I saw Pearl Jam at Music Midtown in Atlanta on Saturday. Damn! Those guys, in their 40s, are still amazing. The energy of the band fed the energy of the "unwashed congregation" (as Bono calls it), which then fed the energy of the band, which ... It was cool to stand in line at the port-o-john (probably a little classy for grunge, but ok) , jumping up and down, pumping my fist in the air, singing along with 60,000 people singing with the band. Pearl Jam is interesting because they have been around long enough to have fans from all generations and all kinds of ethnicities, too. I couldn't help but notice that we were all singing together, loud (like at the top of our voices), especially on songs that everybody knew. The congregation sang loud and sang with release and amazing energy and it was alive.
The crowd sang "I-I-I, oh, I'm still alive" like it was everybody's personal theme song, but we sang it together, which made it even more powerful to be part of it.
Everybody I know has had to come to terms with our families (interpret however you will), the moments when we grew up (by pain or debauchery), and the simple question about what we did to deserve to live. They light into the theme with decent poetry and bad ass music. No matter how complicated it all gets, I'm still alive. No matter how confusing it all gets, no matter how many personal mythologies have to get deconstructed, no matter how many questions about the meaning of life, no matter what heart breaks we all brought to the sanctuary, and no matter whether we feel guilty because good things come to us, I'm still alive. When the music gets louder and builds and the adrenaline gets set free, it feels like what we're really singing is, "I'm still alive, damn it! Don't dare question it."
I love the shared experience of being in the unwashed congregation. It is as powerful as anything in the world to let reckless abandon take over, like everybody else, and sing to the sky and those around me and those who've hurt me and to those I've hurt that I'm still alive.