When I was little, I used to dream of hopping on the train that passed by my duplex in Texas and riding until I couldn’t recognize my surroundings.
Now, I find myself nearly 1,000 miles away from home, longing for the moment when I was familiar with the place I came from. In Arizona, I don’t consider myself at home. And when I do go home, I’ve been gone too long for it to feel real.
Tethered to no one and no place anymore, I look for an anchor to keep me in place. As a full-time student with a full-time job on the side, my only free time is dedicated to either studying or writing. The only thing that has managed to keep me from burning out to a complete crisp has been music.
To cope, I attended 11 different concerts and saw 26 different artists live over the course of one school year alone. With the exception of seeing Wallows twice, not one concert was alike, and they all taught me something about myself along the way.
Seeing Guns N’ Roses in August marked the start of my concert binge.
My mom and grandparents raised me on classic rock, and my stepdad and I bonded playing Guns N' Roses songs on "Guitar Hero," so seeing them at the Footprint Center as an adult was very special to me.
I learned that even though I was away from the people who made the music so important to me, I was still able to connect with them, despite being so far away.
Of course, this experience only fed my newfound addiction more.
The Hollywood Bowl in October marked a trip of firsts for me. It was the first trip I had ever taken by myself, the first time I had traveled for a concert and also the first time I experienced an earthquake — all in a span of 24 hours.
I'm a diehard Doja Cat fan, so the second I heard she was coming anywhere remotely near me, I scrambled to buy the tickets. On the plus-side, I was able to see other iconic artists like the Black Eyed Peas, Coldplay and surprise guest, Melanie C also known as Sporty Spice.
Even with all these headliners all in one sitting, the only thing I went back to Phoenix with was that Los Angeles was actually nothing like Grand Theft Auto V, and for that I should be compensated.
Come November, it was just in time to see the heavily anticipated Harry Styles: Love on Tour, which was just an entire experience in its own. It was the tour supporting "Fine Line," which had already been postponed twice.
Finally getting to see an Harry Styles perform the album that got me through the pandemic live was captivating, but also a little harrowing to realize how much time has gone by since it started.
Love On Tour was beyond captivating in everything from the drastically long merchandise lines, the even longer lines to the bathroom, the lights, the performance, the music and most importantly, the outfits.
From November to April, following the string of arena concerts I attended, I went to several concerts at smaller venues in Arizona. I saw COIN, I Dont Know How But They Found Me, Mitski, Wallows (twice within 48 hours) and Phoebe Bridgers.
I write this now having just walked out of the Deftones concert at the Arizona Federal Theater.
During this period of smaller shows, I really got the feel for more immersive, audience-centric performances that made me feel more connected to not only the artist, but also the rest of the fans in the crowd.
So far, I've probably spent a total of 24 hours just camping outside of venues with my clear bag concert kit: complete with a portable charger, two unfinished books and a pair of headphones to emergency-listen to the setlist one last time.
But in those long lines in the scorching heat, I got to really connect with people from different places with different stories. I pack my headphones just in case I ever want them for long periods of time camping for shows, but I've learned I never needed them because I'd always have other people to talk to at shows.
People always talk about post concert depression, but you never really understand what that means until you’ve gone to almost every major show from most of your favorite artists.
The high you feel when you’re standing in the audience, holding your breath and waiting for the music to start. Followed by the low you hit walking out of the show, like you're landing back on Earth.
Analisa Valdez is a reporter with the Echo, focusing on covering the arts and entertainment world. Analisa has been apart of the State Press for two and a half years and is in her third year at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.