Rock is all in your head

I am having withdrawal syndromes from really, really badly wanting to attend a massive rock concert, but not having any taking place near where I am.

During the weeks leading up to finals week, my roommate and I would both be at our desks, with our books and laptops in front of us, completely meaning to do homework. Neither of us are talking, both just really absorbed by our work; then my roommate would turn around, look at my laptop screen, see my headphones, and go, “Chooi Yen! Do your work!

Because I would often just end up watching concert videos on YouTube. One video after another. Can’t stop. No control. Must… have… more.

I swear, I am in dire, DIRE need of some rock-out time.

The other day, it so happened that I was the only person in my apartment (mates have gone out for a movie), and everyone else in my dorm had gone home for winter break.

I was alone. I saw it as the rare golden opportunity to enjoy proper music the way it should be enjoyed.

On some good speakers. Booster. Audio levels turned up.

It was an awesome night.

I miss that — letting out and singing along to some good rock songs. Dancing. Jumping. Air guitars. Headbanging. All that stuff I used to do in my room back when I was 15 and weren’t worried about playing music too loudly.

I’d been very restrained here. During the semester, I never played anything too loud for fear of disturbing my neighbors. I’d go and borrow some real quality headphones from the library, and listen to my music loudly through those. I’d sing along, but it’s not the same. I’m always singing, everyone in my apartment and their mothers hear me sing, especially in the showers (literally, their mothers heard me when they came to visit). I’d bring my laptop in to the bathroom with me, put them on the counter of the sink area (don’t worry, it’s safe), hop into the shower, and sing my heart out. But it’s not the same. The music is never loud enough, you’re not feeling that ooomph.

So that one awesome night, when I was alone, I played music till the walls vibrated.

I miss good, simple, powerful rock songs.

People in my apartment, I love them, but I hate their music tastes. They play a lot of club hits, a lot of hip-hop, Top 40’s stuff. LMFAO, Lil’ Wayne. I can listen to those when I’m club-dancing, but seriously, every now and then I crave some good solid rock meat-and-potato songs to wash out all that clubbing chips-and-candy junk from my system.

Radiohead has been my go-to band when I need to fall back on some quality music, but the problem is they are so… perfect. Like someone went over their songs and took out all the imperfections. They’re intense, but quietly so — kind of like a bubbling pot of something awesome cooking over the fire, hitting boiling point.

Lately I’ve been rediscovering louder things — some all-out, solid, good ol’ rock. No digital. No computerized anything. No perfection. Just a lot of rawness, imperfections. Distortions. A lot of unadulterated guitar. Banging the shit out of the drums. Solid loud yelling till your neck veins bulge. None of that quiet bubbling stuff. Rather, something so hot that it shoots fireworks, if you will. Something only a rock concert can achieve.

Foo Fighters’ latest album played live is so fucking awesome, it fits the bill to a T. Anything played live by the Foo Fighters is awesome.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been listening to a whole lot of electronic stuff, and a ton more of folky things. I especially listen to a lot of folk rock. My Top 25 Most Played playlist is topped by Radiohead, Simon & Garfunkel, Moby, Imogen Heap and Damien Rice, in that order. Basically, electronic, folk, electronic, electronic, folk.

Back when I was 14-ish, I had a lot of the compulsory teenager staple albums like Sum 41 and Linkin Park, but I used to listen to a lot of CDs I’d burned of songs that were some variation of grunge, metal, and punk. Adema, NOFX, Chevelle. At one point venturing into Slipknot. And at 15, I discovered Marilyn Manson, and I fell in love with his music. People give him a lot of shit, some friends here make fun of me for having liked him, but honestly though, if you look past his costumes and theatrics, dude’s older albums are quality music.

I think, at the end of the day, I’m still that 15-year-old kid who locks herself in the room and puts music on at full volume; who plays air drums and headbangs and jumps around until she runs out of breath.

In recent years, if you walked past my room here, you’re 10 times more likely to hear me play folk oldies like Bob Dylan or Simon & Garfunkel, than anything hard rockish.

A few weeks ago, my iTunes, which was set on shuffle, started playing a Taproot song. Taproot is grungy and metallish, I was into them 8 years ago. I have moved on since. Ordinarily, I would skip it, move on to the next song. But that day, I was busy typing an email or something, and so I listened to the song in its entirety. It got me all excited about that kind of thing again, got me really… energized? And since then, I’d been getting back into that stuff I used to like a long time ago.

That night that I talked about, when I was jumping around alone in the apartment, making that vein in my throat throb along to every lyric that I yell out, I felt like the 15-year-old me again. Relishing my aloneness, taking comfort in knowing that I can go all out, and no one is there to see my craziness. No embarrassment.

Good songs do that to you — you can’t sit still. You have to sing along, move your head, drum your fingers.

I need to go to a rock concert again.

The last one I went to was a Sum 41 concert in Paris this past February, and it was ridiculous. They’re the kind of band that appeals to 16-year-olds, and that was how old I was when I liked them a lot. I went to the concert for old times’ sake, but I honestly felt like I was part of the oldest 10% of the crowd. Everyone else seemed to be 16-year-olds. Probably just discovering Sum 41 music through their newer albums. Fucking annoying little shits who were more occupied with taking videos on their damn camera phones and showing aggressiveness than in actually enjoying the music.

It was so ridiculous, it was the first time that I’ve ever felt scared for my life during a concert. At one point, I was crushed from both sides so badly that I couldn’t breath, and started panicking. I almost lost my shoe, and more worryingly, my balance. I ended up yelling at my friend to get out of there and pushed our way to the sides. Only time in my life I’ve ever pushed my way away from the stage. Within the first 10 minutes of the show, too. Ridiculously aggressive moshing in a Sum 41 concert? A pop-rock group? Are you kidding me? And there were really young kids in the crowd, probably about 11 or 12, who were being unwillingly pushed around. Any person with half a brain would know how dangerous it is to be moshing against tiny kids like that.

(This always reminds me of Chevelle’s song, Forfeit, mocking the aggressiveness of concert goers. It goes, “I want to fight, I want to fight, I want to prove I’m right.” Idiot moshers need to calm down.)

But it’s all well, at least I got to see play live. Now I can put them aside and move on. I haven’t even bothered listening to their newest album.

That is not the point. The point is, I think I was getting more concert opportunities in Malaysia than in freaking Iowa. How is this so?!

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