I keep imagining I’m inside the Bataclan in Paris, but in my mind it looks like the Joint, the Pearl or House of Blues. I scan the room ... merch guy selling T-shirts, superfans near the stage, music critic scribbling in his notepad … and then something explodes, and everything turns red.
I’ve spent much of my life in concert halls, and I’ve never really been scared. Not when over-aggressive moshpits have suddenly veered my way. Not in the wake of 2003’s Great White show fire in Rhode Island (though I did start mentally marking my exits after that). Not even after I stood a few feet from a stabbing amid a thick local crowd.
Live performance, for me, has always been an escape, from real life, real worries and real danger.
And now? I suppose it was always when, not if, this would happen. Schools, churches, malls, movie theaters … why should concert venues be different? And in the same way some now watch films stealing occasional glances at the doors to the left or right of the screen, watching a band won’t be the worry-free experience it once was.
I don’t plan to stop going, or even cut back, not because of some “then they win” machismo or because the odds tell me it’s still way safer than driving on the freeway. I’ll go because it’s what I do, and I can’t imagine my life without live music somewhere near the center.
I can’t say I won’t jump or shudder the next time a speaker pops or someone drops a bottle nearby, but right now I’m far more sad than scared. For the kids who went to a rock show, and never came back. For the merch man who should be setting up for the band’s next gig right now. And for the music critic, who became one of more than 80 tragic tales at a concert he tried to cover. It makes no sense, and it never will. My heart breaks for every one of them and their families. The world shouldn’t be like this.