Thursday, 11 August 2011

Music & the Masses

There are a number of ways I would not like to die. (And feel I've come very close.)
  • On a poorly constructed ride at a small town fair. Any fair really, but a small town fair would be the most humiliating & make the least splash in the papers the next day. See Between Two Journeys. 

  • A final destination-type plane crash. This possibility has haunted me since the new millennium (remember Devon Sawa?). And really, doesn't everyone feel like they're close to a fiery death every time the plane lands? When you feel the impact of the wheels hitting the concrete right before it goes whipping down the runway, brakes screeching, only to slow down at the last possible second? It's like a scene from an action movie, every time!

    Sometimes I hold out my arm to the chair in front of me to brace myself. MB caught me last time and smirked.

    "What." I say to him.
    "Nothing." He smirks.
    "What?" I repeat.
    "No one else felt the need to do that," he motions to the rest of the passengers.
    "That was my second near-death experience in a week," I mutter. (I am referring, of course, to the rickety death trap upside-down ride at the Lombardy Fair.)
  • Falling off the upper level of stadium seating at a pop concert. This nearly came to fruition when I wore platform shoes higher than the length of my calves to a Lady Gaga concert, completely throwing off my equilibrium.

    Last but not least,

  • Getting trampled by a hip, panicked crowd at an indie show.
This is not a blog post. This is how I nearly died on Monday, seeing Bon Iver in concert.

Bon Iver has been a favourite band of mine since being introduced by the music expert, Musician Boyfriend. Music, MB learned from a young age, can soothe the soul. It can heal break-up wounds and unite people on the dance floor. It can teleport you to the most inconceivable of places.

I'm kidding. MB learned that mostly, music can be used to pick up girls. (No read this wrong. He does have a soul. He just only used music to pick up girls.)

MB's low-lit bachelor apartment housed a vintage entertainment unit he found on kijiji for $50. It's one of those legendary finds that keep people combing through overpriced junk online despite never really finding anything. For the unit and I, it was love at first sight. Sometimes I look at it sitting quietly in my apartment and think, I can't believe you're mine. I can't believe I got you here, to Toronto. What did I ever do to deserve you? I am the luckiest girl in the world.

Anyway, inside the unit is a record player. And as I was about the leave his apartment on my first visit, he asks if I've ever heard any Bon Iver.

I hadn't. Can I go now? I have to work in the morning.

"Most people would play you Skinny Love," he says, sliding the record out of its case. "But you need to hear Stacks."

It takes about 10 seconds before I'm back sitting on the couch, purse on the floor now vs. over my shoulder. The sound is perfect, both in the way it fills the apartment and the way the vinyl crackles. He's smooth, I think. He's smooth. I know I'm probably the zillionth girl he's done this with...but I really...really like this song...and damn that is a nice entertainment unit.

I'm late to become a Bon Iver fan, I know this. But I test it out anyway and text Good Emma.

"Did you know that Bon Iver wrote an album about you?" I say. "Yeah," she replies. "But that was Forever Ago."

She's good, Good Emma.

It's true that music can teleport you to inconceivable places. A year later, MB & I are not in his low-lit bachelor pad listening to records. Nay - we find ourselves together in Toronto seeing Bon Iver live, performing songs from "For Emma, Forever Ago" and his new self-titled record.

'Seeing' is of course a loose term. We are standing on the floor to the left of the stage, at the back of a jam-packed crowd. They've oversold the concert (I think.) And unless you're tall, you can't see a damned thing.

Should have worn those Lady Gaga shoes. (Next time.)

Great concert.
I make the effort to crane my neck so I can catch a piece of Justin for every song. But mostly I stand, staring at the shoulder blades of the amazon in front of me, and I listen.

In addition to the shoulder blades, I observe there are a few types of concert goers:

  • The caterpillar. This is the group of 5-10 people who think it's a good idea to all go to the washroom together despite the fact that there is no walking room for shit. They weave through the floor like a multi-segmented insect. The caterpillar, as a collective, is an idiot. And territorial, apparently, as it doesn't make a new home for itself by the washrooms. It needs to go back, way back, to the hole from which it crawled. Thus, you are guaranteed to see them twice.
  • Drunk, worrisome jocks. These people usually stand by the bar and yell things during quiet, beautiful moments in the performance.
  • Camera-people. These are the video-obsessed patrons, typically in your line of view, who record the whole thing with their phone/camera. For a time I'd escaped the shoulder blades only to find myself with one of these 5 rows ahead. Their phone blocked Justin's face entirely. Not like I needed to see him sing.
  • The annoying couple. This pair has a loud conversation-turned argument right next to you. If you're unlucky, the female will have a high pitched voice. If you're unluckier still, so will the male. Or the other female. Or both males.
  • The chatty drunk. This girl/guy goes into a flurry of an explanation and apologies about something trivial like why they have to go the bathroom, and then they narrate their entire trip there and back. And then they re-tell the story to anyone passing to also use the washroom. (For a while I actually thought she actually must be an actor on one of those candid camera shows, and there was a nearby film crew waiting for me to snap. I held it together. Because the second I lost it, cameras would come out, chaos would ensue and the whole ordeal would probably take place during skinny love.)
  • The fallen tree. This is the drunk who falls like a tree, bruising all legs within a 5.5 foot radius.
The concert was amazing. His band is a group of musical prodigies who play every instrument and sing like goddamn angels. Light shows...I could always do without. But Justin's bipolar voice sounds even better live than it does on record. It has more layers than goddamn lasagna.

But in a crowd of this density, viscosity it has an all time low. I can't help but wonder, what would happen if something sent them into a panic? Like the antelope stampeding in The Lion King. But less graceful, less...animated. More piercings.

I eye up the 300 lb man in front of me. He'd take out a lot of people, I reckon. Like that rolling stone on Indiana Jones. But with the right angle and amount of pressure he'd fall like a drawstring bridge. And I didn't want to be there when it happened.

As the frenzied crowd ran over one another, stabbing hands with menswear-inspired heels and breaking backs with boat shoes, what would Justin do? Would he and his band flee? Or do bands feel obligated to 'go down with the ship' like ship captains, per se.

It's likely Justin would flee, but in my head he is playing us out to the one song off his new album I hate.

Insult to injury, I sigh.

Sure, I'm here writing this, so obviously everything was fine. The masses are not always treacherous, panicked and dumb. It's yet another testament to the power of music. But still.

This is a way I do not want to die (and feel I've come very close).


Alana said...

I totally brace myself every time my plane is landing. So tell MB to shut it! lol
He'll be getting whiplash the next time u have a bumpy landing.
(and u and I will not)

Bri said...