“Mag-isa ka lang?!” she asked me. “Oo,” I replied confidently, “walang puwedeng sumama sa ‘kin eh. Sayang kung mapapalagpas ko ‘to.” Her eyes expressed surprise, and her voice, concern. Then, slowly and briefly, she looked away; her brows furrowed. It was as though she was trying to let what I had said sink in. It was as if being on my own was such an unbelievable thought. I suddenly had the feeling that she was somewhat sorry for me for not having any company except for myself. I could almost hear the thought that she decided not to express: “Kawawa naman siya.”
Six years ago, going to concerts alone was an unimaginable thing for me to do, and I would’ve probably had the same reaction the woman I briefly met at the concert last year did. Why would you want to go to such a social event with no one else but yourself? That’s just… sad.
Later on I realized that some people go to concerts alone not by choice but because of circumstances. Sure, there must be some who attend shows on their own because they enjoy being with nobody, but I’m positive that they are outnumbered by those who prefer the company. And I am one of the latter.
The first concert I went to on my own happened in 2013 when American pop-punk group The Ataris visited the country for the first time. I am no big fan of The Ataris, but I do like some of their songs especially their earlier works. Despite being anxious, I headed to the venue and popped my “going to concerts alone cherry” and survived! The Ataris concert was then followed by another, and another, and another, with Karpos Live in 2018 featuring Urbandub and The Royal Concept being the last… so far.
Watching concerts alone is not really such a terrible experience, but it does have some negative points. These are especially true if the show I’m seeing is an SRO event or the ticket I’ve purchased doesn’t provide any reserved seats, which are usually the lower priced ones or the mosh pit section. Remember, these are for major concerts and music festivals, not for bar gigs. Small bar gigs are ironically scarier for me. I have yet to try watching one on my own. OK, on to the disadvantages:
1. The eternal wait. Waiting for the gates to open. Waiting for the front act to start. Waiting for the main act to start. Although these are things that I also have to endure even when I’m with someone, the experience is more of a torture when I’m by myself. Since I’m all alone, there’s no one I can chat and kill time with during these seemingly interminable waiting periods. I’m not the type who can easily strike up conversations with strangers, so I people watch, or sometimes I preoccupy myself with any gadget I may have brought, or stuff my mouth with food from the concessionaires.
2. Saved… not. No one can save my spot when I go to the toilet, food stalls, merch table, or wherever. Sure, I can ask the person beside me to save my spot, but when queues suddenly become disorganized or when more audience members begin to pour in, I will most likely lose my place, and I can’t really blame the person I’ve entrusted my space to.
3. Shoot me, please! I’m not really fond of taking photos and videos during shows. I’d rather rely on my companion to do that for me, but since there’s no one else, that task becomes all mine. When I want to have a photo of myself, I usually find someone who seems friendly to take it (No, I don’t like taking selfies either.) Here’s the downside: if the person takes an unpleasant shot, I can’t really force her/him to take another one, and another, until I get the picture that I want. Some are kind enough, and they themselves offer more takes if necessary, but that’s not always the case.
4. What was that? When there’s something that that the vocalist said and I didn’t get it, or when an incident suddenly takes place and I didn’t know what has caused it, (e.g. a guitarist suddenly angrily throws his instrument or pushes amps on stage (Hello, Mike Einziger!) there’s no one I can bug and ask “What did he say? Why did he say that?” or “What the hell just happened? Did you see what happened before he went berserk?”
5. No post-concert discussion. You know when you’re super happy and you just want to talk endlessly about it? Yeah, I can’t do that after a show. Whom will I be talking to? N O O N E. Again, unless I have made friends with someone during the concert, which rarely happens, I just have nobody else to share that happiness with. Of course, I can share it on social media, but it is still different when I can just spontaneously spew out all the things I want to say to someone right then and there.
Flying solo is not all negative, though. One advantage is that you own your time. If you want to stay long after the show has ended to see if you can get an impromptu meet and greet opportunity with the artist, (Hello, Switchfoot! Hello, Christian Mazzalai!) or just take in everything of that exhilarating event that has just transpired, you can! No one will complain and bug you to go home already.
Another and perhaps the bigger advantage is that your happiness doesn’t depend on someone else. You have independence! Imagine: you’ve waited for so long to see this particular artist, and you’ll fail to do so just because no one can accompany you. Then you’ll rant about it on social media and file the post under #teambahay. I think that’s worse than the points I have just raised here, don’t you think?
For sure, watching concerts alone will put you outside of your comfort zone, but hey, at least you got to revel and get intoxicated with the music that means so much to you! You may have arrived alone, but you have witnessed and celebrated an event with hundreds or even thousands of people who share the same passion in music as you do. Seize that opportunity. It may be the last. Going to shows alone may leave you feeling uncomfortable, but sometimes those moments that extract you from your comfort zone are exactly the ones that you need to help you open up to amazing experiences, grow, and understand yourself a little bit better.