Friday, April 19, 2013

Concert puts student 'on top of the world'

First-time concertgoer offers advice for attending music events

By Camille Adams, A&E Writer

Sore feet, sweaty clothes, lack of personal space and ringing eardrums do not typically add up to a pleasant evening, but they do spell out the unique and memorable atmosphere of a concert.
   
On March 15, I took the train down to Portland to get in line for Imagine Dragons’ “Night Visions Tour.” The band rode its ever-growing popularity from California up to Portland and the Roseland Theater for an 8 p.m. concert.

While the bands’ tour, which began this February  and will conclude in August, will travel across Europe, Canada and the U.S., the Portland concert was the Pacific Northwest’s shot at a show from this indie rock band.
   
Back in December, my friends and I had crowded around our laptops to buy tickets for the concert the second they went online.
   
At the time, I knew the bands’ big hits, “It’s Time” and “Radioactive” from the sheer exposure of living in a dorm with thin walls, but I was not by any means a fan.
   
As the concert date approached, I became anxious about attending my very first concert without knowing any of the songs. After all, if I couldn’t sing along, it didn’t seem like there would be much I could do.
 
So I hunted down the songs from Imagine Dragon’s album “Night Visions” and was hooked almost immediately. When the day of the concert finally arrived, I was ready.
   
At 6 p.m., the line to get into the Roseland Theater wrapped around the block.
   
My friends and I were camped around the corner from the entrance with snacks and cameras in hand. When the doors began to open, we found ourselves being pushed and prodded inside by the momentum of the crowd, a feeling we would not lose for the rest of the night.
   
A beleaguered-looking guard searched our bags and confiscated my water bottle. Rookie mistake. I would later find out that water is a highly desired scarcity after standing and dancing for hours in a small space with hundreds of other excited teenagers.
   
Once we entered the standing room area of the theater, the waiting game began. For 30 minutes, we waited and chatted while kids ranging from middle school to college students continued to file in, and parents and other non-minors commandeered the balcony seats. 
   
Eventually, the opening bands took the stage, and thus commenced another hour and a half of waiting. I spotted a few die-hard fans singing along to the eccentric, screaming sound of the female singer in the first band, but besides these contented few, the majority of the crowd appeared restless.
   
Finally, the moment we had all been waiting for arrived. The lights dimmed, the fog began to billow in and the band members took their places.
   
The long intro kept us guessing at the identity of the opening song, but when the lead singer emerged from the smoke and uttered the first words of “Round and Round,” the crowd’s collective enthusiasm was electric.
   
The theatrical set-up of the entire performance awed me: the stage was littered with willowy trees and sheer gauze, highlighted at different times by shadows and different colored lights.
   
A kettledrum sat in the middle of the stage, and the lead singer periodically played this monstrosity during fantastic instrumental interludes.
   
Although I was often unimpressed by the typical attitude of the spot-stealers, pushers and grinders in the crowd, I was taken aback by the humility of the band.
   
The lead singer reached out to the crowd with words and motions, as if it to share the experience with the fans rather than to show off the band’s prowess and fame.
   
In particular, “On Top of the World,” is a song that speaks to being thankful for and enjoying the rewards at the end of a long road of hard work.
   
The entire band embodied this concept and seemed to want to share their hope and gratitude with the crowd.
   
In the final moments of the two-hour spectacle, I was struck by the unity of the crowd. Amid the shoving and sweating, the fans jumped and shouted together the “It’s Time” chorus: “I’m never changing who I am.”
   
I     left the Imagine Dragons concert appreciating the power of the experience of shared music. I cannot imagine a better first concert.