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Some people went to the beach this summer. I went to some amazing concerts.

Aria Majcher
Concerts like Phish are different from other concerts because of their crowds.

For many people, the ideal summer consists of relaxing vacations, beach trips, carnivals, and even exploring the great outdoors. For me, music blaring in my ears and getting thrown around in a mosh pit is more my speed. Over the summer, I attended 9 concerts, ranging from multiple different genres and venues, and made countless unique and unforgettable memories. 

Paramore – June 11 

Disregarding the lack of their famous track “All I Wanted,” Paramore managed to pull off an explosive pop-rock show, centered around the idea that “We Are Paramore.” 

As someone who was at the show, I still don’t really understand what that means: Something about how the fans built the band, and to hold onto the present because you will look back and miss it. 

Regardless, lead singer Hayley Williams held true as one of the greatest female vocalists of the generation. Her voice has always been incredible, but has matured greatly since the band’s first few releases, making the experience of hearing her live close to heavenly. 

The Pittsburgh leg of the “This is Why” North American tour had basically the same set as all of their other shows, with one minor adjustment: David. One of Paramore’s common bits is to call a fan onto the stage to help sing “Misery Business.” David, a fan holding a sign saying he’s been to more than 30 Paramore shows, was called onto the stage, which he soon turned into his own. David had managed to bring a whole new level of sass to the song, shocking even Williams. The fans were going crazy. The band was going crazy. You could probably feel the energy all the way from Mount Washington. In the end, I thought I had gone to see Paramore, but I had really been meant to see David. 

Pixies – June 13 

As someone who had never been to an outdoor concert during a torrential downpour, I was not prepared for Pixies to be the first, but I’m actually glad it was. 

The show opened with the group Bully, followed by Franz Ferdinand. For a band no one has really heard of since the early 2000s, they genuinely put on such a fun and energetic show.

Then the rain started. Pixies’ music is already pretty mellow and grungy, but the rain added an extra layer of carelessness to the already monotonous concert – until you were snapped back to reality when the show ended and your socks were wet. 

Even though the overall vibes of the show were good, the setlist definitely was not. There were some highlights, like opening with “Gouge Away” and playing both versions of “Wave of Mutilation,” but many in the audience found themselves getting bored after hearing yet another track off of Pixies’ most recent album, “Doggerel.” 

The lead singer, Black Francis, did not acknowledge the audience a single time, which many fans complained about. However, I think the band members’ actions reflect the reserved nature of the music.

Weezer – July 11 

Weezer is memorable to me, partially because I love the music and the show was great, and partially because I was scammed out of $200 trying to get tickets off of Facebook Marketplace.

To set the scene, my father and I arrived at the venue hours before doors opened with hopes that a scalper would be selling a single extra ticket. With no luck, I had desperately resorted to checking a Weezer Facebook group. To Purbalite readers and Weezer fans everywhere, please learn from my mistakes: $200, a tear-choked call to my bank from the barricade, and desperate pleas for my father later, we had both somehow made it into the show after my dad had found a random person selling their ticket. 

Luckily, it was smooth sailing from that point forward, with opening acts Joyce Manor, and one of the best live bands I have ever seen – Future Islands – which entailed the lead singer literally flopping around the stage like a fish. For the main event of the evening, Weezer put on one of the most passionate, lively, and interactive performances I have ever seen, including two surprise songs (“Summer Bummer” and “Suzanne”). I’d say it was worth the previous emotional devastation. 

Phish – July 21+22

The battle of trying to get into the parking lot for the 2023 Dead and Company show at Starlake Pavilion was not enough for my father and me, as we had decided to trek back for the two-night Phish event. 

It is critical to refer to these two nights as an “event,” rather than just a “concert.” Major jam band shows, like Phish and Dead and Company, are drastically different from the average concert, almost entirely because of the attending crowd. 

There are fan-organized merchants outside of the venue in an area titled “Shakedown Street” (inspired by the Grateful Dead song), thousands of barefoot fans with tie-dye shirts, and even the occasional nomad selling baklava in the parking lot. 

For the actual music, bands will typically play a two-set show with an intermission, and can play on average for 5-plus hours. 

Driving upwards of an hour in each direction to see around 10 hours worth of Phish and feet is not for the weak, but it is truly worth it for die-hard music fans. The energy is absolutely irreplaceable, and the passion put into the seemingly endless jam sessions cannot be replicated at any stereotypical pop concert. 

Each setlist on the tour is completely different from the last, and each track is improvised and played differently every single time, making it even more of a unique experience. So, naturally, I will continue to brave the controversial Starlake parking lot, which is more than worth it to witness these historical nights of music. 

Gov’t Mule (Dark Side of the Mule) – July 25 

What should’ve been an incredible show was quickly turned into an insufferable experience. The venue, Stage AE Outdoors, typically specializes in general admission shows, but for some reason, had offered seats for Dark Side of the Mule. 

This had offered a whole new set of issues, with some fans desiring to sit, and others choosing to stand directly in front of them. It’s safe to say the crowd was already generally annoyed, but to make matters worse, the seats were small, cramped, and extremely close together, and many fans had been continuously getting up and down throughout the show. 

Needless to say, it was easy to tell who was there for the music, and who was there just to have a good time. The show itself, which was two sets long, one consisting of some of Mule’s best and the other playing through the gist of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, was a phenomenal blend of the jam band style and Pink Floyd’s dramatic artistic expressions. That being said, this show proved that the atmosphere is just as important as the music. 

Death Grips – August 7 

I went into Death Grips with blissful ignorance and left with no hearing in my right ear and multiple minor injuries. 

For context, despite the amount of concerts I have been to, I’ve never been a heavyweight when it comes to mosh pits. That being said, my group and I had tried our best to maintain a safe distance from the action, while still getting a decent view. 

Moments later, a pit opened right in front of us. The thrashing, loud instruments and vocals mixed with the aggressive red strobe lights already made it difficult to comprehend what was happening around me, until the track “Get Got” came on, and I had entered a trance only describable as an out-of-body experience. 

Before I knew it, I was completely separated from my group and somehow got pushed to the center of the barricade. For the last half of the show, I got to witness front man MC Ride up close and personal. 

Luckily, it was so tightly packed that the crowd kept me up after my legs gave in, and I was able to enjoy the single set consisting of transitionless songs, and Ride ignoring the audience as much as he possibly could. 

Ride seemed extremely uninterested for the entire show, but in his defense, it is difficult to reach the levels of fiery rage featured in the band’s studio tracks. Instead, this rage was found in the audience members, who made it almost impossible to focus on Ride’s performance, anyways. With that, Death Grips had brought my summer concert experiences to an end, and it definitely ended with a bang – mostly to my eardrums.

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About the Contributor
Aria Majcher
Aria Majcher, Entertainment Editor
Entertainment Editor Aria Majcher is a senior in her second year on the Purbalite. If she’s not spending all of her money at a record store, it’s probably because she’s spending all of her money at a concert. 
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