About a month ago, I attended three concerts of different audiences: Lil Yachty, Lana Del Rey and TV Girl. All of these were amazing but, the audiences were all quite unique. Concert culture has been at the forefront of many discussions recently and I can’t help but insert my own perspective into the discourse as an avid concertgoer.
The theory is our concerts have been remodeled by the media and a new generation of concert attendees. Everyone has the right to enjoy a show they paid for in their own way, but it has felt in recent years that people are paying to be there rather than to be in the moment. There is more judgment toward singing and dancing along, with a phone screen in front of you at all times. I decided to observe this theory of concerts during my weeklong show trip across the beautiful state of North Carolina.
Show 1: Lil Yachty
The first was Lil Yachty’s Field Trip Tour on September 25 at The Ritz. Lil Yachty brought unmatched energy. He switched between his early Hip hop tunes and newest psychedelic sound from his most recent album Let’s Start Here. It seemed, however, that people were unenthused outside his most popular rap hits. Phones went down and small conversations broke out throughout the crowd. It felt a bit disrespectful, almost as if we begin to focus less on the production and live music more on grasping the moments which bring the most popularity.
When artists rise up due to the internet’s exposure, they are pressured to fit the narrative that put them in the spotlight meaning they have little room for experimentation without some judgment. In this case, it was Lil Yachty’s psychedelic sound. It was as if some audience members didn’t want to try his new sound. Regardless of how audience members felt Lil Yachty put together an amazing production that I would pay to see again.
Show 2: Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey on the other hand still had this phenomenon of viral fame but the experience was slightly different outside the genre aspect. Lana del Rey is a timeless singer therefore, I knew her audience would bring people of all levels of familiarity but what I was most surprised to see was a significant amount of people coming in last minute. Seriously, the person sitting next to me came halfway through the set and was annoyed by the singing fans.
Meanwhile, I sat beside him feeling reborn at seeing Lana Del Rey live. The people in front of me came in late and left twice. It boggled me a bit given tickets were so expensive and some felt nonchalant. I have a suspicion that scalpers who couldn’t sell their tickets decided to attend. There really was just a strange dynamic of people in the crowd at least in my section. The show seemed widely enjoyable regardless of the people around me I observed. I felt judged by some of the people around me but alas I did pay an unspeakable amount.
Show 3: TV Girl
TV Girl really put the theory of media shaping concerts to the test. They rapidly gained their fame on social media during the past couple of years so I expected the crowd to be a part of this new generation of concertgoers. To my surprise, it was the best crowd out of the shows I attended that week. Everyone seemed to be more in the moment, singing and dancing along. The crowd was respectful and it made the energy quite amazing. On social media, I had seen viral videos complaining about the TV Girl crowd being this model of a new era concertgoer who is always recording or may only know the most popular songs but that proved incorrect.
So, what is my take on concerts in 2023? At the end of the day, you can’t really tell someone how to enjoy a show they paid for. You just have to make the experience enjoyable for yourself and hone in on the performance. Of course, the crowd can impact how much you enjoy the show but at the end of the day regardless of the crowds, I had a great time at all three shows.