Talk Tuesday / Elizabeth Stafford / Lose Yourself

In my freshman year of high school, I attended my very first general admission club show. It was me and a handful of my friends with our moms who so graciously agreed to driving us. While we screamed up front, they sat in the back and probably rolled their eyes at our desperate cries. The band was Allstar Weekend, and I knew all their songs. Most of the girls who I met up with only went because they thought the guys were hot and it was the “cool” thing to do that weekend, but what mattered was being there. I remember grabbing pictures with them before the show and melting over them signing my shirt. It was that night live concerts became my home.

Over the next few years, my mom regretted taking me to Allstar Weekend because I became obsessed with live music. I was constantly searching for new shows and begging her to take me. My mom was a real rockstar and drove me constantly to shows and paid for tickets. My dad didn’t approve of the concert lifestyle so I was only able to go to shows that landed on my mom’s weekends. My parents fought all the time about the morality of taking a fifteen-year-old to a concert in a bar. In the next few years up to now though, I have attended probably over 70 shows and 8 festivals. Once I got into college and photography, I started shooting shows so many of those shows I have also photographed. To my friends, I am “the girl always going to concerts”.

As you can see, live music is a huge part of my life. Concerts and the press pit are my home. But it isn’t for the hot guys, attractive lead singers, or the bars. It is for the freedom I find within it all. Ever since my parent’s divorce and dad’s remarriage to a woman I will never get along with, music has been my backbone. I never went anywhere without my iPod. My parents were always getting onto me for having headphones in, but they slowly understood I listened to music for comfort. It drowned out the screaming in the house and separated me from the world I begged to escape from. When I stayed in a mental ward because of my cutting addiction, I would sit and sing songs I loved. It got me through. Sometimes I felt like the only things that understood me were the songs I listened to and the bands I loved.

When I am surrounded by a few hundred people and loud music, every concern I have in the world seems to slip away. When I am being shoved around to a heavy song, I find my heart racing with adrenaline I crave. I love nothing more than a rowdy, sweaty show. I’m addicted to throwing myself in a press pit and giving my all to get the best shots in three songs. Shows are homes for people. The music scene is a support. You find the best parts of yourself and the best parts of life in concert halls. The chaos of it all is the most beautiful part. Go to a show and lose yourself if you never have. It’ll change your life.

Elizabeth Stafford