Solo Act: The Art of Going to a Concert Alone
Brandon Flowers was playing the Rickshaw Stop and Alex Dacks was beside herself.
A chance to see The Killers frontman perform in one of San Francisco’s most intimate music venues, a onetime TV studio that accommodates no more than 400 fans? It was a must. Only her friend flaked at the last minute, and she was suddenly on her own.
Dacks, a Vegas-born Northern California transplant, was faced with a dilemma: sell off her ticket or keep it and attend the outing alone. Quite the quandary. In the end, she thought, Heck, if Flowers can go solo, why can’t I?
She’s sure glad she did. Not only did Dacks get to see the vocalist/multi-instrumentalist perform material from his 2015 album The Desired Effect, including the hit “Can’t Deny My Love,” she made a new friend, a fellow Flowers fanatic with whom she now regularly attends shows. A concert buddy.
None of this would have happened had she not taken a chance and gone unaccompanied.
John Mavroudis, an art director and indie-pop connoisseur from Discovery Bay, Calif., says he often prefers the solo experience. It gives him the freedom to maneuver around the audience (especially at standing-room haunts like The Fillmore, Great American Music Hall, and Fox Theater), to take in the show from different vantage points. It also gives him the ability to move away from chatterboxes so he can concentrate on the music. It’s what he came to see/hear, after all.
“You’re not worried about how somebody else is feeling about the show. You can just let go and submerge yourself in the experience,” he asserts.
“I can’t ever get anyone to go see Van Morrison with me,” says Bill Ruha, of Walnut Creek, Calif., a longtime fan of the “Brown Eyed Girl” singer-songwriter. “I end up seeing him on my own and that’s fine. There’s no baggage. You don’t have to worry about dragging anyone with you. I don’t have to feel that if they’re disappointed, I’m responsible.”
Like most anything we try for the first time, it’s usually a matter of overcoming fear. It’s coming to terms with the fact you’ll be companionless, that you’ll have no crutch to lean on. Let’s face it, no one wants to wear that ‘L’ label. Loser. It’s like that restaurant scene in The Lonely Guy, when Steve Martin is approached at the entrance by a quintessential nose-in-the-air maître d’.
“How many in your party?”
Upon which the entire establishment goes quiet, and every head turns in the red-faced Martin’s direction.
The truth is, it’s okay to be alone, to venture out on your own. It can be more rewarding than you might think. For some, in fact, it can be life-changing. That was the case for Patrick Kirshtner, a metal-leaning musician from Oakland, Calif.
“I can remember one of my first shows ever. I went alone,” he says. “It was the scariest, most eye-opening experience of my life, and it ended up being the best experience of my life. I went and saw Suicidal Tendencies in 1983 in Venice [Calif.]. I was scared. But I turned into a punk after that. I got pulled into the pit and was running for my life for two hours. It was exhausting. But it changed my life. I’m a crossover metal head-punk guy now!”
“I go and meet new people all the time who are like-minded,” adds Kirshtner. “Going alone can actually lead to a lot of friendships.”
The next time your favorite doom metal guitarist or Tuvan throat singer comes to town, don’t get caught up in who can or can’t join in the fun; who will get it and who won’t. New experiences await you.