Stop and Listen

Posted: May 31, 2014 by Isaac Cross in Advice, Learn Something, Philosophy

Last night, I went and experienced a live performance by an amazing artist, a violinist named Lindsay Stirling. If you are unfamiliar with her work, here are a few of my favorite pieces of hers, including several of her joint ventures with some of my other favorite artists, including Peter Hollens and Pentatonix.

Pure Stirling:
Zelda Medley

Awesome Collaborations:
Shatter Me, featuring Lzzy Hale from Halestorm
Mission Impossible, featuring The Piano Guys
Radioactive, featuring Pentatonix
Star Wars Medley, featuring Peter Hollens

Ok, so now that I have adequately promoted the artist, it time for me to complain.

I was about 8 layers of people back from the stage, and yet for half of the performance, all I could see was this:

(Image Courtesy of

(Image Courtesy of

I will admit, I took about a dozen pictures during the concert. But a lot of these people, never dropped their arms. For the entire concert, all they paid attention to was whether they were getting a good shot, either in stills or recorded video. 

And my guess is (backed up by research), that I could describe the concert in more detail than any of those people, and that I more deeply and fully experienced the music and the performance.

But if the issue was just that these people were ruining their own experience, I wouldn’t care enough to write a post about it.

Well, ok, I probably would.

But I’m NOT.

Well. Not entirely.

This rant comes in two parts.

#1. MY experience was hindered by these people.

You see, performance venues are designed so that people on a flat floor (also know as the beer-splattered GA section) are all able to see the performers no matter how many people are in front of them. The stage is lifted just the right amount so that the people in the front and back can all see.

But that design is ruined when people add a foot or two to their height by raising their arms in the air. It is ruined when their bright screens are shining back at everyone behind them. And it is ruined when their arms get tired and they bow their elbows out, hitting me in the head.

I am there to listen to awesome music, watch awesome dancing, and spend a couple of hours being in the presence of great art. These other people seem to be there either as reporters or in some sort of status statement.

So I say, do the first song just for them. Let them get as close as they want, hell, up on the damn stage if they like. And take pictures and video to their heart’s content so they can do their facebook posts and youtube uploads and get it over with.

Then kick every single one of them out of the venue. And from that point on, paintball snipers perched in the rafters will splatter anyone who holds up a cell phone or other camera for more than 10 seconds.

This also goes for the dudes trying to get laid by letting their drunken dates perch on their shoulders for the entire concert, effectively preventing a half dozen people behind them from ever seeing the stage. But I digress,

#2 Why are you even there?!

Concert tickets are expensive. And these people in the front likely waited in line for a couple hours, at least, in order to nab the choice standing spots. But they still weren’t really there. They were on their phone, watching the concert on a little 7″ screen. And y’know what, you can do that for free at home, thanks to all the other jerks who are doing the same thing. No picture or video you take is going to be better quality than the one you can already search for and watch right now if you wanted to.

So what is the point of going through the hassle of actually attending a live performance? Why bother?

The point is to actually experience the art. To feel it. To be moved by it. To let the beats reverberate in your chest and tiny flaws in the sound to ring in your ears. To laugh with the singer when the mic doesn’t work or feel butterflies in your stomach when she makes eye contact with you for a few seconds during the song. You pay and you wait and you travel to be in that room so that you can actually BE THERE.

So stop whatever you are doing and listen. Feel. Be. Just for a couple of hours.

#3 Kink

Hey, this is a kink blog. So I have to take this rant a step farther.

I see (essentially) this same behavior every single time I am at a kink event. It manifests differently, but it is the same.

It’s the people that are posting to twitter and fetlife for the whole party. Stopping in the middle of scene’s to take a picture, not because they were doing something visually interesting, but simply because they needed to let everyone know that they are there, with visual corroboration.

It’s the people who pay more attention to the crowd while they play than their bottom, seeing if they have an audience and making sure to stand so that they all can see how awesome they are.

It’s all the little behaviors that show the person is not really there. Not truly present.

And y’know, that’s fine if that’s what’s really important to you, but I don’t think it is.

I think you showed up for a reason. You got all dressed up, drove forever, paid money, and needlessly exposed yourself to a social environment for a reason. And I believe it was for the energy of being a part of a:

Great. Fucking. Scene.

And you cannot, you CANNOT, do that if you mind is on anything else.

Try it just once. Turn off your cell phone and leave it in the bag. Put on some metaphorical blinders and forget there is anyone else in the room. Immerse yourself in the energy of the person you are playing with and let everything else fall away.

Once you do that, just one time, you will know why it matters. Once you have felt that powerful flow, that vibration, that intense, sweaty, heart-pounding exhilaration of a scene that you are truly invested in, you will covet it forever.

You will no longer be satisfied with the showboat scenes or status symbol players. Because now you know what it is to strip away the world and lose yourself in another person for just a little while.

It is unlike anything else in the world. But you cannot have your cake and tweet about it, too.

You are either there, 100%, or you are not.

So be there. Stop what you are doing and listen. Feel. Be. Just for a little while. Whether you are at the concert or the cross.

It will change everything for you.

  1. blast0ff says:

    Thank you Cross for sharing. I’m looking forward to Lindsey’s show in Florida next month and I too fear this kind of experience happening here as well.

    • Cross says:

      It happens at all concerts. I always make sure to let the people near me know that they are impacting my experience. “Excuse me, do you realize that your arms are blocking the view of everyone behind you?” And many of them will do something about it once they are made aware of what they are doing. Unfortunately, I can’t do this for everyone between me and the stage.

      I still enjoyed the concert. It was amazing. I am sure you will, too.

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