Tender Violence


We were at the edge of the orange plastic fencing the old venue unfurls for the under-21 shows, and the tide of the mosh pit met the shore of our feet, the drifting particles of sobriety lapped, rolling and washing away from the human cyclone on the concrete floor of the hall.

“I just don’t understand mosh-pitting,” her roommate said, holding a pint glass of beer with an orange wedge floating at the top.

At first, neither did I. Not through any direct experience — which is what it really looked like was required to understand. We could stand on this side of the barrier, work our way up to the dividing wall and push a big, probably. And here it was, maybe, the whole of human existence at once —tender violence, a compassionate kind of anger as expression, the gyre like wobbling magical, chaotic bursts of the counter-clockwise inertia, the choices of engagement, observation, or confused ignorance at the border of disdain.  When just all were crashing into each other, knocking things down, pulling each other back up, embracing through the inspired chaos between songs, third-wave of punk energy swelling on the backbeat rhythm. The cover band played a soundtrack of the west coast, our late childhoods, and in front a small party rehearsing not any true aggression, but rather some consensual expression of dark energy, dancing like the constant atomic collisions deep in our hearts.


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