While watching a recent live performance, he said, “I HATE it when the crowd sings along! I didn’t pay fifty bucks for a ticket to hear myself or the guy next to me sing!”
It’s one of the main disagreements we have about the purpose of music. To him, music exists to provide him entertainment: a distraction, background noise. Although music can sometimes serve that purpose for me as well, I also see music as a conversation.
When I stream a song or album, I tell marketing companies what is relevant to me right now. When I purchase an album, I am asking record labels for more of the same. When I tweet a playlist or message a song to a friend, I am sharing a snapshot of my life at this moment. When I buy a band’s merch, I am “paying” them and voicing my support. When I buy a concert ticket, I am investing my money, mind, body, and soul into the support of this artist.
He sees concerts as a one-time event. “You saw them three years ago, why do you need to see them again?” I could happily see the same concert on six consecutive days on six different stages and it would never grow old because of this conversation. “You spoke to your sweetheart a month ago, why do you need to call her again today?” Music is as alive and warm to me as a lover and the conversation is joyous every time it takes place.
At a concert, when I sing back, I am communicating directly with the artist. THIS song speaks to me. This music is a part of me. I want to participate in this beauty, this art. Dave Grohl is quoted as saying, “That’s one of the great things about music. You can play a song to 85,000 people and they’ll sing it back for 85,000 reasons.”
Joe, Gus, Thom and Gwil poured their heart and soul into Matilda. When Joe steps back from the mike and the crowd sings his words back to him, the song becomes a conversation, a two-way expression of love. I can’t even begin to know what the band feels in those moments, but I hope it moves them even a fraction as much as their music moves me.