Beach House At Metro: Live Tweeting Human Emotion

It seems so long ago. But really it’s only been a couple of weeks since I was engulfed in the mysterious and enigmatic music of Baltimore dream pop duo Beach House. It was one of the best shows of 2010 (so far). So let’s see what was conjured inside the heart and mind of one fan and see how Twitter can be used to understand live human emotion during a concert.

The first time I saw Beach House live, was when they opened for Clientele in 2007. And on April 2nd at Metro I was yet again lured in by the provocative mix of Victoria Legrand’s operatic and hypnotically soothing vocals and her soul-stirring organ playing and Alex Scally’s folky fusion of indie-rock guitar and electronic sampling.

This time around the duo is touring in support of their latest release Teen Dream. Their performance traversed the whole range of emotions and was subversively soothing. And somehow, by the end of the show, they got me and the crowd to ponder the possibility that their music could be a sonic impetus for Springtime baby-making.

It was a concert full of beautifully strange and surreal moments of sight and sound. And I’d like to take you though the results of a very telling and revealing Live Fix Twitter Experiment that I did during the show. Then you’ll see how this Twitter Experiment led to another great interview with a fan who was front and center to see it all unfold in front of him.

Beach House Twitter Experiment: Live Tracking Human Emotions

First, let’s set the stage with a short snippet of the concert review I wrote for Ink19 that captures what I thought was the show’s peak. It occurred when Beach House played two songs that I was looking forward to hearing and the moment evoked large amounts of pleasure that I could feel rushing through the crowd.

On this third album, Beach House has evolved their cerebral melodies and psychedelic rhythms by sprinkling their new songs with just the right amount of pop. The lead single “Zebra” and the lonesome touring ballad “Used to Be”  (video below) deviate wonderfully from the usual low-tempo Beach House tunes, giving you a catchy and addictive rhythm to bob your head and tap your feet to.

And during the show I could tell that I wasn’t the only one looking forward to experiencing those two tracks live because an electrifying buzz flowed through the venue as those songs unfolded and the sold-out crowd closed their eyes and grinned a unified expression of deep transcendent pleasure. It was as if we were all one big satisfied organism floating in the air and feeding off the surreal satisfaction of hearing the songs were hoped to hear.

The first part of the Experiment took place as I used Twitter to gather my thoughts and emotions during the show. Then I wrote my review and after I wrote my review I compared what I wrote to what I captured in my tweet stream.

And as you can tell by looking at the snapshot of my tweeter stream, I was thinking about all types of crazy things during the concert.

Before the concert I remember how much I was looking forward to ending the emotionally and mentally draining week I was having. And I remember how my level of anticipation for the concert and my level of desire to escape from the long week collided.

And as a a result my subconscious seemed to be magically unlocked as the show began.

So my tweet stream shows a flurry of emotions, thoughts and wonderings that bubbled up to the surface.  It was a frenzy of expression and instead of just letting the ideas bounce around in my head I just let them out, yielded to the uprising and tweeted up a storm.  I was going in many different directions at once, but collectively I was telling a coherent story filled with thought and emotion.

What Does This Mean?

Yes, as this Gawker article points out, Twitter has already been considered as a great place to measure and study human emotion emotion.

But as that study shows, the context of the tweets is often lost or misunderstood.

So what I’ve been able to do with this Beach House Experiment, and other Live Twitter Experiments, is gain a better understanding of how tweet streams, when created during a concert in real-time, can put our concert experience in the right emotional context of our lives, thus adding a deeper since of value and significance to our favorite concert moments.

Yes, for all it flaws I still think Twitter has great potential to be a helpful tool for capturing the intensity of human emotion and connecting fans during a concert. We just have to continue to tweak things and test new ideas out.

And ever since the Beach House show, I’ve been working to figure out how to develop the process of live tweeting to capture human emotion of concert fans so we can hopefully create better connections and learn from each other by sharing our experiences.

And more so, by doing this Experiment, I’m reminded how emotionally charged and complex the live music experience is. And I’m reminded how we often don’t take the time to reflect on what we actually feel or think during concerts.

And all this confirms, yet again, that we need to take more time to understand why concerts are so important to us in the moment and what significance those moments have in the larger context of our life.

The other discovery I made by doing this Experiment  is one that I believe has the greatest significance when it comes to connecting concert fans. It shows how we should never forget that we’re all experiencing concerts together, even though we might never get to know the person standing next to us during the show.

Discovering Jon’s Concert Story

Now, I’d like to complete this Beach House Twitter Experiment by sharing with you one of the great things that can happen when we use Twitter to track human emotion during a concert.

Like I did during the Matisyahu Twitter Experiment I connected with a fellow fan, Jon from Indiana, who was in the front row during the Beach House show.

When I saw Jon’s tweet I quickly retweeted it and asked him a few questions because I was curious to learn what it was like for him during the show.

It’s also important that I tell you that when I wrote my Ink19 review I was only going on what I felt to capture the vibe of the show which is what I usually do.

But after Jon and I eventually connected via email for a quick interview, I was able to see the concert through his eyes and add greater and deeper context to my Beach House concert experience.

This is a great example of how we need to have more awareness beyond ourselves because all to often we can stand next to our fellow fans and share an intensely emotional moment and not even know their concert story.

And sadly when that happens we don’t get to know what other fans are thinking or what brought our fellow fans to the show. And we all lose out.

But when we do become aware of what others are thinking and feeling, as we will with Jon’s story, our concert experiences can be taken to a whole new level and they can be enriched and enlightened in some amazing ways.

That said, I hope you’re encouraged by Jon’s responses as much as I was.  And I hope you get inspired to think about your concert experiences from a different perspective, and realize how we’re all just one tweet away from having a great connection with a fellow fan.

Live Fix: What was your favorite part about the show and why?
Jon: It had to be being on the front row center stage at one of the best smaller venues in Chicago. I’ve been there for probably six or seven shows and this was the first time I got up front…and for such a good band, it just makes it better.

What was it like being in the front row and being so close to Victoria and the rest of the band?
Being so close is the best experience, in my opinion. Nothing tops it, especially where there’s no gap between you and the stage. Also, being a musician, I like to be close and see what goes on, like the communication between the members, the gear they’re using, and being close front and center doesn’t kill my ears either. I also never knew that the bass was coming from the foot pedals that Alex was playing.

What did you think about the low light and stage presence of Beach House? Had you seen them before or did you have any expectations after listening to their latest album Teen Dream?

I was going to bring my camera but then decided at the last second to not. I’m glad I didn’t. None of the photos would’ve turned out. Other than that, I liked the low light; it fits the style of Beach House. I have seen them once before; ironically, it was also at the Metro last year when they opened for Grizzly Bear.

For you, which sense (sight, sound, taste, touch, etc.) produces the strongest or most vivid memory of the Beach House show?
Definitely sound — maybe a little bit of sight. The thing about seeing bands like Beach House live is that there is always so much more presence sonically when you see them live. I recommend that if you’re on the fence about whether or not you like a bad, go see them live.

Any other thoughts you’d like to share about the show?
I don’t live in Chicago, so when I go to shows there, it’s a special occasion. I drive over three hours, one way, and it is so worth it. I love Chicago and I love the Metro.

Thanks again to Jon for taking the time to share his story.

What’s Your Story?

If you have a concert story or an insight in to this Beach House concert that you’d like to share, please drop a comment below or contact me at chris@christophercatania.com.

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