An intimate club, a large hall filled with thousands of anticipatory people and the busy buzz of pre-show-rummaging: find your friends, find the bar, find the perfect spot to see-- it seems an alternate universe of sweat, aerosols and not enough distance whatsoever these days.
Blurry snippets on my phone are all that remain to reminisce moments that made me, to be very cliché, feel alive. These snippets can only somewhat imitate the real thing, but that’s the reality of isolation. A virtual hug will never feel as good as a real hug, let’s be honest, but it still is a consolation in scary times. The best memories aren’t even on my phone, they’re smudged thought fragments popping up in my head when a line, a riff, a tune caresses my ears.
I wonder whether a room filled with as many people will ever feel the same as before, or if maybe the closeness will always be tinged by an afterthought of everyone else’s breath. Many musicians, especially independent, and artists and creatives are fighting existential fights to keep the music going, broadcasting from their living rooms and balconies, and I want to believe in the sweeping post-pandemic vigour of (live) music because –
Songs are short stories, and poems, and hymns to fervid bonfires, cracked hearts, boringly exciting car rides, insomniac nights, antsy train journeys, unconstrained hangout afternoons; they are proof of times and spaces of my own story.
Live, and in stereo, they are outbursts of joyful jumping, the dust of some old airport field clouding my vision, uproarious laughter, spinning and circling, and cheering and clapping, and twirling and swirling, and splurging and swivelling, and
this incredible feeling of –
They are vibration searing through every fiber, complete corrosion of illusion, frenzy and verity united. Guitars express emotions I suppress. A base line of rage, a drumroll of anger, keys of atonement.
Rhythms replace heartbeats,
Voices join, and merge, and embrace.
Swaying tunes transcend minds into the arms of a trance.
Surrounded by strangers, feeling close and connected in the solace of anonymity. Cherishing familiarity, bonded by the human condition.
Time becomes fragmented intervals of vibration,
drowns the drown-worthy,
suffocates the suffocating,
paralyses the paralysing.
‘You might know the words to the next song’, they say.
Sure I do.
It has guided me through all kinds of solitude. 2-am-loneliness, deceptive-lover-loneliness, misconstrued, loud, demanding, overwhelming, crushing, silent, insidious, collective loneliness.
Or I don’t.
It tells me a story of an unfamiliar person, an unfamiliar feeling, awakens curiosity for someone else’s narrative. It tickles my muscles, urges them to move, or cry, or sing, or run, or dance, or sway, or embrace, or everything simultaneously.
People’s faces are saturated in red and blue, glowing in cupreous shades, attentively listening. And a room full of people can wholeheartedly sing ‘Don’t let go!’, and the tunes might be crooked, but it’s honest and pure,
and the delusion that in this instant nobody will let go becomes a brief truth.
Perhaps one day things will get back to the way they used to be, and I may regret these words, but I even miss the annoying people behind us, who just won’t shut up, the smell of spilt beer all over my hair, the endless queue in front of the women’s bathroom, the hint of weed in the air, young girls hysterically wohooing when the attractive lead singer throws them a smile. They are, as many aspects now, privileges I never really appreciated.
The pandemic certainly will affect us for a lot longer, might have altered our perception forever, as much as we need to tell ourselves things will be back to normal soon. Entertainment industry, artists and musicians are deeply affected, gutted and butchered by the pandemic, and while the question of essentiality during a pandemic shifts, there is no way we can deny that music and art and every form of creative expression will also be the thing to help us get through and over the trauma.
Until we can safely attend a live concert again, I will gladly turn up the radio in the car, push the volume to maximum on my speakers and look for a trace of this or that feeling in the piano riff of the recorded version because music still has a way of reaching me, even when I’m not dancing in a crowd. But all the while my body and my heart are aching for it.
However, I am certain there will be enough people cheering and clapping for more.