Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Cal Poly chapter.

When I turned 13 my parents gave the greatest gift I think I may ever receive: concert tickets. Boy, did my parents not know what they were getting themselves into. After this one show I became a fanatic. 


I remember my first show vividly. It was P!nk’s Truth About Love Tour with New Politics as the opener. My entire life I had always admired P!nk, what she stood for, and simply how BAD ASS she was. Her music was incredible and she dominated the entire arena through her aerial dancing and acrobatics. However, for me, it was so much more than that. 


Yes, the show was spectacular. I was completely in awe, but what made concerts my addiction was the feeling they gave me, just like any other drug.   


I cried when P!nk took the stage because I was so overcome with emotion. However, what makes concerts special is because of the audience they attract. No matter who you are, where you come from, or how different you may be from the person standing next to you, you are all there for the same reason: the love of the music. 


This love was something that was instilled in me at a young age. I remember, when I was little, getting mad at my mom for singing along with me in the car when we drove to school and listening to classic rock with my dad when he had every other Friday off from work as we spent the day together. My parents are a key reason concerts are so special to me, because it is something we can do together. 


After I saw P!nk with my mom, she became my go-to concert buddy. . Since then, we’ve endured 13 hour festival days, long car rides in the middle of the night post-show, and witnessed the wildest things in the crowd just waiting for the next artist, like someone breaking an ankle. 


We’ve also experienced some of the biggest artists of our time from Maroon 5 and Mumford & Sons to Foo Fighters and  Foreigner.  


In addition to this, I know the power that a single song, album, or performance can have an on individual. 


My senior year of high school I was going through a rough time and the first time in months that I felt an ounce of genuine happiness was when I found out I was going to Bottlerock 2018 in Napa Valley. On the line up was my favorite band, The Struts, and I had never seen them. 


Their music and performance at that show got me through a lot and solidified them as the best band I had ever seen live (knocking P!nk out of top spot, who had been there since 2013, might I add). 


It is this power that has kept me going back to concerts. The environment and pure joy and love for the music is what has led me to have seen 144 different bands (now that’s a completely different list) and artists over the past seven years, many of them more than once. 


The significance of music in my life caused me to set the personal goal for myself: see the same number of shows in one year for the age I was that given year. 


I don’t know why I set these terms specifically, rather than say one concert a month, but I saw it as a challenge. Each year it would get harder because each year I would get older. It would force me to do it when I was young, had the time, and a smaller requirement to meet. 


Well 2019 was my year. I saw 19 concerts for my nineteenth year.


Let’s take a look at all of them:


Creed Bratton and The Grass Roots (The Fremont Theater, San Luis Obsipo)

January 10, 2019

Now some may consider this a stretch since it isn’t a mainstream band, but live music is live music, and my inner Office fan girl was ecstatic when the Creed Bratton came to perform in her small college town. 


Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness (House of Blues, San Diego)

March 24, 2019

This was the first concert I ever went to alone. While daunting, it was the entire inspiration for my trip to San Diego and honestly the experience was amazing. This was my third time seeing Andrew McMahon and it reminded me how much I loved him. He sang through the crowd (and walked right past me!!), played music from his previous bands, and even performed with his daughter on stage. This show only solidified my love for McMahon as an artist, and as one of my favorite bands.


Bottlerock Day 1 (Napa Fairgrounds, Napa Valley)

May 24, 2019

This may be considered a cheat, since I am counting one music festival as three shows. The first day was incredible. I got to see Imagine Dragons, One Republic, Neon Trees, AJR, and Flora Cash. One Republic especially stood out to me because beforehand I had disregarded them as “middle-aged mom music.” However, after seeing live, I have a newfound respect for them as performers and for Ryan Tedder, the lead singer and song-writer, because not only did their setlist consist of One Republic songs, but songs Tedder has written for other artists too. I was impressed by his talent and out-reach as he belted out Adele’s Rumor Has It and Beyonce’s Halo.

Bottlerock Day 2 (Napa Fairgrounds, Napa Valley)

March 25, 2019

Pharell Williams. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Nightsweats. Sir Sly. Chevy Metal. The Regrettes. I mean, the line up is so diverse, how can it not be fun? Sir Sly was the band this day I was most ecstatic to see, as I had been trying for years to see them live, so seeing them flip all over the stage from front row was truly worth the wait. Chevy Metal (a rock cover band fronted by Foo Fighter drummer Taylor Hawkins) was also really entertaining for me as a fan of classic rock and the Foo Fighters.

Bottlerock Day 3 (Napa Fairgrounds, Napa Valley)

May 26, 2019

Day three did not disappoint and quite frankly was the line-up I had the highest expectations for given that it included Mumford & Sons. They ended up being my favorite artist the entire weekend by far, but in addition to them, I also enjoyed seeing Lord Huron, Bishop Briggs, Skylar Grey, Houses, and Shaed.


Train with the Goo Goo Dolls (Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View)

June 15, 2019

This was my third time seeing Train and once again they did not disappoint. It is easy to forget how many songs Train has in their discography but each one is performed with equal energy and gusto. I always love dancing through Hey Soul Sister and swaying to Drops of Jupiter. The Goo Goo Dolls and Allen Stone were the openers for this show.

Lifehouse (Sonoma Marin Fair, Petaluma)

June 21, 2019

Lifehouse honestly impressed me considering I went in low expectations. This was a show I went to because it was local and convenient for me and I had this 19 for 19 goal in mind, so I was pleasantly surprised when they sounded really good and were equally entertaining.


The Struts (Ace of Spades, Sacramento)

July 5, 2019

THE BOYS. My boys. Oh my gosh THE STRUTS. This show was my fourth time seeing The Struts, and my second time meeting them, and I wasn’t any less starstruck. When I say they are the best band I have seen live, I am not kidding. That is something I do not say lightly. The engage the audience in a way no other band I’ve seen has, Luke Spiller is basically Freddie Mercury reincarnated, and I know they will go down as one the best rock bands in history. They had the queen Kelsy Karter, who is a force in and of herself, open for them along with The Glorious Sons, who is another band that is now one of my tops and I currently have tickets to go see again in February.


The Struts (Mondavi Winery, Napa)

July 6, 2019

Yes I saw The Struts back to back. And I would do it again. Bonus, Luke Spiller held my hand and sang to me (insert heart eyes here).


Beck and Cage the Elephant (Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View)

July 17, 2019

Okay, so this was cool. I remember walking to one of my classes freshman year and getting a call from my dad to tell me that he had won us tickets and meet and greet passes for Cage the Elephant! I had been bugging people for months to go to this show with me, but it wasn’t the most convenient (a tuesday night, two hours away) but this meant we were going! Cage the Elephant was so fun to see and sounded amazing. Beck was honestly, really impressive. I had always been a Beck fan, however didn’t know too much of his music, other than the fact that he wrote, sang, and played it all on the albums, so when he took the stage I was taken aback with the quality of his performance.


Avett Brothers (The Greek Theater, Berkeley)

August 16, 2019

The Avett Brothers were another surprise for me. I knew their music was good, but I didn’t listen to it avidly before seeing them. They carry a good stage presence and picked an opening band that complimented them nicely, Lakeshore Drive.


Andy Grammer (Green Music Center, Rohnert Park)

September 6, 2019

Andy Grammer is another artist that has a setlist full of songs you don’t know are by him. From Fresh Eyes to Honey, I’m Good, he serves up bop after bop. Grammer maintains his happy, high energy performance the entire show, and manages to develop a deep connection with the audience by sharing where his inspirations for more personal songs come from. I recommend listening to his song She’d Say and look up why he wrote it.

Florida Georgia Line (Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View)

September 27, 2019

Talk about a stacked line up for one show: Florida Georgia Line, Dan + Shay, Morgan Wallen, Canaan Smith, Hardy. This made going to show worth it, because let me tell you I am not a country fan. Never have been, probably never really will be, but I will hand it to each artist. When they had the stage, they sounded good. Dan + Shay were my personal favorite (probably because they have the most pop sound) but Florida Georgia Line did know how to make their music and performance entertaining, even for me.


Jonas Brothers (Chase Center, San Francisco)

October 8, 2019

Some may say, on this night, I peaked. Seeing the song Year 3000 live was a bucket list item in and of itself. Childhood me was quaking in her boots the entire night. I have been a fan of the Jonas Brothers since their Disney days (I mean, who hasn’t) so getting to go to their concert was a dream come true. They not only played a substantial amount of their new album (which is a masterpiece), but also knew that a majority of the fans were there for the nostalgia. The iconic trio performed an array of their early stuff too, everything from Love Bug to Camp Rock-era magic like Play My Music.

Cold War Kids (The Fremont Theater, San Luis Obsipo)

November 17, 2019

This show was the second concert I had ever been to alone and it honestly pushed my limits. When I saw Andrew McMahon that was given, but seeing Cold War Kids alone was strictly in pursuit of seeing 19 shows for 19 years. I’m glad I went though because they sounded so good live, which pleasantly surprised me, since I had seen them years prior and was iffy on their performance.


Hippocampus (The Fremont Theater, San Luis Obispo)

November 22, 2019

Hippocampus was another good one (I know it seems like I say that about all of them, but I promise I’m being honest)!! I didn’t know much of their music going in, but I did vibe with their upbeat, indie sound.


Chainsmokers and 5 Seconds of Summer (Chase Center, San Francisco)

November 29, 2019

Now here was a show that disappointed me. The opening act, Lennon Stella, sounded great but her stage presence was sorely lacking, since this was her first big tour, however I’ll give her a pass. 5SOS, unfortunately, I won’t. They sounded incredible. Luke Hemming’s vocals were off the charts but the entire just stood there. For a band with as high-energy songs as they have, I expected more. Chainsmokers, too, were disappointing. They tried to be more engaging with the audience, but all of their songs sound the same! Also, an arena is not conducive to seeing DJ’s since it is harder to get the crowd hyped.

Aly & AJ (The Fremont Theater, San Luis Obispo)

December 1, 2019 

Another night that satisfied my inner Disney child. Like Woah was a song I remember vividly playing on Disney Channel growing up and when I saw that Aly & AJ were coming to SLO I knew I needed to go. They had fun energy throughout the night, despite the small crowd, and it made for a really fun girls night!

Not So Silent Night (SAP Center, San Jose)

December 6, 2019

Talk about ICONIC. Twenty-One Pilots, Mumford & Sons, The 1975, The Raconteurs, Of Monsters and Men, and White Reaper all on the same stage for one night?! And for just $55 might I add? This was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up. I have been going to Not So Silent Night for the past four years and I swear each year gets better and better. Each band was INCREDIBLE. Jack White shredded the guitar throughout The Raconteurs’ set; Matt Healy’s goofy personality consumed the arena; and Twenty-One Pilots literally lit up the stage to close the show. NSSN is, and forever will be, my favorite way to end the year. 


To say I feel accomplished to meet my goal is iffy, because I don’t know if I would’ve felt like a failure if I never “completed” the challenge. However, in pursuing this goal I was forced to push myself in new ways. 


Now you may be thinking, what could be challenging about going to concerts other than financial setbacks, getting to the physical shows themselves, or finding 19 different shows I wanted to see? 


Well, going through this experience, I went to my first concert alone. By doing this I became more self aware of how I existed at concerts. I didn’t have anyone to talk to inbetween sets or dance along with during the performance. However, in being alone, I was able to actually connect with the music more. 


I could really focus on the performance, let myself live in the moment, I had no one else to focus on other than myself and how I was being. This pushed me out of my comfort zone, allowed me to become more independent, and I now know that I don’t need anyone to go with me if I truly want to see an artist. Without the motivation for seeing 19 shows in one year, I would’ve never come to this realization. 


Now my goal may be a little lofty, but I encourage everyone to try what I did. Go outside of your comfort zone. Pick your favorite hobby and turn it into a challenge; you never know what might happen. 


Seeing 19 shows for nineteen year also truly solidified my love for music. I had never questioned it, but it did change the course of my future. This journey proved to me how pivotal live music is for my happiness and I have since decided to pursue music journalism.  


I need a career where I can have access to the media and music and that is where music journalism resides. Starting off 2019, I was unsure about my journalistic future, but through the constant shows I saw how dependent my sanity was on seeing concerts. 


At this point you’re probably agreeing with my previous statement that I am an addict. I am fully aware. However, I believe my acknowledgement of it makes the addiction manageable. 


Live music has allowed me to bond with my parents in a way that I don’t know if I would’ve discovered if it weren’t for concerts and it gave me a path for life. While the personal challenge I set for myself may seem frivolous at a glance, I think it actually helped me grow as a person … and as an avid concert addict. 


Tessa Hughes is a second year Journalism major from Petaluma, California who is double concentrating in news and public relations as well as double minoring in media, arts, society, and technology and political science. She is a writer for The Wire, as well as an opinion columnist for Mustang News, a reporter for 91.3 KCPR’s News hour, and an editorial writer for Cal Poly’s hercampus.com. If she’s not in class or writing her next story, she’s probably at another concert (she’s an addict). Her favorite bands include The Struts, Pink, Maroon 5, Green Day, The Foo Fighters ...the list goes on and on and on.