Last month I saw Paramore and Fall Out Boy perform at Jones Beach. A bus took me from the Freeport LIRR station to the theater, and on the way we passed a dense cluster of trees which the speed of the bus merged into long indivisible blooms of green. Having not left the city in a few months, I stared through the window with a renewed fascination in the disorganized growth of trees, the way they fractured and twisted in a state of total freedom.
The last time I visited Jones Beach was in 2011 to see My Chemical Romance and blink-182. The obscure intuitions of the mixing board reduced My Chemical Romance to a trebly, spinal sound. They appeared exhausted and severe as they paced across the stage while the air around them indifferently hissed. It rained five songs into blink-182’s set; Tom DeLonge sang, “the drops of rain / they fall all over,” and the crowd became woven into what seemed dissociated waves of the bay.
It didn’t rain this trip; the sky cultivated a gauzy blue, which threads of orange and pink had vividly cornered by evening—undeveloped, cellular suggestions of color, the colors of pajamas. They appeared gently unreal and gathered everything else into a state of unreality, so that structures, people, and sequences of life seemed to unfold with the texture of hallucination. A chill crept into the air. A few months ago the circulation in my hands became compromised and in cold temperatures tends to recede entirely into damp and numb peripheries. When it happens it feels as if an icy wind has gathered into my fingers. Before the show started I had designs to buy a jacket from the merch table, around which about fifty variously teenage Paramore and Fall Out Boy fans had clustered and anchored themselves like dying cells. I stood there for an hour and through two Paramore songs before abandoning my position in line for my seat, occupied by two unresponsive teens. At this point the journey, the merch line, etc. had dehydrated me into a narrow state, as if I were receiving all sensation through a single tube. The lights against the bay, I decided, looked like a descended constellation, and staring at them generated an acute vertigo not unlike one I often experienced as a kid, when I’d suspend myself by my legs on the monkey bars and feel overwhelmed by the sudden inversions of the horizon, theorizing that if I let go I might pour into the sky.
Paramore were incredible. From my seat they looked like tiny, athletic figurines moving through designs of light. Hayley Williams’ limbs flared swiftly from her torso and at least two eruptions from a confetti canon reconstituted the atmosphere as a vivid, freckled sphere. I hadn’t eaten. "Proof" is an unbelievable song, and live it seems to move with geographical, dimensional force, collapsing distances between people and introducing something resembling tenderness and hope. I developed a kind of dewy sentiment for the ecstatic teenagers surrounding me because of how much they love a band whose music is so rich and ultraviolet. The wind declined and, having spent the last hour worrying about the cold, I felt oddly, pleasantly, ameobically warm, as if all of my cells had been broadly microwaved. I left to eat during “Let the Flames Begin” and “Part II” because eight minutes seemed a generous length of time for a band to contemplate the religious meaning of glory and for me to absorb a burger.
Fall Out Boy’s set did not shift dramatically from when I saw them at Riot Fest last year; they played most of Save Rock and Roll, and at one point Patrick Stump ascended on piano from an obscure cavity of the stage to sing the title track (preceded by “We are the Champions,” a gesture of inclusion for the (many) parents in the crowd). "Save Rock and Roll" has been a crucial song for me in the past year, mostly in its rejection of the terms of modern creation and capital (“In a world full of the word ‘yes’ / I’m here to scream ‘no’”), and its affirmation of a cliché which at a primal depth resonates for me as something useful and true: “You are what you love / not who loves you.” People advance through their lives and careers on engines of various compromise, which is fine. The universe is compromised at its edges, and fire will be the sum of what we know. Will pure, abyssal fire poured out of the sky lament the attrition of my desires and beliefs? I turned 27 last month, only a matter of time before I enter a speculative fugue and settle for something secure-seeming, or witness the edge of my own survival and settle for something survive-y. I closed my eyes and as Stump sang the lyric I seemed to flow thoughtlessly out of my chair into the deliberate spacing between words. I felt carried through the irregular pinkish blooms of sound and finally absorbed into the negative space around the stage, at this point a lunar darkness in which the lights took on the sequence of living crystal.
Today on the subway I saw a middle-aged man lift his body up by the ceiling handrails to perform a few short, sinewy pull-ups. In my experience the people who typically produce this scene are teenagers trying to reduce boredom and impress each other. This man was alone, and his glossy deltoid eyes contemplated a distance that was not contained in the subway car but assembled importantly beyond it and which gave his minimal aerodynamics meaning. There was a sinister aspect to it, seeing him unattended and revolving noiselessly upon his joints. Through the window behind him the details of a station scattered.
Mainstream literature is boring cause it’s mostly about people not being their best selves. Way more interested in how ideals are intrinsically knotty than in how we don’t rise up to them.
Nothing quite like being sick in the summer; you sneeze and it’s like sneezing into a space helmet.