February 17, 2014 1 comment
When tasked with writing about a show or concert or what have you, my general rule of thumb is to remain detached. The observant. The stoic writer (dork) with his little Moleskine journal, scribbling away thoughts at the back of the room. It makes me feel like an all growned up fedora wearing, chain smoking, making jokes about the American Institution of JOURNALISM, reporter. Breakdancing in the middle of a concert venue doesn’t exactly give off the air of objectivity.
These smug “on duty” rules that I’ve made for myself have—at times—permeated my live music experience when I’m just checking out some live music. And they’re broken frequently because I have no structure and there are few things more fun than going ape shit after you’ve spent the night breaststroking in the rivers of Lake Alcohol. There are many ways people can go ape shit at shows. To wit: obnoxiously singing the lyrics to a song, dancing by yourself, grinding on somebody/getting ground up on, screaming “woo” a lot, obsessively Instagramming/Vining/ taking pictures (put your Goddamn phone away and enjoy the performance), and lighting up a marijuana cigarette. All of the aforementioned activities enhance the concert experience for you and sometimes make it a pain for others. That’s essentially what going apeshit at a concert is—maximizing your experience to its fullest potential. On the richter scale of apeshit music activities, just below running up on stage and getting molly whopped by Action Bronson, lay moshing.
Generally, when I sense moshing, I react like an all-pro NFL quarterback. I read the blitz, take a few steps back to avoid the pressure and get the hell out of harms way. When successful, closed jabbing fists and flailing bodies are evaded. I say generally because of course I jumped inside the body tornado from time to time.
The first time I moshed was at a one day summer festival in Texas. It was hot. It was so hot that it felt like we surpassed perspiring and started to just SIMPLY.FUCKING.MELT. Shirts off; faces scrunched and delirious. [1. That’s what she said.] I was there to write a couple of words on Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Reggie Watts, and of course enjoy all of the other music and ancillary shit going on. Like the strange amateur wrestling expose and the headliners, The Black Lips. As the Sun retreated, shaving roughly five degrees away from the triple digit temperature and we all began to boil instead of melt, The Black Lips took the stage and I instantly read the blitz avoiding a tsunami of bodies.
Periodically, each of my friends got pulled into the fray and so did I. The things I saw on the inside can never be unseen. [2. That’s what she said.] I saw a frail little girl get punched, knocked down and trampled on. I helped her up and she punched ME. It wasn’t anger. I wasn’t of any harm to her. She punched me and screamed and the happy little maniac went back into the eye of the storm.
I left in one piece. Shirtless back clawed raw. Body coated in a film of sweat. [3. That’s what she said.] I was cognizant of the fact that the body juice on my body probably came from at least 15 other bodies and that gave me a temporary case of vertigo. I needed get home and shower immediately. [4. That’s what she said.]
It was fun though. And its been fun every time I’ve done it since. [5. That’s what she said.] I came away that night with a better understanding of a world a little foreign to me, something I’d always observed from a distance and wrote off as stupid. I don’t have the same level of festering suburban or yuppie angst and anger that breeds moshing, but that act is freeing. You don’t remember your problems when you’re kicking and screaming in the eye of the storm. They all seem to dissipate.