Young People Ask . . .
Should I Attend Rock Concerts?
A well-known band is coming to your hometown. Tickets are selling fast, so you must decide now. Are you going to attend?
WHOLESOME music in a suitable setting can be a good thing. After all, Jehovah God created us with the ability to enjoy music, and a great variety of music is acceptable to him.
Among youths today, the music of choice is usually rock music in any of its many forms. Many enjoy it the most when it is performed live. Nevertheless, among other things, reports of mayhem and wild behavior at rock concerts raise serious questions for God-fearing youths. Just what goes on at rock concerts? Would attending one be a good idea?
Testing out the Music
First, let’s consider the music itself. Music can express—and arouse—a wide range of emotions. In Bible times, God’s people often used music to express their love for God. (Psalm 149:3; 150:4) Music was also used to express joy, excitement, and sorrow. (Genesis 31:27; Judges 11:34; 1 Samuel 18:6, 7; Matthew 9:23, 24) Sad to say, though, music was not always wholesome even in Bible times. Wild, sensual music may have played a role in inciting some Israelites to sin when the nation camped at Mount Sinai.—Exodus 32:1-6, 17, 18, 25.
To be honest, much of rock music likewise promotes bad things—sexual immorality, drugs, rebellion, spiritism. This does not necessarily mean you have to swear off music, but the Bible does tell Christians to “keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:10) So you have to be selective and discerning when it comes to music.a
How does your choice of music affect you? Does it make you feel happy, calm, or peaceful? Or does it make you feel angry, rebellious, or depressed? One Christian man in Denmark recalls the days when he was a fan of heavy metal, a form of rock music. He says: “I would listen to it while working. And if I made a mistake, I would get so mad that I would crush the thing I was working on and throw it away in a fit of anger!” Another youth admits: “I listened to much rap and heavy metal that glorified sex and a worldly life-style. This music fed my mind, and the result was a craving for the things they sang about.” Now if a mere recording can have such an effect, think of the power of a live performance!
Consider too: Just how loud will the music be? Granted, people have different preferences in this regard. And the Bible does not rule out reasonably loud music. Why, at the dedication of Solomon’s temple, the trumpeters alone numbered 120! (2 Chronicles 5:12) That must have been impressively loud! However, there is a world of difference between a loud shout of praise to God and earsplitting rock music. In the latter case, the loudness is often used to stir the crowd into a spirit of wild abandon. But the Bible condemns “revelries,” or “wild parties.” (Galatians 5:21; Byington) And respect for your body would rule out listening to music at a level that is so loud that you risk damaging your hearing.—Romans 12:1.
Another point to consider is made at Job 12:11. There the Bible asks: “Does not the ear itself test out words as the palate tastes food?” In harmony with this, you should “test out” the song lyrics! One Christian youth admits: “I started listening to the lyrics of some of the songs that I liked, and to my surprise they were not fit for a Christian to listen to. I found it necessary to get rid of that music.” (1 Corinthians 14:20; Ephesians 5:3, 4) Be forewarned, too, that many performers use concerts to promote their latest releases—material that may be markedly different from their older, perhaps more wholesome, music.
In addition, you should be sure the music has no demonic overtones—something particularly prominent in forms of heavy-metal music. Heavy-metal bands are notorious for adorning themselves and their albums with demonic symbols and satanic paraphernalia. (James 3:15) Attending a concert by such a group could hardly be pleasing to God, who commands us to “oppose the Devil”!—James 4:7.
Out Of Control
What might take place at the concert itself? One teenage girl named Stacey went with her friends to see a band that they felt played relatively innocent music. But in the middle of the concert, the band’s lead singer simulated a séance and invited the audience to join in trying to contact the spirit world! Just a gag? Perhaps. But since the Bible condemns spiritism in any form, Stacey and her friends felt obliged to walk out.—Leviticus 19:31; Deuteronomy 18:10-13; Revelation 22:15.
Other Christian youths have had similarly harrowing experiences, for while overt spiritism may be relatively rare at rock concerts, out-of-control behavior is common. At one concert the band helped instigate a riot that resulted in 60 injuries and over $200,000 in damages! At yet another concert, three youths were crushed to death. True, most rock concerts do not end up in rioting, injuries, or deaths. But there is an obvious need for caution. Proverbs 22:3 says: “Shrewd is the one that has seen the calamity and proceeds to conceal himself, but the inexperienced have passed along and must suffer the penalty.”
So if you should think of going to a concert, get the facts. Does the band have a reputation for inciting out-of-control behavior? What type of audience does the band attract? (1 Corinthians 15:33) To what extent does use of alcohol and drugs go on? And what about the concert hall itself? Has it experienced problems with security in the past? What will the seating arrangements be? When seating is a free-for-all, the likelihood of someone getting hurt is greatly increased.
Drug and alcohol abuse are epidemic at rock concerts. “People don’t come for the music,” said one disillusioned Christian man who in his youth attended a concert by a classic rock band. “They come to get drunk.” He decided it was his last rock concert. One teenage Christian girl similarly reports: “I remember going to a concert where a ‘progressive’ band was playing. It was so awful! People were smoking pot. The language was horrible, and many there looked like Satan worshipers because of the way they were dressed.” Even where drugs and alcohol are vigorously prohibited, it is not uncommon for many in the audience to arrive already intoxicated. Could attending such an affair possibly be in harmony with the Bible’s command to “repudiate ungodliness and worldly desires and to live with soundness of mind”?—Titus 2:12.
The Power of Environment
You might feel, though, that there’s no need for you to worry about how those around you behave as long as you don’t join in the mayhem yourself. However, your environment does affect you. At Ephesians 2:2, the Bible speaks of “the authority of the air, the spirit that now operates in the sons of disobedience.” Note that this world has a “spirit,” or dominant mental attitude. It is everywhere, as pervasive as the air itself. But observe also that this spirit, or attitude, has “authority”—the power to alter your thoughts, feelings, and behavior—if you expose yourself to it! You simply cannot breathe in this powerful air and be unaffected.
In most cases rock concerts are high-level exposures to the world’s spirit. One can easily be drawn into the rowdy atmosphere that usually prevails—or into the screaming and waving that amount to almost worshipful adoration of the performers. Such excess admiration negates the adoration that rightfully belongs to God. It amounts to idolatry, something clearly condemned in the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 John 5:21) Do you want to risk getting swept up into it?
It is safe to say that most rock concerts involve risks that overshadow any benefits one might gain by attending them. Of course, your parents will have the final say as to whether or not attending a particular concert will be allowed. But if you have the freedom to make that decision yourself, choose wisely. There are many ways of enjoying oneself that are wholesome and do not entail the risks of attending rock concerts.
a See the “Young People Ask . . .” articles on music appearing in the February 8, February 22, and March 22, 1993, issues of Awake!
[Picture on page 18]
Alcohol, drugs, and wild behavior are common at rock concerts