Incidental Insights: The Benefits of Life

Passionate PitsBy James

As I waited in a line that went down three blocks, I started to dread the main attraction. The first band had already started to play, and even from outside the building, I could tell that it was loud. As we reached the front door, the possibility of escape was cut down by the dread of another long line. I was in for the duration of the concert. The room was already packed, a quarter mile track filled with both fans and apathetic observers. The concert stage was set, and the only thing missing was the band. After a half hour wait, tension was at an all-time low and high. While everyone had gotten sick of the nervous agitation that comes before a performance, the waiting made the concert even more anticipated. Finally, with a muffled explosion of a roar accompanying their entrance, Passion Pit took the stage. And I had no idea who they were.

When I heard that Passion Pit was coming to Case Western, my first reaction was to look up who they were. After listening to their top hits on Spotify, I felt confident that I knew what type of band they were. To me, they represented the “indie” brand of popular radio that seems to be so prevalent. I expected little and, in return, believed there to be little to find. Then the music started to play. The music wasn’t fantastic. It had all been done before, and by better artists. When the music started to play, my opinion had not changed. In fact, I still believe their music is trite and somewhat uninteresting. During the middle of the second or third song, one of my friends was lifted into the crowd for some crowd surfing. Then things started to get crazy. The energy of the crowd just went through the roof. The better part of a thousand kids started to pulse, jumping up and down, waving hands and screaming like lunatics. As I stared at the rolling crowds, I thought about how stupid everyone looked. Then I noticed that I was jumping too.

In some ways, being in a live audience is like joining a mob. Every action is fickle and prone to a sort of adrenaline high. The performance becomes an outlet for energy, a catharsis for all agitation. Halfway into a song that I didn’t know, I caught myself shouting along with lyrics that I couldn’t remember. The energy of the crowd was captivating and raw, an unprocessed emotional force that swept everyone along.

In a way, that is the real power of concerts. The music is immaterial in the face of the fact that the entire audience is united in their love of music and noise, in the primordial sense of unification of a group. It does not matter that the audience is enjoying an event; it is the energy that makes a concert so special. From the obnoxious drunkards to the unlikely revelers, it is hard to find a place that is quite as diverse as a college concert. And so, an hour and a half later, I walked out with my ears ringing, my voice hoarse, and a happy grin on my face.


Frames of Preference: Highway 61 Revisited

Highway 61 RevisitedI don’t have any qualms about my pseudo-intellectual, poseur love for Bob Dylan. Sure, at this point there’s no way of saying that the man is a genius songwriter, that his lyrics are beautiful (if frustratingly random and inscrutable), and that his music is liberating (sometimes in spite of his distinct voice, and most of the time because of it). It comes as no surprise, then, that I would feel the need to honor Highway 61 Revisited, the album that gave us “Like a Rolling Stone,” of all songs. Not only is this album arguably one of Dylan’s best, it’s also arguably one of the best rock and roll albums of all time. Springsteen once described the beginning of this album as “that snare shot that sounded like somebody kicked open the door to your mind,” and this sentiment lines up perfectly with the sense you get from this cover. Just look at Dylan, at that look of casual triumph. He knows that this album is going to change your life, and he didn’t even bother to tuck in that ridiculous shirt.