Editor’s note: I wrote this in either March or April of 2019, I reckon, and recently found it languishing in my drafts. Still liked it, so here you go.
Jon and I did a new open mic on Friday. On the one hand, it was the most people we’ve ever played in front of. On the other hand, they were mostly all there to drink beer and watch basketball.
We’re very … evaluative. I hesitate to say critical, as that has a negative connotation. But something I really enjoy about playing music with Jon is that he seems even more game than I am for post-mortems, for dissecting how it went, and for listening back to recordings of our sets.
The featured performer, Ethan, was very friendly and professional and worked the room, greeting everyone he could, and I took the opportunity to ask how our mix was. He thought our guitars blended well together but my vocals seemed soft. Great note, probably true. The funny thing was I felt like I was really belting it.
I’m forgetting what the specific segue was, now, but we got to talking about how there are some things, especially with performing, that you just can’t do halfway. You’re either fully in or you’re not actually doing it at all. Having just been at a punk show, he compared it to a mosh pit. I love that so much. You can’t be halfway in a mosh pit.
You can be on the edges, certainly — I often use my low center of gravity and deceptive mass to play defense for people who definitely do NOT want to be in the pit — but mostly, if you’re in the pit, you’re in the pit. You’ve got to keep lifting your feet, you’ve got to keep your arms up, you’ve got to move with the crowd. You’ll get knocked around, for sure, but that’s the point. The pit is more fun when you’re really in it. If you’re surrounded by a mosh pit but have decided not to participate, you are going to have a really bad time because it does not work that way. You’ll get knocked on your ass. Not out of malice; it’s just physics.
So this is a useful new thought technology for me now. Mosh pit. You’re in or you’re out. For some things halfway doesn’t work.