An ode to live music.
Like a bully on a mission, COVID-19 barged its way into our lives this year, stole our pocket money, and made us scared of the world and of each other. It forced us to make significant changes to the way we operate on a daily basis and, as a result, the constant and sometimes even tedious thrum of cosmopolitan life began to slow right down.
There hasn’t been a single force in my lifetime as powerful in its ability to compel behavioural change in society in the same way that COVID-19 has done. Everything is different. And while these changes have been necessary, nay, essential, there are remnants of pre-COVID life that I have particularly missed, one being the pulsing live music scene of Melbourne.
I miss everything about it, even the things I used to hate about it. I suppose that’s the beauty of appreciation through the experienced lens of hindsight and deprivation.
I miss going to dark, dingy venues and stepping onto a floor that’s sticky with spilled beer and fizzy drinks. I miss the mounting anticipation and the electric buzz that fills a room as an audience waits for the lights to dim and the band to start playing.
I miss singing along to every line of my favourite songs and cheering so loudly at the end that my voice becomes hoarse and my throat hurts. I miss yelling out song requests and I miss hearing drunken idiots yell out nonsensical words that no one, including the band, can understand.
I miss all the perfect imperfections that a live show brings, from bung notes, to forgotten lyrics, and ringing speakers.
I even miss arching my neck and trying my hardest to catch a glimpse of the stage from my position behind what always seems to be a collection of the tallest people I’ve ever seen. And I miss wondering how it is that these tall people all wind up bunched together front and centre at almost every gig I have ever attended.
I miss bumping into strangers as we all dance with a kind of frenetic freedom that only a night of live music can elicit. I miss making new friends through this shared experience and moment in time. I miss wide grins and elated faces; random high fives and sweaty, humid air.
I definitely miss the heightened feeling of connectivity between people that live music promotes and invokes. It is real.
The live music scene is so much a part of Melbourne that without it, the entire city’s rhythm is disturbed and its vitality sapped. We are the creative state and we have a population that craves the output of our artists. With every threatened or actual live music venue closure, the hole in Melbourne’s bright teeming heart of creativity widens.
My only hope is that the heart of Melbourne finds a way to survive this trial and that on the other side, I get to party with some new friends through our shared love of music.
This article was first published in Beat Magazine