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I Went to a Concert by Myself: Here’s What I Learned

It was exhilarating.

I’ve only been to a handful of concerts and they have always been with friends or a parent accompanying me. I always had the feeling that going to a concert alone was socially unacceptable, and must be avoided at all costs, but it’s simply not true. Attending a concert alone is a unique experience that we should all try to experience once.

When I found out that Maggie Rogers was playing at the St. Augustine Amphitheater, I was ecstatic. I have a deep love for Maggie ever since I first stumbled upon “Alaska” in 2016. It was her only single at the time, and it left me craving more. I researched her backstory because I wondered who this woman that created this unique song was, and I found that I resonated with her story. Maggie was a student at NYU who had stopped writing music for a few years until she spent a year abroad in France and discovered dance music and its ability to awaken you in a way that lyrical music can’t. After this period, she wrote her famous single “Alaska,” which Pharrell Williams discovered when reviewing her masterclass at NYU. His only note for “Alaska” was “no notes,” and he said “you’re doing your only thing.” It’s Maggie’s ability to combine folk, dance and singers-songwriter characteristics that touch your soul while making you dance that makes her such a special artist.

Fast forward to 2019, and she’s touring with her first album “Heard It In a Past Life.” I didn’t know she was on tour, let alone had even released tour dates, so I didn’t find out until two weeks before the show in Florida. I asked all of my friends if they listened to her, but they only knew a couple of songs by her — mostly because I only played her album when we drove back to Gainesville from Miami last year. I was disappointed that my friends didn’t have a cultivated music taste like mine, but I was more disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to go to her concert. Then a friend casually said I should go by myself. I was thrown off by the suggestion. The thought of going by myself didn’t cross my mind — a side effect of my mother always saying I should go to events with people for safety reasons — but in a spur of spontaneity, I purchased a pit ticket and decided to deal with the details later.

The days leading up to the concert were filled with excitement with a side of nerves. I had planned to get there when the plaza opened at 5 p.m. to be barricade (as close to the stage as possible) once the gate opened an hour later. What I hadn’t planned was forgetting a phone charger and needing to preserve my battery for the show and the drive home. My nerves from earlier kicked in then. I didn’t want to stand there with nothing to do for an hour, but I was unsure how to start a conversation with the girls around me. Luckily, a woman working at the concession stand mentioned Hozier and I glanced back, along with the girl behind me, which ensued a conversation about our thoughts on the wonderful Irish giant known as Hozier. We talked about other artists that we enjoy and concerts we’ve been to, and that grabbed the girl’s attention in front of me. Before I knew it, the hour passed by and I had someone to make the wait less boring.

The opening act, Jacob Banks, was moving and gave me time to let go of my worries and get in the mindset to enjoy the concert. Usually if I was with someone, I would be worried about bumping into them or making comments, but I didn’t need to think about those things standing alone in a crowd of well-dressed Maggie Rogers fans. When Maggie finally came out I felt comfortable waving my arms, snapping pictures and screaming the lyrics to every song. I was free of all my worries and totally immersed in the experience. Being there alone allowed me to deepen my connection with the artist and music than any other time I’ve been to a concert.

Once the concert was over, I decided to purchase a shirt even though the line was long. I had the freedom to do what I wanted and ponder over which shirt I thought was the best by myself. This decision led me to waiting 30 minutes in line for the shuttle, but I didn’t mind as much knowing that it was because of my purchase. If I was with somebody else, I would have felt rushed to leave the venue as quickly as possible, and it was really nice to take my time even though exhaustion was taking me over. I was grateful to have the ride home to myself to think over my experience and sing the whole album on repeat as loud as possible with the windows down. The joy in having the experience stayed with me into the next day when I danced like Maggie to the album in my living room, leaving my roommates wondering what I was trying to do.

My trip to St. Augustine for the Maggie Rogers concert moved me more than I imagined it would. I spent 10 hours by myself doing something that was fully because I wanted to do it and because I enjoy it. Nothing I did was with any input from someone else. I listened to my favorite podcast “Just Break Up” the way there and replied to it as though the hosts could hear me with no worry that someone would judge me. The moves I threw down at the concert were fully my own. The tears in my eyes were because of the feelings coming over me. My day was beautiful, not only because of the concert, but because I fell in love with myself a little bit more that day.

Racheal Jones is a sophomore at the University of Florida studying Sociology. She has a strong interest in reading, writing and women's rights and can usually be found talking about these things. In her down time she's searching for simple vegetarian recipes, female artists on Spotify to dance to, and eco-friendly clothing.
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