May 1, 2023

CHARI | The Concert Experience and the Value of Anticipation

Print More

This summer, I am seeing Beyonce live for the first time. 

Her upcoming Renaissance World Tour is, by far, the biggest concert I have ever been to and definitely the most expensive. RENAISSANCE was my most played album of last year, immediately becoming my favorite Beyonce album and one of my favorite albums of all time. Beyonce is known for her fantastic showmanship, and I knew that she would outdo herself for her latest tour. 

I admit, I did not do any of the work to acquire the Renaissance tickets. In fact, it was my friend who had the verified presale and that sat at the computer, pressing the exact buttons at the right time (I had class). He wanted a good seat. Beforehand, he asked me for a price of which I would opt out. I told him a high bound, hoping that, in the case I regretted my decision, I could at least sell them for a profit. I was right, as the tickets in my section are now worth 2 to 3 times what I paid for.

So here is my question: How much should one prepare for a concert?

The answer to this question is, of course, it depends. It depends on how you gauge your utility from anticipation, AKA how you can most enjoy not only your time in the concert, but the time beforehand. 

“Congratulations, let the anticipation begin” Ticketmaster says once your tickets have been bought. And anticipation is important.  Behavioral economists have studied the happiness one gets from waiting for a fun event such as a concert, and theorize that it is higher for experiences than for goods. For Beyonce fans that are lucky enough to get tickets, it isn’t just the concert that makes them happy, it’s the announcement of the tickets, the rush after purchasing and the days and even months leading up to the event. 

In my experience, people tend to fall into one of two camps when greatly anticipating a concert. Type A vow not to be spoiled beforehand and avoid the internet like the plague. To them, the element of surprise maximizes the utility of anticipation, and they enjoy the mystique around the set list. Maybe they view a concert like a film in a familiar cinematic universe, where they are comfortable with the characters and setting but don’t want the intricacies of the plot revealed.

Type B are exactly the opposite: They Google the setlist beforehand and engage in conversation with others about what they are most excited about. I know that I fall into this camp. Here’s my reasoning: For a concert as expensive and as hyped up as Beyonce’s RENAISSANCE tour, I would consider my experience less of a chronological film and more of a small vacation. And it is wise to prepare for a vacation so you can get the most out of it. 

Another observation: Type A people tend to be very immersed in the world around an artist. I definitely like Beyonce’s music and appreciate her as an artist, but I don’t think I’ve earned the label of a superfan. In fact, while there are a lot of artists that I love, I wouldn’t really consider myself a superfan of any of them. Therefore, I don’t know every single one of their songs. This is important because it is much more fun to sing and dance to a song you know than one you don’t. 

I’m sure some of us have seen an artist live where the audience only knows one or two of the songs played (most of these are opening acts). The crowd enjoys themselves more on those songs. Or forget live music: At parties, I always choose to take breaks when songs I don’t know come on. Now, for an audience as devoted as Beyonce’s, who are literally traveling trans-Atlantic to see her, I feel something akin to an obligation to myself to do my research and maximize my own enjoyment. 

Notably, it seems as if Beyonce is keeping hush about her tour during rehearsals, so I will have to wait and see what’s in store for my tour date. But in general, I would recommend fully leaning in into the excitement of whatever upcoming event you have this summer, even if it feels silly. Art and culture is not only supposed to be enjoyed in the moment; t’s supposed to be talked about and looked forward to. And in a time of school stress, I know I have my anticipation of great memories as a tool to keep me going.

Ayesha Chari is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]. A Column of One’s Own runs alternate weeks.