Rock Concert vs the Circus

by Katerina Kolozsy

When we go out looking for entertainment there are many options. Two of the most popular options that may or may not come to one's mind are a rock concert, or a circus. I believe a "circus" entertainment may be more geared towards families, while rock concerts will attract a wild crowd of youths and chaos loving adults, who like nothing more than drinking beer and jamming to some live tunes. While these venues seem vastly different to some, there are also a great number of similarities between them.


Usually when one goes to the circus they seek thrills and oddities. Where can you go to see an elephant wave at you with his trunk, a man riding a motorcycle on a 40 foot high wire, or a woman swallowing fire and swords at any given time? Not anywhere in your town. Thankfully a circus and sideshow make a visit and bring these daring and amazing feats of entertainment to us. When we enter the tent we expect things to entertain us, and generally, they always do. As we sit on our bleacher seat, enjoying our popcorn, peanuts, or cotton candy the show builds in excitement from jugglers to acrobats to balancing artists, to contortionists, to high wire walkers, all of which are spectacularly amazing, until they bring out the trained animals and finally shoot the man from the cannon. After that, we happily purchase a coloring book or other circus-themed souvenir, and find our way out to the sideshow.


This is where the strange and bizarre things are to be seen. They show us a woman living without her head, Giant live snakes, two headed animals, five legged cows, tattooed little people, or my personal favorite, the always entertaining human blockhead. A man who drives nails into his own nose, or hangs a cinder block on a hook through his nipple. It is not easy to entertain or bring gasps from the sick diluted audiences of today, but this always seems to do the trick. For centuries the circus has been around entertaining, and will probably exist for centuries more. For this I am personally glad, knowing it will be a failsafe for affordable worthy entertainment at any time in my life.


The rock concerts of today on major venues such as Ozzfest, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and the Family Values tours are fraught with impressive, expensive production values. On the main stage one will see numerous huge televisions displaying psychedelic colors and shapes behind close ups of the performers. These elements make the show seem like something of another world. The volume coming from the stage is literally often unbearably loud, striking pity in my heart for those nearest the speakers. The music is not so much an issue to all attending; lately there's not been a rebirth of Hendrix or anyone particularly gifted by musical talent alone. The issue at a rock concert is live music, the same stuff you hear on the radio, but in person. People expect to get pumped-up, excited by what the performers say and do, how the lighting glitters across the stage and how deeply the bass drum thumps in anticipation of an ear-splitting guitar line. This is why, in my opinion, people attend the rock concerts. The mass of sweating, jumping, swaying, more often than not drunken crowds are enjoying the performance.



The concert and circus are alike in many more ways than one would initially think. While the circus uses death defying men and women to produce thrills, the rock concert uses loud thumping bass and screaming guitar solos combined with the effects of alcohol, while achieving the same effect on the audience. The use of lighting to attract attention is implemented in both the circus and rock concerts. Maybe the circus uses a spotlight to direct your attention to the center ring, where dogs play leap frog with one another, while the rock concert uses its giant TV props to spotlight Ozzy lackadaisically singing along to "Crazy Train". As of lately, both the circus and concert venues have been using the sideshows to draw crowds seeking the morbid and bizarre. The sideshow freaks actually performed on the same stage as major rock bands on the Lollapalooza tour. While the rock concert may be a newer form of entertainment, it makes things entertaining using the same principles as the circus developed in the early Roman times.


When I went to work touring with the Family Values tour this summer I gained a greater perspective as to why certain things were entertaining, no matter what. As a younger kid, at age 11, I performed in the circus as a hobby and had begun to understand the very same thing. Of course I understood at a more innocent and naive age. What is funny about this, my perspective had not changed all that much. The rock concerts and the circus are the same because people go to them to be entertained. Entertainment will always be based on the same principles regardless of what it is that is entertaining. What is entertaining is so because of showmanship, which is the human production value, despite the lights or sounds man has designed by theme to entertain, it is the sheer idea and structure of performing that causes the people to be entertained.

Photographs Lee Kolozsy


Headless Woman Show

The Kolozsy Kids

Giant Rat Show at Lollapalooz

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