Back in July I went to see Alice in Chains for the first time. I had a good time at the gig, though I didn’t feel blown away either. The band seemed rather casual about it, just another gig, it seemed. And the audience response seemed equally casual.
As a writer and lover of dark and heavy lyrics, this is something I often wonder about. So Alice in Chains play catchy hard rock tunes that you hear on radio. You go to their live show and get drunk and party. I’m sure people do the same with In Flames, though they are very much heavier.
Both acts feature incredibly introspective, dark and heavy lyrics. That’s one of the things I love about them.
I’m not saying that you have to go to their show and stand in the corner and brood over your life’s misery. But on the other hand, if you watch U2’s Rattle and Hum, there’s a section where they play the song “Exit” from The Joshua Tree. And the darkness of that song really takes over — I read articles and interviews discussing how in their show there’s a string of dark songs that they do, which sometimes haunts Bono. It gets hard for him to come out of that dark place.
What can I say? I’m a sad bastard, a complete tragic romantic, feeling melancholic is my bliss. 😉 But as a performer playing dark and heavy songs, I feel like you’re compromising your song’s potential if you don’t get into the song’s character. You just don’t play a funeral song with a big grin on your face, do you? No, Alice in Chains didn’t do that, either. But their performance didn’t quite match the intensity that their music seems to call for, at least that’s how it came across to me as a listener and lover of their songs.
That being said, I may smile, too, if lots of people are having a great time grooving to my sad tunes. People digging your music, ultimately, is a happy thing.
But sometimes, I just want a safe space, a place where I’m allowed to dive deep into these feelings that are hard to get into in a daily life. Even sadness and anger can lead to bliss, if you allow yourself to fully embrace it.
And music is one of the most beautiful ways to get into those feelings.