Live Music is officially back, and the iSchool community is getting right back into it
October 25, 2022
Standing in front of a stage of any size, you can feel it, and the people around you can feel it. As the music starts to play, the volume is so high that you can feel bass rattling the ground under you. Cheers of joy echo through the venue as what we have all been waiting for has made its grand return.
You look around, and you’re surrounded by any amount of people all there to indulge in the privilege known as live music for the first time in years, due to the long COVID-19 pandemic stealing years of it from people around the world.
Live music is the time when an artist gets the opportunity to connect in person with their fans, so going to concerts feels more special now than ever before because it’s been so long and isolating. With this aspect of connection returning maybe concerts came out better on the other end of a global pandemic. Going to shows has been a celebrated activity that has only been becoming more and more relevant with the passing years.
The students and faculty at the iSchool are no strangers to the magic that can be found in a tiny New York City venue to massive arenas like Madison Square Garden.
Theo Lisick, a senior at the iSchool has gotten to see a few shows since the return of live music last year. He attended Rolling Loud 2021 and 2022 which was held last weekend in the parking lot of the home of the Mets, Citi Field.
“The best was Playboi Carti’s set, mostly because he brought out Kanye, or Lil Uzi Vert at last year’s Rolling loud,” Lisick said. Although most of it was enjoyable he told me that compared to previous years the most recent rolling loud lacked in comparison to past years due to rappers like asap rocky shortening his set and multiple cancellations.
At big festivals like rolling loud, which host over 200,000 people spread out over multiple stages, it’s important to be mindful of safety measures. In Houston, Texas, a festival similar to Rolling Loud, hosted by rapper Travis Scott, turned into a disaster when the tickets were sold far past capacity, and surges sent fans of the Houston rapper off their feet, resulting in multiple deaths. Lisick remembered times when he faced similar circumstances when “In 2019 I was at a smoke perpe mosh pit then I was knocked on the floor and almost got a dude’s boot to the forehead which either would have at least killed me or given me brain damage because it was like a five-pound boot.”
Many sources do not put all of the blame on Travis Scott for what happened at his festival, rather placing the fault on the coordinators and planners. Live Nation is the company that plans every large-scale tour, festival, or event in live music. Following many years without a single live show, when a massively popular rapper like Travis Scott’s festival is returning post-COVID, of course, Live Nation would organize it but a truly fatal flaw was made. A venue that normally holds 20,000 people was transformed into a show with 50,000 people, but would not be the first time that a Live Nation event was overbooked.
NPR wrote an article following the tragedies that took place at Astroworld stating “Live Nation Worldwide have been connected to about 200 deaths and at least 750 injuries since 2006, the Houston Chronicle reported on Monday after searching past court records, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports, and news coverage.”
The iSchool’s beloved music teacher, Mr. Paris is no stranger to concerts of all different kinds and brings a different point of view to the topic of concert safety. He recalls going to the legendary music festival Lollapalooza back in 2002 and seeing the Red Hot Chili Peppers perform and observing what must have been a massive mosh pit: “I’ve never felt like I was in danger but I have been to concerts when there were big mosh pits in the front. But I was never in the front. I would always rather be where the music sounds the best and not really where I can see better.”
On a different note regarding concert safety, Covid has left a visible mark on live music, but the longer it’s been since Covid initially broke out, the closer to normalcy we have gotten. Mr. Paris, a musician himself, is doing what is necessary to be able to indulge in what he loves doing. “Back in June and July of 2020 I would invite my friends over and we would wear masks, and socially distance ourselves to play music all through the summer,” Paris said. But when it came down to going to concerts as a viewer he remarked, he said, “The places I go to and venues I choose to support, I trust that everyone is being responsible and is taking the proper precautions.”
Another instantly recognizable iSchool faculty member is our geometry teacher, Mr. Fitts, who has an impressive repertoire of concerts seen in the past few years. Mr. Fitts has been going to concerts quite literally as soon as he got the opportunity to when he saw the Foo Fighters reopen the legendary NYC venue, Madison Square Garden. Fitts commented, “The first concert was weird because we were in an arena where no one was wearing masks. It felt a little surreal.”
This geometry wizard did not shy away from going to concerts following this, seeing the Red Hot Chili Peppers on tour for their new album. He also mentioned that the highlight of post Covid summer concerts was Nile Rodgers, who was the opening act for the legendary 80s pop group Duran Duran. He remarked, “Nile Rodgers opened and his opening act was one of the best shows I have ever seen. An opening act rarely has a whole stadium on their feet.”
It’s through being reunited face to face at live music shows that reminds us why it is so important. The world seems so divided by politics, and countless issues, and having a time where all those are pushed aside for an hour or two reminds us of how similar we all are. The Foo Fighters opened their show in Madison Square Garden and reopened the country to live shows with the lyrics “It’s times like these we learn to live again.”