I've never been sober at a concert before this summer. Here's how it's going.

Categories: Reviews

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Eric Gruneisen

From that very first meeting, I knew that both my life and my passion for music could only move forward if I could stay sober. I vowed to not let sobriety affect my summer concert life, which last season included fourteen shows at Red Rocks. Last year, most of them ended in tears, fights and blackouts.

But how does one watch a set without a beer in hand? It was all foreign to me. Not drinking at a show was absurd. Wasn't I going to look like a loser?

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Eric Gruneisen

I was fifty days sober when I got back to Colorado. I went straight from the airport to Red Rocks for a show by Gramatik. My first sober concert.

I had a Red Bull in my hand for the entire three-hour show, but I made it. I still enjoyed myself -- I couldn't wait to go back for more. And my sobriety was no longer terrifying. Hard as hell, yes, but not unattainable.

Concerts without alcohol are a different experience for me. It means focusing on the art of the show rather than my next drink. I am finding that it's easier to lose myself in the music.

This past weekend at Bassnectar, I found myself thinking deeply about the emotions of the songs and how the audience was affected by the different beats and track combinations. I followed the light and graphic show intelligently. Being sober at an EDM show has freed my senses like I would have never imagined.

DJ Lorin played his new song "You and Me" off of his upcoming album Noise and Beauty. I was moved to tears as I thought about the dark world I was leaving behind. I can even tell you some of the lyrics: "Cause it's easy to feel weighed down/And it's easy to blame ourselves/When the sky is filled up with clouds."

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Eric Gruneisen

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Location Info

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Red Rocks Amphitheatre

18300 W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison, CO

Category: General

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30 comments
Felicity Renee
Felicity Renee

When you grew up in the edm scene in Denver... before the sell out massive and permit requirments... you grew up appreciating the music, the people, the art, the vibe. I have never needed drugs to have a good time, and for me anyways, its easy to fall in to the music in a sober state of mind. If you're there for the music, you dont need the intoxicants because the music does it just fine.

Susan Johnson
Susan Johnson

I can totally relate..8 years without a drink..and I love going to shows more then ever..

Miri Ladenburger
Miri Ladenburger

I've been in recovery for almost six years now and all the concerts I've been to sober have been the best! Alcohol used to come between me and my experience. Now I get to enjoy the music and rage all night! I'm a metal fan myself, but whatever makes you happy is fine with me!

Lauren VonLipstick
Lauren VonLipstick

If you have to be inebriated at a concert for it to be bearable maybe you need to reevaluate your choice in music. TLDR: EDM is the worst ugh

Dallas Scott
Dallas Scott

•Vibe off the DJ, more often than not the DJ is sober too (give or take a few drinks) & catching those grins and head bobs sent out from the dj enjoying the crowd and enjoying his or her set can get you back on beat faster than sometimes anything else. •close your eyes and just feel the music, you'd be surprised how easy it is to get groovin if you isolate the senses that are distracting or irritating you, be it dance floor douchebags or those fish tacos you had for lunch coming back with a vengeance. •wander around the venue a little bit, you might see some familiar faces or just find a better suited environment for sober viewing. And last but not least, remember we were all born sober (more or less) and we are all in the same place for the same thing, to experience something outside of ourselves, outside of the mundane & if you can't appreciate that, then you're probably at the wrong event.

Hayley Richardson
Hayley Richardson

Good article. I wanted to read more. I hope this young person continues on their great path of music and self expression.

hockeyryan23
hockeyryan23

I find it hilarious that you took the Bassnectar show seriously. Using the words "emotional" or phrases like "moved to tears" to describe Bassnectar brings me to tears of laughter. That whole show was just thousands of kids fucked up on numerous drugs and moving to the sounds of a construction site (or optimus prime getting in a fight with his parents and then deciding to jerk off in his room). I used to love Bassnectar when i was high school, but i guess i grew out of it because this last red rocks run by him was very unimpressive.


Tim McCormick
Tim McCormick

Taylor, Tom is right...this is a blogging site, not CNN. Also, as a musician shouldn't you feel humbled that people will face the anxiety, stress, and uncomfortable feeling of personal issues like sobriety and go buy a ticket to a show because they are passionate about YOUR music. This is just a blog article on someones perspective on a show, not a news article. I would hate it if people that were passionate about music would suddenly stop going to shows just because of the fear of relapse. This is what makes music so powerful, and this author is just reflecting on that.

Praveen Pepper
Praveen Pepper

I disagree, but totally hilarious, and I understand the sentiment. Although definitely applicable to TacoBell, and MANY shit bands nowadays. Luckily there are a ton of awesome artists still around, including "new" ones.

Henry King Burgwyn VI
Henry King Burgwyn VI

going to see a bassnectar show sober is like going to a taco bell sober, the shit is terrible, you have to be high just to enjoy it. if there were any bands around today that were worth a shit i would agree with this article, but rock and roll is dead so you should probably just eat the acid

Nicolette Rae
Nicolette Rae

Out the 1000's of shows I've seen I've only been to one sober and I hated it and left early. Trying all the time to change that

Anthony Huh
Anthony Huh

I can still rock out sober.. actually it's even better.

Stan Salazar
Stan Salazar

I've eaten a pill, had a few drinks and made some great memories with friends old and new. I've also done it sober so same-same for me. I control my habits. For others, it's beyond their control. Kudos to the anonymous writer for staying sober. Good luck on your ongoing journey.

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis

Not really news, my friend...it's Westword...

Tedward Geissler
Tedward Geissler

I have been sober a year and a half. It was a really difficult adjustment at first, but going out to shows (and in general) got better over time. Each time I went out sober, it became more and more meaningful and fun for me, and less of a challenge. It became less about enduring the challenge of staying sober and more about enjoying the experience. Now, I enjoy shows and being out with friends more than I ever had while I was drinking! Keep up the good work!

Brian Lee
Brian Lee

Been going to shows for two years sober. Finally remember songs and people from the show.

Jennifer Hanson-Dutton
Jennifer Hanson-Dutton

I've been there. I went to steel pulse at the ogden and wasnt able to smoke. ..I've been going to concerts for 16 years and that was a first for me

Christina Maria Chavez
Christina Maria Chavez

I love going to shows sober! I constantly have to remind myself that. My first red rock show sober was last year for The Disco Biscuits and Shpongle!! I had so much fun! I arrived at a reasonable time and didn't do much lot hoping, because lets be honest, all that walking sucks. I even left about 20 min early and didn't regret my decision. Then I hit up Bassnectar .I had only seen Bassnectar 2 other times and the venues weren't all that great. I was so happy I was sober during that show. It was way too crowded, and watching the 16 year olds run around in underwear rolling out their minds was overwhelming. I saw so many people that were out of their minds it made me really grateful I wasn't. I enjoyed the visuals and the songs more than i would have being fucked up. I even found myself not even dancing just standing there staring listening to the music…it was great! It would have been a hot mess. I'm not a writer so Ill stop there, but thats just some of my stories : ).

Aron Bustillos
Aron Bustillos

I was high on mushrooms and saw this lady dressed as a smurf, scared me shitless

Geoff Stevenson
Geoff Stevenson

ive been sober going on 4 years and have been to more clubs, concerts and raves than most people reading this. and i had a blast, and remembered it

Taylor Hines
Taylor Hines

As a musician this actually sort of bothers me. This is someone's craft, music is the hard work of the artist, and the fact that it's newsworthy when people decide to not black out when they go to shows is kinda sad. I appreciate the authors views, because it must feel enlightening to be able to remember a show finally, but what about the people who are always about the music? Those of us that strive to understand each song better than the last and have that drive us to see better and better shows with every ticket. I remember damn near every show I've been too, and not because I stay stone cold sober (for the record I also commend your sobriety, I know that is a struggle and it's awesome that you're taking control). I just feel like the culture around music today is to get so fucked up that now there's literally a news article reminding people that it's not the only way? It's music. Audio. Sounds. That's what it is. I applaud the author for making some really good points, it's just bothersome that this is the news.

jereb111
jereb111

The magic of live music always trumps alcohol. I quickly found that out when I gave it up (alcohol) over six years ago. I see (and understand) many more shows now and love that part of my life. Thanks for your perspective!

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