Sound on Sound was a music festival held in Bridgeport on Sep. 30 and Oct. 1. I had the privilege of attending (thanks to many hours worked at my summer job) to see some of my favorite artists and discover some incredible new music. Although this was my first music festival, I am no stranger to concerts and the usual procedures. As someone who thoroughly enjoys and appreciates live music, I have noticed that the concert experience seems like it is becoming a part of an elitist culture due to the insanely high prices and upcharges on everything single aspect you can imagine. Only those who can afford thousand-dollar tickets get to sit in decent seats. Sound on Sound certainly reinforced this belief for me, and has led me to question my previous and future concert endeavors. Despite this, though, the weekend was still entertaining and fun.
One thing about me is that I will always splurge on concert tickets. I believe that life is truly all about your experiences, and for me concerts are always worth it. They are one of the only kinds of purchases that I don’t feel guilty about because the experience of seeing live music and my favorite bands is priceless (to a reasonable extent). That being said, buying my Sound on Sound ticket was a no brainer especially because my favorite band of all time, the Red Hot Chili Peppers (RHCP), were headlining. This was my third time seeing them live in the past year and I hope I can see them again. It’s hard when your favorite band is making their way into their sixties, but I consider myself so lucky that the RHCP have released not one, but two new albums in 2022 and have been on tour for over year. My roommates and I always tell each other “whatever it takes” in order to see them since we never know when they’re going to stop making music or stop touring.
In addition to seeing the RHCP for my third time, I also had a lot of firsts at Sound on Sound. I saw Mt. Joy, Hozier, Alanis Morissette, and John Mayer, who was born in Bridgeport and went to school in Fairfield. I was also introduced to some incredible new bands like DISPATCH and Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals. The music and experience were unforgettable, despite the muddy conditions in the General Admission (GA) section. Although the mud just helped to bring everyone back to the original festival roots of Woodstock.
What I did notice, though, about the mud in GA that further confirmed my belief in the elitism of the concert experience is that GA was the only section with mud (at least on day two). By day two, all other sections were conveniently filled with rocks and pebbles that completely covered the grass and mud. You may be wondering why there were sections other than GA; usually with an event like this everyone gets GA access and only the truly committed fans who show up early get to secure their place right in front of the stage. This was not the case at Sound on Sound. There was not only a VIP section but also a GA+ section. For almost every performance I saw at Sound on Sound, I was as close as I could possibly get in GA, which was still considerably far away. Gates separated each section.
Although I couldn’t see the VIP section (as I was simply too far away), what I could see was a surprisingly empty GA+ section on Saturday night and a sparse crowd on Sunday. The tickets for GA+ were so much more expensive than GA that I didn’t even consider the possibility of purchasing them. This kind of extreme upcharge for a slightly closer view (never mind the price for the VIP section) seems to contradict what festival experiences are supposed to stand for. It makes it nearly impossible for the dedicated, but average income, fans to get a chance to be up close to their favorite musicians.
It was disappointing to see so much empty space in the section in front of me while I was surrounded by people packed together, standing in inches of muddy water on soft ground who knew every word to every song. People who spent hundreds of dollars on GA tickets and food and travel to spend the weekend with artists they cared about. The festival was no doubt an incredible experience, but I couldn’t help but focus on the unnecessary need for another section that took away from fans who simply could not afford it. Concert tickets are already expensive as it is, especially with ticket selling sites able to upcharge with ridiculous fees. Not to mention the upcharges on food and drinks (and merch), and the fact that almost every concert venue or festival exclusively accepts card and not cash. It seems the integrity of the concert and fan experience is unfortunately becoming warped so venues and organizations can make even more profit (as if they don’t already have enough).
While I wish concert procedures would change, I don’t want to void myself of these experiences. I am eager to purchase my next (reasonably priced) concert tickets and I am (im)patiently waiting for the RHCP to release new tour dates.