The lights go out. The crowd livens. You begin to hear the introduction to one of your favorite songs. 

As the you see the group’s members begin to walk out on the stage, your heart races with excitement. Nothing compares to this feeling. 

Over the years, I have gone to more concerts than I can count. From Foo Fighters to Panic! at the Disco, I have seen a wide range of artists in a wide range of venues. 

For some, it may seem pointless to stand in a crowded group of people for approximately three hours and listen to music that you could listen to for free online. 

However, I don’t see it that way. When you pay to go to a concert, not only are you paying for the music, but you are paying for the experiences; they’re experiences that will build memories that will last forever. 

My favorite band of all time is a pop-punk group called The Wonder Years. I first discovered them at the beginning of my first year of high school. 

Walking from one class to another, I would put my headphones in and listen to the band’s album, “The Greatest Generation” on repeat. 

In December of that year, I found out the The Wonder Years were going on tour. Immediately, I bought a ticket and began counting down the days until I got to see them. 

The night before, I was so excited I could hardly sleep. After school the next day, I headed to the show. 

I still remember every detail about the venue. The stairs that ascended to the main floor, the balcony over head. As more people piled into the building, the less people seemed to care about personal space. Standing shoulder to shoulder with complete strangers, I felt my heart almost stop when I heard the first three chords of one of my personal favorite songs, “There, There.”

Suddenly, the hot stickiness of the people standing way too close to me didn’t bother me anymore. 

I was just beyond happy to be there. However, nothing compared to when they began to play my favorite song. 

After listening to the band for, at that point, six months, one song in particular stuck with me. “The Devil in My Bloodstream” instantly became my favorite song by The Wonder Years, and one of my favorite songs of all time. 

When I heard the opening lines of the song, I immediately began crying. 

I felt such a connection with every person in that venue as I looked around to see other people crying too. As the song played on, the audience swayed along to the smooth melody, and everyone started to jump once the song picked up into the group’s signature rock style. 

I saw crowd surfers coming from every direction and leading towards the stage as if they were bugs being drawn to light. I wanted to be part of it, and before I knew it, I was. 

Being carried towards the stage as my favorite song played was unlike anything I have ever experienced. 

Looking around at everyone enjoying the music and sharing a common love is extraordinary, and that’s what concerts create – an atmosphere where all kinds of people can be brought together on a common ground, music. 

It doesn’t matter your race, gender, sexual orientation, anything. 

And that’s what going to a concert provides you with that just listening to the album can’t – a sense of unity.  

Erin McNemar can be contacted at emcnemar@kscequinox.com