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Typically, listening to music is a personal experience. Many of us walk around with our headphones in our ears, allowing our music of choice to affect us personally, whether we use it to transport ourselves into a safety zone while riding the subway or to pump us up as a soundtrack for exercise or countless other situations. Mostly, it’s just you and the music. Attending a concert is, in its nature, an experience where you open up that environment to others, where it is not you alone with the artist, but a group of people experiencing the same music in their own personal way. This affects the way you think about that music, whether positively or negatively. You could have a great experience watching a mediocre show or a bad experience watching a great show, depending on the environment. While it’s not necessarily the top influence, it’s certainly a contributing factor. The environment at Terminal 5 for Toro y Moi’s concert sadly had a negative effect on my view of the live show.
Attending a concert at Terminal 5 for the first time provided an experience itself. For some reason, I had pictured a bigger venue in my mind beforehand, but accepted the space as it was. Not a problem. As The Sea and Cake walked onstage, the crowd continued to grow in anticipation of the main show, Toro y Moi. The Sea and Cake’s live performance lacked luster. In short, it was a group of middle-aged men playing the music they recorded. Very minimal communication with the crowd, very minimal energy from the band and very minimal interest from the audience. The band’s sound is slow-burn rock that, while nice to listen to on an album, is very different translated into a live reproduction. Pretty disappointing.
However, it wasn’t until the end of The Sea and Cake’s performance that I noticed the environmental influence that would make it difficult for me to enjoy the concert. Near the front of the stage, I began to see an occasional puff of smoke. I thought it was weird, but I put it out of my mind because it was pretty far away, and at that point I was just anxious for Chaz Bundick and the band to get onstage for the main performance after the drab opener. However, as Bundick’s crew prepared the stage for the dazzling electronic performance, I noticed the puffs of smoke multiplying. By the time Bundick began his set, there were a dozen found throughout the room. And it began to smell like there were a dozen puffs of smoke throughout the room. Fifteen minutes in, I found it hard to concentrate on the performance because of the pungent smell. Which is a shame, because Bundick did a great job of keeping up the energy with the rest of the band, mixing beats as he performed his cool, funky mixes.
Really, the performance was well done, with Bundick jamming to his songs, including hits “Harm in Change,” “Say That,” and “So Many Details.” Bundick released his fourth full-length album this year with a more electronic-centered sound definitely suited for the loud, alcohol-filled atmosphere of the clubs. Fittingly the crowd became a huge dance party. He plays music that brings people together and, most of all, is irresistibly catchy. Bundick stood in front of a mixer, playing the cool DJ as well as the singer, while his bandmates provided backup scattered throughout the stage area. Multi-colored lights flashed, complimenting the beat, and became more dramatic whenever the music swelled into a frenzy.
Unfortunately, the puffs of smoke eventually reached the area where I was standing and I decided to abandon my spot in favor of a view toward the exit, which contained fresh air. There I was able to watch from afar while Bundick played the rest of his entrancing performance. Overall, I learned that sometimes I prefer to experience an artist’s music in an environment I can control, even if that means skipping out on a potentially cool live show.
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