I’m begging you, please wear earplugs

My first concert was in 2004. Since then I have attended 223 concerts. I am now 29 years old and have tinnitus. Another thing I have learned in the past few months is that tinnitus worsens anxiety, and anxiety makes your tinnitus worse. It used to be that I would hear the ringing every night while going to sleep, so I’d turn on a fan and hope it would drown out the noise.

Now, I hear it non-stop, regardless of how quiet a room is. There is no cure.

If I regret anything in my life it would be that I didn’t heed the advice given to me and wear earplugs at every show I went to. Maybe if I had known you could spend $10-$30 dollars and get quality earplugs that didn’t completely muffle out nearly all sound I would have. Those cheap foam plugs you buy at your local CVS are great for being on a factory floor or in a construction area, but for hearing a wailing guitar solo they are about as effective as pouring cement in your ears.

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If you’re someone like me, you probably lose everything that isn’t literally strapped to your body, so it’s hard to justify spending $15 dollars on something so small that you’re almost certain to lose before you even use it. My last purchase was EarPeace HD Ear Plugs. They are on the higher end cost-wise at $21.95 on Amazon, but in my opinion, they are worth it. They come with a small metal cylinder that can be put on your keychain when you go to a show, so you’re less likely to lose them and more likely to use them. They also don’t ruin all levels of sound going into your ear. In fact, when I saw the Flaming Lips last month at The Pageant, I felt like I could actually hear the music better than if I hadn’t had them in at all.

There are plenty of option out there that are barely visible in your ear so your friends won’t think your lame for wearing them, and when you’re 40 you might even still be able to watch TV without the volume being pumped to the max. Or you could join me and keep your fingers crossed that science develops a procedure to reverse a condition that forces musicians off the road, and people like me to lose sleep.

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My Top Live Acts of 2016 (and what i’m looking forward to in 2017)

2016 may have been the most depressing of my life (29 years). When it came to live music however, it was one of my best. It featured TWO shows at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado, a Beatle,  two Cage the Elephant shows and an exclusive show in St. Louis by rock and roll hall of famers Green Day. While this year guaranteed i’ll never see David Bowie or Prince live… I also saw the emergence of Lewis Del Mar, Judah and the Lion and Anderson Paak..

10.14.2016 – Lewis Del Mar at Blueberry Hill Duck Room, St. Louis, MO

These dudes ended up being the top of my most listened to according to Spotify, in spite of the fact that their album didn’t come out until October. When I realized I had an opportunity to see them in the dark basement of Blueberry Hill, class the next morning wasn’t going to stop me.”Loud(y)” was my top song of the year and the eruption from the minute crowd upon hearing it let me know Lewis Del Mar is destined for much bigger venues.

12.4.2016 – Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats – The Pageant, St. Louis, MO

Stardom looks good on the 38 year old from Hermann, MO. It was clearly a very emotional night with Rateliff avoiding cracking up most of the night, and early on mentioning he didn’t want the evening to go down a darker road. It felt more like a celebration, like a returning champion, though the band calls Denver, CO home now. By the time “S.O.B.” arrived, the crowd was in a fervor that ended in the entire building humming the tracks famous chorus until the band returned to the stage.

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6.22.2016 – Sia – Red Rocks Amphitheater, Morrison, CO

The first of my two prior mentioned Red Rocks shows. It was not a pleasant evening, especially if you weren’t a local who knew. As show time approached a chill swept over the mountain and rain licked the faces of fans. No one was leaving, maybe to the gift shop to buy every blanket and rain jacket they had. Those who waited and laughed at the pure oddness of being shown a preview of BBC nature show “The Hunt”. Even the spokespeople for the event were almost blown offstage. Arrive Sia did, and a performance ensued. I say that word specifically because it was not a concert. Yes, a vocalist performed, and dancers acted out breathtaking scenes, it was beyond what a concert is. There was no front man cracking jokes or doing power fists. There was a shy Australian named Sia Furler hiding at the back and exiting with a meek “thank you”. Coloradans are insanely tough.

10.26.2016 – Green Day – The Pageant, St. Louis, MO

Green Day have never been ones to shy away from a small venue tour. Hell, they go as far as to tour as other bands entirely. This felt special though, in a way that St. Louis doesn’t normally get this kind of show. It was supposed to be the first of the tour, but due to sickness ended up being the last show. Maybe that was for the best as the band were as tight as you can imagine any band being. All of the new songs were great, and extremely well received. The selection of covers are silly and lighthearted, and the politically commentary was sharp. Billy Joe Armstrong lead the crowd in a chant of “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA” only two songs in during “Bang Bang”. The closing combination of “Ordinary World” and “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” was surreal, even though the real world came back all too fast.

01.22.16 Tool/Primus, 3.19.16 Cage the Elephant, Silversun Pickups, Foals

I’ll call these two shows, having your cake and eating it too. Normally with bands this large, you either settle for a sub-par opener or perhaps more often none at all. These mega-tours broke that norm early in the year. No band I saw this year was a better live band than Cage the Elephant. The antics may have calmed down a bit, but the band sounds all the better for it, and the lightshow is excellent but not distracting. Tool may be the most perfect sounding live band on the planet. The intensity is doubled somehow live, and after the oddity of Primus, Tool somehow levels everything in you spiritually.

 

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SO far next year we have Red Hot Chili Peppers, Roger Waters, the Flaming Lips, Jay and Silent Bob, Colony House, Guns N Roses (yes, you read that right). Hopefully a return to Bonnaroo as well as Beale Street Music Festival. Fingers crossed for a North American Radiohead tour in the Spring, a A Perfect Circle show somewhere within 6 hours of me and whatever new and crazy things I can discover.