Seeing concerts in a new light

A student describes rediscovering her love for concerts after previous disappointment.


I first listened to the hip hop duo Paris Texas’ newest album MID AIR at the Fort Myers airport on the way home from Rolling Loud, a three-day hip hop music festival in Miami that left me with a bad taste for live music.

I felt the festival was incredibly commercialized, as outrageously large screens showed advertisements more frequently than the musicians I went to see, and congested and exhausted crowds concealed the artists on stage. When artists did perform, their sets typically lasted only 20 minutes.

Dissatisfied with my experience, I regretted spending $400 on a festival ticket.

I had thought live music lost its magic, but after a few seconds of listening to the first song on MID AIR, “tenTHIRTYseven,” energetic rock instrumentals and unapologetic lyrics mastering the concept of controlled chaos convinced me I had to see the duo in concert. My connection to the group’s sound was stronger than my newfound distaste for live music. 

Although I had been a fan of Paris Texas for a couple of years, their newest album was particularly meaningful. 

This past summer, I was preparing to transfer from Virginia Commonwealth University to Temple, and the uncertainty of the move loomed intimidatingly over me. I was fearful of not finding acceptance in a new city, but Paris Texas provided an unfiltered account of similar struggles. 

Their music immersed me in an alternate world curated by honest and emotive lyrics and blended rock and rap genres, making it easy to enjoy my time spent alone and shifting me away from my anxieties associated with transferring to North Central.

I soon discovered Paris Texas would be performing at the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia during the fall semester for just $20, so I quickly secured a ticket.

When I first moved into my apartment in August, excitement immediately began building for the Sept. 13 concert. The promise of seeing Paris Texas and the familiar faces of my close friends, who would be visiting me from Newport News, Virginia, to attend the show, helped me stay optimistic amid an indefinite time in my life. 

Finally, on a Wednesday evening, the concert date arrived, and my friends and I made it to the church venue around 8:30 p.m. 

The stairs to the entrance were downward-sloping, steep and winding. In a narrow hallway, staff members checked our tickets and marked our hands with Sharpies, informing us we could come and go from the venue as we pleased.

It was unbearably humid with just two fans blowing in the church basement, but we were unrestricted from returning to the cool air outside at any time. At Rolling Loud, once concertgoers left the festival, extensive security stated there was no chance of getting back in, which created an unwelcoming environment.

In the basement, which was framed by a small merchandise stand at the back of the room and a low set stage at the front, a crowd diverse in gender, race and age waited patiently for Paris Texas’ performance.

Although I had been in small venues before, this was the first audience I felt had a sense of community. The shared love for Paris Texas’ unique music united us all, sparking conversations among strangers and keeping everyone energized despite the heat and wait for the group to appear. I observed the socialization quietly, elated to be a part of a crowd as eager as myself for the show to begin. 

Although the duo, Louie Pastel and Felix, got on stage an hour late, they wasted no time upon arrival to start their performance. The crowd erupted in enthusiastic roars as they began to play.

The intimate environment allowed the audience to see the performers in all their humanness, not as dots in the distance like they do at large venues, but as sweaty and smiling and feeding off each other’s energy. 

Paris Texas did not limit their setlist to their newest or most popular songs like many past concerts I’ve attended disappointingly have. Rather they performed a wide-ranging selection. Based on their constant smiling throughout the show, their choice to perform an array of their songs was something they, alongside myself, felt good about. 

The pair’s chemistry was evident. I saw the answer to how such incredible music can be created so seamlessly amongst two creatives on the stage, rotating from lips to mic to crowd and back again. 

For the first time since I moved to Philadelphia, I felt at home that September night.

Although my disappointing experience at Rolling Loud nearly convinced me to stick to listening to music from the comfort of my bedroom, seeing Paris Texas live reminded me concerts have the ability to recharge me, not drain me. 

Live music has the power to evoke inspiration and excitement. Concerts are powerful experiences, and this past one helped me rediscover my love and appreciation for live music.

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