Can a band’s “why” be summed up in a social media post?
In the post-show glow of the Aretha Franklin Tribute, I was scanning Instagram and came across this post from @anna_lea_mo:
“I showed up last night to see friends and expected it to be pretty good.
It was awesome. BUT...
It was more than that. It was what I needed. Probably what we’ve all needed lately: different races, different backgrounds, different ages. A smattering of killer talents and rhythms, which turned into a rockin show. I have to wonder -
What would it look like if we stood intentionally side by side like this on the stages of our lives? - Not pretending we’re all the same or that life ain’t messy or side-stepping the hard conversations that make us uncomfortable.
Those are the awkwardness and substance of healing and a path forward.
That’s the show I’m looking for. Real lives, all different and messy, no pretending.
People, it’s time. we missin a good party.”
Jesus, @anna_lea_mo. You nailed it.
It seems our cultural climate is that of increasing anxiety and polarization. I’m as guilty as anyone for thoughts and actions like the following:
We can’t believe this person posted that viewpoint. Easy fix. Unfollow. Wall in the ol’ echo chamber. Talk at each other louder, maybe then they’ll hear the point. Hurl insults and labels over our respective walls. Abandon any attempt at consensus. If that person expresses XXX, well that person’s just a _____________. And there’s another election coming up…
I’m someone who struggles with confrontation and difficult conversations, much like a lot of us. Keep it moving. Keep the conversation light and easy. Deflect and defer until a later time that never comes.
Conversations can get messy. I’m trying to get better at the hard conversations, but The Shakedown is my expression, in my own weird, sweaty way of how I would want a good conversation to sound.
Even though this band isn’t going to write its own songs, at least give me the real sounds. Yeah it would be easier, but I don’t want a synthesizer to emulate the sound of a horn section. I want at least two horns. Don’t give me just the drums. I need to have the polyrhythms that come out of drums and percussion. We might not sing perfectly in tune every song, but a bunch of us are going to sing together with harmony as the goal and it’s going to be better than just one voice. I want too many people packed onto too small of a stage because it’s so much more fun with a bigger sound.
Our music is a group conversation, albeit an idealized one. I don’t care who you are. If you are kind, respectful and looking for fun, join us at our shows. Have as much as you want with this music, because we sure are. If you aren’t having fun, let us help you. Join us, if only for 90 minutes. I promise you’ll feel better than when you walked in the room.
We’re a glorified cover band of people who deeply give a shit about the music that we grew up loving. It’s a good night for me when I look out into the crowd and see at least two generations and more than one race dancing to the music. Eyes clinched shut, screaming the words. Lost in the sounds.
I struggle with my spirituality, but music is how I get closest to connecting to something outside myself. I struggle with hard conversations, but our music is how I would want a good dialogue to sound. I worry about how polarized we’re becoming as a society, but when this band steps on stage, I feel a lot closer to community. See you at the next party.