“It’s easier to run a Tough Mudder than it is to order a beer these days. At least after you finish the race, you get a free pint when you cross the line.” QR codes scanned, app downloaded. Account made. Bank details freely given away. Profile picture uploaded. “What else are they gonna want? A dick pic?” Pints ordered, then drunk – a semblance of normality had returned to the streets of north London.
Tonight, we were back in the old church, masked and distanced. The smoke rolling off stage smelled the same as it had all those months ago. Silence reigned supreme when the band took the stage, and was maintained when they finished their first song. The crowd was still re-learning how to audience. On stage, Jesus was submerged in a cloud. The first heads started nodding when the drums kicked in. The music ran down my neck, my arms, my legs. Tears came unexpectedly, a warmth that stung in my eyes at the closing of a book of time, the last six months a dream we’d collectively woken up from. Live guitars, live drums, live vocals, from a live band on a live stage crept up and overwhelmed me, as the drummer kicked the set to pieces and the guitarists built up their onslaught of sound until it was everywhere like a swarm. Guitar riffs, drum fills, beer cans opening: life started again here. These were the sounds of liberation.
The crowd waited for their cue to applaud. When it didn’t come, the silence was of held breaths. The world outside may tell us to be wary of one other, keep our distance and steer clear of social interaction, but inside the old church the atmosphere was of togetherness. deathcrash drew sound from their instruments that echoed around the distanced church, building and building until the rafters could not take it anymore. The opening chords of the final song rang out and goosebumps ran across my body like a train: a five-minute perpetual elevation of rolling sound. The crowd, with nothing to applaud for the last six months, emptied their hands onto the stage in a downpour. A storm was unleashing itself inside the church, running round the walls and making us forget ourselves. We laughed, we bumped elbows, we bought vinyl. I sneaked a handful of dry ice from the stage and walked home on a cloud.
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