After five hours of feeling bass notes vibrate my body, I am enlightened. Seventh Ave, the notorious grunge scene where Prince started his illustrious career of dancing in sequenced outfits, was electric tonight. Broken Social Scene came with hairy arms held wide open to embrace their fans whom they made it known were loved deeply. Ten full-grown men with unkept hair and haggard clothes emptied the contents of their musical hearts onto a crowd. These disheveled men turned a crowd into a family of fifteen-hundred sweaty members. We danced, laughed, and cried together.
At first I wanted to leave. I wanted to give up on the show and escape to the comfort of my own apartment. My royal blue corduroy desktop chair was at home, waiting for me. I couldn't see the stage because a broad shouldered middle-aged man stood directly in front of me. His curly silver hair glistened with sweat as he danced in a series of contorted jerking movements. No matter how much or how oddly he moved, I could never see past him. Easily past forty, he was long past the point of caring what people thought of him. I envied him. How is he so free and I'm not? Why am I thinking of this while a band is playing from the raw reserves of their emotions? How many times have I been in moments like these and wasted them with self-loathing?
My problem wasn't the aged beefcake in light blue denim jeans and work boots, it wasn't even his boyfriend of matching size, age, and dance patterns. My problem was me. I think myself into a bad time, it sucks the fun out of a great time wanting to be had.
There I was with my head-fawk fashioned perfectly, shifting my weight between my pair of celtic green adidas shoes as I fought the impulse to leave. I couldn't get into the show. I didn't have a good view. I was too far away. I wasn't standing in the pit with the people who were cool. I was on the outside. The thoughts were an endless onslaught of depression. Shut the F*CK UP MATT. I am so tired of this little child inside of me who complains when it rains, when he's tired, when he needs something. SUCK it up. CHR*ST help me, I want to strangle him. Grow up, look around you, find the music.
Against my will, I remained. Stiff-legged and sporting a frown directed at the sweaty silver curls blocking my field of vision, I remained. Then came the transformation.
Half-way through the five hour long show, something special happened. The lead singer took a moment to explain it was time for the crowd to do therapy. Upon his count, everyone was supposed to scream. They weren't screaming for the sake of making noise. They were instructed to scream out the pain of past rejection, sins, regrets, and guilt. In ten seconds of vocalized agony, fifteen hundred people left behind what they struggled with when they first walked through the darkened glass doors of First Avenue. My eyes were shut tightly enough to keep water out as if being sprayed by a hose three inches away, my fists were as hard as unripe apples. I screamed at the voice inside me, I screamed at Matt in the past who hurt people. I screamed at people in the past who Matt Grim hurt. It worked. As my throat felt like it was now made of sand paper and I wondered if and when my voice would come back, I realized it. I don't know if it was the artificially induced sweet smelling fog, the tantric colored lights, or the energy of the crowd; but something was different. I was different. I was in the show, a part of the concert. I wasn't thinking about how much I missed my apartment room, I was at the show where I belonged, in mind and body.
I looked at my friends, they were both smiling to themselves like you do when it's Christmas and you've unwrapped the perfect gift. Not the forced smile you give the camera as you hold the prized possession high in the air, but the smile which beams out of you when you first see the gift as it emerges from the wrapping paper shrapnel.
Fast-forward to the end of the set and we find a new scenario. The silver haired dancing duo of mountainous man meat had departed! I could see! I sang, danced, and clapped along as I let myself get lost in the energy of the crowd and the beats of the music. It was a trip.
After playing an encore for two hours, the band found a level of harmony I rarely see. They were in a groove and didn't want it to end. The lead signer hopped off the wooden stage into the crowded floor of fans and walked among them, hugging one person after another. People swarmed him, but they didn't smother him. One at a time fans embraced their hero, and he embraced them. I felt my throat tighten as I watched him smile endlessly. Try as I may, I couldn't choke it down anymore. I felt my eyes become hot as salty tears emerged. What I saw was beautiful. It was love between people who have never met but were best-friends as they shared a moment. Even now I'm making ugly faces as I try to keep the tears pooling at the bottom of my eyes from making streaks down my face. Something was so pure about this interaction, so simple and genuine.
It made me wonder when was the last time I've had this? WHen was the last time I was genuine, vulnerable, and open? Was it to God? Does he even remember me anymore? I want His voice, not my own childish one, in my head. God's been speaking to me all the time. It's so hard because it hits and cuts through my protective layers of rationalization immediately. Soul felt guilt is something I can't argue against. When I hear truth, I can't argue against it.