Article by: Chris Martin
I’ve lamented the death of live music for a few years now. Since 1984 I have seen a ton of live music, numerous bands both great and small, have had the privilege of meeting a few of them (some good, some bad,) and even have a handful I consider friends (mostly locals, but a handful of National acts as well.) Being at a show is where I truly feel alive; where I truly feel happy and at peace. Not that there aren’t other things that bring me great joy as well (like my girlfriend, for instance) but not much else puts me in my happy zone better than standing in the midst of a sea of faithful fans, shouting my praise, singing right along to as many songs as I can, tossing up the horns or my raised fist as often as possible, as the sounds of bands I have either loved for ages or am just discovering wash over me- cleansing all of my bad feelings (if only temporarily,) bringing me such a catharsis that once I walk out of the venue (again, great or small) I feel like I can face the next few days of whatever life feels like tossing at me. It feels like those days are numbered, and sadly, it’s not for the reasons I initially thought.
The world is once again thrust into hysteria and chaos because a handful of radicalized idiots misinterpret a Religion for their own needs and have killed and injured many innocent people. This tragedy in Manchester is yet another incident propagated by homicidal maniacs hellbent on eradicating people they feel don’t deserve to live because they believe in their hearts that their god tells them to do it because they are Infidels, they don’t bask in the glory of what the Terrorist feels is Holy. I’m not an Ariana Grande fan (I couldn’t name one of her songs, to be honest.) I couldn’t have picked her out of a crowd of any number of current Pop stars. Even though I am a Metalhead and not a fan of her music, I stand beside her in solidarity. Her fans are mostly young children since she is one of Disney’s cadre of young starlets vying for superstardom. It sickens me to think that someone would be so cold and calculate to do this to children, most probably experiencing their first live show, now their lives either cut short or traumatized to the point where the thought of going back to another is too much for them. And that’s what a Terrorist wants; they want that fear to be so great (if they can’t achieve the ultimate goal of extinguishing a life) that the person or people are paralyzed with such utter fright that they’ll never consider going to anything, trapped in a state of such panic. It’s devastating to think about.
I’m not going to make this political (other people already are and shouldn’t be as this isn’t about politics,) nor am I even attempting to single out the religious aspect of it (though that is a seemingly key factor in this horrible tragedy as this event was undertaken by those who have a warped sense of their religion.) This isn’t the first time a concert or nightclub was targeted by some insane moron bent on destroying people’s lives. No, the part that I’m wanting to look at is this phenomenon of Terrorists (no matter what their ideology is) potentially bringing to end something very near and dear to many of our collective hearts: live music. As if gentrification wasn’t already doing a fine job of snuffing out local venues in lieu of condos and parking decks, but now, every time we attend a concert, having to wonder, “Will this be the one?” Admittedly, if the bulk of your shows are smaller scale local acts, the chances are greatly reduced that there will be any sort of attack there (Terrorists prefer large targets, and your buddies band just ain’t drawing that well.) But who is to say that there won’t come a time that someone with a weapon enters into this area of sanctity, this room full of love, joy, and fun, determined to shatter our sanctuary, our lives? Of course, big business will eventually turn your favorite local venue into some Hipster gastro pub and very before this happens, but it’s still something that weighs heavily on my mind. Dimebag wasn’t playing in a big venue when his life was snuffed out by a homicidal maniac right?
And there’s the rub: ideology isn’t even a factor when you get down to it. Celebrity has been plagued with stalkers forever, some with such a disturbed thought process they feel like they have to murder said celebrity because…who knows- because they’re mentally ill, ultimately, I guess. I understand that radicalized Islamists and stalkers aren’t the same (and realize that Ariana wasn’t necessarily the intended target per se,) but are they that much different? Both are driven by incorrect thinking, whether it’s from an illness or ill-informed indoctrination, feeling that their target is someone they must control through fear, often ending with the death of the target. It’s not that different if you get down to it really. If the final outcome is murder at the hands of a lunatic, it’s still murder, correct? So as this phenomenon continues does this mean that venues will feel less and less obliged of having major events? Does this make the fans less inclined to plunk down the money to see a show on the off chance that some nutjob decides to blow the place up (or gun the place down or stab a bunch of people or drive a vehicle, etc.) The weapon is almost as inconsequential as the ideology. If someone wishes to do harm to another, they will find a way.
I’m not really sure what compelled me to write this. I’ve been on a hiatus for a while (minus a review here or there,) but driving into work today the words just started flowing. Do I have any ideas or suggestions on how to prevent this sort of tragedy from occurring? Not really. Sadly, there’s not much one can do to prevent these slaughters from happening. Mental Health Professionals honestly have little understanding of why the brain works as it does and why people do the things they do. That’s not the fault of the Professionals, just the mystery of the mind/brain and how it functions. Bans on people of a certain belief? Nope, because there are plenty of people who are Muslim in the world that vehemently disagree with what these radicals are doing in the name of their religion. If you believe that all Muslims are Terrorists, for instance, then it’s on par with saying all Christians blow up Abortion Clinics, and we know that’s not the case. Stricter searches at venues? Perhaps, but then you’re going to wind up with disgruntled people complaining about having to wait while lackadaisical employees casually search you and your belongings wishing they were anywhere else but at work, that day, still missing potential danger to the patrons. Not really great reasons for not having stricter searches, but definitely an issue that will dissuade folks from coming out.
There really is no magic solution for this problem. Luckily it isn’t as widespread as it could be (and hopefully won’t be.) And this isn’t a political thing, as people on all spectrum of the political rainbow will cling tenaciously to this horrible tragedy and make it so. I’m not the religious type, but my thoughts are with those directly touched by this whether they’ve lost someone or currently watching someone fight for their lives or struggle with the fear and confusion. Or even Miss Grande, who is now struggling with the thoughts that her performance was what brought these fans out, and how she is probably feeling like she is somehow at fault (she is not.) It’s horrific to think that something so innocent as a concert is marred by such an injustice. Now more than ever we as a people need to come together and lift each other up, instead of bringing each other down. As for where I stand in regards to my concert attendance? Well, there are only three things that have prevented me from going in the past and none of them involved homicidal maniacs in their murderous quest to destroy the world, and I have no plans of adding them to that list. (Money, work, and health are the three, in case you were wondering.) I hope that this prognostication doesn’t come true, but we as a society aren’t as toughened as we once were, so I can definitely see folks thinking twice about heading out to shows, and once that starts it’s a natural progression that as bands can’t draw crowds (and money,) shows will become a thing of the past. And then the Terrorist wins, while the rest of us lose.