Concerts are generally assumed to be happy occasions. At least, they are occasions to be approached with eager anticipation rather than mournful dread. But in their ritual aspect, don’t you find they are more like funerals than weddings?
I’m talking about those ceremonies as typically practised in, I suppose, the West. Or Britain, at least, where it is the custom not to issue invitations to funerals. With weddings, because the chief emotion is joy, this is to be shared among but rationed to a predetermined number of guests, chosen because they will make best use of it. At a funeral, the grief is allowed to permeate more widely in the hope, perhaps, that it will dissipate. A date is announced and all may come to pay their respects who can observe necessary decorum. In the same way, who ever heard of someone being turned away from a public concert?
They often end up in pubs too, funerals (it’s fun to think of post-concert drinks not so much as post-mortem, still less as jubilant celebration, but rather as wake.) One other difference is the extent to which the figures at the centre of the ceremonies are the main participants in it. It hardly needs saying that the main character at a funeral is not there, while at a wedding the main characters only wish they weren’t, hahaha.
At a concert – and here the analogy gets more complicated, or more fertile – you may assume the protagonists are the musicians. And in one interpretation, they are. But in another they are merely officiants, supervising the (musical) body as it is despatched and turned to cinders. Mourners can only weakly urge their memorial faculties to fix an image of the departed in their minds.
I don’t know if professional funeral technicians feel a sense of loss each time they send us poor wretches on our way. Maybe a life as one of death’s ushers numbs you? Maybe you feel it sometimes more than others? I only ask because I had a concert yesterday and am wondering where these gnawing pangs of anticlimax come from, as they quite often do. Is it just the jolt that comes with returning to everyday life? Or that damned feeling that something has finished prematurely, even if we did indeed get to the end?