Music Should Be A Place Of Safety As It Brings Us All Together
By: Amy Cooper, ACRONYM
Rolling over at 6AM this morning, I knew it was probably a bad idea to check my phone. I'd get a nasty text message from someone, or I would see someone else complaining about first world problems online.
Nope, another mass shooting. This time in Las Vegas, America's Playground. During Jason Aldean's concert, no less. There's a headline maker. Sorry if I'm bitter or seem numb to this, but after covering shooting after shooting for work, I've gotten to the point where I'm lost. There aren't any words that can fix this - and unfortunately, even blaming *chokes back vomit* our President will make this better.
There's so much hatred spreading through this world, and with bombings, shootings, suicides, and pain, we're starting to not be shocked, that this is the norm now, It's just another day.
I have to wonder - when will it be enough? When will the madness end where hatred bubbles over so unbelievably, that it calls for mass murders? And who will we blame this time? We can't blame it on the Middle East this time, as the media tends to do, or a black man for that matter. He was a white man. A white man in his older age. So don't you dare start to try and pin it on anyone else. This man was part of the majority. Get used to it.
And as I managed to pull myself out of my sick bed to head into work, hearing interviews with radio personnel that attended the concert, it all seems like one big horrible nightmare, one that we could wake up from... But we won't. Because this is real life, and this is our reality.
I would like to say that there is a glimmer of hope and that humanity will come together to try and save each other. And in some instances, like Puerto Rico, there are. But the main problem still has to be tackled. We're all too much full of hate, feeding on it every chance we get.
In this moment, and in those thoughts, I want to take a moment to share something I saw this weekend because I think we all need a moment of hope, and something to warm our hearts:
Friday, I photographed 101 The WRIF's Riff Fest at DTE Energy Music Theater. It was the end-event of the Summer, and we had major names playing like Rob Zombie, Halestorm, Pop Evil, and more. The moment I captured, however, came from Five Finger Death Punch, which was something I didn't expect.
I don't know much about Five Finger Death Punch. I'm pretty sure someone told me they are sanctioned by the Military, which made me uneasy. Anything backed by the government does that these days. And while I would probably classify 5FDP as a "butt rock" entity, they put on a hell of a good show, and I didn't expect to be as intrigued. But what made it better was their openness to children. During their set, they pulled kids up on the stage - of course, to sing something totally profane like "Burn Mother Fucker," but I digress.
My co-worker text me to say I needed to be down at stage side by the time they were done to get some shots of the crew, so I headed that way, and stood a few seats away from the barricade, behind a parent, with his daughter.
She was standing against the barricade and the lead singer of Five Finger came to sing on that side of the stage. He apparently gives out dog tags during his performance, but he ran out, as he signaled from digging in his cargo short pockets. He then walked over to the bass guitarist's mic stand, Chirs Kael's to be exact, and proceeded to rip off the entire strip of guitar pics and hand them to her. As he walked away she giddily was bouncing around, and it brought a smile to my face.
As Ivan Moody (the lead singer), walked to another side of the stage, and she clung to her prize, Ivan walks back near our side, and happens to see the veteran standing next to me. He had on a hat, patches, and a camo jacket of sorts, and Ivan looked at him and stood still mid performance and saluted him, and the patron saluted back. For those who aren't fond of military affiliations, this may seem cheesy, but even with my shrugging indifference to it, I cracked a smile. It was a sign of respect. One I wouldn't forget.
I thought maybe my heartwarming feelings were done, since I was already feeling like the Grinch, my heart growing two sizes, before Jason Hook, another guitarist, came to lean side-stage to the same little girl who got the guitar pics, and handed her his wrist band. She was so thrilled - and I asked her father if I could take a photo of her. She smiled, gave me the "rock on" hand gestures, and said to me "This is my first concert."
I looked at her and smiled and said "Kid, I think you've peaked," and we hugged.
I have no musical authority to give out awards, but if I could, I'd have to give Five Finger Death Punch a showmanship award for these moments I saw and captured. And though I may not be their biggest fan when it comes to their music, their humanity however, I am a big fan.
Music is something that we can all come to, to enjoy ourselves and have a great time. And though I don't exactly pray these days, I'm keeping the victims, families, and spectators of Jason Aldean's concert in Las Vegas, as well as people on the strip who fled for their lives, in my thoughts.
A music festival is supposed to be something sacred, and this shooter took that from us. From all of us. Our next festivals, we'll all be a little more vigilant, and just a tad concerned that we may be the next.
Music is supposed to be a safe place. It brings us together, across a common ground to be something we can celebrate together. We should not have to fear that.