My challenge now is to combine my scribbled notes with my wracked memory of a show that's now a couple weeks past, and combine those with the vague recollections of the points that I was intending to use that show to demonstrate. Perhaps this challenge (and my rather abstract intended ways of confronting it) will prove large chunks of my point. I think that it will, or will at least help. Some of my intended points may even be made better, if less directly or cogently. This is a study of bias itself rather than of the subject, and the limitations of this post, and the necesary piecemeal/ goulash nature of its presentation, are the bias. This is much like post-modern critical anthropology. The anthropology of a rock show. All writing is fundamentally primarily about the writing task itself, and the biases of its author rather than about the subject undertaken.
With that in mind, I return to the show itself. After Christine, Defcon 4 from Boston took the stage. Musically, these guys were strikingly dissimilar to the rest of the bill. A hardcore band that leans harder toward thrashy punk than metal, their set felt a bit like a circus act for intermission at the opera. Not that this is a bad thing, necesarily. The crowd seemed to revel in a brief change in the mood of the room. And I practically grew up on Boston hardcore, so their set struck me as a refreshing chunk of nostalgia, even though I wasn't previously familiar with anything besides the name of the group prior to this show. Say what you will, the Boston area has (and will probably always have) a pretty distinct sound in violent music, and Defcon definitely has a bit of something in them that would give me a good guess where they were from at the most casual cold listen. Their set was alot of fun, in a similar way to how it can occasionally be fun to dig through boxes of old cassette-tapes with hand-made labels and reflect on the chaos of the shows that I picked them up at.
Today is the Day themselves delivered what their reputation promises. From the moment that they began playing, they assaulted the crowd with nearly transcendentally precise walls of rhythmic sound. From my place in the bobbing crowd in front of the stage, their music struck me as having a distinctly trance-like quality that I found thoroughly enjoyable. The sensation that their music created for me was similar to being lifted into it and then sorrounded or wrapped by it, taken completely into the different sort of space that the music comes from (whatever that may be). From inside of the grip of the music, it seems that the point of it, the purpose for the construction of this space, the composition of the music that is the tool to propell the listener there, is completely atmospheric and textural. The culmination of this feeling came, rather predictably, with a heavy and rythmic rendition of the song "Temple of the Morning Star" (a song that appears on their myspace page in an acoustic form) which features a well-crafted pulsingly repititious chant that sucked the crowd, joining in and mobbing toward the stage, further into the embracing effect created by the sound. "I can't be... what you want me to be... I am... dead..." By the last time through, I couldn't see a person who wasn't positively screaming. If the show is intended as a sort of ritual (which at times it felt like) and the embracing sensation of the rhythms is in some way thereputic and building toward some sort of goal, this refrain serves as a most definite point of release. And it felt damn good.
Of course, this could have been merely an idea that I had been spinning on my own that evening (or something that part of me bady wanted), and the sensations that TITD created for me played into it rather (coincidentally) well. Jotted in my notebook from prior in the evening (I believe just after Black Hell finished playing) is this-
The purpose of "scene" has nothing to do with other people. It has to do with the constructin of individual identities, something to allign yourself with, the ability to space-out and step into the pseudo-surrealistic realm of an option for "reality" that the band is creating for you.
Music communities, it seems, aren't fundamentally about community at all. The aspect of community created as part of the activity of musical enjoyment is merely a tool with which individual identities are sculpted. Therefore, the most artistically valid moments in the act of musical appreciation are intrincically and harshly individual moments. At this show I remembered that it is still possible to say something artistically valid within a guitar-bass-drums cliche box-structure or with the utilization of otherwise unnecesary social frivolities like music scenes or the cheap enjoyment of conventional entertainment. Even if what's being said by the art is merely the brief expression of a single feeling, atmosphere, or texture that an individual wants as a facet of their self-constructed identity. As I left the show, I felt decidedly disconnected, dazed, and strangely somewhat content. If music can still be relevant art, I think that this feeling alone may be a valid and important point to make, and I commend Today is the Day for making it for me that evening.