So first I should come clean, before this I had never been to a rock concert.

It isn’t that I don’t like rock music – , though I’m more of an a fan of alternative rock fan than the classic but the genre certainly isn’t lost on me. It’s just when it came to live performances, I mostly stuck with hip hop.  With this I had the opportunity to share the experience of a black dude in a sweater surrounded by an orgy of sweat lined bodies in a sea of sounds like fire. This is the outside in.

The opener was a band called the Symposium or something like that, couldn’t hear their name over the noise of the metro Metro’s sound systems, but they had a tight garage band feel that was fashioned like a fine razor to fit the larger concert feel.  One thing that was apparent was how much longer rock performance transitions were compared to other types of concerts. Usually rap or pop concerts just need a couple mic checks and time for performers to get ready, but for a rock concert, entire bands need to do sound check. That The addition of multiple instruments and mics makes for notable dead space transitions. It almost felt like there should be a comedian or something to keep the vibe going while the sound check went on. Don’t get me wrong the Mmetro guys were snappy, but if the last song from the act wasn’t an absolute rocker, it felt like waiting for the second coming. Fortunately, there were good friends and some cool people to talk to while the next act prepared.

The next band were the Walters, and this is where I was really blown away. It took a while for me to register that the Walters were a headliner by themselves, so having them and the Orwells in the same concert made for a hell of a show. Now you’ll have to forgive me because I don’t know any names, but the lead singer for the Walters was an absolute maniac in the best possible way. Racing across the stage and belting at the top of his lungs, the energy he put out was an excellent complement to the cooler tones of his lead guitar and other vocalist. This energy was no cop-out either, as soon as you heard the Walters you immediately recognized the difference in skill between them and the openers. The openers were good but they were just not at the same level.  Hearing the Walters really took me from that garage band feel to almost understanding the mass appeal of the genre.

If the lead of the Walters was a maniac, the Orwells’ lead was a Phenom. The way that people talk about Freddie Mercury in a sense reminded me of the kind of charisma this guy brought to the stage, but with a fresh feeling that felt appropriate for the modern day. In a way, it’s almost inappropriate for me to talk about how good the performance was for the Orwells. I usually don’t take pictures or videos in order myself to take in the whole experience, and to spill the beans on such a performance seems almost sacrilegious. There were a few technical issues on the venue’s end but it was a paper cut on the giant of a performance that night. Like the difference from the opener to the Walters, you could tell the guitar and bassist of the Orwells were circling the fucking galaxy compared to the Walters skill. Every song a fiery rhythm of rock that the band poured gasoline on and threw in the fucking Hindenburg.

And the crowd practically fed off it.

Never having joined in a ‘mosh’ it was a really wired feeling. At first, it’s fun and kind of exciting, despite the heat and sweating bodies. Then you start to realize you haven’t even heard the last 2 songs, and nobody in this mosh really cares either way. The Orwells have the skill and charisma to start a Baltimore riot, and I got a taste at the Mmetro. I can’t say I was a fan, as I liked the Orwells live a lot and wanted the music more than a glorified brawl, but I could see the appeal. Drugs and alcohol are the companion of choice for these adrenaline-fueled mobs.

Overall, my first rock concert was a great show. The people, the music, the entire experience was like being dipped in a lake of fire and coming out renewed in a bath of music. The one difference I found of a rock concert versus rap or anything else was a kind of wild energy that was pushed hard by the band and the crowd. Rap concerts have this tendency of making things feel ‘big’, with larger than life sound and personalities, and while the personality was there, the presence of live music and the animalistic reaction of the crowd grounded the experience to something that didn’t feel grandiose, but like a wildfire kept just under control enough not to tear the building down. If for anything else, I would go to another Orwells’s or any other rock concert just for that.

Oh, and never bring a bag or coat to a concert. Freeze if you need to but trust me you are better off.

– TJ Ayodele

Photo by James Richards IV