Was This Over Before It Ever Began?

[Feel Good Drag – Anberlin]

One last song title post, even though Autumn has hit. So, on March 1st, I went to see my first ever gig – Anberlin, supported by Bayside and The Starting Line.

I warn you now, very long post.

After my classes ended at quarter to five, I went to the tram stop to meet up with Julia, who had my ticket. At the same time, I was due to meet up with a friend of a friend’s, who up to that day I hadn’t met before. His name is Louis.

So we grabbed a quick bite before we headed to Bel’s apartment where Julia and I dropped off our stuff. We went back up to Billboard, where Susan had started lining up already. She had with her a whole bunch of food that she probably thought she could finish but then realized she had a limit to her appetite, so she tried to offload the food onto us.

Pearl arrived at around 7, just in time to get to know the people we were lining up with (friends of Julia’s). We went into Billboard as one of the first ones, got our stuff cloaked (and, I’ll say now with hindsight, I should not have kept my Metcard in my jeans pocket. Also, Metcards are damn durable.)

We’d gotten that amazing spot at the barriers, right near the center. At this point, standing around while more and more people crowded in behind us, Louis decided to tell me that 1) the waiting part takes ages (which it did, nearly 40 minutes), and 2) there is a chance I’d die (Julia also said she hoped I wouldn’t die). Now, seeing as this was my first gig ever, I had to take their warnings with a certain note of fear. Still, the atmosphere of the waiting crowd pretty much soon made me put aside those words.

At this point, two people began chatting to Louis, who was standing behind me. I didn’t catch the guy’s name, but the girl’s nickname was Ish, and they were both well lubricated with beer. There were general high-fives of excitement, and then the guy decided to pat my head, saying he liked my hair.

Bayside kicked the show off, and even though I didn’t really know any of their songs, their energy, and a guy standing two people behind me who knew every word, got me into the mood of the concert. There were some rocking of bodies, but in general the amount of violence was tolerable. Oh except for Pearl, who was being battered by Ish.

After they finished, the buzzing grew a bit louder, not only because I think more people liked TSL, but it was also one band closer to Anberlin.

At this point, Ish had managed to move her way to being right behind me, and so when TSL started, it became my turn to be battered by her. I supposed it was better to be battered by a drunk girl than to be beaten by an enthusiastic drunk guy. Anyway, TSL started playing Island, and Ish had been screaming for them to play it for two songs already, so you can imagine her enthusiasm and volume when they did start playing it. There were many amused glanced that Pearl and I shared at her excitement, but I rather enjoyed it (ignoring the bruises), because she made the whole event even more exciting, even when there wasn’t a song playing.

When The Best Of Me (admittedly, the only TSL song I knew that they played) began, so began my scream-along for the night.

The one thing I noticed about moshing (and, pressed against the barrier – ย actually, pressed against Julia but that’s a later story – I could only assume that what I experienced was moshing) was that everyone around you, stranger or not, suddenly share the same emotional flow. Everyone screamed the same line, everyone threw their arms up in the same beat, and, to some extent, everyone jumped in unison.

After TSL went offstage, the amount of time as Anberlin was being set up no longer became the placid waiting as it was for TSL – everyone began pushing forwards for the best view of the band they’d all come for. It was through some elbowing that I managed to keep my position behind Julia and next to Pearl.

Remember what I said about there being a later story? Well, having not experienced it before, it soon became clear to me that all rules about personal space and touching get trampled, as complete strangers pressed up against my back, and because of my limited upper body strength, I was subsequently pushed so far into Julia that we REALLY tested the boundaries of our friendship.

This is a photo of the setlist that Anberlin played yesterday (“King” was “We Owe It To Ourselves”). Standing right next to the speakers, it was a comment on the enthusiasm of the crowd that our collective screaming matched Stephen’s amplified vocals. It was so loud and so full of energy that he was momentarily taken aback at the microphone.

Bouncers threw water into the crowd, wetting the already sweat-soaked faces. Stephen passed by us many times, as did Deon.ย When the first few bars of Dismantle.Repair. began playing, I put aside the breathlessness I was feeling, and I fought off the tingling dizziness, and completely lost myself in the beat. It’s strange thinking back now of my conduct, but in that moment, with at least six other bodies occupying my personal bubble, and Julia’s hair in my mouth (yeah…), my crazed arm flailing and very-likely offkey screaming to lyrics that barely need any thinking to recall seemed like just the right thing to do. The crush of bodies turned from an unrelenting enemy into the friend that kept me upright.

At the end, they came back on for two more songs, Readyfuels and Never Take Friendship Personal. In a flash, the show was over. We retrieved our jackets, and sculled down blissfully cold water. I was tingling all over, half from exhaustion, half from the lack of oxygen, and half (my maths have taken a hit lately) from the overspill of excitement. I also noticed that my right side was completely soaked (as was my back, despite wearing two layers), and since I didn’t feel that sweaty, I realized that the wetness was due to the fat guy who’d fought his way to my right towards the end.

Louis and Pearl had to leave to take the train home – can’t express the gratitude I have for Bel for letting me crash at her place, because I was able to stay behind with Julia. We waited around for a while, and saw the band come out at the back. Through Julia’s persistence, we managed to get photos with three members of the band:

This is the one photo of the both of us with Deon, who, by that time, had become my favorite.

Deon actually stood with us and had a bit of a chat, and for a moment he managed to make me forget that he’s the guy who stood onstage in front of us, playing amazing bass. Stephen and Joey had gotten into the van already, so Julia only managed to get a quick signature.

This is sort of where the concert part of the blog post ends, the rest is just for my remembering pleasure.

After we left Billboard and made our way back to Swanston, we realized that we’d just missed all the trams for the night that go to Bel’s apartment. Ignoring the pain in my feet (Julia is a tank, she wasn’t in pain at all), we started on our leisurely stroll to Bel’s apartment (except at Julia’s walking speed which, in case you don’t know her, would make her future children speed walking champions). I tried to keep warm by singing the whole time, and Julia’s complete nonchalance to my musical attempts meant that I had to be the backup vocals too.

We got back to the apartment and, it being half past 1 in the morning, we cat-footed our way around the dark apartment, opting to shower the next day as to not wake Bel’s family. Julia took the mattress on the floor and I took the couch, which was leather. Here, I must recount the moment when, after I’d fallen asleep, the sweat on the back of my hand stuck to the leather and when I changed position, the ripping of my hand off the couch was possibly one of the more painful experiences in my life. How can something so little hurt so much? (That…is what she said.)

Bel left for uni early, so I was half awake at around the time the sun rose. Julia woke once or twice, each time rolling over to sleep more, but finally at around 8:30 we both gave up trying to continue sleeping and simply started the sluggish morning rituals.

After waiting a while for her phone to charge, and talking in semi-whispers in fear of waking Bel’s sister who might not have even been in, we went to DeGraves for brunch (oh, by the way, my sweat soaked Metcard – yes, ew – works, if not after a hesitant click from the turnstile). Dropping her off at Flinders Station so she could go to Uni, I made my way back to my own Uni, bumping into a newly made friend on the tram.

The rest of the day was spent in a sort of sore, tired stupor, and finishing class at 6:15 did not help.

So here’s the predictable I LOVE MUSIC CONCERTS conclusion. I’m not quite sure if I want my next time to have two drunks right next to me, and I have yet to experience a concert where I wasn’t fighting for breath every three seconds, but the thrill of having a stranger next to you hold you up while you’re both leaping to the music is something I want to experience again.

Also, massive thanks to Julia who stuck with me the whole time, Pearl for exchanging amused looks with me the whole time, and Louis who tried his utmost to shield me from the worst of the moshing.

Alex.

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