On May 22, the Ariana Grande show at Manchester Arena was bombed. As of May 23, the fatality count was capped at 22. The ages and genders of the victims fall irrelevant in the context, but the fact that they were young females only makes things personal. Ultimately, the point is that 22 lives were taken in a safe place that provides fans with validation, free from judgement or the pressure to be anything besides exactly who they are.
The lives of 22 music enthusiasts and participants were taken during a formative experience that only live music can provide. Concerts can serve as the only place that some of us feel like we belong, and for those in Manchester, that experience was sabotaged by a senseless act of violence. Physically, a sea and a half divides us and this venue. But for me, tragedies like these hit closer to home than most things. I will never forget, or forgive, the feeling that the 2015 massacre at the Eagles Of Death Metal Show in France gave me.
And May 22, the unbreakable live music community was once again injected with fear. I know better than to read the Facebook comment threads, for any given online article. But I’ve never been brought to tears because of one, for better and for worse. Few comments alluded to the real tragedy being that the attendees were at an Ariana Grande concert. “Humor is a coping mechanism,” seemed to be the default response to those that spoke against these “jokes.”
I have a hard time finding any semblance of humor in the mocking of the passions of others, in the face of tragedy or otherwise. I’ve missed out on more than just tour dates because of another’s judgement of my music tastes.
My favorite band is My Chemical Romance, so I feel like I’m something of an authority on being humiliated for the things I love.
I have no qualms in saying that the opinions being thrown around of the validity of Grande’s music do not matter. Any negative or spite-based opinions on what someone else considers important, influential or even just “catchy” never mattered. Think of the music that influenced you, and the experiences you had with it. Now imagine having those feelings, experiences and moments of escape taken away from you.
I have yet to find a home like the one I’ve found in the live music scene. But for as much as music has done for me, the small acts of my financial and emotional devotion are actually the least I can do.
Concerts are not about paying money to stand around and watch a bunch of creative doofuses sing songs. Concerts are about singing, screaming those songs right back, and showing those doofuses that they matter. Concerts are about the bonds formed under the shade of the venue’s marquee in the middle of a Wednesday. Concerts are about the bum rush to the barricade, the scramble for medium sized t-shirts at the merch table, and the sweat, the tears, and for some ungodly reason, the blood of the fans. Concerts do not start when the music does, or end when the lights go down.
The Zippo flames of the live music scene may flicker, but they will never be extinguished.