A journey through music: After the encore

Photographer Estefany Gonzalez captures photos to remember moments that she treasures.

Estefany Gonzalez, Co-Editor-in-Chief

I’ve seen hundreds of bands live. I’ve traveled thousands of miles across the states to see bands play in hole-in-the-wall venues because their music means something to me.

Music gave me my first real friend.

I wasn’t the loud, rowdy, outgoing person I am today. As a kid, I didn’t like opening up to strangers. I got along with kids in my neighborhood fine but I kept to myself at school.

The girls I hung out with during my lunch breaks provided small talk on pop culture and schoolwork during the start of middle school. We didn’t talk about anything with substance; we didn’t make each other laugh or even bother to plan meeting up outside of school.

I didn’t find real friends until seventh grade, after I scribbled the name of a pop-punk band I listened to at the time on my notebook. The girl across from me in class noticed and we became fast friends, the kind who had deep conversations. Opening up to her gave me the encouragement I needed to open up to others. By the end of the year, I had a whole circle of friends to hang out and listen to music with.

My love of music only grew as I got older.

When I was 14, I attended my first concert; the lead singer of The Distillers, Brody Dalle, became my role model. She was everything pop-culture queens like Britney Spears weren’t. She had a raspy voice, looked like she hadn’t showered in days and sported a mohawk.

That concert venue was the first place I felt I truly belonged. From the moment I walked into the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, I was captivated by the culture. In a crowd with hundreds of kids wearing band T-shirts and ripped-up jeans, screaming song lyrics I loved, I felt understood.

Music became my constant companion.

When I’m in a lousy mood, I can put on some Kanye and pretend I’m a high roller. When I’m on a long drive, I can blast Yeah,Yeah,Yeahs and sing with Karen O to stay awake.

When I don’t know what words to say, music helps me find them.

As I drove to a concert with my best friend after the death of her roommate, we were both at a loss for words. A song came on as we passed the tunnel on the way to San Francisco. It reminded me of how I feel at the end of concerts.  In those final moments, when the band is playing an encore, it’s bittersweet because you’re connecting to the song and you don’t want it to end. When it does, you go home and you’re bummed because it’s over –you’re back in the real world where you have responsibilities.

“But when that song comes on, it takes you back. You’re in that moment again and you’ll always have that. He was your song,” I told my friend. In that moment, I knew those were words she needed to hear and I needed to say to process this loss. Once again, music helped me express the inexpressible.

I’ve seen hundreds of bands live. I’ve spent countless dollars to see musical acts. I could probably buy a house with the amount I’ve spent on concerts throughout the years, yet I wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had for any mansion.

It’s because of this feeling that I write about music and spend my days capturing these performances on camera. I know others connect to music the way I do. I want to give them something to remember.