I’ll be the first to admit that college life is the most amazing experience anyone can have. I am well aware of how fortunate I am. I wanted to just get this out because when you hear about the day I had yesterday, a lot of you will be thinking, “I hope she knows what a great life she has.”
I am a senior at Virginia Tech and as graduation inches closer, experiences like the one I had yesterday at the Concert for Virginia Tech become more and more bittersweet. I know the things I am seeing and doing here are once in a lifetime.
I woke up yesterday without the obligation of class or work so all I had to worry about was getting to the concert and enjoying life! I left around 4pm with my roommates and when we got to the concert, Lane Stadium, our football stadium which seats approximately 66,000 people, was about halfway full.
I’ve heard reports that about 50,000 people were there at the concert, and one of the stadium sections was closed because it was behind the stage. You can imagine how packed it was! The stage covered about a fourth of our football field and no matter where you sat in the stadium, the view was amazing. I know because I moved up to the furthest seats to go sit with some friends.
The concert started with Dave Matthews speaking about how excited they were to be there and thanking us for letting them come. I have to say, even though I loved Dave Matthews before, I have such a newfound respect for him. He personally came up with the idea of the concert and facilitated a lot of the organization of the artists.
But more about Dave later….
He then introduced Phil Vassar. In case you aren’t too familiar with him, Phil Vassar is a great country singer and also a native Virginian. Like all the other artists to follow him, Phil Vassar kept thanking us for letting them come and saying how wonderful our school is.
After Phil Vassar’s awesome performance came Nas, the rapper who you might remember Bill O’Reilly blasted as a “gangster rapper” and inappropriate. I think everyone has their own stance on the situation, but I really thought he was great. He came out in a “Hokies United” shirt and wearing probably the whitest sneakers I’ve ever seen in my life. He was on for about 20 or so minutes and put on a great show.
John Mayer came out and was INCREDIBLE. He’s good on the radio or on CD but in person he was just mind-blowing. I thought it was great that there were so many different types of music represented. No matter what type of music you were into you got a little taste of it.
After John Mayer, the Dave Matthews Band came on and by this point it was dark out and everyone was so pumped up. Dave’s first song really just described the purpose and vibe of the whole night – it was the song “Two Step” and the lyrics go “Celebrate we will/ Because life is short but sweet for certain.” Dave ended up playing for almost 3 hours (including a little jam session with John Mayer that was SO COOL) and even did a little encore.
I’m probably leaving out one of the most important things about this concert – the set changes. Each time an artist was done, they had about a 20 to 30 minute pause when they changed the set and equipment. The crowd would start chanting “Let’s go Hokies” or we’d start the wave (which I’ve personally never enjoyed because I feel like an idiot doing the wave, but it was cool at the concert for some reason).
I actually got a little choked up during the first set change when we all started chanting “Let’s go Hokies.” Sufficed to say, it’s been a pretty rough year for our community here but, besides being a member of my family, I’ve never felt more proud of being a part of anything in my life. The unity here and the sense of community at Virginia Tech, even before the shooting, is something I wish the rest of the world would learn.
It was amazing. I don’t really have words to describe the whole night to be honest. It was almost a spiritual event because I felt like we were getting back on the right track and you could see the healing going on in the crowd. Personally I was scared that it would be a somber event or just heavy with sadness but instead these musicians came and made it something happy and joyous yet still mindful of the pain we all still have inside.
I just feel really fortunate that I got to be there and I really hope that one day I can do something for someone else like these musicians and all the volunteers who organized the concert did last night for us. I guess I’ll just end this by saying how thankful I am to everyone who has helped us get through this hard time. I know personally I wouldn’t have been able to get through the last few months without all the outpouring of support I’ve received and I’m sure everyone here feels the same way. So thank you all for keeping us in your thoughts. We all appreciate it!
With Hokie Love,
Adrienne Ward, Class of 2008