Crescent Ballroom Offers Free Earplugs. Other Venues Should Offer Them, Too
I love live music.
As someone who writes about music for a living, that is probably as unsurprising a sentence I could type. I love going to concerts, hanging out with like-minded music lovers, and watching professionals execute their craft at the highest levels possible. I love music music that drags your mind into the moment and commands your undivided attention. The vibrations of bass, the crackle of distorted guitars, the view you can get only by camping out at the front of the stage for an hour as less-devoted fans fill in the spaces behind you -- these are just a few of the things that make live music such a moving experience.
These are universal experiences you get at any concert, regardless of genre. But the wonders of live music come with a downside. Hearing damage is a serious occupational hazard for any serious concertgoer. There is now evidence that going to just one show can potentially cause permanent damage to your hearing. And constant exposure to loud sounds can lead to tinnitus -- a permanent, endless buzzing in the ears. Just look at the Occupational Safety & Health Administration's guidelines for workplaces with loud noise exposure:
If your job requires you to be exposed to noises exceeding 100 decibels for two hours or longer, the law requires your employer to provide you with ear protection. Rock concerts, many sources report, measure somewhere in the 105- to 115-decibel range. Manowar reportedly cracked 139 decibels during a sound check once. The conclusion? Treat rock shows like you would casual sex. Use protection. If you don't, you might end up with permanent damage to your ears.