Local Natives: Notes from a concert-starved lady 

By: Alyssa Chiang

*queue Cafe Amarillo by Local Natives because sometimes blog posts need a soundtrack too* 

As the world around us continues to spiral beyond our control, we are left to keep searching for ways to stay sane. Among the plethora of novel quarantine “things to do”, something I was admittedly doubtful toward was virtual live concerts. I was a frequent concertgoer before the shutdowns, and I felt like virtually streaming them just wouldn’t be the same. I mean, there would be none of that tension before a concert as you’re waiting for the artist to appear on stage, the dank smell of sweat and weed around you, the encore hype at the end as you’re coaxing the artist back out for “one more song!”, the scramble to the front for a copy of the setlist from the stage where all that remains is the ghost of a performance that you only get to experience once in a lifetime before it recedes into memory. 

But despite my qualms, I’m always game to try something new. So, true to form, when I saw that the Local Natives were playing “live” in my glamorous Los Angeles, I decided--with rash consideration--“Alright, you know what? Why not?” I figured it would be an experience in itself if I made it one.

And it was. At least, I tried my best to make it so. Before the concert, I treated myself to a home-cooked meal, decked out my living room with pixie lights, and did something I never do before a concert--pulled on sweatpants, a big sweater, and socks. Then, I hooked my computer up to my TV screen, and let it all unfold in front of me, as I snuggled up alone on my couch with warm tea and hearty snacks. For a moment, I wondered to myself if this whole thing was just kind of sad and I felt a little self-conscious in my own presence. But that melted away as soon as the Local Natives came on and addressed the “audience” as if we were at the venue with them. The venue was quiet and intimate, and the band members seemed relaxed, uninhibited, and fully present. 

Concerts have always been about more than just the music. They’re a shared experience with other people who might have had the same thing playing in their headphones as you did at some given time at different points on the earth. I realized so many people are starved for human connection these days, and if this is the next best thing, then so be it. It was strange to think about--a bunch of people who were just spending quarantine mostly alone, sitting on their couches on a random weeknight, experiencing the same thing at the same time in different ways and in different places. In a way, it was also strangely comforting. Living alone mid-pandemic was not at all how I imagined I would be spending the summer. Through trying to find ways to keep myself sane with the small joys our world still has to offer despite having to watch it slowly fall apart every time I flip on the news, this was refreshing. Some days are more difficult than others, but this one ended up being one for the books. 

The experience was rich in its own way--having intentionally set the time aside in the day to attend this live virtual show, even if it was in my own living room. As much as I love hanging out with friends and coming up with something exciting to do, there’s just something about being a homebody that really calls my name sometimes. You know, on the nights where you’ve come home from a long day of work in lab, and all you want to do is just curl up in your sweats and lounge on the couch and push tomorrow a little further away just for the time being. It was calming and stress-free, listening to a band that I haven’t queued up in some time, but still feels like home, because that’s what music is for me. 

While paying $18 to sit on my couch for an hour in sweatpants to watch a band play hours away probably isn’t something I can see myself doing frequently, nor is it something that takes the place of an actual concert in any way, I do hope that one day, years from now, the small moments like this one are what will ultimately define this time period for me, through the anxiety, uncertainty, and isolation--and that I will remember that I’m fortunate to be able to have something to look back and smile about. 

*P.S. Don’t forget to catch their newly released EP Sour Lemon!*

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