From the editor
// Samantha Thompson

My first ever concert was the Jonas Brothers. I went when I was 17 years old. Some think I was a little older than their target audience, but I loved being at the concert so much that nothing else mattered. I belted my heart out, so stoked that I knew every word to every single song. I was what one may call a “JoBro Convert,” swaying along and believing that I really was the reason they were “speechless, over the edge and just breathless.”

I am using the fact that I’d only been to one concert by the time I was 17 as an excuse for my overdose of big-ticket concerts lately. I’ve experienced Ke$ha, Pearl Jam, and Kings of Leon all within a four-week time span. And although I enjoyed them all immensely (and consequently have a much lighter wallet), seeing so many different musical acts in a short amount of time made it painfully evident that all fans act the same, regardless of genre.

Every concert has people flailing around, “dancing” to the music; I myself am one of them. Inebriated screams echo, and various hand signs are thrown around in the general direction of the stage.

But you know, that’s cool. I actually love it. The atmosphere is awesome, and for a little while I feel very in touch with the writhing human mass. The most important thing to realize about concerts, however, is that the musicians performing in them have immense amounts of influence. The power of music connects people, rendering them meek and vulnerable. It offers musicians the opportunity to convince their fans of any message they want – something they seem to only occasionally take advantage of.
Pearl Jam, for example, has a long history of advocacy and activism entrenched in their musical success. They openly opposed the war in Iraq and George W. Bush’s presidency, and were one of the few large-name American bands to do so. Pearl Jam also took Ticketmaster to court for trying to raise surcharges higher than what they had previously agreed to. They then boycotted Ticketmaster for one of their tours (with bad results) and ended up testifying in court, largely in an attempt to lower the cost of ticket prices.
At the Pearl Jam concert I went to, they used their platform to talk about how awful war was, and how we should all work together to achieve peace. Although it may not be what they were there for, the fans still heard the sentiments and passively agreed with them by cheering for the music and staying in the stadium.

The Kings of Leon concert, on the other hand, was completely devoid of any political sentiment, though they easily could have. Their music evoked such an emotional response from the stadium crowd that they could have said anything and it would have been happily absorbed. My return to school the following day came with the realization that pretty much all of Capilano had also attended the concert, as they were all sporting their post-concert band tees. To the band’s credit, Kings of Leon have supported the Red Cross, AIDS work, and disaster relief. Even though they spoke very little during their performance, they have at least ensured some level of social responsibility on their rise to fame.

Of course, Ke$ha has her own style too. Her concert featured a lot of screaming and giant penises dancing around on stage, and the only high-profile political issue she has loaned her face to so far is the PETA anti-seal clubbing campaign. She did say she had visited Wreck beach, and said it was a great asset to Vancouver. Nudism is fairly political, so at least there’s that. Her loudest message to Vancouverites was definitely “pour glitter on my titties” though.

While I won’t argue that these bands are in any way a comprehensive selection, the wasted potential in even just these examples is obvious. Music artists use their influence for different messages – anti-war, disaster relief, and the benefits of glitter. With such a huge platform for informing often apathetic or ignorant young people, musicians who aren’t using their influence in order to generate change are doing a great disservice to society. There are so many crucial current events and political issues that deserve centre stage, yet never see the same attention that a pop concert receives. With power and influence come responsibility, whether they asked for it or not. As fun and emotionally uplifting as concerts are, mainstream musicians too often ignore their responsibility to promote world issues and change the world for the better.

// Samantha Thompson, editor-in-Chief

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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com