Last Wednesday, April 15, it happened again.
The Gretch was going to a show, and she got an extra ticket. She gave it to me for free, because she just wanted someone to go with her. It was quite possibly one of the greatest gifts I've gotten in a very long time.
The band is WALK THE MOON (the caps are their choice, not mine), and they have a pop song that's racing up the charts, which somehow I'd never heard. I downloaded their whole discography (fairly small, at this point - 30 songs in total), and dug it - it had more synth than I generally go for, but the tempo and energy are at a high I always crave and rarely find. I put it in my regular music rotation for about a month.
A couple days before the concert, one of the songs - Sidekick - came up on shuffle, and I heard the words for the first time. It killed me. I listened and my heart raced and my brain screamed, "HELLO, THE YEAR I WAS THIRTY." It told the truth of my last two failed romantic attempts better than I knew it myself. I was hooked.
But I had no idea.
At the show, there were minor annoyances. Lots of people under 20. Young people wearing face paint and being loud. People my age that followed a beer vendor into the crowd and took up the space we'd squeezed to make for him, cramming us all far closer to each other than we wanted (or needed) to be. The Gretch and I rolled our eyes, snarked, drank our beer, and prayed the music would finally start.
And then. It did.
The band is delightful. Personable. Charming. Older than I expected, considering the age of much of the crowd (late 20s - just a couple years younger than me). Full of energy. Rocking their faces off and having so much fun.
After the first song, the lead singer said "I know you all have smartphones and cameras, but I think you should remembering tonight with your eyes, instead of your technology."
And people put their phones away.
I was immediately enamored.
But the really amazing thing happened about halfway through the show.
Nicholas, the lead singer, had everyone who was seeing them for the first time raise their hands. He said that everyone else was their family. It was exactly the same thing - with slightly different words - Butch Walker said at his 2013 show in NYC. And I looked around, and suddenly those face-painted people from 15 to 35 (to 55) weren't just people. They were part of a tribe. I got it.
And then he said that this family is about loving caring for each other. Everyone watches out for the members of their tribe, regardless of how they might be different. He said it was a place where we could all be ourselves, and look stupid, and not care because we were here to enjoy life and be happy. So let's all put our arms in the air and do this weird thing together and look stupid and not care.
He told us to gather all the things that were making us upset, or sad, or stressed, or tired, or angry, etc etc etc - gather it, with our hands, into a ball, right in front of our hearts. Then he guided us as we took that ball, and we lifted it up, up, over our heads and let it go out into the sky. He said it was gone. He told us to keep our arms up so we could do this next thing together.
And then we all lifted a car.
(click that link to get a taste of the experience. They even have little cars!!)
It was a beautiful moment. It was transcendent. It was a message that I love and try to live by and constantly need help to remember. It was beautiful.
I danced. I jumped. I sang until my voice hurt and then I just kept singing because my heart wanted to sing.
The next day my body was sore and I loved everything about it.
In the days since, I haven't been able to stop listening. The next Butch show is in less than 2 weeks, and even so I keep having to go back to WALK THE MOON every now and then. I look up lyrics (which are now almost entirely committed to memory), I find interviews, I watch videos of live performances. I bathe in the lesson of getting out of my head and living life for real.
And with all of the listening, and the reading, and the watching, I learn more about the band and the music. With every day, it just gets better.
And it confirms what I thought that night, surrounded by people singing their hearts out, with their arms over their heads:
That event was not just a concert. It was a ministry to those of us whose brains won't turn off, who are constantly seeking things that will give them a break from thinking and a chance to feel. It seems to me that Nicholas Petricca is one of us, one of that group of people, and he's using music to stay focused on the things that really matter. He's writing about everything - about sex, and about emotion (usually at the same time! How novel! But more on that later....), and about pursuing your passion, and about ambition, and about taking the time to really do and feel all of those things and experience the joy of them.
And then he's giving that to the rest of us.
As the press for their upcoming show in Central Park says,
"WALK THE MOON’s live show is not a spectator sport. Instead, it’s an interactive celebration of life and love, a communal commitment to joy and living in the moment. Onstage, Petricca leads audiences in a mass exorcism of the things that bring them down, casting out the demons of doubt and insecurity with hands raised to the sky."
That is their ministry. That is their message.
Let go of the things that bring you down. Turn off the negative voices.
Just Shut Up And Dance.