This world can make you jaded. It can alter your perception of things once thought to be beautiful, sometimes simply by repetition. Music is particularly susceptible to this kind of corruption, for more reasons than I can think to list. At a certain point in the life of a musician or a music lover you’ve gone to so many shows that the magic of music becomes something you take for granted, or worse, don’t even think to acknowledge anymore.
I remember going to see As I Lay Dying at The Backroom in Austin,TX with my best friend when we were 15 or 16. We bought our tickets weeks in advance, we saved up our money so we could buy some merchandise, and we talked about it non-stop until the day finally came. We got to the venue early, we stood in line, and we we got in we went to look at every piece of merch every band on the bill had to offer. We bought the shirts we wanted, and took all of the free stickers and flyers we could get our hands on. We watched the opening acts with open minds, hoping to discover a new favorite band, and we anxiously waited for the headliner. When AILD took the stage, the first note rang out and the entire crowd went insane. You could feel in that moment that something in the room had changed- we had gone from a few hundred kids standing around worrying about whether or not we looked cool, to a mass of people united in their love, passion, and respect for music. We didn’t understand that at the time, obviously- all we knew was that nothing in the world felt better than being in the middle of that crowd. By the end of the show, everyone in the room was covered in their own sweat or the sweat of the countless bodies that had collided into theirs, our ears were ringing, and we couldn’t wait to do it again. We were inspired.
This past week at Hoeks, I felt like that kid again, so excited about music that I couldn’t wait to get on stage and be a part of that magic. After the first couple of songs on Wednesday, I realized that the entire rest of the set, and Friday’s set, were going to be about having as much fun as we possibly could. It briefly upset me that it’s taken me 6 years of performing to get back to the same mentality I had when I was 16, but it seems like a necessary process. I’ve always had a certain amount of stage fright, particularly when I was 18 and I was just starting out as a vocalist with Prey for Sleep- we were a new band in the Austin metal scene, I’d only been on stage a handful of times before then, and I was one of the youngest metal vocalists in town. I was scared to death of most of the bands we played with, and I felt like I had something to prove. As a frontman, you have to be confident, and not having much confidence, I learned to just be as aggressive as I could on stage so I wouldn’t get fucked with or end up looking like a stupid kid.
But you know what? That time has passed. I’m comfortable with my place as a metal vocalist, I’m confident in my band, in myself, and in our music. I love our music with a passion, and I love this community that we’re so lucky to be a part of. And what I want from our career in music is to be a vessel for everyone in the audience to feel that same magic that I did when I was 16; that I do now. I want everyone who comes to a Prey for Sleep show to leave feeling like they can do anything. I want the feeling that surrounds our shows to be positive. The music is dark and aggressive, but to me, it’s necessary to capture those emotions and put them in a song, and master them in order to transcend them. It’s a choice between taking those bitter words and circular thoughts and turning them into something, or having them do the same to me. I resist.
The same evolution happens as a music fan, I think. When you’re 15 or 16 and you’re going to shows, you don’t have many reservations about enjoying the music however you want to enjoy it, whether that means moshing, dancing, head banging, singing along, or nodding your head to the beat. As you go to more and more shows, you start to feel the pressure of whatever scene you frequent weighing a little heavier. Maybe you don’t hardcore dance anymore because people started talking shit. Maybe there are 5 people standing around you that want to mosh, but no one is willing to take the first step and start a pit.
The choices of every individual at a show determine it’s outcome. This week, I felt so incredibly fortunate to be a part of a couple of shows where the unanimous decision was to have a great fucking time. I am so grateful to all of our friends and our fans for helping to create an atmosphere in which we could have a couple of the best shows we’ve ever played, or been a part of. Thank you for reminding me why I started playing music, and for helping me to remember the magic. The next time you’re at a show, do whatever makes you happy. Otherwise, there’s no point in going. It won’t be fun for the band, it won’t be fun for the fans, and it’ll just be a big waste of time. In the words of a recently adopted TXMC motto: DO EPIC SHIT. Make everything you do incredible. Be passionate. Have a great fucking time.
Prey for Sleep fucking loves you.