This past Friday night I went with a couple of friends to check out the Thrice concert at the House of Blues. The band did not disappoint, playing a great high energy set. I’m a huge fan of live music. There’s a special type of energy that comes from a live show that can’t quite be contained in words.
Things took a massive turn one night, when I was invited to a concert. A couple of punk bands were playing at a school auditorium to a crowd of maybe 20 kids. The crowd was small enough that they invited everyone on to the stage with the bands and turned the speakers inward. The music started up and the small crowd on stage erupted into a ball of energy. Suddenly I found myself moving around on stage, bumping into others, swinging my arms wildly… my first mosh pit. I was a little hesitant at first, but the music never let up and the energy release was unreal. As I was moving around I got knocked sideways and took a dive over one of the speakers. Thoughts of me waking up in the hospital to the sound of my mom asking, “Why was my son in a mosh pit?” rushed through my head. Before I could get scared though, there were a whole crowd of people around me helping me up. I can still remember the look of this one guy’s face as he helped me get back to my feet, looked me in the eye, smiled, and then ran off back into the circle swinging his arms freely. After the song was over, we ended up standing next to each other. He asked if I was okay, I thanked him, and he replied, “we gotta help each other up, it’s just what we do.” The band started up again, and we ran in circles on stage with our arms and legs swinging wildly. We’d catch our breath for a few seconds between songs and start up again. This process repeated itself over and over again for the rest of the concert. By the end I was a sweaty mess, thoroughly exhausted, and completely stoked. Some guys play football, I found the pit.
Over the next few years I went to more and more concerts. They didn’t all have pits to run around and cut loose, but when they did, I was right there in the middle. It was amazing, it was like all of the teenage energy I needed to release came out with every power chord. Every time I got knocked down I was picked back up. No one ever seemed to mind that we we running into each other.
There is a special bond in the pit. If someone falls, you pick them up. You make space for the guys that need to move around. You keep the circle moving. You don’t get angry when someone else bumps into you. Some people are there to stand and watch the show, and some people are there for the cathartic release of running into each other. Wether or not you understand it, there is a unique community built around the pit.
Fast forward a few years, and I am watching thrice at the House of Blues. The band erupts and a space clears on the floor. A circle forms and people start moving around wildly. I glance around as friends give each other the ‘are you going in?’ look. I look at my friend and we kind of chuckle. We are long since retired from the pit. Our need to release that energy has been replaced with a desire to ‘actually see the show’. But we both understand the unexplained excitement that is the pit, and don’t mind making room as others pass by on their way into their own release.
At the end of the show something happened that got me onto this whole sentimental kick. After the lights came on, and the show is over, and everyone in the pit realizes how covered in sweat they are, there is a unique thing that happens. People that have been running into each other for the past few hours smile, shake hands, embrace and laugh together. I remember after my first show, the guy next to me looked over and said, ‘awesome show brother’, then gave me one of those ‘bro hugs’ (handshake into a hug, two pats on the back… very masculine). The same thing happened at every show I’ve been to. There’s a unique bond that comes from that chaos. People in the pit have experienced something, together and brings them closer together. It truly is a community.
In church we talk a lot about building community. We talk about church picnics, the importance of being ‘plugged in’ and the need to be a part of each others lives. I’m wondering if there is something we could learn from the pit? Do we foster environments that create interaction? Do we sweat together? Do we pick up the fallen? Do we actually have real human contact? What do we release together?
In Acts 2 we see a model that the early church used to build community around God. I can only imagine that the intensity of worshipping illegally forged that community in a way that was pivotal for the Lord’s people.
In modern times, I think we do a lot of good, albeit safe, things to foster community within the body. But looking at the pit the other night I couldn’t help but wonder what we could do to take that to the next level? I was a teenager in need, and I was drawn to that unique bond in the pit, and am forever grateful for those times. There are still plenty of others that seek the same experience.
May we be there for them to run into. May we pick them up when they are down. May we embrace them.
One love, one heart.
The Alchemy Index: Fire / Thrice
Beggars / Thrice
Artist in the Ambulance / Thrice
Heaven is Whenever / The Hold Steady
Shout the Truth / Confide