Why do you go see live music? To stand there and watch a songwriter pluck away at his guitar? To see a rapper rhyme while an mp3 keeps the beat? To drink and talk over the band you paid $25 to "see"?
I've been batting around these questions for several years. New York's Nitsuh Abebe recently wrote that, for most people, the musical performance is not the draw of concerts at all. "The draw for most people with live music is the sense of the event itself," he says, "the moment where a cultural product they love as a kind of media gets to stake out some space in the real world." He's got a point.
This is why people pay good money to see the Shins, even though James Mercer is wooden and boring, and voluntarily attend concerts in the WaMu Theater, even though it's an assault on the term "theater." It's also why people book their summers around Sasquatch!, Folklife, and Bumbershoot—often before schedules are even announced.
Concerts—summer music festivals in particular—are a backdrop for our excuse to get out of the house and congregate with like-minded members of our community and to find a sense of identity. At Sasquatch!, that can mean dressing like Waldo and taking Friday off from work, even though you've never even heard Pretty Lights. And, as former Seattle Weekly editor-in-chief Mark D. Fefer points out on page 6, at Folklife—the city's largest music and arts festival, to which we dedicate this issue of Reverb—it means attendees can do more than "hand over money and adulation"; they can participate in any number of "ridiculously dorky, and ridiculously enjoyable" musical happenings.
Or, of course, you can stand next to me with your hands in your pockets. It's all up to you.