September 13, 2010 § Leave a comment
I’ve been going to concerts and outdoor shows much like these two for over a decade. It was odd watching the shows through my nearly thirty something eyes. I looked at the young kids at the shows and remembered what I thought of people my age when I was their age.
“Oh my god they’re so old. I’m never coming to a show like this when I’m that old, they’re so out-of-place. Don’t they know they’re too OLD?”
The perspective was based out of what nearly 30 somethings are supposed to be doing. When you’re this age you should be married and settled down, possibly with a couple of kids, a steady job and a house. People who have those don’t go to punk or rock shows. Once life starts, you aren’t allowed to have any more fun.
And I suppose there are a group of people who actually do live that way, after all, the stereotype had to come from somewhere. And yet there I was, with other nearly 30 somethings, and some over 30 somethings, at each show. Hanging out. Enjoying the music.
There is one major difference in how I participate in the shows though. The mosh pit. That’s right, back in the good old days I was right smack dab in the middle of it. I’d mosh all day and emerge from the pit, my hair a mess, and smelling like only a kid in a mosh pit could smell… the odour of other people’s sweat mixed with my own, perhaps the fumes of somebody’s joint or cigarette mixed in. Oh yes, somehow that was a desirable state to leave a concert in. These days, I appreciate the music from afar. I enjoy being able to see and hear what’s going on over attempting to support a crowd of body surfers above me while holding my own in a gnarled pit of other teenagers there to jump around while pushing and shoving one another in a mild form of chaos.
The rock show pit is much like I remembered it. Disorderly, unruly. Some moshers were watching out for their felling pitters, but many had no regard for those around them. They would jump, push, shove, whatever they wanted to break through a crowd, trampling any in their way. Experiencing it first hand at Edmonton’s Sonic Boom Festival reminded me of why I quit trying to be in the centre of that crowd.
Warped Tour was a different story. Find yourself a pit at Warped Tour, and you’re more likely to encounter what is known as the circle pit. I have no idea where this concept originated, but it is the most orderly mosh pit I have ever seen.
Everyone knows what to do in a circle pit, when one starts to form, the crowd that wishes not to participate backs up to make room. As soon as the space is there, participants start to run around in a great big circle. Yes, they run. And they’re all going in the same direction. There’s no body surfing in a circle pit, because there aren’t enough people to support body surfing.
Watching one particular pit, there was a point where many of the moshers stopped running around in a circle, and then started to do the same moves. It looked like they could have been kick boxing. It didn’t look like most of them knew each other, and yet they all knew the same pattern of moves. Had they been close together, they surely would have hit one another. And yet, in the confines of the circle pit, they had enough room and nobody got hurt.
Ten years ago, the pits at both shows probably would have been very similar. I find it intriguing now to see the subculture that’s morphed over the years into the different scenes I saw before me at these two shows. And it surprises me that those at the punk/metal show appear to have developed more regard for one another at their events than those at the rock show. They seem more harsh on the outside, but what I’ve observed tells me differently. What I see here is more community than we’d ever get from the mainstream.
I’m no anthropologist. But how this subculture developed is of interest to me. Did it have anything to do with a stronger sense of identity for the Warped Tour crowd? Or was it all just one big coincidence? And on a sidenote, if I were growing up in today’s youth, I wonder which group I’d identify with more?
May 31, 2010 § 14 Comments
It was a typical Saturday morning as I was getting ready to walk the dog.
Our weekend morning ritual begins with sitting in the hot tub listening to some tunes and guzzling some freshly-brewed java. The Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun came on as I re-entered the house for breakfast before hitting the trail.
What a perfect song to begin the day! Mr. Sun smiled down on a great trek.
And who better than the Beatles to provide the background music to an uplifting day? They are arguably the most important band of all time. Their music is timeless – often imitated, never duplicated.
As I walked, I began musing about how important music is to me, either making my day when I am already happy or helping me come to terms with life when I’m down.
It’s only natural that either Wendy or I would write about music in this blog. We often use a lyric from a song or the name of a tune to describe a situation or an idea when we speak. I began an earlier blog with a lyric from Tom Cochrane’s Life is a Highway.
My wife says I use musical lines at the drop of a hat.
She’s right. Where better than stories told through the lyrics of music to find a handy comparator? Over time, every conceivable situation has been described in song.
Although I’m a good old time rock and roll fan, the blues and jazz are also favourite genres.
Different music suits varying situations.
While a pop tune from the Fab Four is perfect to spring out the door on a walk with the dog, I prefer nothing more than the gritty, cutting words of Warren Zevon in songs like Lawyers, Guns and Money while cleaning up in the kitchen. Not sure why. Perhaps getting involved in the late singer/songwriter’s ballads is a good way to forget that I’m doing a task that no one relishes.
I have seen many of my beloved performers in concert, including Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, B.B. King, the Rolling Stones, George Thorogood, Stevie Ray Vaughan, ZZ Top, Fleetwood Mac, Jeff Healey, Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman, and Colin James.
Some of my favourite lyrics have come from these artists.
When I say or do something on the irreverent side, Thorogood provides the perfect line … Bbbaad to the Bone.
Springsteen and Fleetwood Mac bring hope with Keep Your Eye on the Prize (The Boss did a remake of the Pete Seeger song on his tribute album to the folk legend) and Don’t Stop (a song from the 1977 Rumours album) respectively.
Taking care of Business from Bachman’s BTO days was a perfect anthem for my time operating a communications firm.
Other songs have even deeper meaning.
Simon and Garfunkel’s hit Bridge Over Troubled Waters is a song I think of when I’ve brought peace to a situation or helped someone in need of a friend. It was also chosen by my Grade 7 class for confirmation.
My eyes well up when I hear the Beatles Let it Be because of its gripping inspirational quality.
What could be more heartening than John Lennon’s Imagine? Ironically, this peace-preaching musician would die at the hands of a crazed gunman.
Carolyn Dawn Johnson’s Complicated song reminds me of how I’ve put up barriers at times with new people in my life.
Billy Joel’s Innocent Man was important to me when I began the relationship with my best friend and now wife.
I’ve used the Trooper song Raise a little Hell to remind people who are bemoaning their lot in life that it is up to them to take matters into their own hands:
If you don’t like
What you got
Why don’t you change it?
If your world is all screwed up
Raise a little Hell …
There is no better way than music to pay tribute to someone you care about. We recently said goodbye to Frank Drodge of our Facilities Department at the City of Grande Prairie. He died far too young at age 50 on May 10. Frank was also known as the drummer and promoter of the local band Anywhere But Here.
Frank was remembered for his hard work, kindness and good cheer and I loved exchanging yarns of favourite concerts and bands.
I bid you adieu, Frank, with a favourite song title from Bob Seger.
Rock and Roll Never Forgets.
Other songs bring back happy memories.
My father couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, but I can remember him often reciting a favourite song written during the First World War, There’s A Long, Long Trail – A Winding.
I remember little from my high school graduation – come on now, it was 32 years ago – but recall vividly Queen’s We Will Rock You belting out at the bush party I attended (I wonder if my Dad ever discovered that I lifted a bottle of rum from his liquor cabinet for the occasion).
Nothing is more memorable than the prank I pulled on my wife-to-be at the 1983 St. Paul Journal Christmas Party. I bet her dinner that the “next song” would be Seger’s Old Time Rock and Roll.
Little did she know that the DJ was also the bus driver for the hockey team I covered for the paper, and I’d rigged the wager. Mmm, that was good Chinese food. I later reciprocated with a spaghetti dinner.
There are campfire songs to enjoy with a bunch of friends. Show tunes such as those from the Beverly Hillbillies and Gilligan’s Island are fun to sing along to while making a long trip and needing to stay awake.
That was a fun memory during our overnight trip to the West Coast from Grande Prairie in 1987.
It was time to pull over for an early morning meal when we started into Raffi’s Down by the Bay!
So, music really does make the moment – sometimes it makes a sad moment happy. Other times, it helps makes sense of a situation.
At other instances, it is good just to take away the Sound of Silence.