On What Grounds?
Art by Chris Shill
Words by Spencer Dickson
The man wearing combat boots, tight black cutoffs and nothing else threw back his head and raised both arms as if to say, “Here I am. Worship me.” And as he flounced around bobbing and preening, his self-belief only seemed to grow. He might as well have been in his living room for all the lack of self-consciousness he was showing.
Or was it a studied act of extreme self-consciousness? The fact that he was in front of 42,000 screaming people who seemed to be complying with his unspoken wish couldn’t be denied, even if his unstudied dancing style was enough to make the answer seem ambiguous at best.
“What are they screaming at?” I wondered. Strangely, the audience’s attitude seemed to be that of genuine adulation. Maybe they were caught up in the cause, I reasoned. A benefit concert for the downtrodden and dispossessed in faraway climes certainly seemed like cause to get excited, but something seemed...off.
As the benevolent front man led the throngs in a chorus of WHOA-OA-OAs and OOO-EEE-OOOs, confetti rained down, fireworks exploded and thousands of twinkling smartphones were raised. Bass rumbled. Drum machines clattered. Voices reached for the heavens, tunefulness be damned.
“How was the show?” a coworker asked me the next morning as I pulled my laptop out of its bag.
“I just couldn’t get on board with it.”
“How can you object to such a spectacle—such a wonderful cause?” she replied, taken aback.
“On musical grounds,” I said, slipping my headphones on and settling in.