We saw Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band last week, and there’s a cool moment in the encore that Bruce and the band do at every show. Throughout the concert, the house lights are down, with just the spotlights on the band. But right as they break into “Born to Run,” the house lights go up — suddenly, you can see every single person in the arena.
And since the song is “Born to Run,” every person in the arena loses their damn mind. People spill out into the aisles, singing and dancing along. If you want to understand the concept of “dancing like no one’s watching,” go to a Springsteen show and wait for the lights to come up. You’ll see 20,000 people leaning into that mantra.
What I love most about it, though, is that it shifts the perspective of the show. For 2+ hours, you’re standing in darkness, watching Springsteen and the band perform. And when the lights come up, it all changes: Suddenly, the crowd is part of the show. Their dancing, their singing — it’s part of the performance. And as the crowd gets into their role, you can see people around the arena starting to loosen up. Seeing so many others dance freely and sing at the top of their lungs gives them permission to do the same.
Would “Born to Run” be the same if the house lights stayed down? It’d still be a great moment during the show, but it’d be different — it wouldn’t be a shared performance. What makes it special is that everyone gets to be part of it.
There are moments when you want others to join in. There are moments that you want to share with the crowd. Recognize them. Turn the lights up.
Let everyone in.
That’s a photo I took of the crowd at UBS Arena, on April 9, 2023, during the performance of “Born to Run” at the Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band show.