By Jeremy M. - Posted on 14 September 2010

     The other day I found myself being asked in class “What was your most liberating experience?” I never got a chance to answer, though people in my class said a lot of good (if not cliché) things like graduating high school, getting a driver's license, or in one case starting kindergarten. I was hesitant to speak up because mine is so weird and so out there, I wasn't sure anyone would understand. My most liberating experience ever was when I played with my band in Rockport, MA over the summer.

     It was a cool day, sometimes it was sweatshirt other times for shorts. The show started off pretty good, my band, Skankin' Panda (which refers to a type of dance, not anything actually crass, look it up) was playing with 4 Point O, The Radicals, Alien 8, and Sunrise Drive. These were all fairly local bands except for 4 Point O, they were just starting their two week tour from New York I think. My good friend Timmy (who also plays guitar in Skankin' Panda) organized the whole show by renting out a YMCA teen center (ostensibly the show was a benefit show but I honestly don't remember for what). It doesn't sound really cool because it was at a teen center, but to be honest none of us really ever care where we play. The fact is we did the whole thing ourselves and it was certainly an experience to take pride in.

      The show started with Sunrise Drive which is a Pop Punk band from Londonderry, NH. They are all longtime friends of mine in the scene. Their set was fast and simple, but very good. Following them 4 Point O played. They are a ska band with a lot of horns. I remember their singer was dressed in a suit and vest, while their screamer looked like the standard jeans and band shirt kind of kid. Some songs were really ska and super upbeat, while others were more skacore. They ended up covering “If You Really Loved Me” by The Flaming Tsunamis (a legendary skacore band) and I remember we all freaked out.

Some other bands went on after them but I went outside to go talk to people and do some networking. My friend Goat bought a super powerful laser pointer and we spent awhile freaking people out on the other side of this field. I watched 4 Point O play Frisbee and they were really good. The show had a really good turnout. Depression struck after I went into one of those “the scene sucks, no one cares about us, my life will go nowhere etc moods”. I talked it out with some people and eventually it became time for us to play.


      I was still in a bad mood when we started and some people had already left. I put my saxophone together and stood outside while I waited for the band to set up. I enjoy people watching. Eventually though Timmy came outside and called everyone in. I set up next to the other saxophone player, Mike, and got ready.


      I am really bad at the saxophone. I don't practice and I don't care to get better at it. I enjoy just having a good time on stage with my friends. Goat was slamming into us the whole time while playing the trumpet and I took my saxophone off at several points to jump into the crowd and start a pit. The time came though when I would be judged. We played an iconic cover song, “Tik Tok” by Ke$ha. The song is originally a pop/electro song, but we sped it up and threw in some hardcore breakdowns. I almost threw my saxophone down and grabbed a mic, took it out of the stand and began singing the intro softly. When the song went into chorus I did some really deep growls and high pitched screams to the lyrics. It was the craziest three minute experience of my life. Nothing else mattered while it happened. Everything I worried about was gone, I just screamed in people's faces and flailed and kicked when it was time for hardcore dancing. People were beating and slamming everywhere and Timmy could barely keep playing we were causing such a ruckus on stage. Everyone in the room must have been singing. Our next song was an original song and everyone continued to go crazy. The shackles around myself went down, for a short time as I performed and took slams and hits in the pit.


      Right after our set was done I packed up my saxophone and sat on my case outside. People were leaving the show as we were the last band. They were all looking at me as I stared at them. If I was in their shoes I would have been really scared of me, some of the expressions I made and the craziness in my eyes scared myself. Some people might not understand it, but the song could have been anything. I just wanted to create an environment of insanity and cathartic release. I accomplished that. It might sound like a corny show (it was), my band probably sounds pretty bad (it is), and people think my friends and I are strange, weird, and stupid (also probably true) but we don't care. Its all about having a good time, and liberating ourselves from the slavery we put on our minds and bodies in this world.


      Memories like this keep me going, so many times in life I find myself defeated because I should have done X or said Y to a person. We all feel disenfranchised from the whole sometimes and it sucks, but at the same time we should strive to be different and original. Some of the choices we make about giving in and destroying our individuality seem unimportant to the earthly matters at hand, but nothing is more important. Just because social rules say that you shouldn't do something, or it would be creepy, doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't. I always seek to baffle people, and challenge what they hold as static. Liberate yourself.


So let me pose a question to you, mysterious people who will read this, “What was your most liberating experience?”. Share?


Related sidenote: We're playing in Rockport again October 1st, with awesome bands. Anyone interested in going should let me know. Its quite a drive, but the show will be so, so worth it.


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