a bow on the perfect day. 

As I sat next to my friend on the train ride home, eyes half open and exhausted, I said to her, “Today was the kind of day that will be hard to top.”

I was right, but I had no idea just how special that experience would be to me, as it would be my last concert before the COVID-19 pandemic.

I had tickets to two concerts last year, one to see Thundercat in March 2020 and one to see Harry Styles in July 2020, but they were canceled. When the dates for the concerts came up on my calendar, it was like someone punched me in the stomach.  

I’ve had nothing to look forward to for a year, and I don’t have any more concerts planned for the foreseeable future.

I crave the feeling I felt that day at Governors Ball. I wish I could hear my favorite song blaring through speakers, shaking my soul. But I mostly miss the feeling of being connected to others — to strangers — through music. 

It’s a shame that the closest I can come to live music now is scrolling through my camera roll, but these memories keep me hopeful for when I am finally able to see my favorite artists live in concert again. 

I’m eager for the day when I can push myself against the barricade, fight my way through a mosh pit and lose my voice screaming the lyrics again.

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