“I’m going to a concert tonight!”

“Oh, really?  With who?”

“Just myself.”

“Oh.  Why?”

That’s the reaction I get 90% of the time when I tell someone I’m going to a concert alone.  I once had a discussion with someone about which was stranger:  going to the movie theater alone or going to a concert alone.  The other person said, “Going to a concert alone, hands down.  Concerts are supposed to be a social experience.”

I’ve been to a lot of concerts the past few years, mainly for bands who were once icons of the early-mid 2000s and who give today’s young adults that nostalgic feeling of being a rebellious, misunderstood, and/or heartbroken teen.  Nearly everyone at the show is over 21, they have their boyfriend or girlfriend or their group of friends to go with.  In between sets, everyone is staring at their smartphones, using social media like Snapchat and Twitter.  And then there’s me just standing there, checking my phone from time to time, but nevertheless, just waiting for the next band to play.

I didn’t really start going to concerts until I was fifteen years old.  My first proper rock show was Vans Warped Tour 2012.  I convinced one of my best friends to go with me even though I knew she didn’t really listen to that kind of music.  I did the same for another concert a few months later, and although I was having one of the best times of my life, I felt a little guilty for basically dragging someone along who I knew wouldn’t enjoy the show as much as I did… someone who could have spent that money on something they would have enjoyed more.

Then came the acoustic tour in honor of the tenth anniversary of Yellowcard’s “Ocean Avenue.”  I couldn’t find anyone to go with because either none of my friends liked them or they just didn’t want to spend the money.  But that wasn’t going to stop me from seeing my favorite band play their breakthrough record front to back.  So I went alone. I met the band with a VIP ticket, got front row, knew and sang along to every word of every song that night.  It is still one of my favorite concerts I have ever gone to.

It’s not just me, though. There have definitely been shows where I met some great people who also attended alone.  Although I didn’t keep in contact afterwards (mainly because we got separated in the crowd,) it was really nice to talk to someone who enjoyed the music as much as I did.  Ultimately, it was nice to have a discussion about an album or a similar band with someone who knew what the hell I was talking about, and vice versa.

I think many rock concert-goers would agree that one of the best parts of any concert is when the crowd is singing along so loudly that they are louder than the lead vocalist.  When the crowd is just screaming the lyrics while jumping, moshing, crowdsurfing, or whatever, it just really brings everyone together.  Every favorite band or artist is someone else’s favorite too.  There is nothing wrong with going to a concert alone, because at the end of the night the question is:  Was I ever really alone?

Edit: This is a blog I wrote in October 2016 and was first professionally published online by The Real Chicago in November 2016