By Liaden Afteh
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Parked in a fast-food drive through, the synthetic keys of The Weeknd’s ‘Blinding Lights’ hummed through the car’s radio. My mind was taken back to early March – pre-Covid Life –when I covered ‘Blinding Lights’ at my last live show. I said to my dad, ‘It doesn’t feel like my gig was just this year.’
A poster was taped in the drive through window; ‘We will not serve you without a mask,’ it read.
‘Life is not going to go back to that kind of normal for a long, long time Liaden,’ my dad said.
So, here we are in our bubble of ‘Covid Normal’. But where does the world of music sit in this bubble?
I was motivated this year to make it my year in music. The year started with strings of gigs booked, frequent covers posted onto my Instagram and plans to record my first EP which I had already written so long ago. But then of course, there was a little hiccup in the form of a global pandemic that put everyone’s plans on halt.
In the atmosphere of global distress, my motivation had dipped. I instead decided to burrow myself into a hole, a Time Warp, if you like. In my Time Warp, I revisited the '90s emergence of alternative rock onto the global stage. I dug through the catalogues and watched every live recording of Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Nirvana concerts. I watched how the bodies in the crowd would move like a rippling wave. The more I watched, the more I missed the energy of a crowd. It isn’t an energy that belonged to any singular person in the room; not the singer, not the drummer, not the audience member. It’s a current that rips through every fibre, soaring through bodies. It is the energy of music and how it allows a platform from which to vault out of your skin, your life, and find ultimate release.
That is why, even in a time where the idea of clamouring in a hall of sweaty bodies to a guitar’s scream seems so distant, music still provides the same release. From the process of plucking away at a few strings until a melody is found, to slipping headphones over your ears before you sleep at night, the power of music is omniscient.
Although it might take a while until we get there again, the world of music will remain untouched. We may be many, many sleeps away until our next festival or concert. But the day will come again when we find ourselves under the blistering sun with our skin covered in a thin veil of dirt. That same dirt will be streaked through our hair like dry shampoo as we weave through the crowd of bodies to get closer to the stage. The sun will slowly drop down into the concaves of the earth and the music will begin to build with the crowd’s voices to an immeasurable roar.
There might be no motivation now. But music has not died. She is merely waiting for us to greet her again.