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By Ryan DeLaureal

Live performances keep us human in an era defined by machines

Kayla Nguyen/Vanguard Staff

Nowadays it’s easier than ever to forget there’s a real world out there. What with the daily routine of work, home and school, we spend 75 percent of our waking lives as slaves to our careers and futures, and much of the other 25 percent glued to some screen or other.

We have our TVs, iPads, movies, laptops, video games and smartphones. What else do we need?

With so many distractions it seems there’s less time than ever for the people we love, the books we’ve been meaning to read and the friends we never see. Much less for those people who pass like shadows through our periphery as we go about the daily grind.

There was once a world before text messages, before blogs, before the Internet, when people came together—gathered, if you will—in real life. When live actors performed pieces of dramatic entertainment before expectant audiences, playing on each subtle whim of the crowd; performers left crowded rooms hanging in suspense with their every move; audiences shared, along with the conductor and the orchestra, in the epic climax of a symphony.

No two performances were the same. All in real life.

Conventional wisdom tells us that this world has been lost—that it’s a quaint relic of an idyllic past. We must embrace the waves of the future. We must blog.

But performance is an art that will never truly die, and there is still a place in this world where these magical things happen.

It is called the concert.

No matter what new inventions threaten to unseat the sanctity of live music, it will always be the most direct, the most engulfing, the most essential of experiences. A live performance is something that cannot be duplicated, not by an iPod, not in CGI and certainly not on a screen.

What’s most essential about the live performance is that it keeps us human in a time that’s defined by gadgets and technological advancement.

Living and breathing together, the energies of the crowd stimulate the band, and the band in turn stimulates the crowd. At a concert there is a relationship between the performers and the audience that’s only possible face-to-face.

Those perfect live moments are the ones you remember, the ones you take pictures of, the ones that make life worth living. Live performances capture all that and more. They capture the very essence of the human spirit.

So the next time you’re debating whether to pay $20 for a ticket to a show, just think: You’ll be paying the rent for your favorite band and, more importantly, you’ll be humanizing a world that too often works on smoke, mirrors and machinery. A world that too often falls into the fatal day-to-day drudgery of forgetting to tip the waitress, too concerned with the next meal to help the underprivileged. The show is your first step on the way to repentance. For there is nothing more human than sharing in the intimacy and, yes, even the mistakes of a live performance. It’s the mistakes, after all, that keep life interesting.

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