Love sustains the soul, and art sustains the mind, and when the two combine, what results is one of the finest things in life: the mind and body in total harmony, like a swift-moving water-craft playing a flowing river of aesthetic joy. And while certainly there are those of us who are brought to deep emotion by the beauty of something like Monet’s “Impression: Sunrise,” it’s not like we’ve ever been able to gather together and cheer on ol’ Claude while he impressed his mind upon his medium, and see each other en masse and party together in celebration of not only what the man had already created but what he was currently creating again right there before us, for us.
Science one day might discover what laws govern our aesthetic preferences—the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance delves deeply into the question of why we like the things we like, to the point of literal insanity—all I know is that what results during a live music concert is that we get to see and be with everyone else who loves what we love, and that itself is a thing worth noting happily.
Live music allows us to do that: We get to combine the emotions of the past with the vividness of the current moment; we get to see the people around us whose weird mental vibrations match our own, and enjoy the weird aural vibrations orchestrated by our incredibly weird heroes onstage, whose minds birthed the immense joy we’re all now sharing in.
It’s kind of like going to see a movie, but if there’s one thing modern humans aren’t good at, it’s being respectfully quiet, so live music allows us to most be what we really are, which is something just short of the dancing cave-people from the disappointing Matrix sequels.
Rarely in human events are masses of human beings gathered together and united by love. We get short doses of it in our daily lives, when we gather with family and friends for drinks or meals or holidays, but most of the time when we’re gathered in large numbers, there’s nothing delightful about it: We’re either protesting, lynching, decapitating, or firing-and-maneuvering. At best, our political rallies amount to, “Hooray, we think this person isn’t a complete scumbag!”
But dat live music tho.
So much of our lives is now spent alone or at home — faces electrically aglow, ears coupled with earbuds or domed by headphones — but a music concert forces us into our physical environment and the moment itself, which these days is something we mainly only do so we can keep our jobs or stay alive on the road, so I believe part of the joy and exhilaration we feel when we witness great live music is that that part of our brain is being accessed for a reason besides the usual stuff about work or trying to get laid. It’s being accessed because the heart and soul have demanded it, and in so doing our whole existence is rewarded.
The moment becomes less dreadful, if only momentarily, which is just good for morale in general.
You look around, see everyone else there, no matter what else they believe, you see them enjoying what you enjoy, and you know that you are united by that in a way that involves neither indoctrination nor propaganda, but delight.
It’s especially great when you look around and see someone who doesn’t look like anyone you’d ever agree with on anything. In that moment, you are shown something important that shouldn’t be overlooked.
And then puff, my friends. Puff to the glory of the rising and falling of every moment of life — to the idea that anybody could ever take anything and make something beautiful with it, and bring people together because of it.
The air there is already full of magic; if we are to live, let there be more magic.