Can You Enjoy Live Music Without Your Taste Buds?

red bull concert


red bull concert


What quenches your thirst during a live concert? Is it a cold brew, an energy drink or a coke perhaps? Are you sure sight and sound are really the most important senses for concert fans?

Last weekend while taking in the Cold War Kids at the Vic, I discovered some tasty beverage-art that you can see in the photo.

As I watched the bar lady pour the Red Bulls, I was amazed at the way she laid the cans on the cups and let the gradually pour over the ice. I smiled because it was like visual poetry unfolding before me.

Sure, I’ve seen this done many times before at concerts, but this time I whipped out my Blackberry and snapped a picture because I love looking for little things during shows.

Sometimes the Little Things are musical things that I discover going on onstage.

And other times I like to capture the little moments that happen in the crowd but sneak under our awareness radar.

And seeing those two Red Bull cans on top those cups was definitely one of those moments.

Most of all,  I’m excited to share my Red Bull photo with you because it brings up a very important and sensual topic that impacts every show we go to.

The Tasty Profits of Live Music

That photo is a reminder to me that one of the most important senses that we depend on during concerts is taste.

For the rest of the show I got my soul-punk and indie-rock fix courtesy of the Cold War Kids while at the same time I kept an eye on the bar lady who was working hard to pour drinks.

So many people passed by and bumped into me as they went back and forth to the bar that it was nearly impossible to keep track, I figure that bar must’ve poured hundreds of drinks — and it was that constant stream of fans leading to the bar that illustrates a point I’d like to make about taste during concerts.

Yes, our ears and eyes are crucial to taking in a live show.  But let’s not forget about our taste buds. We may benefit from drinking our favorite beverage during the show, but, as fans, we’re not the only ones who depend on our sense of taste or desire to down a few cold ones during the show.

As pointed out in this Reuters article, promoters and venue owners depend on our eager and trained tastebuds, too.

And when you look at the bottom line, venue owners actually depend on our sense of taste more than our sense of sight and sound because most of the money they make usually comes from concessions sales.

Knowing that, I’ve always wanted to test something out with concert fans.

I’ve always wanted to test the effect of the drink factor from the live music experience. I’ve always wondered what it would be like if we weren’t able to drink at concerts.

I know the financial impact it would have for venue owners and promoters, but what about the physiological and psychological impact on fans?  Would fans go crazy or revolt without getting their alcohol fix or having something to drink like energy drinks or soda during shows?

Would completely removing alcohol or energy drinks from the equation radically alter the live music experience?  What would the absence of drinks reveal? I know it would show us much of what we already know. But what else would we learn about the dependence that concert fans have on drinking?

Would we see just how much of an impact our taste buds and need for drinking while we rock out truly has on the overall enjoyment of the music itself?

Would we realize that drinking can actually not just loosen us up, but would we realize that our taste buds can influence our sense of sight and sound, thus make the music the band is playing better or worse?

Who knows?  If you’d like to help me figure this out and participate in a Live Fix drinking Experiment, send me an email to

The Motivation to Rock
On the musical side, I wrote in my Popmatters review of the show that all bands have their own personal motivations for putting on great shows.

Some are looking to give the fans what they want or deserve, while some bands play with abandoned hoping to celebrate one last time and drain their instruments of every last note and chord in order to clear the slate for the next chapter of their career.

That said, this Cold War Kids show had a little bit of all of that.  They played as if on a mission, as if performing some type of musical exorcism.

I figured, besides wanting to give fans a great show, the reason for playing with such energy and abandon was because, later this month, the band will head into the studio to record their third album that they’ve been saying will usher in a “new” sound.

IMG00052-20100130-2201And until the new album comes out, in addition to the “Behave Yourself” EP, the Cold War Kids turned to the memory of their live show to hold fans over.

For those fans who came to the Vic last Saturday night, the band gave them a card with a web address and password to download a free bootleg of the show within 48hrs of the show. It was a nice touch that sent fans home buzzing and singing as we headed outside to face the cold Chicago night.

You can see more photos from the Cold War Kids show that Colleen took here.

Were you at the show?

What did you think of the recording? Did you notice something new when you listened to the bootleg?

What do you think of the impact of drinking at concerts?  Do you think our tastebuds are really that important?

Spread the love...