A call to arms for music positivity

Do you remember your first concert?

I don’t just mean the first time you saw live music. I mean the first time you saw a performer live and the music hit so hard that the world outside of that venue ceased to exist—when the strangers around you became brethren, forever tied to that special, inimitable concert experience.

I remember mine.

It happened on a particularly stormy night in 2009, when the rain fell like megaton bombs and the oncoming thunderstorm gave an exciting, apocalyptic quality to the performance.

I traveled to the deliciously macabre halls of the Masquerade to see electronic guru Dan Deacon and his eclectic 14-piece ensemble during the tour for his glitchy opus “Bromst.”

For those uninitiated with Deacon’s live reputation, he is famous for inciting dance contests, human tunnels, and various audience participation activities that force attendees to drop any pretensions and unlock their goofiest, most childlike selves.

There was one particular moment when I locked both my hands with complete strangers as we let our limbs loose in body spasms, which vaguely resembled dance moves.

There was no fear of judgment, no self-consciousness and no anxiety about opening the most vulnerable, zany side of myself to these individuals, who I had never met before and would probably never meet again.

In that moment, as the thunder was pounding the venue, I thought to myself, “this is it. This is how powerful music can really be. If I was ever to get fried by lightning, I would want it to happen here.”

That frenzied union is not limited to oddball electronic shows. Music has been the glue that has connected disparate groups of people for hundreds of thousands of years.

Atlanta, especially, is a melting pot of genres—from niche, avant-garde stylings to the most all-inclusive, mainstream sounds.

But I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in our city: fans using musical self-identification as a means to create divisions between people.

Obviously, music is subjective. Everyone knows artists that sound like daggers to their eardrums; but that doesn’t give justification for shaming others for their music tastes. Someone discovering themself through a clever combination of pleasing tones and frequencies is a beautiful moment that should be celebrated—no matter the artist.

Ultimately, the genre through which someone finds themself is unimportant.

I’ve been in mosh pits where I’ve been punched in the face and knocked down to the ground, only to have my attacker reach out a hand to further the harmonious violence.

I’ve been in hushed concert halls where the only way the audience could relate their satisfactions was through the display of stupid grins plastered on their faces. The sounds are different, but the feeling is the same.

Music is not a tool for breeding discord, manufacturing self-doubt and making someone feel insecure about their vehicle for self-discovery.

As you find yourself branching out to meet more and more Atlanta music nerds that display their pride through a variety of different bands, remember your first concert experience. Remember those strange faces that suddenly became familiar, merely by sharing that brief concert experience.

Above all, remember to spread that positivity among all those who like you—and like me—have a reverent love of music.