There are few greater joys in life than discovering cheap concert tickets for your favorite artist. A rush of emotions washes over you — excitement, obviously; fear that the tickets have already sold out and slight confusion as to how all your musical dreams could come true for just a little more than what you spent on your last late night trip to Pizza House.

You look up the location, finding that, as per usual, with cheaper tickets come smaller venues. This may deter some show-goers, but not me. There is something far more interesting about being cramped into a space that feels like the size of a dorm room than attending an arena show where binoculars are usually needed to even catch a glimpse of the performer’s elbow.

Last year, I saw Kanye West perform at the Palace of Auburn Hills on his Yeezus tour. While being in the presence of a “god” was incredible, the ticket price was not. Paying nearly $200 for concert tickets seems outrageous. Though my seats were floor level and close enough to the stage to see every ridiculous detail, it still was not as powerful had the venue not been so large. After this experience, I decided to lay off the arena tours for a while. Sorry, Yeezy.

My adventures in this change in scenery comes a different concert experience, though some things remain unchanged. Some would think that in venues fit for smaller audiences, people would not be as eager to push towards the stage or cluster together — they are wrong. Just because the furthest away you can possibly be from the stage is a whopping 15 feet does not mean that people, myself included, will not try to slowly inch their way to the front. Most don’t see this eagerness as overly aggressive or obnoxious; everyone just wants an up close experience.

The ability to see musicians, and artists of any kind really, up close makes the performance seem so much more honest. They become real people in our eyes, rather than just a voice or an album cover you have seen and heard hundreds of times. The performers present themselves just as they are, without using distance to cloud or deceive audiences. The quainter the setting, the more you are able to notice little quirks and even flaws — hey, the guitarist is sweating! I sweat, too! I bet you would never be able to see Beyoncé sweating at one of her shows.

With a smaller crowd comes an expectation of audience decorum. More low-key shows are not the place to make your most killer fashion statement or to try violently elbowing your way to the front of the crowd. It’s best to wear something comfy-casual, go with the flow. I have found that these “rules” are followed most of the time — but not always. I had the unfortunate experience of attending a Man Overboard show with about 50 other people, only to be pressed up against a tall girl wearing an oversized, fuzzy wool coat and heels for the majority of the main act. Don’t be that girl. Please.

But for the most part, these shows create a sense of community among audience members. There is something to be said for a group of strangers making the trek to a slightly sketchy club/bar/basement for the exact same reason — to hear some great music. Though arenas house thousands of people, it is much easier to connect with those around you when with a smaller group of people. Even little things like singing along to the same song create bonds we aren’t even aware of. Arenas are impressive, but small venues leave impressions. It is undeniably impactful to be in an intimate space surrounded by those who also appreciate the art that you love, all the while only feet away from favorite artists.

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