We stood crushed and smothered in each other’s exhales waiting for the band to start. The crowd was getting restless, slow-clapping and singing, limbs stretching and bodies swaying; an almost communal dovoning motion encompassed the lower level of the site. The smell of spilled beer and static electricity filled the warm air and rose to the star-patterned ceiling.
All year my friend Jackie begged and harassed me to take her to her first concert, to pop her live music cherry. So as soon as summer reared its sunburned head, I got us two tickets to a punk rock show in the city. It was a risk, taking a girl who had mostly musicals on her iPod, but I had faith it would work out.
The lights went dark then flashed bright in a thousand different directions. Noise pounded out from every speaker and the crowd became a throbbing, moving, shaking mass. The center of this amoeba began to mosh, throwing one another against the person next to them and screaming ‘til they thought they could hear themselves. Guitars sent bass pulses directly to our hearts causing organs to thump out of rib cages.
We were swallowed by the throng and wonderfully pushed within the mass. Moshing isn’t something you can teach someone or practice in your backyard. It’s more of an un-teaching. The perfect mix of being together and being alone, of fighting and accepting. After the first song, I could already tell my friend was in love with it.
For a full experience, I had to get Jackie in the air. Turning to the large sweaty man next to me, I asked politely if he could help my friend crowd-surf. He heaved her lithe body up and over the ocean of arms near the front of the stage. I thanked and high-fived the man for his service while Jackie bobbed up and down through the crowd. The man and I swayed and jumped, together but apart, as I waited for her feet to touch the ground.
The thing about shows like these is that no one gives a shit about you. They don’t look at you oddly, wonder what you’re doing, or notice the stains on your clothes. You can just be. I never feel awkward or down when I’m at shows. The music and the experience allows you to bury everything bad a little deeper for a little while. It’s just a place where humans can be people, a loud cymbal crashing respite from real life.
At the end of the night, Jackie and I left to catch our train home. We were standing on Arch Street, ears ringing and covered in sweat, when she told me that this was one of the best nights of her life.
- Sarah Beth Kaye