I grew up in a church that valued praise through song. It was a beautiful thing. The church had many flaws, especially the people in it. Growing up in a strict fundamentalist church was not very fun at all. But the music was something that I remember very fondly. When the “glory of the Lord” would descend upon us, the air would be electrified. The saints would pour out their emotions through song. Their eyes watery, their bodies electrified, rocking with spirit. They would take off in spontaneous running around the church pew. Pour their hearts out at the altar. They would break into spontaneous hugging and handshaking. It was as if He really did walk among us. Growing older and older, the church seems to have lost much of this fervor.
Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to listen to any other music. We would have to sneak away to our cousin’s room when we would visit family. At a young age, we were initiated into the dark art of Rock and Roll. Metallica, Megadeth, Tool, System of a Down, Pink Floyd, Rage Against the Machine. Strange names to music, unlike anything we had heard before. The music was forbidden fruit, and we devoured hungrily, trying to satiate what it is we couldn’t name—the act of listening to it, itself an act of rebellion.
I remember my first live music concert.
Syncopated tunes electrified the air the crowd pushed towards the front. I realized why my cousin wanted to sit by the edge; we were right in front of that lawn at the very edge on top of the seats. I had only heard one song by The Mars Volta, and their music and showmanship were mind-blowing. Omar wailed away on the guitar, jumping on different instruments at times, forcing our bodies to move and Cedric wailed his distinct siren voice drawing us further in. They played for an hour straight.
When the lights were completely turned off, and System of A Down took the stage, I felt a hand pull me back. I was angry; I couldn’t believe my cousin was pulling me away from the prime real estate we had staked out for what seemed like hours. A violent body in motion immediately filled the space as we stepped back. On the outskirts of it, the pit boiled for over an hour. I was one person before that night and another afterward.