The Joy of Jumping to My Favorite Songs


During the relentless awkwardness of middle school, the only thing I allowed myself to turn to for comfort was music. There was no one in the midst of my playlists trying to get answers out of me; in fact, it probably allowed me the self-reflection and opportunity to offer those answers, as well as understanding, to myself. It feels silly thinking back on it now; I was never really alone, despite what my own teenage dramatics had me believe. But just because I know that now doesn’t mean I was ready to quit my pity party and realize it then. I needed lyrics to hold close and shout along to and love.

I have always found immense meaning in music. In lyrics, melodies and instruments; in the intended purpose of a song and the significance I decide to attribute to it. Music is something so personal, but so universally applicable. That’s why there is nothing that compares to live music. 

Hearing the songs that infiltrate all of my walks, chores and every bit of quiet I have, in a context of pure fun, is the most joyous experience. How could I not give into the expanse of darkness in an arena, surrounded by thousands of others, yelling the words to a song that we all love? The joint buzzing among the crowd when the pre-show playlist is playing. Unknowing of someone’s name or where they’re from, but watching my feet to make sure I don’t step on their toes as we dance next to each other. I may not know my fellow concert-goers, but we’re all adding to each other’s experience: making it better by enjoying ourselves in tandem. 

In the midst of my adolescent fog, I had always proclaimed I would go to college in the city. This was shocking to my family because I was a very introverted kid. They wondered what I would enjoy about a bustling place, filled with restless people. I remember my mom joking that I wanted to go to the city to have easy access to concerts. Though it was not the deciding factor (let’s be honest, I would be attending shows no matter where I went to school), the opportunities I have in New York City to see my favorite artists, especially those who are less popular, are not lost on me. Truth be told, I think concerts have made me learn to love this city more than I would have otherwise. If the sight of swarming, loud people made me nervous instead of being a part of all my favorite memories, I would have a way less welcoming perception of the city.

In 2022, I attended 11 concerts. Not a ridiculous amount, but a personal record for me. I saw shows of all different genres: rock, pop, R&B, you name it. If an artist I love was playing a show in New York, I was there. I experienced looking up at all of Madison Square Garden from the pit for the first time, and I walked into one of the smallest venues I’ve been in to watch what was arguably the most special show I’ve seen: Tamino at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Some crowds were pushier than others, some venues hotter and some performers more charismatic, but without fail, I was stupidly giddy for the entirety of each gig.

Though I was unwilling to admit it, little Lauren was quite excited about the city for easy concert-going access. I can’t lie and say she wouldn’t have died at the prospect of seeing The 1975 or The Neighbourhood live. I’m glad I’ve had some fun for her to look forward to. 

Getting playfully mocked for being in some tiny venue in Brooklyn on a random Monday night is worth the rush I get when a song I love starts to play, and I get to look over at my concert buddy, a lot of the time my friend Emily. I sing every word to the best of my ability and the probable chagrin of those around me, and I know that for the next hour and a half or so, it’s the only responsibility I have.