Me at Taylor Swift's Eras tour

I love going to concerts. There’s just something about how the music swells in your chest, something about moving in sync with the crowd and the artist on stage, feeling understood by the hundreds of other people at a venue when previously, it was just you and your earbuds, listening alone — yeah, there’s something about that.

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In the past month, I’ve seen Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service, 21 Savage and Chappell Roan. That’s quite a few concerts (and quite the variety). I’ve spent many exhausted mornings back at the RiverBender.com office, tired from a late night at a show but still buzzing with the excitement of live music.

No matter how late the artist is — I’m looking at you, 21 Savage, who didn’t make it onstage until almost 10 p.m. on a Sunday night — or how long the night seems, I just can’t shake my love for those concert days. Especially as we get into the summer months, I’m excited to see more shows.

My love for shows doesn’t stop at concerts. I’m also a major fan of musical theater, so you can bet I’ll be at the Muny as much as possible this summer, snacking on licorice whips and crying along to "Les Miserables" or "Waitress."

And what about all the summer concerts we have right in our backyard? Whether it’s Rockin' with Robert in Alton, Rock the Block in Jerseyville, Music in the Park in Grafton or another great show, I’m here for it.

When it comes to concerts, I was a late bloomer. In 2013, I saw Taylor Swift live, and that was pretty much the highlight of my existence, my first and only concert until my twenties.

And then 2020 hit, and all my vague plans about going to see an artist live “someday” were wiped out.

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As the pandemic stretched on and live music became a thing of the past, I began to really regret all the moments I had passed on concerts and musicals before. How many times had I had the chance to see an artist I loved, only to skip it because it seemed like too much stress?

Or worse, I considered the few opportunities I had when I thought about going to Chicago or Indianapolis for a show. I had ultimately passed it up, reasoning that I’d wait for the artist to tour again a little closer to home, counting on some vague and guaranteed “next time.”

Suddenly, there was no “next time.” As the pandemic eased and bands began touring again, I realized it was now or never. I had to jump on these opportunities while I had them.

And so, I started going to concerts.

Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis — it didn’t matter. If I could drive there, I would go. If tickets were affordable, I would go. I began collecting ticket stubs (or rather, in our smartphone world, electronic tickets) like they were going out of style.

And I’ve seen some amazing shows! A year ago today, actually, I was in Chicago, watching Taylor Swift perform on her Eras tour. Love her or hate her, the girl knows how to put on a show. That was the one time I’ve cried at a concert out of pure joy, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Anything for Taylor.

It was a very full-circle moment. Here I was, ten years after my first concert, one global pandemic later, once again seeing my favorite artist live. It underscored for me how important it is to say yes to things, to try things, to live life.

Every concert I go to is a monument to that idea. I can’t wait for the next show. What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to, and who should I go see next? I’m open to suggestions. Yes to it all.

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