Live Music: Flaws and All
If there is one ultimately unifying element of culture, it is by all means music. Any group of people can find solace in sounds that they find attractive, even if it is of a foreign language or unknown instruments. For many years now we have had the ability to record music on various mediums which enables us to re-play them with the same exact performance and quality, which is okay; however, it can only go so far as to have an influence on the psyche similar to the experience of live music. Music being performed before one’s eyes and ears tends to have a different effect than that of the recorded track. With live music we feel the passion of the artist; we have a true sense of whom and what they are feeding us.
In particular, the heavier rock music scenes have interestingly possessive qualities. That is, the people at the live shows are known for actually becoming a part of the performance. All over the country in little box rooms with intimate lighting and home- made stages or in gigantic stadiums with baseball field lighting, people flock to these shows and are simulated into the art by singing along, but also by replicating the sound in physical movements. These movements become like ritual for the audience. For instance, the violent movement of one’s head with the up- beat of a song that is commonly called Head banging has become an integral element of the enjoyment of the music and even the culture.
The faithful crowds of the heavier rock scenes take the body further than head banging with a seemingly chaotic display of physical power. The audience opens themselves to the dictations of the plethoric sounds and follows what the music calls for with their bodies. Joe Ambrose wrote in his book, “Mosh Pit: The Violent World of Mosh Pit Culture,” that, “Moshing is a ritualized and furious form of dancing combining very real violence with remarkable displays of emotion, life-and –death situations, and the raw sex beat of rock ‘n’ roll. It induces euphoric displays of affection and hostility between its usually male participants.” Moshing is indeed something that has come to unify individuals with a unique type of brotherhood that in no way dismisses women. In fact, women are becoming more and more prevalent in such environments; it’s just the simple truth that men have a physical advantage generally, so it can be more dangerous for a woman or really anyone of a more vulnerable physique.
Imperfections in the artist on stage bring them back down to reality for the audience, which gives them this quality of being “one of us.” This helps the audience see themselves in the performer, to be able to relate to them more intimately, simply because of the fact that they are not other-worldly gods as many tend to elevate them as. Of course, if the artist completely trashes the song, especially a good one, we are normally pissed off, if not outraged, however; if the artist performs well and adds that passion that only a live performance can produce, it makes it that much more enjoyable and amazing.
Much like the situation with the moshing, there is something about being with many people who enjoy the same things that you do that perpetuate the experience. For instance, the band Evanescence recorded a live performance in Paris in 2003 and released it on a disc called, “Anywhere but Home,” and on one of Evanescence’s most famous songs, “My Immortal” was basically sung entirely by the audience. It was extremely touching to hear literally thousands of people singing a song in unison, it must have been an incredible experience for the band.
Closer to home, I have had my own experience of actually performing for people live. I am the vocalist of a band called For Every Tear and we have played a few shows acoustic around Corpus Christi and Beaumont. When people listen to us live, they almost immediately like us, as compared to our recorded audio, because they get a sense of how much creating music means to us. They feel how real the words are, how the sounds paint a world before their eyes. For me, its like something foreign moves through me when performing before an audience, the person I am off stage and on are completely different, the things I can do immediately change once eyes are fixed on me. It’s a certain energy that comes along with live performances.
By no means are these experiences limited to heavy rock or any type of music. In fact, I believe that people can experience the same things from other forms of art, music just happens to be my favorite, combining words and sound. If you have not been to a concert or any live performance, please partake in the beauty of such experiences; because if you have yet to feel the power of this then you have yet to fully live.
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