Alright so for my December post I have been feeling a bit in the spiritual mood as we close another year. While this is only my second article of 2023 after having a prolonged period of writer's...atrophy I would say is the best description I am trying to get back at it, at least for my one subscribed reader (you know who you are and you are a GOAT). Of course one thing I have not been shying away from is going to concerts having been to 50 shows of all variety and in 4 different cities. Ok that isnt that many cities. I really should get out of NYC more. Still not the point. 50 concerts is basically one a week, a similar frequency to another activity undertaken by many Americans: going to church.
I cannot deny that the power and emotion I feel from an amazing indie show is similar to what it appears church goers feel in those mega gospel choirs. My body is overtaken by the atmosphere, the music, the people, the soft pallet lightning (oh and the edible helps too) I am powerless to keep myself from moving in a hectic swaying frenzy, interrupted only by small stoppages in the music or when I am bumped into. And while I sit ay my computer listening to the underground new age rock masterpiece Dead Mantra by Dead Skeletons for only the second time in my life (thanks Discover Weekly) it clear there is a desire for music that invokes a certain religious feel, even amongst insufferable atheist indie listening douche bags.
Of course among certain populations of indie listeners going to church would be unthinkable with the childhood associations of judgmental preachers, boring sermons, and listless music. They cant go to small shows like mine, because they mostly listen to the spiritually bankrupt triumvirate of Bon Iver, the National and Phoebe Bridger and associated acts, the kinds of musicians who only play larger stadiums that feel as intimate and fervid as an Arbys. So where do these people go for their spiritual dip when their favorite lame stream cant do it for them? Well a chance encounter last night has given at least one answer: Hare Krishna.
Now Ill admit most of my knowledge of this religious sect comes from a subplot on the 5th season of Mad Men, which leads one to believe that Hare Krisha (HK) has existed at least since the 60s and is about a combination of far-Eastern mythos, new age spiritual and human connection (specifically hoping to bang a fellow hot Krishna practitioner). The spiritual sessions include a musically induced fervor that occurs via confining the practitioners in an enclosed space and having them chant "Hare Krishna" for an hour straight. The effect is similar to drugs (or the middle school pass out game) where by depriving your brain of oxygen you feel a certain disconnect with your physical form and feel more as though you are out of body in the room along with everyone else. This can trick your brain into feeling a profound sense of meaning in the setting as though you and everything is connected. Then, for the low low cost of $50 (in 1960s money) or 60 service hours (if your Star Trek screenplay aint selling) a month you earn the privilege to do this every week (or twice a day when you go on retreat!). You can understand why many people think of this opportunity as too hard to pass up.
But always on the lookout to channel my inner Bradshaw, I cant help but wonder that if these HK followers only had knew about the great indie shows, would they still be HK? In the end the city can sometimes be a cold and lonely place. Spiritual fulfillment can be difficult when you're dodging dog shit, avoiding helping the homeless, and cant get a date. Connection that feels significant needs to be found somewhere, so it makes sense that it could be found in the embrace of a bald man in a robe who looks like that other bald guy in a robe you've seen on TV. This is especially true if you also want to bang someone else who is attending (including the bald man in a robe, no judgement).
The difference between what happens there and what happens at a great indie show is not so much: each show costs around $25 + you are expected to double that on drinks or merch, you dance yourself into a frenzy, and yes you can feel a profound sense of connection with everyone who is there (though good luck finding someone to bang). But there is one difference: the music. During an HK chanting session the music and vibes are crated by the audience themself and furthered by the deprivation of Oxygen that occurs when one is forced to vocalize for 60 consecutive minutes (the underlying theory of hot yoga). At a spiritually moving indie show, these vibes are caused by the band that is performing, with generally only a minimum of declaration from the audience. In essence the artist is the ministry, the singer, the preacher. Though it isnt a foregone conclusion that just seeing an indie band will cause a religious awakening, and any number of things from an overpacked venue, to a mediocre performance, to the edible not hitting can reduce the spirituality of the event, making indie shows far less consistent than an HK chant.
With such a high percentage of indie concerts leaving one spiritually void (such as any concert ever performed by Bon Iver, the National or Phoebe Bridger), the consistency of Hare Krishna cannot be denied. Depriving your brain of oxygen in a roomful of people with red patterns and Buddha statues on the wall will almost certainly deliver on making you feel mentally dissociated to the point of religious upheaval, and a desire to return again (especially becaus that QTπ Lady Becky asked if you will be there with a smile which you take to be a good sign but then you realize that to reach the level of laser lotus you must recruit 10 people who pay membership dues for at least 6 months so you aren't sure if she is actually just flirting to keep you around but it isnt like anyone else has been flashing a smile in your direction so it cant really hurt too see what might happen since you'd only be out $50 in 1960s money each month anyway and you have a little left over from your tech job after paying your rent on 1.5 bedroom apartment in Ridgewood and its pretty much a straight shot to the HK Temple via the J).
Or you can just find better indie concerts.