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Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Sophie DeWitt

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Here’s the latest in our season of articles from the BAMM.tv crew about why music is the love of our lives: Sophie DeWitt reminisces on a very special experience which was soundtracked by Vampire Weekend …

It was early afternoon on a cool Sunday in August, the third and final day of Outside Lands 2013. Not only had the previous two days in Golden Gate Park brought me one of the most wonderful, serendipitous weekends of my life (holy crap, I’d seen Paul McCartney live), but that day was shaping up to be one incredibly epic finale.

My friends and I had spent the better part of the morning hopping around to Foals then Hall & Oats (a set which had inspired a spontaneous dance circle with the wonderfully happy, drunken strangers nearby our blanket). For about forty minutes all that mattered were the people I tapped toes with, laughing and smiling as we whirled around each other. We had the audacity to hold eye contact for more than a second, unwilling or unable to break the spell the festival had cast upon us. It wasn’t the drugs or alcohol though, it was the music.

We were fast friends. When the set was over, some departed with a gleeful look, a wave, fully exhilarated. My ragtag group stuck out like a sore thumb in the notoriously still San Francisco crowd. It was my amigo Amit’s first live concert (don’t ask me how that happened, I was as confused as you). He couldn’t have been more enthusiastic, moving one way then another, pulling us out onto the grass, stomping along to “Everlasting Arms”. (You know you’ve had a great festival experience when you can lose your collective shit dancing to downtempo Vampire Weekend).

We noticed a slender woman, early 50’s, swaying quietly next to a tall teenage boy who couldn’t have been older than 17. She glanced at me and our bubbling, bouncing mass and smiled. The boy couldn’t be bothered, too preoccupied, too uncomfortable, he stood stoically. As Amit extended his hand out to the woman, her face lit up, incredulous. To both our joy and surprise she stepped over to our circle, laughing, jumping, and clapping along with us. We went on like that for another song or two until the set ended and applause erupted from the field around us. Breathless, she nodded ‘thank you’, smiling wide, and retook her place next to the young boy. If I had to guess, I’d say she enjoyed the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ manic closing set almost as much as our crazy group did.

On any other day, in any other setting this woman and I would’ve passed one another without notice. Our age difference was almost too vast to share much commonality. Her willingness to engage with the music, with us in the moment, is a singularly unique experience I haven’t encountered again this year. That is what I love about music. The intimacy and spontaneity that grows from a shared musical moment is incredibly special and can’t be recreated. It’s not the sweating-in-a-bar-on-Polk-street-with-a-questionable-guy-groping-you kind of intimate, but the unspoken, just looking, just feeling, just dancing-in-a-field-of-strangers-and-seeing-their-true-happiness kind of intimate.

It was the music, that woman will remember. Music allowed her to leave her daughter’s distant boyfriend behind to join our crazy group of twenty-somethings in pure bliss.

That’s where music can take you, how it can connect us. And that’s what I love.

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