“There are so many cool things happening in L.A. all the time, and I just stay in my room,” said my housemate as we passed a flyer pinned to the bulletin board of a Mexican restaurant near Union Station. His statement was painfully relatable.
The advertisement described an upcoming art show of some sort, featuring local creatives at a small venue downtown. In a rush to get back to campus, neither of us snapped a photo so we could remember to attend the event, but the posting reminded us of all the shows happening around the city, underground or otherwise.
The city of Los Angeles has at least five cool local art events happening every night. If you sign up for newsletters like We Like L.A. or check out websites like DoLA and Time Out Los Angeles, you’ll see an abundance of activities to check out. One can become overwhelmed looking at all the possible Friday night plans, giving Angelenos a problem opposite of what some small-town folk experience: too much happening, not enough time.
When overwhelmed, it’s a lot easier to just lay low and stay home than to choose what to do. I fall victim to this problem myself, clicking “Interested” on four different Facebook events for concerts happening on a Saturday. Wanting to go to all of them, I sometimes choose to go to none, refusing to pick a favorite by avoiding picking at all.
Outside of deciding on weekend plans, we face this dilemma all the time. We live in a world of information overload, of breaking news every 15 minutes, of thousands of tweets posted a second. Instead of making a choice to explore the new and unknown, we tend to stick to what we know, what is comfortable and what we have already been exposed to. At its worst, we can tumble down rabbit holes of extremist ideology, surrounded only by like-minded folks and unable to consider the opinions or needs of others. At its most OK form, we rewatch “Gossip Girl” for the fourth time instead of streaming a new show (or, you know, going outside).
I’m not saying that staying home and relaxing is not a completely respectable use of your time. Do what you need to do after a long week! Treat yourself, take a nap or binge some TV. But, there is a difference between relaxing and being too lazy to go out and experience something new, especially something in the local art scene. And I don’t want to be lazy!
When I first came to USC, I wanted to do everything: make friends, join clubs, explore L.A. and go to local concerts. When I was in high school, I was incredibly active in the young Bay Area music scene. Many of my friends were in bands, so I would go to their shows to support them from the crowd or photograph their gigs. I befriended the other musicians with whom they shared bills, building a robust circle of music friends. Those concerts quickly became some of my fondest high school memories. In turn, when heading to college, one of my biggest worries was not being able to find a music scene as good as the one I was leaving back home.
I can’t believe I was worried. I mean, c’mon, this is L.A. Once I opened the door, the music scene came pouring out.
My French class introduced me to Sophie Gragg of The Luna Collective. I started going to the house shows she would organize and discovered some USC talent. Eventually, I asked her for a list of local artists to check out, whom I researched or stumbled upon at other concerts in the area. After a while, I started discovering musicians myself. Friends, friends of friends, hours of mild Instagram stalking or Facebook event browsing introduced me to so many artists I now love and appreciate.
Once I was knee-deep in the local music scene, I felt like I was swimming. Typical of a freshman, I looked at the number of artists surrounding me with wide eyes, unsure of where to even begin with really “getting into” their music. But once I dove in, I was able to prioritize and manage the music I cared about. Eventually, I could pick between concerts happening on a Saturday night.
Deciding what music to dive into is kind of like choosing your major. When you apply to college, determining what you want to study can be a nearly impossible process. Even when you arrive at school, you can switch to other schools or programs until you decide what’s right for you. The process of choice seems like a lot at first, but once you go through the process of elimination — getting rid of what you definitely don’t want to study — choosing what to focus on feels a lot easier, right?
So, if you feel overwhelmed, it’s probably just the beginning. Do your research. Figure out what concerts and other local events make you excited, what makes you tick. Going to events that actually exhilarate you is so much better than going just for the sake of going.
Fiona Pestana is a junior writing about Los Angeles’ local music scene. Her column,“The Scene Kid,” runs every other Thursday.