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watsky

He was singing and lovely and every time he got close enough to the mass of people they rushed forward in a sudden attempt to touch him.

Hands reached up like they were stretching for the very last hanging apple in a starving world. But they weren’t really starving. Or were they? They didn’t know why they wanted to touch him. Or maybe they did.

The crowd surged forward in front of me, but I stood still in my tiny concert space, my hand still raised and waving in the air. The eight feet between me and the front of the stage, once spread thick with people, suddenly emptied; the twelve or fourteen inches at the front, the “front row”, suddenly full of all of those bodies who had once taken up much more space. Had needed more space. Had been people dancing and waving their arms. Not hungry apple grabbers. Not humans stretching for something they couldn’t quite reach.

I understood what was happening. I was a part of it too, am a part of it, I won’t pretend not to be. If anyone else had spit water into the crowd, a drop of it landing on my forehead like holy water, well, I wouldn’t be referring to it as holy water, now would I?

I’ve seen this so many times, I’ve experienced this so often, but I still go back. I still put myself in crowds of hungry people. I still am them.

“I touched him!” someone squeals after the wave of people returns to resting position. They grin, eyes wild, laughing at their own excitement, unsure.

Religion will always exist, even after all the gods are killed by man. Putting people on pedestals, whether or not they deserve it, whether or not anyone can ever deserve it, will always happen.

It’s ok, it’s fine. Isn’t it?

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You walk in and air the feels heavy, thick. The overwhelming sound of the concert is like fog – covering everything, everywhere, making it difficult to function. Your senses adapt: your ears cower from the assault, your eyes widen and take in the scene. Your mind melds into the crowd, becoming a different beast.

The people stand side-by-side in lines of strangers. Friends greet beneath the multi-colored lights; screams in ears become whispers, barely heard through the amplified beats of the kick-drum and strums of the bass.

The men stand with feet shoulder-width apart, gazing. It is unclear if this has happened as a concert-goer agreement, or by chance alone. Perhaps this is some natural rock concert evolution.

The women huddle together, or stand in the front, moving to the beat. Many hold cameras, and snap pictures as they dance, surely blurry.

The band on stage is another monster. They flow together like their music, moving with each note, smiling, screaming, sweating. Sips of water between songs and awkward jokes to the crowd as they tune their guitars briefly reminds the room of their humanity.

Men with beards and women with long earrings. Teenagers with backpacks. A water bottle pulled from a coat pocket. Lights and sound. Band members leaning casually against cement walls. Tattooed arms and greasy hair.

A concert. A show. A moment. A memory.

As a writer-y sort of person, sometimes I find myself watching spoken word poetry on Youtube. There’s some really great stuff out there – some fantastically talented poets out there. Cruising the Youtube, however, is not how I found out about today’s Good Music Monday artist. No, I came across this talented human being on the Facebook. Yes, my friends tend to be those sorts of people – the Facebook DJs. But, I think that’s okay. Music – especially good music – is to be shared.

Ok, enough about social media websites! Sheesh. Let’s talk about…

Watsky

George Watsky, aka Watsky, is a spoken word poet/rapper from L.A. His stuff is really different from everything else that I listen to/have heard. He’s more of a rapper than a poet/more poet than rapper. Get it? His music has meaning, and it’s fun it listen to.

Here’s the first Watsky video I ever saw (the one my friend posted!).

This is George’s super-popular video on the ‘Tube. He raps fast, y’all.

Here’s something a bit different – one of my favorite Watsky songs.

Ok, one more. If you want more Watsky – He’s on Youtube. Of course!

George Watsky (Watsky!) is a great example of a kid who took his dream and made it his reality. I really look up to him!

Watsky is going on tour! I saw his show in Detroit, MI last summer – definitely not a waste of time. Check out his soon-to-be-released album and his tour dates on his website: http://georgewatsky.com/cardboard-castles/

Follow Watsky on Twitter (another social networking site! Sheesh.): https://twitter.com/gwatsky

???

He’s in the front row of the passenger van making a fake music video with his friends. Earlier I told him I liked his poetry and he smiled at me – but still I find myself in the middle row seat, alone.

The guy who wears a beret over his dreads made us pull over while we were driving a few days ago. He got so high on something that he had the driver stop the van so he could crack the door open and puke. He apologized to me as he retreated to the back row of seats – he lives back there, sleeping as much as he can as we travel from city to city, from stop to stop.

With Apple earbuds in my ears, I’m listening to another boy’s music. There are so many men I’m in love with – maybe one or two remember that I exist.

You wouldn’t believe how kind he is until you experienced it for yourself – I’m talking about the man in the van. He likes sea creatures and he refuses to kill spiders. He’s different.

The only thing wrong with him is that he’s even whiter than I am – and he smokes weed. But it seems like everyone from where he’s from smokes weed, so I don’t know.

I can remember how I met him – how his group of friends chose me out of the rest of the crowd of strangers to take the picture because I was a girl, and girls are less likely to steal iPhones. I remember how it took longer than they thought it would to get everyone together, and how he kept looking at me, making sure I was still there, still had the iPhone. That was the first time I ever held one. That was the first time a stranger had ever asked me to take their picture.

No, that’s not true. It happened for the first time a few weeks before that, when I was in California. I was sitting on the beach with my friend and this lady asked me if I could take a picture of her and the guy she was with. I had asked where they were from, and they had said Germany or some other European country –  I forget where exactly. I wish I remembered that. She said they were on their honeymoon. I wonder if they framed any of the pictures I took. I wonder if they’re still married.

The song ends and my iPod shuffles to the next one – a slow, sad song. I turn it off and tuck the music player away in a pocket of my bag. The girl in the passenger seat of the van is laughing and singing along to the radio. I don’t know her very well. Two days ago she was having boyfriend issues, and asked me for advice. I’m pretty good at giving advice even though I’ve never had much experience with anything.

We’re approaching our exit, now. Almost there. The driver presses on the brake and something hits the back of my foot. I look down and it’s the cup that he got earlier from the smoothie place – I’m still talking about the man in the van. The inside has some kind of orange vegetable pulp clinging to it. I gently pick it up off the dirty floor and place it on the seat beside me.

So, remember that one time I wrote about how I never do things alone and that doing things on your own can seem strange, difficult – maybe even impossible? Stuff like going to the movies alone, or out to eat at a restaurant all by yourself?

Being the sort of person who always has other people with me when I go do things, the thought of being alone with myself in public, like, doing things, was a scary thought.

Then, I did it. Twice. No, three times. Well, actually – four times.

This summer, I went to four concerts by myself. Well, that’s an outright lie – once I took a friend along to help me sell “merchandise” (wow, that looks sketchy! I swear, it was T-shirts and CDs – nothing illegal!). Then – the next night – I went to the same concert in a different city (this time actually alone) and sold “merch”, again. But, here’s the reason I don’t really count this experience as being “alone” – because I had done it before, and was, technically, meeting someone there  – the guy I was going to sell stuff for. I had an agenda. I wasn’t really going alone.

It all happened about a month later, in late July. Twice.

So, remember that one time I wrote about Father John Misty? Yeah, me too! Well, that musical discovery led me to the additional discovery that Father John himself was going to perform a show in Michigan. My hometown! (state. My homestate?) I had to go!

Only – none of my friends liked Father John Misty! None of my friends really knew about Father John Misty. Same went for my family. No one cared! No one wanted to go to Pontiac, Mi with me! Nooooo!

So, I decided not to care about whether someone else could go. I could go! So, I would! And, so, I did.

Going to a concert alone was basically everything I expected it to be. As I considered myself a concert pro after attending two-in-one-weekend a month earlier, I knew some moments could get awkward. Oh, and they did! Think: standing in the middle of a room surrounded by groups of friends, staring blank-faced towards the stage, waiting almost two hours for the show to start. I stood. I stared. I swayed (not to any music, just from foot-weariness). I was most definitely alone. I did, however, find a companion in the crowd who was there with her parents (so, kind of alone), and we struck up a conversation. See, this is how it’s done! Being alone! You meet people! It’s great!

Father John Misty was just fantastic. A true musician and performer. He danced! He played the tambourine! He danced while playing the tambourine.

The Man Misty

He was beautiful, and tall, and his voice was beautiful, and the band was beautiful, and the music, too, was beautiful. I stood, and stared, and swayed (this time to the music!). The crowd was really into it. I was alone, but it didn’t matter.

After his set, the headlining band came out to play. Youth Lagoon. I had never heard of them. Neither had my new there-with-her-parents friend.

They took a long time to get set up. I thought about leaving. FJM was done, and I was alone standing with groups of friends again – should I just go home?

No, I decided. I would stay. It had already been awkward. I had already stood there alone for 4 hours. Bring it, clock. I was waiting for Youth Lagoon, gosh dang it. Whoever they were.

Thirty minutes later, a short, skinny, bushy-haired boy came out from backstage and sat down at the newly-placed piano. He looked sort of like young Bob Dylan. He sang sort of like young Bob Dylan. He was freaking good. It was freaking weird music. It was freaking fantastic. I was freaking alone and it didn’t matter.

It didn’t matter because that music made us all into a single-brained creature. It was like jamming in a garage with a guy with a guitar. He sang, and rocked out on his piano for long periods of time. He just played.

We swayed. There was head bobbing. Everything became that boy on his piano. There wasn’t a crowd. There weren’t people. There was loud, strange, flowing music. I wasn’t alone; I was no longer there.

The next night, I did it again – went to a concert alone. A different concert, this time. I went to Detroit, Mi (to the coolest concert venue ever, Saint Andrew’s) to see this kid named George “Watsky“. He’s from Youtube. He’s a poet/rapper/awesome person.

Watsky!

His show was so different from the Father John Misty show. First off, the crowd was totally different. At FJM and Youth Lagoon’s show, there were young, hippy sort of kids. Clean cut, pop-drinkers. At George’s show – more young kids. Younger, I think. A lot more males. A lot more baseball caps on backward. A lot more head-bopping and fist-waving. It was cool, though. If a little crowded (we were in the basement!). Also, there was a minute there when I thought I was going to die. (No biggie.) Can you say, everybody in this already-sardine-can of a room rush to the front of the stage as fast as possible? Me, I clung onto a ceiling-support beam and allowed the mass of people to surge by.

It’s really hard to feel alone when there is a human stampede happening all around you.

While these alone-adventures were scary, they were also really rewarding. I felt proud of myself for stepping outside of my comfort zone, and for proving to myself that I really didn’t need other people to go out into the world and do and see cool things.

More and more, I’m realizing that doing things you are afraid of moves you closer and closer to the person you dream of becoming.

So, who do you want to be? Are you good at being alone?

This post is about boys, and music.

Recently (the past two days of my life), I worked the Merch table for this guy Josiah Leming. He had two shows in Michigan, and I sold his Tees and stickers and CDs, etc, for him while he was here. It was a really cool/great experience: getting let in (for free!) through the side door (or creepy dark alley,   whatever the case might be), getting to hang out with Josiah, meeting fans who appreciate his music like I do, feeling like a part of something really amazing (if only a tiny, brief, part).

During my time working at the shows, I began to notice something.

When girls go to a concert/show to see a band/singer they really like, they dress nice. Right? Yeah. That’s an obvious statement if you’re a woman, or just a slightly observant human being. Why? Well, because they probably want to like, talk, to the band/singer, and/or get a picture, and even if they don’t plan on doing those things, you know, that band/singer might like look at them, and they want to look good if so.

But that’s not the only reason. You, yes you, think that by looking really cool/cute/sexy, that person will know you. Or, that band/singer will notice you. They’ll know that you’re alive. They’ll see you, only you, out there in the middle of the crowd, or when you go up to have them sign something, and they’ll see you.

I saw this desperation. I saw all the skirts and makeup and smiles. I saw this yearning for something more.

And it killed me! I couldn’t stand it! Was I doing that, too? Was I just another girl who thought she was important to these people in some way? That because I was selling shit for Josiah, or smiling at the really attractive drummer, therefore I meant something to them, automatically? That we were buddies?

You know, band members are, like, real people.

So – you know that guy friend of yours, who you’ve known for a while, and you had to like, build a relationship or friendship with them, and that took time, maybe years, maybe months? Remember how you had to get to know a person over a period of time, and your friendship or relationship wasn’t formed in four minutes of talking and smiling and looking pretty?

I know, I understand, why people do this. Because you wait so long to see this person/band, you follow along with their career, and their Facebook statuses, and their tweets, and you kind of feel like you know them a little bit. And maybe you do. But most of people’s lives aren’t posted on the internet. Between each tweet, they are living their life. They are doing things, and going places, and meeting people, that you don’t know about. At concerts, or shows, they are doing their job, and you are just their customer. Honestly. They love you, they appreciate you for coming out and supporting them, but not as the person that you truly are. They don’t know you! You don’t know them! You can smile, and wink, and hand them your number on a scrap of paper, but that doesn’t change the facts. You can’t become a part of their world after one night, after four minutes (or, for me, after two days). It takes time to build relationships. It takes time and effort from both sides.

Fame is so strangely one-sided. It has to be, by definition. Maybe that’s not fair, that they can be so exclusive. That’s how the world is.

How about when you talk to a stranger on the street, say hello, or that you like their shirt – and then you leave them. They’re gone, out of your life. But it doesn’t bother you, does it? You didn’t know them before you met them. You didn’t get all dolled up for that one minute meeting. It didn’t matter so much to you.

I’m not saying that there’s a cure for this. This is what (partially) makes concerts so popular to attend, so exciting. The chance. Finally! This person/band will get to meet you! There will be a moment in their life where you were in it, where you stood next to them as they signed your shirt, as you took a photo with them with a group of your friends. There will be photographic evidence, and memories! Who knows what could happen?

I got to experience so many of those four-minute-moments first hand. I saw all these lovely people wanting something more out of their concert-going experience. They wanted understanding. They wanted attention. They wanted relationships (of likely varying degrees).

But concerts aren’t magical. Not really. What they are is really talented people showing off their talent and having a good time, which can easily be confused for magic. Those things you want out of concerts? You are not going to get them. Not totally. Not satisfyingly.

It’s best to just enjoy the music.