Yes. Yes, it is. Thanks to our lovely Amy Sparrow’s beautiful shot for this week. Scrumptious. Be sure to check out her flickr Photostream.
Oh, and also – it’s very hot, because you’re in hell and you’re burning for the naughtiest of all sins – Lust. Of course, lust isn’t all about sex. You can lust for power, fame, food… anything really. But no matter what you lust for, it’s all about the want – the overwhelming Want that frustrates, even angers. You’re going to get what you want, and you’re going to take down everything and everyone in your way to get it. It may be a person. It may be a drug. It may be violence.
Let’s get one thing straight – the goal isn’t necessarily a bad thing (not that all those things above are “bad”, but… well, you know what I mean). You may be lusting for Olympic gold. You train hard, you sleep well, you eat healthy, you don’t party. You repeat this, day after day, week after week, month after month, until it’s show time… Until you can taste the gold. It’s all been for this. All this work, all this time. This is all that matters now.
You take a deep breath.
3. 2. 1.
Hold on, now. We just started. Take it easy, okay? Don’t forget rule #1 – lust is all about the wanting, the longing, the not being able to have it but having to have it. The very essence of lust.
I get lusty for upcoming albums by my favourite musicians now and again, but even that perfect, painful longing has been softened by internet leaks. “I thought the new High On Fire wasn’t coming out until next week!” says I. “Yeah, but it leaked today. Check it out. It’s awesome,” says friend. Damn it. Damn it all! I had another week of pained and exciting anticipation scheduled. What am I going to do with all this time? And what am I supposed to leaf through and gawk at while I give De Vermis Mysteriis its first spin? Where’s the triple gatefold cover with the lyrics booklet? Sigh. So much for that. I know, I know – I’ll pick it up when it comes out… but it’s just not the same.
One thing that is the same is the build-up to a concert. It’s like a date. It is a date, often with a band you’ve been dying to see, even if it’s not the first time. Maybe you’re rekindling the fire for a band you’ve experienced many a time before. They just released a new album. This will be different. It’s like that upcoming date where you not only hope, you know it’s going to happen. Yeah. “It.”
You make plans with her*. A date and time are set. You’ve both been trying to get together for a while now, but life gets in the way; work, responsibility… enough of that. It’s time to reconnect.
[*Feel free to substitute the word “her” for “him”, “them”, “herm” or whatever the hell you’re into.]
The point is that when you buy your ticket for a show you’ve just been dying to see, you know it’s now pretty much inevitable. Unless death decides to make an unwanted visit and an anvil falls on your head before concert day, you are going to that show, and it’s going to blow your mind. You know it’s going to happen. You listen to Meshuggah’s discography front-to-back (then back-to-front… then on shuffle…), until you wake up with “Bleed” in your head and drift off to sleep with “The Last Vigil”. You’re reminded of how amazing “I” is… 21 non-stop minutes of… there’s just no human word for it. You get chills just thinking of how devastating “The Demon’s Name Is Surveillance” will be live. You talk about the show with your friends. You try to explain to first-timers how heavy this is going to be. “It’s just… it’s just like… really… SO… just…” You can’t explain it, stop trying. What time’s the show tomorrow? Doors at 8? That means opener around 9… Meshuggah by 10 at the earliest. Sigh.
You’ve been thinking about it all week. Man, how much longer? It feels like you’ve been waiting weeks, months… You’ve worked out extra hard this week. You’ve watched your diet so you’re not sweating garlic or squeezing into your pants on date night. You’ve said no to other plans – “Sorry, man, can’t do it. I got a date!” you say, with your big, dumb grin. You’ve picked a place. The perfect place. “Are we still on?” you confirm with her. “Of course!” Awesome. She’s just as excited as you are. Come on, date night, get here already.
You have trouble sleeping the night before the show. It’s tomorrow, less than 24 hours away. At this point tomorrow, the show will be over. But you don’t want to think about that. You can see the peak of the hill right now. You wake up and the peak is even closer. The rock of time becomes easier to push but you’re growing tired… almost there. This is really going to happen. The ground is leveling out. It’s late afternoon and you’ve met up with your buddies for a quick drink and last-minute listening session, just to get pumped (as if you weren’t pumped enough). You start to lose grip a little bit. You find yourself walking down the street, air-drumming, trying to ape the demigod that is Tomas Haake, blurting out “MESHUGGAAAAAHHH!” uncontrollably. A fellow freak echoes your cry down the street. There are more of you. We’re all congregating tonight. We’re all here for one reason.
What are you going to wear tonight? Not too formal, but you can’t look like your usual, casual self. Somewhere in the middle. She needs to know you tried, but not too hard. Just enough so that she knows you’re into this. You know she’s going to look amazing. She always does.
You’ve waited in the queue. You’ve checked your jacket while thinking “Stupid, I shouldn’t have brought a jacket, jackets aren’t metal… unless it’s bedazzled with studs and spikes… stupid!” You’ve had a look at the merch table; you buy your tour shirt now because you’re not sure if they’ll have your size after the show. Bathroom. Beer. Shot. The openers play. It’s good stuff, but you could not care less at this point. Meshuggah Meshuggah Meshuggah. You’re bug-eyed, along with some other nuts around you, not sure what to do with yourself. Shot. Beer. Bathroom.
“Hi!” “Hey, how are you?” “How’s your week been?” “Oh, just crazy. You know that work thing I was telling you about…” Chit chat. Catch up. She looks better than ever. You hope you look half as good to her as she does to you. “A drink, maybe?” “Definitely.” You smile. She smiles.
Openers are done. Let’s do this. You can taste it. It feels like you’re going to war. If you had to go to war, you’d want to listen to Meshuggah. You weave your way through the crowd – “Scuse me, sorry… sorry, bud… ‘scuse me… cheers, man… oh, get over it” – some people aren’t impressed by you brushing up against them, others barely notice you. The latter are used to the craziness. You reach your desired point, whether it’s in the sweaty, hairy mess over there, or over here where you have a bit of space to move and breathe. Close to the pit so you can witness the floorshow animals, good view of the stage, plenty of head-bang room. Perfect.
Dinner was great. You learned new things about her. You told her that story about that time when… you know… that thing you never told anyone else. She laughed so hard. She’s got a great laugh. Where to next? “So. Shall we… go for a walk?” You grab her hand and head to the perfect place.
Eons (i.e. roughly 34 minutes) go by. Wait. Look around. Wait some more. Look at your shoes. Phone, got it. Wallet, got it. Beer’s done. Waiting. Every moment that passes is bringing you closer and closer to what you’ve been waiting months for. Any second now. Any second.
“And, here we are. Let me take your coat.” She looks simply amazing. Everything about her. You’ve seen her so many times before but not like this. You smell her perfume.
IS THAT?! – No, that’s the sound guy. Relax. They always dim the lights before anyway. Get it together. Just a little bit longer.
The air’s electric. Are you nervous? Why? Get it together, man. No, not nervous, just high. Just go with the flow.
You and the faithful throng let out your cry of approval. Darkness has come. Music is next. Finally. You get chills. Emotions well up (if you’re a big mushy mess of a man such as I am). Here it is. There he is! Jens Kidman! The tri-breed human/angel/demon with a voice to simultaneously obliterate earth, torch heaven and freeze hell. He knows what you’re here for. They all do. You’re here to destroy and get destroyed.
You’re here to give in and lose yourself.
You know what happens next.
After The Storm
After so much anticipation, did it meet the expectations you dreamed up in your head? It couldn’t have… It did? Really? Of course it did.
You never doubted it for one second. You knew all along it was going to be better than you could ever have imagined. It was mind-blowing… life-affirming… paradigm-shifting… Your brain, heart and soul begin to drift back together after that night. It may take days. You may not even come back together the same way you were before. A new reality sinks in – you’ve changed. There’s something… different today, that wasn’t here yesterday.
A lot of things have the power to change a person. We all know this. That’s life, right? It’s inevitable. Things happen. Tragedies. Triumphs. Hell, concerts can change a person’s life. And, of course, so can people. Some changes are hard, and you get bruised, wounded and scarred along the way. But there is strength to be found in those scars; strength that can lead you to beautiful things, places, and most importantly, people.
If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that the trip to the destination is half (and usually more than half) the fun. I know – cliché. But clichés are clichés for a reason.
No matter how bad you want to get somewhere, don’t waste the way there. Have a good, long look around. Remember everything. Close your eyes and see everything all over again. Breathe deeply. Listen. Taste. Soak it all in.
Every last drop.
Original photography by Amy Sparrow.