Concert reopenings mark a return to a world of human connection

Daily Trojan | Alyssa Shao

Prepare for the return of the hourlong Snapchat stories — live music is returning to Los Angeles. The ever-chic concert culture of the city is preparing for a sexy comeback. 

Needless to say, the bands are back together, and crowds are rewarding them with enthusiasm. 

Getting the Band Back Together 

Long Beach alt-pop band, Boy Called Cute, is returning to their adoring fans. Composed of lead singer 22-year-old Tommy Olaes, Max Leibl and siblings Ed, Bella and Lewis Marshall, the band was stretched thin by the pandemic, both musically and emotionally. 

The group has played together since 2018, but when the coronavirus pandemic struck, a certain sense of burnout hung heavy. 

“When [the pandemic] started, we were all away from each other,” Olaes said. “Then we were kind of like, ‘Well, I don’t know how we’re supposed to continue making music.’ None of us had any drive to make music.”

The band took a break, some  members releasing music individually and pursuing other creative endeavors.However, as public spaces opened up, the band has reconnected to make new music and start performing live shows again. 

At their most recent show at 4th Street Vine, a bar in Long Beach, Olaes realized it was many people’s first time seeing live music since the pandemic. 

“I was super scared … because we hadn’t performed in so long, but everybody was super happy … and everybody was dancing,” Olaes said. “I’m excited to play more shows because I think people are more appreciative.” 

Jada Young, a longtime friend of Olaes and fan of Boy Called Cute, attended one of these newly reopened shows. It was her first time seeing live music since the beginning of the pandemic. 

“[It was] unexpectedly nostalgic,” Young said. “In part, it was exciting because it felt like we’re stepping into a new chapter and moving past everything that happened this year, but at the moment … it reminded me of the first concert that I ever went to. Almost like a whole new fresh experience.”

Young and Olaes have known each other since elementary school and watching each other grow has always been meaningful to them, but Young noted watching Boy Called Cute evolve is especially significant.

“I feel like because I’m close to them … it’s been interesting to see the shift in watching them kind of just do it for fun and getting to see people who I know really well perform and have an outlet to do something they’re passionate about,” Young said. 

As time has gone on, Boy Called Cute’s audience has expanded, along with their artistic creativity. With a newfound spark of inspiration, Olaes and the other members of the band are looking forward to more live performances. 

Young said there is something unique about watching the band perform. 

“Tommy [will] cater to the crowd, he likes to connect with them and the other people on stage,” Young said. “But compared to Bella or Lewis, you could just watch them, like, in their eyes, they’re just so in their craft and it’s awesome to see each individual character and how they contrast but come together to be in one band.” 

With the members all bringing a flair and passion to their performance, it’s no wonder Boy Called Cute is taking Long Beach and L.A. County by storm. 

The Power of Performance

For a notably exceptional music community like USC’s, the loss of live music was an especially difficult feat for students and artists alike. So, when the music scene picked back up, local USC musicians heard the call. They flocked to Koreatown to perform in a show hosted by 29th St. Productions.

Among the audience members was Christine Stavish. A civil engineering major at USC and fan of live music, Stavish tries to see three to four live performances each semester but will normally attend any show she can.

“[The best part about live music is] the atmosphere that the audience and musicians create together,” Stavish said.

The show in K-Town brought together USC musicians Guspy, Kid Hastings and Ella Collier. The opportunities to see these talented young artists, especially within the school community, is a significant and impactful aspect of the USC student experience, Stavish said.

“It’s especially cool to see classmates and peers performing … in an intimate setting as well. It really amplifies that feeling of connection through the music they’re playing,” Stavish said. 

Seeing USC musicians perform created a marked moment for Stavish’s first concert since the pandemic.

“It was almost like a rebirth of what we all miss so much from pre-pandemic,” Stavish said. “It was really special to have everyone having a good time and just so grateful to be back in a setting like that, so it was really special.”

Much like many in-person events, attending concerts and connecting with strangers, friends and lovers was something the pandemic did not permit. And, whether or not you’re a regular concertgoer, the environment of live music performances is an unequivocally special opportunity to bond with culture and community.

Most will agree: music simply makes the world a better place, and the opportunity to see music live is a treasure. 

“I think that music in general has definitely always been a universal language for everyone. I feel like the fact that people now get to experience live music with not only their friends but with complete strangers means we’re going back into a world of connection,” Young said. “ It’s like we’re coming back together and moving forward to a new hope and possibilities for human connection.”