Do you remember your first time?
Your first live concert experience, that is. I randomly attended my first show on a whim when two high school friends told me they had a free ticket to a concert that night. I never heard of the band, but the ticket was free, and I had never seen a show at Jones Beach (an awesome outdoor venue on Long Island), so I immediately said yes. The band was Phish, and despite the fact that it wasn’t my musical preference, I still have fond memories of that experience.
Last week, my 9-year-old son, Will experienced the joy of his first concert experience when we saw Maroon 5 at Madison Square Garden. Maroon 5 is Will’s favorite band so he asked for tickets to the show for his birthday, and thanks to my in-law’s connections in the music industry, my mother-in-law made Will’s wish a reality. I have attended many concerts since the Phish show, and I have to say that Maroon 5’s ranks very high up on my list of favorite shows. They not only played all of their greatest hits, but they played them like a well-oiled machine.
As much as I enjoyed the band’s performance, though, my fellow concertgoers who insisted on trying to capture every moment with their phones frustrated me. I couldn’t help but wonder why they bothered paying for tickets to a live show when they weren’t going to enjoy the experience.
All around our seating area, I watched as groups of friends took selfies with and without the band in the backdrop, I watched a woman in the row in front of us literally hold her phone up the entire show to record it, and I watched people take pictures and video and then immediately look down at their phones to post the images on their social media accounts.
The whole scene just made me sad. People paid hundreds of dollars for an experience and then didn’t even enjoy the experience while it was happening. I understand trying to capture a moment, but when did we stop living in the moment? Are we scared that if we don’t memorialize the experience on our phone we will never remember it?
I attended my first show 18 years ago, and I still remember every detail down to the smell of pot in the air and the vacuum cleaner that the band played during an extended jam session. My hubby’s first show was over 30 years ago and he can still remember what Jackson Browne looked like sitting at the piano playing. We didn’t have cell phones back then and we didn’t need them to enjoy ourselves.
There is plenty of research that shows that our money is best spent on experiences rather than things, so why do we insist on wasting our money on experiences we don’t allow ourselves to enjoy? If you wanted to see video of the concert, save the $125 and pay $19.99 for the tour video they will sell online in a few months. If you want to take selfies with your friends, then you don’t have to pay anything to stay home and do it. If you want a blurry shot of Adam Levine on stage, you can find one for free with a quick Google search.
My Favorite Memory of Maroon 5
The highlight of the show for me happened when Adam Levine came out for the encore and insisted that everyone put his or her phone away for 2.5 minutes while he sang the acoustic beginning of “She Will Be Loved.” He spent five minutes of the show essentially begging the crowd to just live in the moment, and while most people listened to him, there were still a few holdouts that insisted on keeping their phones out.
I’m glad that Will witnessed his parents enjoying the show and living in the moment. The only time I took out my phone was to get a close up of Adam Levine because at one point he was only five rows away from us and the other time was to capture this picture of all of these idiots with their phones in the air completely missing out on enjoying life while it was happening.
I encourage my clients to spend their money meaningfully and on experiences they will enjoy and remember for years to come; however, now I know that I will have to discourage that spending if all they plan to do is live it through their mobile device. In my mind, hundreds of people wasted money on tickets to a show they didn’t fully enjoy. If you are going to invest in an experience, then go all-in and live it completely without any distractions. You will not only get the most bang for your buck, but I guarantee that you that the memory will pay you dividends for years to come.
PS: Maroon 5 ended the show with this song and during the middle of the song, red balloons dropped down from the ceiling all around us. Will found one on the floor, carried it through the cold streets of New York, held it on the train ride home and still has it in his room at home. Now that’s an experience he’ll never forget!