Going to A Concert Alone in Brussels

I consider myself a fairly independent person. I have seen many a chick flick alone at the movies, I’ve gotten used to asking for a table for one at restaurants, and I am a self-proclaimed spokeswoman for solo travel. Still, until last weekend, there was one thing that I had yet to muster the courage to do all by my lonesome — attend a concert. I felt that no matter how good the music, no concert could possibly be as enjoyable alone as it would be with my friends jumping and singing along with me. That said, last fall when I saw tickets go on sale for one of my favorite bands of all time, I immediately asked all of my friends if they would want to go with me. Unfortunately, none of my university friends seemed to appreciate their musical stylings quite as much as me, and gently declined my invite.

I was faced with a dilemma. Should I go to the concert alone and risk feeling a bit out of place? Or should I skip the concert altogether and miss out on seeing one of my favorite bands perform, not knowing when/if I’d have another opportunity to see them play live in the future? In the end, I decided to ignore my anxieties about attending a concert alone and to take this opportunity that I might not get again.

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So you may be wondering who this amazing band is. They’re called The Script, and they’re a pop/rock band from Dublin, Ireland. The concert ended up being in Brussels on Saint Patrick’s day, and the irony of seeing an Irish band on the holiday celebrating the patron Saint of Ireland was certainly not lost on me. It was almost as if the occasion was fated. I’m actually from a town in Ohio called “Dublin,” so we take our Saint Patrick’s Days very seriously. When I told my friends back home that I was going to see The Script, a lot of them responded with some variation of “Is this 2010?” The band may have been off the mainstream radar for a while, but they will always hold a special place in my heart. When it comes to music, I’m very much a lyric kind of gal, and I find the lyrics of The Script’s songs to be empowering, moving, and inspiring.

Now onto the actual concert experience. I arrived at the concert hall about 40 minutes before the show was set to start. I was on the floor, maybe 25 yards from the main stage, surrounded by thousands of my closest fellow fans. Following the opening act (which happened to be Ella Eyre, who’s pretty bomb in her own right), the energy in the room was palpable as everyone awaited the band’s arrival. When the lights started flickering, the massive black curtain came up to reveal the stage, and the guitar chords started to play through the speakers, I think every person in the room was filled with the same emotions — elation, anticipation, and exhilaration. In this way, it didn’t matter that I had arrived alone. The entire audience was united in that moment.

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I’m not gonna lie and say that I never felt uncomfortable or awkward. During the stage set-up in the thirty or so minutes between the opening act and the main performance, I was pretty dang bored. All I had to entertain myself was my cell phone. However, I’ve been trying to be more present in my daily life, and minimizing my screen time in public spaces is a big part of that. So after a few minutes of scrolling through Instagram, I put my phone back in my pocket and started to pay attention to the people around me. I met a couple from Germany who were celebrating their 6-month anniversary in Brussels. I met a few very proud Irish people fully decked-out in Irish apparel, from wearing their country’s flag as a cape to painting their faces a Wicked-Witch-of-the-West shade of green. I even met some French ladies in their mid-thirties who were taking a girls trip (as I had sort of foreseen doing with my friends). It was certainly an eclectic group, reminding me that music really can unite a diverse array of people.

Ironically, the highlight of the night was when there was a malfunction with the lighting system. The band rolled with the punches, however, and had everyone use our phones as flashlights to light the stage. The lead singer started singing one of their most famous songs — The Man Who Can’t Be Moved — a cappella, and invited the audience to join in. It’s a pretty surreal experience having your voice combine with thousands of others to sing a song that you love, all while being surrounded by this galaxy-like display of light.

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In summary, while I may have entered and left the arena alone, the concert itself was such a communal experience that I could have never felt lonely. I’m sure it helped that I was singing along to every lyric of every song and that I had wanted to see this band in concert for many years, but it definitely lived up to expectations. For anyone else considering going to a concert alone, I say that you should go for it. Concerts are the type of experience that can be pretty hit or miss. But if you really connect with the music and you are among a group of people who appreciate the artist/band/performer as much as you do, then you are guaranteed to walk away from the experience with no regrets and the band’s finale song stuck in your head for at least a few hours.

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