Friday, February 2, 2007

Get loose. Footloose. Or something.

Constantly scanning news sources and electronically scribbling quasi-manifestos about the state of our nation can often get very cumbersome, not to mention quite jading. It is for that reason alone that I am forgoing the usual format, and am going to somewhat follow my father's lead in writing about...well, life. So yeah, read on.

People just don't cut loose enough; everyone is unbelievably uptight. I'm constantly watching shows or reading National Geographic articles about base jumpers, mountain climbers, kayakers (sic) and wonder why I, as well as the rest of the country, are not out doing those same things.

To this day I've never done any of those things; whether that fact is due to financial reasons or to my being a wuss is for you to decide--I'm not gonna tell you. I did, however, go to concerts.

I never went to a concert in college till my sophomore year. Beforehand, my collective concert experience was a Jars of Clay show in Nashville, an Aerosmith/Monster Magnet concert with my father (also in Nashville), and a "flashback" concert featuring Jan & Dean and The Four Tops. When I entered college, I had not been to a show in going on four years. I hadn't lost my taste for it or anything, its just something I never really thought about.

At the beginning of my sophomore year, I fell into the role of Arts & Entertainment Editor for our campus newspaper. As this was LaGrange College, my job may at first glance have been likened to sports editor at MIT. It just so happened, though, that there was a very strong contingent of advocacy for the arts at that school, and I was basically given free reign to write about whatever I wanted, to cover or review anything that struck my fancy.

As luck would have it, Flogging Molly came to Atlanta in September of that year. For the uninitiated, Flogging Molly are a traditional Irish band, but with a punk edge; the band includes tin whistles, fiddles, mandolins and accordions, but features hard-driving rhythms and electric guitar galore. Due to the miniscule amount of Scotch-Irish blood in my veins, I'm a big fan, and so headed out with my friends Libby and Danielle to cover the show.

I stayed at the back of the small venue for the two opening acts; I'd never heard them before and actually wanted to listen. But finally, when the headliners took the stage in total blackness to the sound of Joe Strummer's "Redemption Song," I plowed my way into the crowd, ready to engage in whatever might transpire; I'd never been in a mosh pit before and was experiencing feelings akin to climbing a roller coaster that was surely too high. As soon as the band kicked into the jig that was "The Likes of You Again" I was in the midst of a vortex of flying bodies, most pierced, some tattooed, all smelly. Strange then, perhaps, that I began to enjoy myself and began to alternately shove against and move with the mass, occasionally pushing upwards to heave a crowd-surfer off of my head. I gradually let go of inhibition and slept better that night.

Throughout the rest of my college years, I got into several mosh pits at Between the Buried and Me, Every Time I Die, and even got onstage at Andrew WK. All were liberating, all were some small part of an anonymous camraderie existing between the people at those concerts.

So jump off a bridge, go to a concert, get into a fight, take a cruise, swim with the sharks. Do anything that will make for a good story one day.

Or at least good blog fodder.

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