Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Randall's Island 4: The Sunday Show

The third day at Randall’s Island was part endurance and part breakthrough to the runner’s high.  Desperate for a blister solution, I followed Matt’s advice and reassembled the soles of my feet with duct tape.  Stepping gingerly, we made our way over to Williamsburg just before the kickoff of the World Cup final: Germany and Argentina.  Everywhere, bars were crowded with screaming fans slopping shandies and light summer ales over the brims of their cups.  We ducked in to watch the game, mingling with groovy locals and Phish phans alike.  In Williamsburg, can one tell the difference anyway?

The seamlessness of the scenes between Williamsburg and Randall’s was disrupted only by a very disappointing cab ride.  As Matt said, “We brought a pile of money out to Randall’s and burned it.”  Ouch.  It was our third day and our third way of approaching the island.  (The ferry was, by far, the best.)  And it was a Sunday show, for sure, from the minute we arrived.  The scene was obviously quieter, nary a line for any services in the venue, plenty of room to dance.

In fact, if there is anything of merit to comment on about this particular day, it is the ritual of dance.  We found our spot by the delay tower once again.  On the approach, we were more than pleased to begin the groove with Sand.  I was excited to hear Winterqueen, another new song I enjoy, while Reba and Birds of a Feather just kept it rolling.  What battered feet?  The pain that had dogged me all day was nonexistent as I swayed and gyrated to the beat.

Much speculation has been given over to the transportational, “trance state,” power of music, and for me, it cannot be separated from dance.  Much of the release I can feel in a given show can come from my approach to it.  On the one hand, I can take the Dylan approach and simply watch the river flow.  That’s my critical mind, the way I approached the first show in Mansfield.  On the other hand, I can jump in and float downstream or even kick to accelerate the pace.  By the time Possum came around, I was a caricature of Mr. Natural, taking advantage of the ample elbow room in our area to cut a deep, circuitous path, arms flailing, heels kicking up dust.

Continuing in the same vein, the second set found me acting more as marionette controlled by the band than independent-thinking-autonomous critic.  The amorphic goo that followed Chalk Dust Torture is just the sort of jamming I relish.  However, one can appreciate this in a variety of ways.  The detached, analytical critic version of myself, the hypersensitive deconstructionist, was not in the house.  Rather, it was the dervish version, exorcising whatever demons I had accumulated throughout the previous year, openly exhilarated, surrendering “to the flow.”

Is there some Phrygian code which indicates to a listener, like me, that it is time to kick into the Dionysian mode, losing all sense of self, time and space?  According to Bicknell, Aristotle understood music “as something to be understood, not as a stimulus which automatically causes a response.  Listeners who fail to recognize the Phrygian mode, or who do not grasp the association between the mode and Dionysian worship, will not be affected” (84).  Yet, as with all things set and setting related, it depends on my mode and what I bring to the day.  My critical brain was off, and the danceathon was on!

Light, always one of my favorites, simply brought the boogie energy higher. White strobes, glaring sounds, a sense of gradual elevation, this song always brings me to a reflective and ecstatic place far away when it is executed well.  This version was quite satisfying, and there was nothing left to do but breathe in the environment.  What stopped me in my tracks, though, was the transition into Tweezer. This had been my show “prediction” for the day, and it snapped me out of my previous state. The voice of reason stepped in, slowing my dance, reminding me to take in the enormous scene as it was rapidly nearing a close.

Later, as we made our to the ferry during the encore, I marveled at how such things can still happen to me.  The dance opens the heart at any age.  I have been transported, and there is a letting down which will follow, inevitably.  It is that “reentry” my sister once described.  Fortunately, summer was still in full swing.

(Thanks to fromtheacquarium for some excellent auds. Check out YouTube for other footage.)

No comments:

Post a Comment