Post-concert amnesia: Forgetting what’s supposed to be unforgettable

A concert is one of the most unforgettable experiences a fan wants. 

Part of what makes a great concert experience is enjoying it with friends or even making new friends. Fans shell out a ton of money for outfits, merchandise, and of course the ticket. Who wouldn’t want to make the most of the experience after all?

But then how come some concert-goers are hit with a case of post-concert amnesia?

The wild and wonderful Philippine concert experience

This year alone, the country has been flooded with concerts. Foreign artists like Bruno Mars, Twice, and Niki performed for their Filipino fans. International award shows like the  Asia Artist Award 2023 on Dec. 14 are also bringing stars closer to their Filipino fanbases. 

Filipino fans would scream “tama na!” while being bombarded with concert announcements seemingly every day. Yet we still manage to find a way to attend and scream our lungs out at these concerts. There isn’t much point in complaining, especially when we’re not sure when they’ll return. 

Watching our favorite group perform after years of being part of #TeamBahay or enduring those canceled tours during the pandemic lockdowns, we wouldn’t want to let the opportunity slip away. 

I personally wouldn’t have been able to handle missing out on another Red Velvet concert. Add in the fact that last May’s “R to V” Manila leg was their first solo show here so I did everything I could to witness Red Velvet perform live. 

Having attended the concert and a lot more, I can attest to the intense and infectious enthusiasm of the Philippine crowd. It’s a type of chaotic energy that builds upon itself.

I found myself immersed in the crowd and even making friends throughout the night. Attending concerts isn’t just about getting to see our favorite groups perform. It’s also about getting the fandom together, giving away freebies, and singing along with the crowd till our throats ache. 

The body’s odd response to concert highs

It’s not surprising that people tend to feel depressed after a concert. A wave of sadness creeps in when we’re still inside the venue and it’s slowly sinking in that the artist has left the stage and the venue lights have been turned on. Our bodies ache, our throats feel dry—there’s a sense of loss building inside us, threatening to overwhelm. 

That is actually post-concert depression (PCD). It’s not a formal medical diagnosis, but it’s a recognized condition that exhibits symptoms of clinical depression. In some cases, it may turn into an adjustment disorder that can last for months.

When experiencing intense excitement, the brain produces happy hormones like endorphins and dopamine. When the experience ends, the hormones dip or level out—leaving the person feeling low.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, concertgoers with PCD often experience symptoms such as feelings of sadness and worthlessness, lack of energy, disinterest in activities, trouble sleeping and concentrating as well as changes in appetite. 

There have also been recent reports of attendees of Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour experiencing what they’ve been calling “post-concert amnesia.” Is it the same as PCD?

Stories of concertgoers forgetting or finding it hard to recall memories isn’t a new phenomenon. It can happen directly after the concert, along with PCD. Other times, people only realize it after a few weeks or months while scrolling through their gallery then seeing a video and thinking, “That’s right. I attended this concert. Why am I only remembering it now?”

Like PCD, post-concert amnesia or PCA isn’t a medical diagnosis but it is a recognized body response. Biology can be so cruel sometimes.

“Our body’s stress level increases in response to highly emotional factors like excitement or stress—causing neurons associated with memory to start firing indiscriminately. Too much excitement may cause your memory formation to be on the edge, so it is hard to make new ones,” explains psychology professor Ewan McNay of the State University of New York. 

How to better keep your memories and recover from loss 

Losing precious memories sucks big time but there are ways to minimize that loss. Experiencing PCD and PCA is natural, with experts saying that most cases do not need medical treatment. What concertgoers can do is to learn to manage emotions.

McNay advises trying to achieve a semi-meditative or relaxed state to encourage memory formation. But Filipino fans aren’t exactly known for staying still and keeping it chill at shows. So maybe, the best we can do is to just live in the moment and enjoy every second of it.

We aren’t made to record every detail. Our brains tend to focus on one thing, limiting the capacity for remembering. We can’t simply encode every detail we want to remember—even if it’s the moments we want to keep with us the most.

And living in the moment doesn’t always have to mean tucking your phone away. There are details we might forget, but we could always use our phones to record the highlights of our night. If you see embarrassing videos after, that just means you’re having fun at the concert. 

So don’t feel too disheartened by PCA. We can always learn how to be better memory keepers and there’s an abundance of fun experiences we can still look forward to. Just prepare, we may never know when our favorite group will show up (again). 

Art by Ella Lambio

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Amrie Cruz: Amrie is a nonbinary writer who likes to talk about politics and viral animal videos. They have a dog daughter named Cassie who doesn’t go to school.