By Pia Cabanela
I have been writing professionally for 14 years now and music has been a tool at times to surpass deadlines when brain farts or to sound more intellectual, writers’ block, gets the better of you, just as I struggled to compose this article. Luckily, my membranes swayed to Swedish band’s Sigur Ros to gather my thoughts.
To quote Marilyn Manson, “Music is the strongest form of magic.” It is a very profound description as to how music is perceived and festivals become a welcoming floodgate for one to experience just that.
My first music festival here in the US is the F*ck Yeah Festival held at the Los Angeles Sports Arena last August 23 and 24. It was a two-day event featuring sixty bands playing at four stages. From the young to old, the odd and eclectic, the strange and the normal were there, wide-eyed and gleaming with excitement. From afternoon to midnight, my friends and I clicked our heels from one stage to another.
I didn’t want to have any expectations for my first. I wanted it to be a cultural awakening I have longed for…that magical interjection from live music every living person should experience when you close your eyes to let the music fill the air you breath that gives you goose bumps. I was only sure of two things I needed to do: wear comfortable shoes and hydrate.
Walking to hear our first choice of band, we passed the stage where rap music was blasting. I must admit it is not my cup of tea, but to my surprise, I was not easily flummoxed as I always am when I hear it someplace else – like in somebody else’s car on the freeway. That day, I was flying high as a kite with my festive spirit in tow, in awe of people’s ability to harmoniously come as one for a common passion.
When the bands I favored played, my friends and I were at the mosh pit. I was oblivious to the sweat or the heaves of men next to me, I was in my own bubble, raising my hands up high and screaming like a hyena. Standing elbow to elbow next to strangers, you’ll be compelled to introduce yourself, that feeling that you just shared an intimate moment with them. I don’t even know why I was jumping to songs I am hearing for the first time, but the crowd’s energy will ignite you to do so.
These events bring the rocker, dancer, and lovers in us. The electrifying sense of leela. Plus, it gives you comical and memorable things people say. Now, I am no way promoting, but in one hilarious moment there was these four older men next to me smoking weed, a young man approached them who obviously knows them. He asked something which I couldn’t hear but one of the father’s retort was side-splitting. He goes, “Yes, my son lets me smoke pot, so get over it and let me enjoy Built to Spill.” Vulgar to some maybe, but to me it was a clear indication what these festivals are for. I realized people don’t come here to just hear music, they came to bond through it. To somehow close the gap of indifferences amongst generations, at least for two days. And hurray to these bands who make the stagnant days of our lives bearable.
May it have been Haim, Phoenix, the Strokes or Chet Faker who moved you that day, but yes, it’s not cliché to call it magic. I bought a ticket to listen to seven bands and closed the experience loving six more.