Concert Culture


Illustration by Eva Park

Often, students are forced to cram and make up school work to go to concerts. Students and teachers agree that going to concerts can threaten students’ academic responsibilities and that achieving a balance is important for this purpose.

Kriste An and Olivia Phillips

Driving through deserts and barren plains, Nikki Dadlani ’25 said she could feel the minutes ticking as she neared the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, to attend Coachella. She said she could not wait to see some of the headliners at the concert, including Billie Eilish and The Weeknd. Dressed in her outfit – handpicked to match the event – she sang along to the songs on the concert setlist, her heart beating with the tick of the clock.

Dadlani said she has been attending concerts since she was a child, both at Coachella and at venues throughout Los Angeles.

“The first concert that I went to was the iHeart Radio Festival, and there were a bunch of artists that I knew just a few songs from,” Dadlani said. “I started to want to go to more concerts after that. I am begging my aunt to take me to Coldplay.”

Sam Pulaski ’24 said he goes to concerts both for the rush of adrenaline he experiences during the show and for their lasting impact.

“The reason that I love concerts, besides supporting the artists that I listen to, is because I do not think there are other experiences like it, just listening to live music and being part of a crowd,” Pulaski said. “If I go to an artist that people have not heard of, I like to talk about it and wear merch from the concert to school.”

Student Discipline and Attendance Coordinator Gabriel Preciado said that given the popular nature of these events among young people, students often miss class to attend performances.

“If the artists have a big draw to them, we expect to see students missing class to see them,” Preciado said. “I think more students are doing concerts than ever before. It impacts school life so much because if a handful of students show up to class, there is no point for the teachers in teaching the class at all.”

Preciado said due to the popular nature of Coachella, a major music festival in Indio, California, he expects an increase in absences during the festival weekends.

“It is going to be an unpleasant week,” Preciado said. “I think that social media has amplified the star attraction of concerts, and students want to be a part of that. It has become more of a culture as opposed to students attending concerts to see a particular artist.”

Preciado said though the school used to punish students for missing school to go to concerts by giving them detentions, it has come up with new means of dealing with student absences.

“We used to give detention for attending Coachella and have switched to not allowing students [to] make up the assignments or exams that they miss,” Preciado said. “We are trying to see it from the standpoint of the teachers so that the teachers do not have to put time into helping students make up their work.”

In 2018, 425 students missed school over the two weekends that Coachella spanned. Of these, around 80 students credited their absences to Coachella. In 2017, 102 students missed school following Coachella weekend, according to Preciado.

Lok Gertschen-Klaseus ’25 said though he has not attended a concert himself, he recognizes the effect that large concerts and music festivals have on students.

“You will see concerts on people’s social media stories, and if it is a big concert, half of the school will have merch from it,” he said. “I am not interested in going to a concert unless it is an artist that I love, but there are a lot of options for people that do want to go.”

Gertschen-Klaseus said the attention surrounding concerts can distract students from putting forth their best effort in school.

“For some more famous artists, students are talking about the concert even before it happens,” Gertschen-Klaseus said. “I remember a few of my friends skipped class so that they could try and get Taylor Swift tickets. I am not a huge Taylor Swift fan, but I knew when her tickets were on sale because half of the kids in a class had their computers out and were watching where they were in the queue.”

Remi Cooperstein ’23 said though going to concerts is an amazing experience, there are academic disadvantages.

“Going to a concert often means a late night out on a school night, and that comes with planning ahead and being diligent,” Cooperstein said. “One time, I went to a Harry Styles concert instead of spending the night [preparing] for a math quiz, but I will never regret a decision like that.”

In addition to its abundance of high-profile artists and celebrities, Los Angeles is home to a number of concert venues, including the Kia Forum, Sofi Stadium and the Rose Bowl. There are 409 live music venues in the Los Angeles area, according to the World Cities Culture Forum.

Pulaski said living in Los Angeles has allowed him access to special opportunities at concerts.

“Los Angeles is where it happens,” Pulaski said. “The first concert I ever went to, I went with a musical artist, a friend’s dad, so we went backstage and had front-row seats,” Pulaski said. “I think that is a Los Angeles thing, and it is not a common experience. It has made me more interested in going to concerts because if I want to see an artist that I know of, I know the artist will stop here.”

Illi Kreiz ’24 said being an Angeleno has amplified her love for music and allowed her greater access to concerts in the area.

“Living in Los Angeles has made me love music more given that artists tend to come here more often,” Kreiz said. “Sometimes, I go [to concerts] because of the artist. I remember one time, though, my friend and I were bored, so we looked up who was playing the Roxy that night and decided to go.”

Dadlani said it is important that students balance their work as concerts can take up valuable time on school nights.

“It would be hard to go to concerts all the time, especially on weeknights,” Dadlani said. “You end up procrastinating so much schoolwork and being so much more tired. If I went to a less intense school, I would be at a concert all the time. Balance is super important when thinking about if you want to go to one because it is a fun thing to do, but you also need to think about things like how much work you will have to make up.”

Upper School English Teacher Jocelyn Medawar said though the absence of students in her class during festival weekends does not affect her, their methods of explaining these absences are concerning.

“It is not going to the concerts that bothers me as much as the outright lying that tends to accompany it, such as notes claiming illness,” Medawar said. “If someone already has a shaky attendance record, it is a bad move to miss more school.”

Upper School Visual Arts teacher Conor Thompson said although going to a concert often has an impact on students’ academic responsibilities , there are positive effects to concert-going, too.

“At Crossroads, the administration has made Coachella a holiday because so many students go, and the school did not have a choice but to give them the day off,” Thompson said. “It is not as pervasive here, but we live in a place where there is a lot of culture and access to great music that fuels creative spirit. There are a number of students that have made paintings of their concert experiences.”

Thompson said he experienced these benefits when he was a high school student.

“For me, as a teen, the music scene gave me a sense of belonging,” Thompson said. “Through going to shows and being in bands, I met other kids interested in art, and it has impacted how I ended up loving art and going to art school. It has had a profound impact on me as an artist.”