“Why do I go to gigs?”
Entertainment? The people? Flex on the ‘gram? The bright lights, the music, the vibe?
What is it that draws people to gigs, more than say, sport?
You’ve got the drinks at the games, you’ve got people dancing and singing in their seats. Why then did the people of Victoria attend music venues many more times than sporting events last year?
Sport is entertaining and with summer coming, I’ll be watching the cricket. But sport is for the honour of the athlete, the honour of those in the field – you just bear witness to greatness.
But a gig… ah. A gig is different, isn’t it? You go to the show, you’re part of it. You are on the field, you are the field – you become a part of that magic moment of time that can never be repeated, all while you listen to the soundtrack of your life.
It’s the search for that vapourous harmony between the music, the lights, and life. It doesn’t happen every time, so you go to more gigs, and more, and then one unexpected day, for a single moment in time, your search pays off and you find… yourself. Right?
Melbourne’s The Forum was teeming, filled to every available nook and cranny when Charlie Collins took the stage. The room felt filled and warm. Fighting the last remnants of winter she wove warm, melodic vibes in a calm, captivating performance that will surely see Charlie filling even bigger rooms soon.
In the moments before Gang of Youths‘ set, the crowd was in a strange buzz of expectation and excitement, and when the lights dropped and the band walked in dark silence onto the stage, the crowd cheered, but with reserve.
People weren’t hollering and clamouring – they were there to listen, to see and take in the magic that set the band on a historic run of sold-out shows at the legendary Forum.
They began with an acoustic guitar, building into Fear And Trembling. There was no mosh, no hands in the air. Even when they played their flagship banger What Do I Do When The Fire Goes Out there was no distinct crowd dynamics like a normal gig – sure people danced, listened in rapture not missing a second, but still, not the usual crowd reactions.
As the gigantic, backlit sheet that filled the back of the stage came down to reveal an arsenal of lights for Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane, the band’s profound effect started to take hold – there was no clear mosh pit, no clear dance area. Every single person in that room was an independent dancefloor, every single person in perfect solitary harmony with the men on stage.
When frontman David Le’aupepe moved from guitar to piano for Go Farther In Lightness, every single couple around me clutched their favourite person, as did I. The invisible ties that bring together humanity had been woven and we were all caught in its beautiful, inescapable net.
Dave’s self-professed ‘shit banter’ between songs took a solemn note. I saw older couples wipe tears away and whisper comfort to one another as he recounted how a song was written about a friends kid who passed away. In the gaps in the song you could hear the ringing silence from the sold-out crowd. Not a word yelled or glass dropped.
The mood lifted as the band returned for The Heart Is A Muscle before a sexy, sultry rendition of Let Me Down Easy, Dave dancing like a drag queen across the stage, elaborate and scandalous.
After Magnolia he shared some wisdom in saying “All good things… good and bad, must come to an end.” He talked of love, of fear, of battling ‘the great human terror’ before finally, sinking into The Deepest Sighs, the Frankest Shadows before the lights cut.
Of course, they came back for an encore in the form of Say Yes To Life, but by then the damage had been done, no one in the crowd would ever be the same again.
That’s why we go to gigs.
To feel, to have our hearts broken, to love, to be connected. To feel the pull of those invisible cords through invisible chords to wake us up, to make us feel – not to distract us from the pain of the world around us but to wake up and deal with it.
Music, like life, is finite in nature, never to be repeated.
Unless you’ve got tickets to one of the other sold out shows, of course.