One of my favorite memories is of a concert at a theater in my hometown. The venue is richly decorated in Baroque style, with red marble pillars and gilded gold trim decorating the ceiling. Cherubs regard the stage from plaster perches, and murals of cloudy skies line the edge of the ceiling. The architecture of the building was a funny contrast to the rock concert going on inside; it is much more the kind of place where you would expect to see Hamlet rather than Haim. My friend and I were there to see Cage the Elephant, and it turned out to be one of my most unforgettable nights.

Though it was not my first concert, it was the first time it felt real. The audience was a new community, a group of people enjoying the same music, strangers acting like old friends. It wasn’t weird for us to strike up conversation with the couple sitting next to us, or to wave to the teenagers down the aisle. Stepping into a concert is like entering a new world, a new culture. Everyone is on the same page, and you instantly have something in common with everyone there.

It’s no secret to those who know me, and those who follow my Instagram, that I am a bit of a concert junkie. My feed is full of shaky shots of bands in bad lighting, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. At concerts, I can at least for a while leave my anxious type-A brain at the door, and be carefree for the night.

Concerts here at UD have been some of my favorite college experiences yet. On September 10th, I saw an alternative band called New Politics in the Trabant MPR. I only found out about it the day before, and it was all super last minute. I persuaded a group of friends to come with me; for some it was their first ever concert experience. For me, that night was the first time I felt like I found a place where I really belonged at UD. It was like a switch went off, and now I could really see myself living and thriving here.

The second concert I went to in Delaware also marked a transition. In October, I saw Chance the Rapper at the Bob Carpenter Center. My roommate and I had been counting down the days since the moment we bought our tickets. It may be a bit of a writing cliché to say “the energy was palpable,” but in this case it really is the most apt way to describe it. It was as if every audience member and fellow student’s hearts were beating at the same time. The performer’s genuine enthusiasm spread to all of us, and it was the first time I really felt like part of a community at UD, with everyone singing the same lyrics in unison. It all contributed to an incredible night.

Music in all forms is something that is unifying and cleansing. It allows humans to empathize with one another on a base and more emotional level, something beyond language. However, there is an especially magical quality to live music itself. It’s entering a trance-like state, and abandoning inhibitions and rules to just be one with the world and yourself and the music. For everyone involved, it is a catharsis: something tugs at your soul and coaxes you to take part in something larger than yourself. You get to lose yourself and find yourself, all at once.

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