Concerts and Politics
Updated: Nov 18, 2020
By Eszter Sailer
I have always been a concert person. I love the feeling of being there, the live music, and the energy of everyone in the room. Recently I have been to three of them (the total number is not easy to calculate). They were all different, with different styles of music and different vibes. However, they made me realize something: in a way, concerts are just like politics, even if the real world is exactly what we want to escape from at concerts.
There is something about lyrics that makes you like them, that makes you relate to them, and that connects them to politics as a whole. A political party should be relatable, right? Otherwise, you would not consider voting for them. Therefore, musicians are comparable to political parties. You go to concerts because you like them, because the lyrics say exactly what you think. A political party does the same: they promise you something, they get your votes by telling you what you want to hear. Of course, we cannot say that a band tries to get your votes and that your future depends upon it (at least not in the way it depends on a political party). Additionally, selling oneself is different with music. Obviously, a band wants you to listen to them, but for many of them, it is not only about making money and gaining power (or a fan-base in this case), but also about representing their own mind-set, and, to go emotionally even deeper, about portraying their emotions and allowing it to help other people. In this sense, they are similar to political parties, representing a wave of thoughts and trying to get both recognition and reaction.
My simple thought started out while thinking about concerts I have been to, so I compared those genres to politics – genres with lyrics, upbeat melodies. Naturally, every kind of music fits the situation described above, be it classical, electronic, or any other instrumental music. Lyrics are not a necessity to be able to compare concerts and politics, however, words are the ones that make the message more straightforward, and they are the ones that I, personally, always sing along to. However, every genre has the potential to put out something that is relatable and that influences the thoughts of the audience.
I will make the distinction between lyrics about personal matters and lyrics about general issues of the world. One can argue that personal issues, like romance, are not political, therefore, the comparison to politics would be incorrect. However, singing along to those lyrics means the same thing as agreeing with a political party. You chant the lyrics, you look up to the singer, you sing with the people around you and you are united. You share the same interests, just as you would do in a political party.
Singing literally about things that musicians seem to think of as problems with the world can add to this feeling and then comes the ironic thing about my theory. When at the concert a song of the political kind comes up, talking about the world and expressing problems in our society, people shout along and you can see by the expression on their faces that they agree and that they are fed up with how things are in the real world (Dear Mr. President, Pink/ Imagine, John Lennon). Concerts give you exactly the opportunity to express your feelings without any consequence. I am not saying that (I, or) people go to concerts because they want to escape politics or the real world, but they do give you space to shamelessly share the thoughts of the band. So that is where the contradiction is: you want to let go of your problems for a while, and you do not want to think about current issues, but you behave like you are at an event of a political party: you chant the exact words that relate to your life and to your problems (comparable to a political party’s agenda). The difference is that you do not actually change anything and that music is not about politics and it cannot change the government or current affairs, but it can change you, your thoughts, you mind-set. In a sense, you get desensitized to everyday matters because they are everywhere, but being at concerts, the sensitivity increases and you find yourself shouting every word you agree with.
Concerts give you the chance to just be somewhere where you do not have to worry about other people’s opinions. It unites people and does the beautiful thing with the lyrics where they somehow rhyme, and are written well and you can enjoy that. You can sing along, you can jump along and you can feel that there is a community that is created among the audience, sharing the same passion: music. The thing about concerts is that you can talk about politics there, even if you do not realize that certain songs are, in fact, about it. You can do the things that are comparable with events of political parties, without concerts having an assertive agenda, and without any consequences. In the end, it gives you the opportunity to lose yourself and to detach from the outside world, but it also brings you closer to people by relating to them.
So maybe concerts are like politics, and bands can be compared to parties, but the reason we like concerts is because it is our choice to choose a band. You can choose your own political party of course, but if it does not get the majority of the votes, another party will take over control, whereas if other people like different bands, it will not affect your life. You can relate to each other and agree on terms, and still, your actions at concerts will not lead to anything, and will only have meaning for you. What could we want more than to escape the unjust outside world to express ourselves in a safe place and not having any consequences behind it? Personally, I would not mind a meet and greet with every band I see, but that is another topic.