Let's Be Honest: Concerts Are Too Fucking Loud

By Gabrielle Canon

Everyone likes to argue about which bands are the best. But there's one thing everyone agrees on - louder is better. At the end of the day, we all seem to want amps that go to 11. Concerts these days are louder than just about anything else in daily life, unless you work on an airport runway.

Rockers like Paul Stanley, Bob Mould, and Pete Townsend have all suffered debilitating hearing loss, which has led the latter to partner with H.E.A.R., a nonprofit dedicated to preventing it. It's time someone discussed the elephant in the room: that rock shows are too damn loud.

That shrill ringing you hear after a show? That's tinnitus, also known as your ears begging you to stop treating them like shit. There are tiny little hairs growing inside your ears that are responsible for transmitting frequency, and that ringing is their way of telling you they aren't happy.

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You may have heard the "swan song" theory, these these hairs transmit the ringing as they die, and that's the last time you'll ever hear that frequency again. Though not entirely true -- the ringing indicates damage and not death -- it can lead to irreversible hearing loss over time.

According to L.A.-based audiologist Sol Marghzar, it is a warning. "As we continue to damage and abuse them," he explains, "we lose them." In other words, when they finally succumb, you will not be able to enjoy music the same way ever again.

Or, it could turn into a chronic condition and you could be stuck hearing that high-pitched sound for the rest of your life. Those who suffer from chronic tinnitus -- a group that includes everyone from Ozzy Ozbourne to Huey Lewis -- say it can be unbearable. (William Shatner blames the condition for breaking up his second marriage and says he considered suicide because of it.)

Save yourself while you still can! Start by turning your iPod down. And, for concerts, equip yourself with earplugs. There are a lot of good ones out there that won't inhibit your experience, such as Hearos. Cheap foam earplugs are another option. They are comfortable and expand to fit perfectly in your ear (so no one will be able to tell you are wearing them).

 

But really these are all just band-aids. The real problem, and we don't want to sound like a square, is that the volume at concerts is just way too loud. When was the last time you had even the slightest difficulty hearing even a note being performed? Who decided we all needed to get freaking disabilities -- that's what chronic tinnitus is -- just to see a band we like?

Club owners should take note, and performing groups should not feel the need to blast their audience with sound that rivals sonic weaponry. Let the damn sound man do his job.

So, what do you say? Though we're sure our plea will fall on deaf ears, could we please turn down the goddamn music?

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