When The Sounds Come Together

“It’s about that moment of synchronicity between the audience and the band. That feeling of being in the audience and feeling a part of something. You’re so proud of the person making the music, of that fact that they’re actually doing something and doing it well. You can see them and you know that they know, and they know that you know.” — Sylvan Esso Genius Annotation

Sylvan Esso made my favorite album of 2014. I always like to see bands play live while they are touring in support of my favorite albums. I’ve also long been interested in trying to measure the feeling of “being in the audience and feeling a part of something.” When I saw them a few weeks ago in Austin, I rolled out an experiment to try and quantify the show.

I used a heart rate sensor, strapped to my chest, to measure my visceral reaction to the performance. I kept a set list during the show along with time stamps for each song so that I could retroactively align my heart rate data with the performance and analyze the results.

I expected to see a big spike in my heart rate when Sylvan Esso came on the stage. I also expected to see a higher heart rate during my favorite songs. My HR did spike during their first song, but I was surprised to see what happened during the remainder of the show. My heart seemed to settle into a rhythm with the music and hold quite steady from song to song.

It’s that rhythm that’s the manifestation of the synchronicity between the band and, in this case, myself. And a connection that is inimitable. Undoubtedly there are other ways of measuring the band-audience connection. But I find it fitting that it can be measured in your heart.