Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Mom and a Mosh Pit

So my son likes screamo music. Honestly, the first time I heard the term, I thought he'd made it up. Turns out, it is a current genre--a combination of emo pathos and a whole lot of unintelligible screaming. Some of his buddies have formed a screamo band called Amidst the Chaos and are quickly making a name for themselves in the youth culture of Missoula and our valley. Just a couple of weeks ago, they were the opening band of three at a concert. Last night, they were the headline act of a different three band night.

I took the boy and his buddy to the concert last night, and because Missoula is too far away to come back home, I decided to stay and check out the scene. I'd been to one of their very early gigs--back when they were just getting started--and Andy took Tano to one of their concerts a few weeks ago, but this was the first time I'd been to one of their real shows.

It's not exactly my style.

I liked me some crazy music back in the day, for sure, but the message in the songs was encouraging me to be counter-cultural in a good way. It was encouraging me to be a radically transformed follower of Jesus. True story.

NOTE: In my son's defense, this is only one of many musical styles that he likes. Most of the things he likes are things I can tolerate quite easily. Some of the music I actually like.

But this screamo stuff...I have a hard time with it, honestly. Tonight's concert was at a church youth center and the musicians that played claim Christianity, even making a brief statement endorsing a Christian belief system at one point in the concert, but when I ask Tano about the lyrics, he can't tell me much about them because he doesn't know any of them. He can't understand the screaming.


Is it just good, clean fun? I don't know. We're watching. We're attending the concerts and observing. We're asking the boy questions. We are cautious, but there are worse things he could be doing with his time.

What he loves most about these concerts is the mosh pit. Not familiar with mosh pits? They are the modern teen equivalent of the dance floor. But there is no dancing. The mosh pit is more like a pushing and shoving festival, full of teens amped up on adrenaline and caffeine who are looking to blow off a little steam.

It's a really difficult thing for a mom to watch, honestly, as it looks fairly violent. He assured me that most of the kids out there are really nice and will even help people up if they've been knocked to the ground, so they don't get trampled. I think his words were meant to put my mind at ease. But honestly, the kids are having a ton of fun and are all smiles for hours afterward. Plus, they're worn out after an hour of moshing and if you've ever raised a dog, you know: a tired puppy is a good puppy. Same goes for teenagers.

Observing the teenagers at the concert last night, I couldn't help but wonder what is really going on in their minds. The musicians were screaming and jumping and pounding on their instruments with such ferocity. Is their world really so frustrating that they need this outlet for their rage? Do they think they have no other way to make themselves heard? The kids in the mosh pit had so much energy, so much stamina, so much determination--impressive, really when you consider that teens of today are stereotyped as video game and cell phone addicts who don't actually accomplish anything. Do they feel so powerless and disconected that they have to use the intense physical contact of a mosh pit to feel like they've really impacted something, that they've really made a difference, a dent in this world? Are they really just desperate to have their actions count for something?

I wonder.

I am not fond of the music at these events, but instead of feeling repulsed by the scene last night, I found myself wanting to get to know the kids better. Are they really hurting so much as the music and moshing makes it seem? Probably not all of them, but some, yes. I wanted to make them cookies and pizza and gather them around my dining room table to just hang out and talk. I like teenagers--even moshing screamo teenagers. They don't scare me.

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36

But I was grateful that I'd remembered to bring the little orange foam earplugs.

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