Iris Concert, Bucharest
I tapped my left foot on the ground, slowly, then quickly, then slowly again. I raised my hands to head level and clapped with the beat (or at least I tried to). I yelled out ‘Wooohoooo!’ every time the crowd of 10,000 people around me yelled out ‘Wooohoooo!’.

In between songs, when the lead singer spoke a few words into the microphone, I waited for the crowd’s reaction and followed suit. Sometimes we cheered, other times we screamed and sometimes we applauded politely.

When the crowd swayed from side to side during a slower song, I swayed from side to side too. And when a faster song was played, I did my best to throw my hands in the air and bob up and down just like everyone else.

And during the times when I had no idea what to do, I just continued tapping my left foot, nodding my head and occasionally saying, ‘Yeeeeaaah!’, at a volume level that nobody could even hear.

So there you go. If you ever find yourself at a huge music concert in a foreign land, listening to a popular band sing their songs in a language that you don’t understand at all, you now know what to do. It’s quite simple really.

I don’t think anyone around me had any idea that I wasn’t a lifelong fan of the Romanian rock band on the stage, a band called “Iris”, a band whose 35 year anniversary concert I was attending.

Tap, clap, yell, sway. Tap, clap, yell, sway. ‘Wooohoooo!’

The Role Of Music In My Life

Anyway, despite not knowing whether Iris was singing about freedom, love, where to buy a laptop at discount prices or recipes for a nice Thai curry, I must say that I had such a good time at this concert.

I’ve always been a fan of music in general and I listen to it all the time. Even right now as I write this I am listening to music. If I’m at my laptop, music is on. If I’m on a bus, train or plane, music accompanies me. If I’m walking around, taking a stroll through a park, I’ll often do so while listening to music as well.

And because I’ve always been traveling, I’ve developed a taste for a wide variety of musical genres from around the world. There really isn’t much that I won’t listen to.

Iris 35 Ani Concert, Bucharest, Romania

I also enjoy live music, although, due to my nomadic lifestyle, I don’t often have a chance to attend many concerts. My live musical experiences are generally limited to listening to lesser-known local bands play the night away in bars or pubs or cafes around the world, in cities such as Melbourne or Istanbul or Chiang Mai or New York. Beyond that I rarely know about larger concerts taking place in the countries I visit or my travel plans don’t match up with certain musical events that I would be interested in attending.

That’s just one of the downsides of moving around so much.

However, after attending this “Iris 35 Ani” concert (Iris’ 35th Anniversary) on Friday night in Bucharest, an outdoor concert that took place in Piata Constitutiei, a major square directly in front of the impressive Palace of the Parliament, I’m quite motivated to try and attend more concerts every year from now on.

And I don’t care what language the music is in or even if I’ve ever heard of the band.

Songs Are Much More Than Just Words & Music

The thing is, I realized, as I was swaying and tapping the other night, that even though the words of a song are indeed important, I am also attracted to the atmosphere that music can create.

At the Iris concert, as I looked around me at the 10,000 others in attendance, I could see the connections that everyone had to each of the songs. I could see the happiness, the sadness, the memories, the pain, the dreams, the stories, the challenges, the victories, the hope and the joy in their faces every time a new song was played.

There was laughter and there were tears, there were moments of reflection and bursts of inspiration, everywhere around me. People were hugging, holding hands, exchanging high-fives and giving each other looks that said, “Remember when we first heard this song?” or “This song always makes me feel like I can do anything in life!”.

And even though I obviously did not have similar connections to these songs and this music, I could not help but feel entirely caught up in this energy, in the overwhelming intensity, in the personal bonds between every member of the audience and this band that has been making an impact on so many lives for the past 35 years.

Iris 35 Ani Concert, Bucuresti, Romania

I loved this concert. I didn’t want it to end. I could have tapped my rhythm-less feet, struggled to clap my hands in unison with everyone else and swayed my body as only a terrible dancer can do, for the entire night if the band would have kept on playing. The atmosphere was just that addicting.

After all, this is the kind of stuff I always remember most from my travels. It is these experiences in which, even if only for a few hours, I am not merely present in some location, but I am completely engulfed by such a spectacular force that causes every part of me to become infinitely more alive than usual.

The power of music as they say. And thanks to my evening at the Iris concert, it turns out that you don’t even need to understand the words or have any clue what the band is singing about in order to experience that power to its fullest.

Does music play a role in your life?