November 15, 2018

Four music journalists walk into a bar...to discuss what makes a great concert

Four music journalists walk into a bar...to discuss what makes a great concert

Erika Bálint
INTERVIEW

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We want to know what makes a great concert. And who best to ask than music journalists. Those curious creatures that live in the space between musician and music lover. Equipped with a fine ear and with hundreds of concerts under their belt, they have a unique perspective on what is that extra little something that makes entire crowds experience waves of goosebumps.


For this post, we spoke to four music journalists - all located in Denmark. We heard from freshly retired Brian from Musik Blogger and from Hansen, who writes for Gaffa next to making music himself. We also sat down with rockers Anders from Metal A Day and Petteri, who is editor in chief at Rockfreaks.net.

We asked about what makes a musician stand out and what makes a music experience great, finally asking each of our interviewees for a personal example of an outstanding music experience.


What makes a musician stand out to you?


Brian:
Stunning vocals and great harmony impress me. It doesn’t have to be big to be wonderful. I enjoy seeing bands that stay humble, while believing in themselves and in their music. If they don’t believe in their own music, others can’t relate to it.

Hansen: I do get a kick out of realizing, “Okay, you’ve really got something”. I feed off energy and enthusiasm, times when you can tell that the heart is in it. You can do that in all genres. Many people might be more inclined to say that you have to have a guitar or piano to be soulful, but I can easily hear it in machines as well. If the band has got something they really want to do, say or try, I feel that hunger.

Anders: When you stand there at the concert and you don’t even have to be drunk because the music is a drug in itself. To me, concerts are an interaction that happens because you dare to go into that room and you dare stand in there feeling companionship with the other audiences. A great music experience is when I can feel that the band are happy that I’m there and I want to reciprocate that.

Petteri: Subjectively, it has to be my genre, what I personally like. When you listen to 1000 releases a year, you can very quickly hear if it’s a good release or if it’s a release that needs about 15 listens before it becomes good. Objectively, it’s quite difficult because for some people good is catchy, for some people it’s intricate - progressive, detailed, complex and complicated. For other people, it’s just fast or capturing a specific mood.  


What makes a music experience great to you personally?

Brian: A great music experience, from my point of view, is when you leave the venue with new energy and hope after a concert. You have accomplished something inside yourself and feelings are flowing. That is the ultimate music experience.

Hansen: That’s a big question, isn’t it? A good music experience for me is when something resonates with me or if it changes or confirms my feelings or something I’m doing at that moment. That’s why I listen to different kinds of music - in this mood, context or point in my life or daytime, this  music is what could make a difference.

Anders: This one time, I was at a concert with my friends, having fun. Suddenly, I turn around and I’m hit by a feeling of grief. I have no idea where it came from. The musician was playing a song about where his ancestors came from and it became oddly personal for me. You could feel he was shaking, not crying, but he was very emotional about it. Then and there, I was reminded of how I used to listen to his music with my mother. And I was thinking “My God, I’m missing my mother” because I was listening to music that reminded me of her. If it can provoke that feeling in me, I know that’s a good experience.

Petteri: I like seeing concerts where everything breaks on stage or something weird or charismatic happens. But also when there’s a feeling of community created among the people that are there. It’s rare that the full community, everybody in the venue is just brought into this sense of community, but that’s usually when the show becomes a magical show instead of just a good show. It just happens because everybody likes the same band.


What’s the best live music experience you’ve ever had?


Brian:
I believe I have lot good experiences with music, but my work with the blog have made it all professional rather than for my own sake. I often end up with the critic-glasses on. A great music experience was at the Skovrock-All Day, held by Skråen, when Danish songwriter Rasmus Nøhr played a concert. I know the lyrics and the mood was free, so I enjoyed working the stage while he was playing.

Hansen: When Coil played Time Machines the first time I saw them live must have been the best music experience I’ve ever had. They built a completely new room with their performance, where genre and time didn’t matter, defying rules and almost saying “This is not where we are. Forget everything else you know! This is a completely new setting and a new mood that we are creating together between the musician and you as a listener and it will change your life”.

Anders: I guess the first thing that comes to mind has to be the right thing. It was when I realised that I want to work with music. I saw Slipknot in KB Hallen and Papa Roach was the opening act. It was June 2005, I had come all the way from Århus. I made it to first row and was so gripped by it. The bass player looked at me and threw his pick. I didn’t catch it, I was rolling around on the floor trying to get a hold of it. When I looked up, they were gone. I looked at the pick with this, “Wow!” I knew something had happened that day. It was the right time, I was finishing 9th grade and I felt perfect. I knew things were going to be different from then on. Then he died some years later, and I still have that pick. If I’m having a bad day, I can look at that pick and remember that day. I’ve had amazing experiences since then, but I keep coming back to this one because I was converted that day. 

Petteri: One of them was at Groezrock, a festival in Belgium with about 25 000 visitors every year. The Offspring were playing. If you listen to punk rock, you have heard their album Smash. 16 000 people stand in front of the stage and the band plays the album from start to finish, including the intro track, which is not even a track - it’s just some pre-recorded guy speaking in the microphone, but people are already singing along. The whole thing becomes a massive mosh pit from the very moment it starts. You see this guy next to you. You’ve never seen him before, you don’t know his name, but you both share that moment. You sing the song and stare into each other’s eyes and you feel like you’ve known each other for your whole lives. You push around and meet another such guy. It becomes like a big family get-together.

If you are looking for the next goosebumps inducing experience, look no further, Low-Fi always has plenty lined up. 

If you are looking for your next goosebumps inducing experience, look no further, Low-Fi always has plenty lined up. 

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