Drunk Show vs. Sober Show

All drunken, blurry photos courtesy of Elena Childers.

Op-Ed: Drunk Show vs. Sober Show

by Elena Childers | Life & Times | Apr 5, 2017

There are many different reasons to attend a show. For a musician, it can be inspiration. For a music fan, it’s to hear their favorite songs. For a friend, it’s to support the band. For a music reporter, like myself, it’s to have an experience—not just any experience, but one that encompasses the essence of the music and the overall vibes, and hope that it all combines to produce an intriguing night.

I attend several shows a week—it could be to review the event, to discover a new band, or to just enjoy the night. In the summertime it’s possible for me to go to two or three shows a night, and in the wintertime, when half of me would rather be hibernating, I can attend anywhere around two to four shows a week.

Needless to say, it can be exhausting, but I love it. I’ve been going to shows since before I was born (no joke). My father, being a punk rock drummer, would be accompanied by my mom, who moshed with me swishing around in her womb. A gross image when put that way, but it’s true. So I’ve been to shows in every conceivable state of mind.

Now, that I’m a 24-year-old music journalist, you can usually find me at a show with a drink in my hand. However, with my mom’s voice echoing in my head, “careful, you’ve got the alcoholic gene from both sides of the family!” if I know I’m going to be at a show for seven nights in a row, I try to pick a few out where I don’t end up taking tequila shots with the band.

(Disclaimer: I swear I’m not an alcoholic!)

First story first, because it’s both the easiest to remember and the most difficult to remember, will be my drunken show-going endeavors. (The people and bands will be kept ambiguous.)

Sometimes I go to a show ready to party. It could be because I’m in the mood to let loose, or because I’m friends with the band and I know it’s going to be a blast. There’s one band in particular that I tend to see a lot because I’ve grown very close with them and the friend group that surrounds them—we’ve even been called a posse at times. When I go to their shows, it’s possible I’ve already started drinking.

It’s weird showing up to a show already kind of sloshed. Usually I’ll miss the first band, and when I walk in it’s me frantically trying to figure out who’s playing. First things first of course, I go get a drink at the bar, maybe have a shot or two with some friends, then wiggle my way to the front of the crowd—beer in hand.

Tipsy at the Knitting Factory.

I’ll sway along or mosh about, depending on the type of music playing. Since I already have a bladder the size of a walnut, on drunken nights like this it feels more like the size of a peanut. (Good thing I don’t have a nut allergy…) I, of course, use the buddy system to go to the bathroom, so my phone inevitably ends up maxing out on space due to the amount of blurry mirror group selfies being taken. These bathroom adventures usually happen every hour or less—so can be somewhat disruptive to the show viewing experience.

Between bathroom breaks I make sure to catch the band, because no matter how altered my state of mind is, my primitive response to being at a show is to see the band. I grew up going to shows, I’d go see my dad play, and seeing a band is comforting to me. If it’s not comforting, then I can at least 100 percent say it brightens my mood no matter how shitty I feel.

Drunk me may be watching the band play with blurred vision and have somewhat distracted and/or selective hearing, but damn sure she will remember what she thought of that band–even if it’s the only memory she’s allowed to keep!

Depending on how roughed up I’ve gotten throughout the show, drunk me usually keeps the party going and ends up going out with the band and/or other concert goers even after the show is over. The next morning tends to be a rough one, to say the least…

Now, for how the sober nights may go (Disclaimer: I swear I’m not a square!)

For some, going to shows soberly is a rare occasion—going to a concert is a time to let go and be your wildest self, which I totally understand! But as someone who does this a little too often, it’s good to have some sober show going nights.

You’re probably thinking, “oh, well this is going to be a lame story,” but actually, I’m still pretty dang fun sober.

A sober night at Our Wicked Lady.

For me, going to a show sober all depends on whom I’m seeing. If it’s a band I’m unfamiliar with, I’ll usually just see them play and, if I don’t run into anyone I know, I’ll tell the band what I thought of the show and go home. As simple as that—still a good time, just not quite as chaotic.

However, if it’s a band I am familiar with and I know lots of people going, then my night can still get just as crazy! Who doesn’t love being surrounded by friends? It’s a double pick me up—being with all my friends, and seeing an awesome band play. That’s enough to alter my state of mind even without alcohol or other substances.

I’ve got crisp sight, attentive hearing, and I dance the entire show with my friends, with maybe one or two bathroom breaks the entire night. One time, I went to a show completely sober and had such a good time that I ended up going out with all the bands and my friends salsa dancing down the street from where the venue was—completely sober the entire night! I remember one person saw me salsa dancing my heart away and asked out loud, “how drunk does she have to be to get her to dance like that again?” and I shouted, “nothing!” because I was sober and I have no shame. I was out until 4 a.m. that night—not one drop of anything but water.

So, overall, the lesson learned here is that no matter how turnt I am or how sober I am, I have no shame. But also, for the rest of you, don’t feel peer-pressured to drink when you’re out at a show with lots of people getting their drink on around you; you can have just as much fun as everyone else!