British Columbia

Why should you see a live concert this summer? It's good for your health

The thrill of the crowd and bonding with fellow music fans brings on feelings of fulfilment, according to music expert.

Benefits rival a trip to the gym, according to music expert

Lunch-time concerts in front of the CBC building in Vancouver are free again this summer. (CBC)

Live music isn't hard to find in B.C. each summer and a University of Victoria researcher says attending a concert offers more than good tunes, it can boost your health, too.

"It's similar to a sporting event," music professor Adam Con told host Gregor Craigie on CBC's On the Island. "When you go to a sporting event everybody is roaring in the crowd and everybody is having a great time."

"It's a social experience and we're social beings — and I think being with other people is really important," he added.

From CBC's Musical Nooners to the Khatsahlano Street Party to the PNE's Summer Night Concerts, there's no shortage of free or cheap outdoor concerts this summer — and that's just in Metro Vancouver.

Music at live concerts can help people in the crowd connect with one another emotionally, says Con. (Sal Ferreras)

Psychological benefits

Research suggests music can have significant emotional and cognitive benefits for listeners. Con says the experience can be even more memorable when you hear it as part of a large crowd.

"We know all the added cognitive benefits [music has] on your brain — it's just basically a symphony of fireworks when you listen to it," he said. "But when you listen to it live, we've already shown that the brainwaves of everybody start to synchronize."

Concert-goers tend to experience feelings of euphoria in unison while attending a live show. Con says it enables strangers to bond with one another with feelings of togetherness.

The listening experience can feel more significant when you're part of a large crowd. (Courtesy: Vancouver Folk Music Festival)

The beauty of imperfection

On top of cultivating a shared social experience, Con says going to a live concert helps audience members connect with artists onstage and hear their music in a different way.

"When we're hearing live performances, we don't hear the equalized performance that we would hear on a recording — so therefore the loud [parts] are really loud, the soft [parts] are really soft," he said. "There's some things we don't hear, the pitch isn't quite accurate and that makes for a human experience."

Hearing the 'imperfections' can help us come to terms with 'what it means to be human', Con says.

"The experience leaves you more fulfilled as a human being, and I think that's the reason why it's more important for generations — for parents, for grandparents — to take their children to concerts," he said. "Kids are getting music education [in school], but they can't get enough of it to enhance their experience in life."

With files from CBC's On the Island