The air is dry and it's not quite cold, but it's warm enough, and with this much people, no matter where you stand, there's a lukewarm vibe in the air. There are those here for some supreme elitist vanguard and some anticipating being floored. Half the room is sober, while the other half, myself included, are very much under the influence. All of a sudden, it washes over you. The building of the strings' quick frequencies and rising low ends. For two hours, you stare at a moving picture with focused musicians sitting in front of the visuals. They gain speed and grace and power into individual twelve minute grueling processes that exert forces of intensity, felt in anguish, afterthought and dreams of hope that pass through much of the crowd. The crowd not pushing through me to get somewhere out of focus, but the ones in awe stood still, slightly leaning in intrigue.
I stood there, leaned against the folded up benches underneath the staircase. It's a straight line to the stage. It's cornered, but the mix stage left is directed in front of me like a megaphone to the face. Again, there's a violent wash. Each song a new stream of conscious. I thought about the past, the anxiety about the future. I thought about the bridges burnt. I stood in a venue next to old friends I hadn't seen in some time. But time is relative and it passes. You think about the pockets of life. Your adolescent lack of responsibility through your rebellious teenage years and then learning more in the rapid time it takes you to go from drinking illegally to legally responsible for your own worth both physically and mentally. The friends on the couch next to you in one phrase of years, and the ones next to you in the next few phrases in the overall composition. Empty bottles, forgotten numbers, new friendships and a new day to experience each one when you get to open your eyes from rest. There's just as much beauty in the minor keys as their are in it's more vibrant counterpart. The truth is, I don't sleep much anymore.
After the burn of a cigarette, applause and the segue into the next climb of the mountain, I thought about the power music has without words. Words to interpret. The shifting of meaning in a line that means something completely else. There's a manipulation of a feeling through each movement of the hands, the quiet, loud, quiet, overbearing shift that channels grand opera house symphonies through tubes and more conventional and familiar instruments. There's a difference between sitting down to learn how to play a specific song and just sitting with your instrument trying to blossom and wither the music and motions inside your head and through your nerves. Words may not yet come, but in time, your lips are a steady hum and another frequency.
As those minor chords began to tower into a dark sentiment, I couldn't help but think of failure being the step before knowledge. The dark before the dawn. The anxiety of your next move and how its rush can build a small plant of hope. We live in a time of a cut throat society of survival. There's a good amount of ideas, but many rushed in the face "first-dom" culture we now socially live in, with cases of intellectual theft growing in numbers. Ideas where financial gain is a must, and social, educational and healthy priorities take a back seat. Twenty eight minutes, hours, days, months, years later and we live in times of InSecurity.
Music is a form of escapism. Like a good book or movie, it has the power to make us think past its intended mark. Interpretation will always be king. The thoughts we carry because of music is what's important, it's what gives music its truest and purest form of value. We're sanctioned by it. What we miss as critics and diehards alike is that we put the emphasis in judging the piece of art and not what the piece of art does to us as a stimulate. On the surface, there are a few records in my collection that the most highbrow bone in my body would scoff at, but there's a story as to why I still own a copy of it at a time where most would believe physical media has no real value.
I thought about all of this. As I sobered up during the final minutes of one of my favorite songs - and trying to take in what I just experienced - I was overwhelmed. There has been so much on my mind lately, that it all kind of came together in this sort of nuance of musical yoga and meditation. Back in the day a piece of candy was a tenth the price you pay for it today. Comics were a dime, and not part of some hoarders collection on a reality show. People sent postcards and traveled to see friends....now we have the automation of digital telegram at the precise moment we want to connect a feeling of laughter, pain, uncertainty, anxiousness and joy. We can see and hear each other in opposite rooms, across miles of wiring - without travel! We have the power to build a thriving empire of ideas, but nothing grand comes without adventure...
...or at least a Micheal Bay budget in the figures of say a Bad Boys 3.
- Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Austin, TX. October 3, 2012