Buried In The Crowds

Photo Courtesy of pexels.com

Photo Courtesy of pexels.com

A swift kick to the back of the head. The girl crowd surfing just kicked me. At this point, I’m tired of the crowd surfers and decide to take matters into my own, anger-filled hands. I grab her by her collar and pull her down from her place atop the crowd and immediately go back to trying to enjoy the show.
Crowd surfers. I don’t know anyone who likes them, and I’m sure I’m not the only one with a story like this.

Being in the crowd at a concert is one hell of a ride, and I have found that it can vary depending on the genre of the band and the particular city that you are in.

The best crowd experience I’ve had at a show is when I went to see Motionless in White at Ritual, right here in home-town Ottawa. There is just something so exhilarating about such a small space packed full of people who love the same music, who are filled with excited energy, having a blast, and respecting the people around them. If you’ve ever been to a really great metal show, or a great show in general - you know that feeling! The one where the entire crowd jumps on the bands command. This one of the happiest moments you will experience in this life.

That being said, not every show that you go to is going to be a gem, no matter how much you like the band.

A couple years ago I went to see my favourite band, Breaking Benjamin, in Montreal. I had wanted to see them in concert since I was 11 and was finally getting the chance. Unfortunately, I would have to say it was one of the worst crowd experiences I’ve ever had.
There were people moshing to songs that you just don’t mosh to (The Diary of Jane), there were the people who always get too drunk or too high before the show and end up getting dragged out by security after they’ve puked somewhere, and there were the crowd surfers. I can say matter-of-factly that crowd surfers are the worst people at a show. But, all of these factors overall made me look back at the show as one that I really didn’t enjoy.

Most recently I went to see Nothing More in Toronto, which was a new experience altogether. First of all, I went with someone, whereas I usually go to shows alone (mostly because my friends don’t share my music taste), and I also stood at the back of the crowd this time, when I have usually stood as close to the front as I could. Being at a show with someone you want to be there with, listening to great music, and being away from the chaos that is the front of the stage proved to also make for a really good crowd experience.

So why go? Why take that chance that you might not have a good time, or might get hurt?
For the love of music. The one thing that everyone in the crowd is going to have in common. The crowd can be hot, sweaty, drunk, and violent, but at the end of it, you got to listen to great music, live, and experience the pure joy that comes with it.


Arielle is a 22 year old Professional Writing student who loves the arts. Her music taste is eclectic, but she spends most of her time frequenting local punk and metal shows. She often surfs through Youtube and Bandcamp hoping to stumble on a new addictive sound. Her favourite bands include; Breaking Benjamin, Dance Gavin Dance, In This Moment and Brand New, to name a few.

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Blurred Lines...Oh, Mercy Mercy Me!


I set out to write about the continued relevance of Marvin Gaye’s 1971 concept album What’s Going On in regard to its social commentary.  I intended to set it against the controversies around Robin Thicke’s song Blurred Lines, hence the title.  Of course, I would have highlighted the musical mastery of Gaye’s album, its innovations and, oh, those lyrics. Inspired!

As I reflected, I became focused on one aspect of the album – the voice.  Not, Marvin’s but, rather, the perspective from which he tells his story. Of a soldier coming home from Vietnam.  I remember the backlash these men faced as they tried to reintegrate into “normal” life.  As if the horrors they encountered in war were not enough, American veterans were seemingly abandoned by their Government and, in large part, by society.  They became punching bags to protest an unpopular war.  They were neglected and forgotten.

During the Vietnam war we wore POW-MIA bracelets. Engraved on these bracelets was the rank, name and loss date of a soldier captured or missing.  The proceeds of sales were used to promote awareness about imprisoned and missing soldiers.  This campaign was a campus initiative started by a couple of young women who recognized a grave injustice and chose to do something about it.  

Speaking of injustice, the last track on the original album, Inner City Blues sums it up.  What’s Going On reflects Gaye’s religious upbringing, and he embodies Soul.  From beginning to end, he reveals the Gospel.  This album is a prayer for humanity and it speaks of all that is good, true and beautiful. So, what is its relevance today?

On November 10, Algonquin College is hosting a Songwriters’ Circle featuring some great Canadian talent, including Sarah Harmer and Joel Plaskett.  Tickets cost $100 and proceeds go to Guitars for Vets, a program sponsored by Vets Canada.  This program offers guitars and lessons for those suffering PTSD, disability or injury.  It recognizes the healing power of music.  Now, this is social commentary!

Vets Canada is a non-profit charity providing emergency transition services to marginalized Canadian veterans, including current members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP. Boots on the Ground is their motto, and volunteers across the country hit the pavement daily to help the homeless and invisible.  Much like the ones who returned from the Vietnam war about which Marvin Gaye sang.

The power of music lies in its ability to tell meaningful stories, make people feel, engage them, and effect change. Gaye’s album did this. I am not convinced much has changed in the almost 50 years since his album was released.  Yet, the spirit of Gaye’s lyrics remains true – may we have faith and hope.  Perhaps, here at Algonquin, we can get some traction and make a difference.

I believe prayer is protest and, to paraphrase Saint Augustine, when we sing, we pray twice.  I think Marvin knew this.




Sheila's passion for music emerged at a young age.  From dancing around the house to Motown beats, she experimented with road trip rhythms, holding her own with Elton & Kiki.  These early influences surface on her latest release Shower Serenades.  Her repertoire stands the test of time.


sheila hill

Sheila's passion for music emerged at a young age.  From dancing around the house to Motown beats, she experimented with road trip rhythms, holding her own with Elton & Kiki.  These early influences surface on her latest release Shower Serenades.  Her repertoire stands the test of time.