This story originally appeared in The Source Magazine

I See a Sign

Bono said it best so many years ago when he said the immortal words, “all you need is a red guitar, three chords and the truth” There is something about music that can mean so much more then the simple spoken word.  And to hear that music performed live takes that communication to a whole new level.  Perhaps my mind has circled around this idea lately as I have seen dDub twice in so many Saturday nights perform in Queenstown.  When a band is on, when the changes are tight and they speak to you in a way where the line between the band and the audience becomes a blur, the experience changes from simply listening to music to something completely different.

Much to the collective enjoyment of everyone who shelled out for Jazz Night and those who packed into a sweaty Dux dance floor, dDub didn’t disappoint.  It can be said that every live act has a reach within the crowd.  By meaning that there is line within the audience that everyone within that reach is experiencing a different show then everyone beyond it.  Some times it has to do with volume or the nature of the crowd.  But more often then not it is a direct reflection on the band.  Some groups can pull an audience in and make you feel like they are playing just for you.  A good band can extend that circle maybe ten rows back, a great band fifteen and the amazing ones can bring everyone along, including the dish-pig out back.

There are moments in a great show where your heart beats to the rhythm of the kick drum.  The bass line kicks in and you can’t help but move your feet, then the guitar breathes to life.  Like an E-chord flavored bolt of lightning it goes through you like shock treatment.  You are the music.  You can’t tell where the band ends and you begin.  Then the words are taken from your mouth and the singer tells the world.  There is poetry to the world and a brotherhood amongst the seething mass of humanity that you belong.  A brotherhood of instant karma where you know that this is a moment of your life that you have waited for.

I have seen it before, in small venues where a band with a huge stage presence can get the place rocking.  I’ve seen the real pros do it too.  I was there when twenty thousand people exploded to sound of the opening notes of “Even Flow” in the hay day of Pearl Jam.  I sung with sixty thousand of my closest friends to “Where the Streets Have no Name” in a stadium made for football that U2 had made their own.  But there is something special to be in a little place where the band blows a hole in the back wall.

All too often in this world where the DJ has taken over from the live act we are content to dance the night away to the sound of a record spinning.  Now don’t get me wrong, a good DJ can rock a house and burst a dance floor.  But there is something intangible about a group of people all in sync making music, right there, right now, just for us.  There is that sense of danger that at any moment everything could change, they could change the song, they could fuck it up, they could play something new that nobody has ever heard before.  That intimacy, where everyone is within that moment, is the missing ingredient that makes a great show somehow more grand then the sum of all its parts.

This all brings me back to dDub.  There was electricity in the air at those gigs.  A feeling that we were all on the edge of something great.  We were seeing a band that was about to be everybody else’s favorite band.  You couldn’t help but move, and be moved.  They ruled the stage and for those few hours we felt like we were all living out the same life.  The crowd, the band, everyone linked by music that was flowing through us all.

Then almost as quick as it started, it was over.  The silence was painful and it was time to go home.  Still buzzing, every moment away from the show separates us a bit more.  We will have to be content with the residual buzz, the memories and the gentle hum in my ears until we gather again for the next one.  Where we will become one again.

Leave a Reply