ASSORTED DECLARATIONS BY STAFF WRITER TOM GRAHAM
I’ve been writing quite a bit about festivals lately. I spoke to some great musicians regarding The Scranton Jazz Festival, some busy blasts-from-the-past rockers for The Mohegan Sun SummerFest: ’80s Mega Mix, metal masters for the Mayhem festival and some soulful Blues men and women from Briggs Farm. This weekend’s arrival of The Allman Brothers Band’s Peach Music Festival gave me the opportunity to reach out to some treasured national acts that will be coming to The 570 this weekend for an extended stay on Montage Mountain. As excited as I was to cover this event, I was even more excited to feature some acts whose growth I have personally witnessed in the past several years in northeastern Pennsylvania (Cabinet, MiZ, Railroad Earth), and it filled me with a deep joy knowing that these artists and their hard work are being recognized on a larger scale.
There is nothing like a big stage. There is nothing like being in the company of thousands of people from all walks of life and all ages joined together to partake in the power of music.
For me there is nothing like the memory of my first and only Lollapalooza. I simply wanted to go and see the hot-off-the-press grunge packages of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, but in the end, those acts were only a fraction of the experience. The day was memorable because it was filled with things I never could have imagined. I wasn’t expecting the performance by The Jim Rose Side Circus, where I witnessed the Amazing Mr. Lifto attach thick chains to his pierced nipples and lift a cinder block two feet from the stage while the crowd grimaced. I remember seeing The Jesus and Mary Chain and thinking that they were just so damn slick. They looked extremely bored, almost as if they were playing facing a brick wall. Somehow, I found it was surreal and I couldn’t believe a band like that was playing in our area. After swearing along with every curse word in the book from Ice Cube, it was almost time for the headliners, The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Then I noticed I had been separated from my group of friends. And it was getting dark. I was a whitecap in a sea of complete strangers and it was about to get even weirder. To my surprise, a band I had never heard of called Ministry was about to take the stage as dusk blanketed the mountain.
It was at that moment I, a red-haired freckle-faced teenager from the country, was swept away by a snarling, unforgiving pit of moshing and medieval movement. Bodies were being tossed around with disregard and greeted by elbows, blood and gallons upon gallons of sweat. While the industrial thrash metal men of Ministry delivered their musical sermon on stage, I remember thinking that I wasn’t going to live through their set. I would never see my friends and family or my cat, Fluffy Graham, again.
But I survived. And after 45 minutes in the pit with Ministry blasting out track after track, Lollapalooza was over for me. But I’m writing about it today because that’s what music can do; make long lasting memories. No matter how big or small or smelly or bloody.
Here’s what’s in my headphones this week: Bruce Springsteen Nebraska (Columbia) 1982
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