Written by John Noggle
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done; especially if there’s skankin' in heaven. Amen. This blog tells a story about the author discovering the meaning of life at a ska concert and relays some enlightening show-going wisdom along the way.
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done; especially if there’s skankin' in heaven.
In the interest of professionalism, a full disclosure follows. No evidence has surfaced at the time of publishing linking Saint Peter to a rocksteady beat. For what it is worth, The Skatalites were always more of an Old Testament outfit. But essentially the author’s beliefs are his and his alone, and not a reflection of this fine publication.
Upstanding citizenry aside, the investigation progresses with but a minor setback. Rudie cannot - refuses to! - fail. And until such a time as he does, the author maintains an air of cautious optimism peppered with the scent Brixton gunpowder - ah, yes - the incense of wishful thinking. Point being that saying gates of a pearly constitution are unlikely to exist outside of a Hype Williams production is presumptuous. But to dismiss the possibility of a full brass band in the Afterlife Lounge three times a week (twice on Saturdays) is just as crass. So with the right amount of navel gazing, you too can conclude that ska is prominent in paradise.
At which point it can be stated that the author discovered the meaning of life at..some..ska concert...somewhere...about four and a half years ago. Maybe five. More on this matter soon.
In the mean time, perhaps some backwards reasoning is warranted. Fortunately this voodoo train of thought leads to a station where skulls glow with wisdom; is easier to spot than the girl falling down the stairs (knock on wood).
First, no two concerts are identical. Latent tribal tendencies dictate attire. Price of entry and show times are rarely fixed. Set durations vary; one man’s twenty minute grindcore headliner is another’s unrestrained, three-day steel-pedal jam. If anything can pass off as a constant, though, it is that concerts are musical performance art and, whether or not a plurality of Death Grips attendants agree, the intention is fun.
Of secondary importance - not unlike the epilogue to a prescription drug advertisement - are the concert’s side effects. Fold up that chair but restrain your inner Mingus. Outside of an amphitheater or audition room music is meant for more than the mere annals of ear canals. Sitting is alright. Standing during an assault of Invisible vibrations, all traveling discreetly through time and space, is much better. So at the risk of sounding on the cusp of fame, musical notes are meant to be felt, Cameron Crowe.
Much less than four to the floor has gotten an EDM fan to shuffle. Hip-hop, for the time being, moves from one street to the next under the power of milly rocking. On the other hand, the many iterations of slam dancing remain the property of rock. Still, a common thread is clear: people on music are prone to more than chemical inebriation. Surface senses are discarded. No world exists outside of that very room at that very time. A dance by any other name facilitates the fun and formulates nothing short of a trance. Remember, it took Grace Kelly more than a clever disguise for Roby to keep her Cat at the party.
Using the above rubric, ska can now be called the premier musical genre of the western world without hyperbole. Scientifically speaking, no greater artistic achievement of an aural variety has been created than the three fully formed crests of ska; from peak to trough. It is not, however, the horn riffs that elate checkered suspenders off the casual bystander’s pants. Chicken scratch guitar is a much more suitable guess, but circumstantial evidence at best. Rather, the tantamount moment in a ska concert is the seemingly anarchic movement of limbs. Skankin' thus frees dancers’ inhibitions and doubles the chance of catching an errant elbow in the cranial area; or, conversely, the indistinct pleasure in realizing that there is still hope of becoming a 90s Burton protagonist.
Similarly, though, the performance/participation only explains half of the aforementioned epiphany.
The night in question has already been well documented. A link will not be provided and as such few details will be provided here. Of much more pressing importance, though, is how the evening started in Tucson (or Phoenix) aiming for Phoenix (or Flagstaff). Either way the first lesson in life is that goals live distantly. Chase your passion. Much like a major American city, meeting aspirations halfway is rarely an option. Then there was the small matter of transportation. A personal motor vehicle of the author’s possession was non-existent. Fortunately a ride was ascertained - coincidentally by staff writer Alexander J Lopez. So the second lesson is: know when to ask for help, going about it alone is hard.
Moving on to larger matters than who provided the ride is what occurred during the ride. Unlike the J in Alex’s name, the journey is not mysterious. During roughly 105 minutes no more than 15 words were spoken. So, yes, the third lesson is none other than non-verbal communication is difficult in the dark. Or maybe that the only people worth being around find nothing awkward in silence; player’s choice. Arriving at the venue was a much more exciting proposition. That is, until the planned interview fell through. And, so ,fourth is of course that the journey of life is not in and of itself a pool party (but if it is, VIP access is essential). Luck aside, music was still due to take place. Much joy was had. Even the ending was memorable, especially when an errant elbow knocked the author’s glasses onto a crowded dance floor. Rest in peace kind frame.
The fifth lesson is critical: invest in contact lenses because focus is of the utmost essence to the previous four lessons.
Due to myopic vision, however, the tale does not yet conclude. The author was still in need of visual assistance to turn the pages. Sunglasses were fortunately brought on the trip. Dark lenses were now to be worn indoors and outdoors. During the day and the night all surroundings possessed a quaint sepia tone. And by the end of the week another concert appeared fuzzy and misshapen but unmistakably resembled live music.
Rather than don fedoras while skankin’ this audience wore earplugs and shook nervously. This night’s headliner was to be Melt Banana. Prior to the show’s start, however, a different phenomenon took place altogether. Rather than unguarded band members lurking amongst the fans there was a six-foot-tall, animated cat sneaking up behind folks. So, reacting in a completely natural way, the author proceeded to be photographed with said feline, sunglasses and all.
Hard as it might be for readers to believe, the week in question was pleasant. In spite of the various failures and mishaps, no lingering effects have been felt. All the discomfort can correctly be deemed to be temporary. Finally, the sixth lesson starts small: do not wade in the shallow pool of details. Take a plunge right into the deep end. Forget about ska, forget about music, forget about concerts. Forget about the process behind putting all these words on the screen. Enjoyable as it might be to splash through the specifics - developing logic and defining labels - it is the larger body of water that matters much more. Take a step back. Consider the innocuous events.
Ska might be coming out of the speakers, but who is doing the listening?