A Response to Las Vegas

** I love concerts.**

That’s how Twenty One Pilots frontman Tyler Joseph starts off his message to his fans on Nov. 15, 2015, two days after three gunmen opened fire on an Eagles of Death Metal concert at Le Bataclan in Paris. The event remains the deadliest concert shooting of all time, leaving over 130 people dead and over 400 injured. In his message, Joseph cancels the remaining three dates of the band’s European tour. The band had played a show at Le Bataclan the day before the shooting.

I love concerts.

When I first heard of the Paris attacks, I was at a formal dance at my high school with a sick feeling in my stomach. Demi Lovato once said that “Music is a place to find refuge, not fear.” I believe that all kinds of entertainment as forms of escape are surprisingly important to our well-being, but music is one of the areas that I think captures that well. Music builds you up again and again, and can shape your mood and amplify your emotions in just four minutes. My parents repeatedly call me out because I’d disappear into the same old songs I’d listen to over and over again to enter into my own little world and escape from the harsh reality, raising the volume to try and tune out my troubles.

I love concerts.

Concerts are a living embodiment of the very art that pushes us to do more. We see our inspirations, our motivators, in the flesh. We see that the pocket that we tuck ourselves into in our minds whenever we need that break from the real world actually exists. I woke up on the morning of Oct. 2 to the aftermath of a country music festival shooting where 50 people were killed and over 200 were injured. I woke up irrational, distressed, and heartbroken. I immediately called my mom and we spent 15 minutes crying over the phone. I even texted my best friend from home, whom I was 99 percent sure was nowhere near Las Vegas, to make sure she was okay, because she loves country music.

I woke up two days later to find that the numbers had risen to 59 and over 500. According to news outlets, concerts were now “soft targets.”

I love concerts.

In his message, Tyler Joseph says that “I truly hope that concerts don’t change after this. Let’s not let that happen.” Two years later, I’m starting to realize that actually might happen. I’m scared of comprehending that concerts might now occupy that real world that I, and a lot of other people, keep trying to avoid. On the morning of October 2, I started to realize that we live in a world where a heavy metal concert is a possible site for a terrorist attack. We live in a world where a suicide bomber can walk into the concert of one of pop’s big-gest stars without hassle. We live in a world where someone can walk into a venue and shoot down one of YouTube’s most talented individuals while she’s meeting her fans. We live in a world where one man can drastically change the culture of country music by raining down bullets on a festival from the safety of his hotel room.

I love concerts.

Over the summer, I won two tickets to a free concert at Stage AE of my choice, and I had chosen to attend the Pierce the Veil concert last Thursday. When my friend canceled on me last minute and I scrambled to find someone else, I started to realize that I didn’t want to go. That sick feeling in my stomach from two years ago returned, something I never realized could happen again.

Instead, I went out to dinner with a friend. We both talked a lot about music. Our music tastes are pretty different but still very similar, and we found a connection in not just our passion for some pop music and the industry but also on how much music has shaped our lives. Music has influenced both of us in what we wanted to do, what we did, and what we thought about. Music encourages us to find the hidden, deeper meanings in the world around us.

I love concerts.

Music ignites emotions. In music, we find comfort and joy. In music, we find happiness and nostalgia. But in music, we also find sadness. We find anger. We find loss, grief, and regret.

In a broader sense, we find memories. And those memories can be associated with any of those emotions I’ve just listed and more. Last week, music was paired with the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history and, for many people, with the death of loved ones. Music is catchy; when music latches to something, it doesn’t go away — in every sense. Those memories of loss, pain, and grief will stick with some songs forever.

But from that loss, pain, and grief, we find determination. We find some hid-den motivation and courage we’d never thought was possible. We find some essential part of us that music contributes, something that we wouldn’t expect it to.

We find community and kinship. We find a place to heal. We find a place to grow stronger — together. In his message, Tyler Joseph also said, “Peace will win and fear will lose.” Music gives us a place to formulate that battle plan against fear. Concerts are the setting to enact that plan into action.

I love going to concerts. I love seeing a band that I absolutely love while I lose my voice singing the words to every song. I love seeing an artist that I’m not too familiar with alongside my close friends. I love seeing my friends perform around campus, and am awed by their immense passion for what they study every single time I talk to them. Concerts should be a celebration of talent and a living embodiment of a refuge — a real-life version of escapism — and I refuse to let that argument be broken down and disproven by the world around me.

I am not going to forget Las Vegas. And I know that something with concerts is going to change. But I am going to take this pain and fight fear. I am going to take this sadness and spread love and peace with it, and I encourage others to do the same.

I love concerts.