The music crescendoed in a blast of guitar rifts and drum patterns, the air pulsing with pure adrenaline.
Someone a few feet to my left lit what I’m pretty sure was a joint.
I looked over at my best friend; she didn’t seem to be fazed in the slightest.
We had waited for months in anticipation to see a couple of our favorite indie bands live in concert, and now we were finally here. The show, held at one of Seattle’s largest arenas, was hosted by a local radio station and featured a long line up of indie rock groups.
As the second band’s set ended, another group, infamous for encouraging intense mosh pits, took the stage. The crowd somehow pressed in even closer. I inhaled a shaky breath and instantly regretted it. My vision instantly blurred, my eyes filling with tears as I nearly coughed up one of my lungs.
The arena roared in approval as the lights dimmed and the lead guitarist strummed the first chord.
There is no way I can stay in here, I realized.
I grabbed my friend’s forearm. I didn’t have to say anything; she must have seen the sheer panic beginning to form in my eyes.
Surrounded by pushy twenty-something men and women, escape seemed unlikely. After a few moments, I caught sight of a small gap between two people and bolted towards it, dragging my friend behind me, my fingers locked onto her wrist. We stepped on more than a few toes, and received plenty of glares, but eventually reached the outskirts of the chaos. The throng began to thin out, and finally we broke free from it completely.
As the chorus began, the mass of people surged forward towards the stage.
I hunched over slightly, placing my hands on my knees, gasping for air. After a few moments I straightened up, turning towards my friend. To my surprise, she was hardly winded, bouncing along to the music with everyone else, caught up in the excitement.
This is nuts, I thought.
Now that I had collected my bearings, I was able to fully take in my surroundings.
Hysterical laughter and vulgar language filled the air. Women in outfits that left little to the imagination stumbled past me in drunken bliss. Men in bizarre costumes danced wildly and without restraint, high as kites.
And to top it all off, the ever-present, repulsive stench of marijuana.
I looked down at my simple oversized sweater and jeans. Tattoo-less, piercing-less, and with no interest in doing drugs, I was definitely out of place. But somehow, surrounded by strangers, I still felt like I was a participant in the chaos, another face in the sea of partying young adults. And honestly, it felt good to be a part of something so uncontrolled and reckless.
I wasn’t completely naïve, I expected some partying behavior and drug use, but not to the extent of the disarray around me. But as crazy as the environment around me was, I had to admit that the energy in the room was exciting. Then the guilt hit me:
As a Christian, is it okay for me to enjoy myself here?
I wasn’t compromising any of my beliefs or participating in anything unethical, just enjoying great music in a not-so-great environment. Right? Or was I supporting this lifestyle just by being there?
My conscience wrestled with itself. On one hand, it wasn’t like I getting high or doing anything illegal. On the other, was this a God-glorifying situation? I had to admit that it wasn’t.
For the next few hours, I decided to quiet that small voice of guilt in my head and enjoy the concert from the back of the arena with my friend. I was already there, and I didn’t want to be a stick in the mud.
I left the venue exhausted and dehydrated, excitedly recounting the final performance with my friend. However, that small voice of guilt grabbed by attention again, and this time I couldn’t shake it off.
Would I attend another show like this? Honestly, I’m not sure, but probably not. Next time, I’ll put prayer and thought into it beforehand. Maybe I’ll try going to a concert of a different genre, something that doesn’t attract potheads.
Either way, my first secular concert experience is definitely something I’ll never forget.
Featured photo credit: http://images3.alphacoders.com