The months and weeks and days and hours all got so away from me. So, I apologize for this being so late. The morning of March 5th I woke up and felt a familiar pit in my stomach I feel each day of a concert. It’s a pit that’s half excitement and half despair. I’ve written for several publications throughout the years but the overwhelming feeling I’ll be caught out as someone who doesn’t know what he’s doing. Someone who’s been let into a few too many concerts and festivals as a member of the press because someone’s too busy to really check into who I really am. This feeling always consumes me and was actually one of the biggest stresses I felt as an adult.
Cut to March 12th. We saw the world’s economy crash. Myself thinking this is no big deal and continued on. The economy bounces back, this happens. It’s probably some paranoia. People panicking over something that’s not even serious. This is actually how I thought. Reports would eventually call it denial and it was common. A bit of guilt remains for thinking that way.
I got into the show though. I saw people I knew. We hugged. It had been way too long. After the show began, I knew I had to make the time to make a three hour trek from Kansas City back to Wichita, I was tired and I wasn’t sure this was worth it. I met people as obsessed with Cult Of Luna as I am. I went outside for a breath of fresh air. At that point in the evening I had been awake for fourteen hours. Had drank nearly three pots of coffee. Dehydration and a fear of falling asleep on my drive back home consumed me. Maybe coming up was a mistake. A girl who was sharing a cigarette with her boyfriend screamed at me because we were wearing the same Electric Wizard shirt with Legalize Drugs And Murder adorned the back. We all decided we were friends because of the matching shirts.
State after state announces quarantine. Stay at home orders. Always sure to make a firm point that this is not the same as a lockdown. It’s for the best, it really is. Friends in states I’ve never been to, who I’ve never seen face to face but still have loads to talk about upload pictures of half smiles showing off shirts, vinyl, memorabilia of every sense and wondering why things took such importance. Rules of staying six feet apart. Groups less than 50. Then 10. Then 6.
Emma Ruth Rundle performs a stripped down show. Alone on stage with a guitar and interacting with people in the audience. Someone passed out from presumably being too excited. Emma wishes them well and jokes her set was too boring to stay awake to. Everyone laughs. Her entire performance was sincere and lovingly crafted. An amount of time passed and Cult Of Luna hit the stage. The night’s big event had finally happened.
Videos of police attacking people walking the streets emerged. Violations to Stay At Home or Lockdown orders were flooding news stories. Stores ran out. Fights broke out. People put all their attention into a cure from a vaccine, a built-up immunity, faith that God would cure us, faith that God was doing this to save us. Rapture. Cleansing. Vessel of the Reaper? Pollution is down with thousands of lives dead and gone forever. Is this a silver lining? What even are we anymore?
A mirage of smiles, frantic movements, panicked faces, laughter, smells of weed people snuck in who are more level handed than I could ever be. I’ve moshed before, many times actually. I wondered if that’s what would be next. I’ve told people about moshing at metal shows. I’ve broken ribs, a wrist, cracked my head open. And it’s always been worth it. and their look of fear washes away when I compare it to something they’ve done I’m way too chicken to try. Riding a motorcycle, a horse, a rollercoaster. Whatever. We all enjoy something that can easily lead to something that would deform us so badly our family wouldn’t recognize us. Maybe that’s what we enjoy about it.
It’s March 20th. I cannot sleep. I’m checking in every hour on the hour for when we’ll be quarantined. I don’t know if I’m doing it because I feel like if I look away, something more catastrophic will happen. That seemed to be the theme of March that year. Everyday I wake up something has changed making the thoughts I’m used to ever further away.
Each song flows perfectly. Cult Of Luna created something so intricate it sounds like a ballet looks. Each member draining themselves into their instrument. They were squeezing all their beings into every precious second. Distortion and precision. Out of curiosity I looked at the enraptured audience I was lucky enough to be a part of. Each of our faces was in total awe.
Nearly a million people are now infected. Waiting outside of stores to enter. No one wanting to talk about it. But it’s the only thing that’s happening. Today is March 31st. China is doing better. And collectively we all want life normal again. We all just want to feel more stable.
The thought of doing everything when all of this started was daunting but worth it. I ended up being lucky enough to meet the band. They couldn’t have been more friendly. The lead singer, Johannes Persson, gave me a hug and apologized for being so sweaty. You know as well as I know I couldn’t have cared less about that.
Thank you, Cult Of Luna.
I suppose this is life now. For now. The collective panic attack that March of 2020 gave all of us from beginning to end. I’m not going to give projections about what or when that will be because it would be an insult to folks who know what they’re talking about when it comes to pandemics.
When you’re pushing against thousands of people to reach front and center at a show or when you’re pushing to make tomorrow possible, everyone is equal. And any past grievance seems petty. Because nothing matters but the moment at hand. I stared at this for over a year searching for the perfect date to summit it. With things reopening and returning to a normal that hasn’t set in yet, now seemed as good a time as any.
Scribed by: Richard Murray
Photos by: Moffy Messman