We experience this world through sensory perception. Very little outside of that feels “real”, feels worth experiencing. Music is something so spectacular in that it has the ability to fulfill the entirety of our sensory desires, potentially all simultaneously. In an age where we navigate the loss of many sensory pleasures - the touch of a loved one, the taste of movie theatre popcorn, the scent of blazing bonfire logs on the beach - I’ve found myself often looking back and longing at the times where I’ve experienced music’s ability to satisfy my senses in such a unique and breathtaking way. I write here as a reminder to myself - and you - of the beauty of experiencing music live, and in hopes that soon enough, we can partake in these collective experiences together, safely and with a greater appreciation than we previously thought possible.
Recently I’ve begun this routine, almost meditative in nature, of putting my headphones on, cranking the volume, closing my eyes, and envisioning myself experiencing the song I’m immersed in as if it were all around me. I bob my head to Disco by Surf Curse, or maybe Sports by Beach Bunny, and I find myself transported to a sweaty basement in my friends’ parents’ house. On a makeshift stage is a super mediocre 4-piece band playing much louder than maybe they should be. The amps are maxed out and I feel the vibrations exuding off the stage palpably in the air around me. It permeates my skin, just like the sweat of the other greasy teenagers surrounding me, all of us entranced by steady but rapid chord progressions and grungy vocals. All I can smell is the noxious combination of alcohol, cannabis, and pheromones, but it fills me with an indescribable comfort and warmth.
Get You by Daniel Caesar shuffles into my ears next, transporting me to an entirely opposite experience. I am in Doug Mitchell Stadium, in some nosebleed seats my friends and I had snagged that very same day. The stage is drenched in solemn blues, slowly rotating hypnotic visuals of Kali Uchis, dancing slowly and sensually. The energy floating in the smoky atmosphere is tangibly seductive and sultry. I can almost taste chocolate and red wine as I close my eyes and my ears are filled with soulful rasp and longing runs. My body sways, caught in the ocean of emotion, I wrap my arms around myself, and lean my head back just taking in every ounce of that moment, absorbing it and funneling it directly into my soul.
When I take the headphones off, and deafening silence fills my ears, I reflect. Music is - for me - one of the greatest spiritual experiences of my life. It represents all that is possible through the beauty of the human mind and soul. I lament at our current situation, where these events which once brought us all physically and emotionally closer have seemingly disappeared. The power remains, however, and resides within ourselves. My ability to experience all these intense sensory reactions to music, within the comfort and security of my own bed, is a magical testament to this power, and fills me with nothing but renewed excitement for our return to the world’s musical stages.