You are at a show. You know the show.
The show your parents warned you about,
that they feared would damage your psyche
and your ear drums.
Dozens of identical monitors,
stacked four or five high,
neatly promise sound’s rage beneath
the din of the crowd and the flowing muzak.
Men in black display metal demons and skulls
on large, ill-fitting hoodies and, beside them,
witches with inked pentagrammed arms cackle
in anarchic anticipation.
Shirtless bodies in wife beaters
push past you, not unkindly,
and flow into the pit below,
their triceps bursting from taught skin.
The lights dim.
Fingers tap at an unseen piano.
The crowd gasps and cheers and hollers.
Two demonic digits thrust upwards everywhere.
Red and green rays burst from the ceiling,
revealing three dark bearded figures,
their legs locked, stiff, defiant,
their arms hanging limply around two-ton guitars.
Booms burst forth from the stage,
washing over the crowd;
arms open in wide vees
and heads tilt back.
The figures’ fingers pluck and strum
at their instruments of doom
and you are carried, overcome, carried,
through a throng of trolls and demons.
The crowd is now a single mass,
flowing and jittering in the now too-small space,
and you are overcome with a desire to let loose
your own feverish scream.
So you do.
You might close your eyes, now,
tuck your legs into your knees,
and you let yourself be carried away
in a torrent of shoulders.
Before you, a large corpuscle of a man
bumps and rubs his rump against your hips
and his long matted hair whips and stings your eyes,
but you don’t mind.
To your right, another man, blonde,
wiry, angry, and shirtless,
sticks your ribs with his sharp corners,
and, in Swedish, tells you to fuck yourself.
He laughs and slaps your back with his clammy hands.
It’s all right.
To your left, a girl with metal ears
stands still and smiles at the sky,
and removes a small plastic container,
and blows bubbles over the heads of revelers.
The music’s ebb and flow continues
to wash over the turbulent lake
of bobbing heads and swiveling necks
as it conducts the chaotic movement.
Behind you, also bobbing her head,
is a small girl sitting atop her father’s shoulders,
large earmuffs covering her tender ears,
hardening herself for numb teenage years.
She sits suspended, as her reality,
above the rotting and rotted corpses
whose arms reach and grasp
at her delicate ankles.
Angry, pushing, pressing men in the pit,
punching and throwing themselves
against one another are all trying, grasping,
at that innocence long lost and irretrievable.
And you are all flocking, fucking, together,
sheep bleating and beating and baying at nothing in particular,
chasing an unseen shepherd to nowhere in particular,
screaming “fuck the system”, but it doesn’t matter.