We stand on the backstage, staring at the ground throwing forced, jokes at each other, in the hope of relieving the tension. Deep down, we know what we are actually doing: getting lost in the hermetic labyrinth of our own minds and plunging into the band’s unconscious drive. It’s not something you speak about, although you know it’s happening. You know it’s happening when music makes sense, and it made a lot of sense to ourselves.
It was a night begging for me to die again. That’s what I feel when I’m on stage: an inner death. I wouldn’t do this if it wasn’t for the unique opportunity to die several times in a lifetime. It wasn’t the hedonistic lifestyle or the social rewards, those were the simple glamorous bonus. It was the chance to jump into that excruciating fire and see what happens on the other side, burning whatever was left of my otherwise decaying soul. Of course nobody knows this, at least on a conscious level, (as there’s always sanity questioning looks when someone stares too deep into one’s eyes) in between mundane chit chats or day-to-day laborious existence. You’re just an out-of-tune odd character, trying to get away with life. That’s what makes it so appealing: it burns, begs and roars out of yearning depths and comes crashing down from screaming stars, out of the people’s spotlight onto your own inner realm. And it’s a damn burden to carry it with you if not given proper freedom.
Tonight we have to opportunity to bring this further. This band with which we’ve been playing for gas money and three beers for each member every concert for 2 years now. We (almost) never complained, as we need this to survive on other levels of reality away from monetary reward, but 5000 euros and a tour around Europe wasn’t something to throw away. I never left my little village in the middle of the country, I only dreamt about what I saw in videos of my favorite bands so I don’t know what’s out there, but Rock music not only gave me the will to explore, but to also conquer it with sheer spiritual uglines.
Tonight we will prove how abominably ugly we are.
The previous band just finished their set, and are now leaving the stage, in their usual sweat ridden clothes. They throw a smug look at us. They know they’re good. Even though I don’t want to get in sketchy Hollywood-esque band competition drama, I can’t help but stare back. Their smugness is nothing compared to our intrinsic eccentricity. We know we have this in our favour. They look away.
Our name is announced.
Here we go.
As I walk towards the stage, I go through my usual mental ritual: touching every wound and allowing myself to get hurt by every suffocating trauma I ever spiralled into. The ecstatic sulphur has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is not a comfortable place. I start to feel the endless stream of screeching demonic creatures dancing and prowling around my gut, begging me to give their due voice, chanting my name in a malevolent choir. Tonight they’ll speak through me, and I will die for some moments, while they do it.
I will not be responsible for my actions when I get there, but responsibility has no place in a rock show either way.
We get on stage. There’s the first chord. Then the first beat.
Lawless darkness and terrifying light now exploding in stygian surreal visions that feel like coming from the void of humanity itself. The primordial source through which shamans travelled and where tribes first fell into their unearthly trance, unraveling around ourselves in psychotic bliss.
The fire hurts and I like it. I like it because I know, deep inside, that even if we lose this contest (or everything else, for that matter) I know I have something to die for. And there’s no better reward in life than knowing how to die.