Monday, February 2, 2015

Old Man Rants - Concerts Are Too Damn Loud!

As I get older, I find myself complaining about things that I feel are worthwhile arguments, but other, more youthful types might dismiss as my being out of touch or just plain being a grandpa. So do I have a point or am I just ranting like an old man? You be the judge...

Concerts Are Too Damn Loud!

Why do musicians, especially rock musicians, insist on making themselves and the audience deaf? Whenever I go to concerts, or virtually anywhere there is live music, the volume is so loud it practically makes my ears bleed! The music doesn't need to be so damn loud! 

I don't get it. When I see a live show, I have to bring ear plugs. Doesn't that seem weird that in an attempt to see a musician or band perform, I have to put things in my ears to reduce what I am able to hear? It seems to me like going to a shooting range with nothing but blanks. Sure, I can go to the concert without ear plugs and afterward I'll be half deaf... one time it lasted for two days! I can only imagine what long term damage is being done to my hearing! So I have to bring ear plugs... but it seems stupid that I have to.

Think about this, movie theaters are loud, but not so loud as to deafen the audience. They tend to have a good balance of allowing everyone to hear the movie, but not give everyone tinnitus afterward! Why can't concerts do that? 

I mean, I get in an outdoor performance, say Coachella or something like that where crowds are so huge that the music needs to travel a good distance for the enjoyment of everyone. That's not my gripe. It's the indoor venues that are a problem. I've actually been to outdoor concerts and not needed ear plugs... because the sound has room to travel! Indoor arenas and theaters don't have anywhere for the sound to go, so it just bounces off of everything and produces a noise effect. I also find it a little disturbing that even with the ear plugs in, I can hear everything clear as day!

I'm not sure what all the counter arguments would be. I imagine that such volumes are so synonymous with the live concert experience that it would seem weird not to blast the speakers. There's probably also some ego driven power trip about producing such a massive sound, like the infamous "turn the dial to 11" thing from This is Spinal Tap. But I also know that a lot of musicians develop permanent hearing issues, such as legendary The Who guitarist Pete Townshend.

I'm not against loud music. At times, especially if I am listening to metal, I tend to play music in my car pretty loud... louder than I would with any passengers, but there are limits. I don't want to blow out my speakers and I don't want my ears to be ringing when I get out of the car! I figure that volumes at indoor rock concerts could be cut in half and still be easily loud enough for every member of the audience to hear. Maybe that makes me sound like a lame grandpa, but it seems counter-productive to produce such loud music that I have to reduce how much I hear so I don't go deaf.

Now get off my lawn!

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