An Ache, Instead of a Heart

It was 5:47 in the afternoon. Not an ominous time, not even an interesting one. It was just an afternoon, almost evening sort of time. How could her heart turn from a solid presence in her chest to a throbbing mass, almost a tumor, in just a few short minutes?

It had started because of curiosity. Maybe that wasn’t right, though. Maybe it had started because she’d listened to their music the night before, and it made her think of them again. Her end-all-be-all of music. The men she fell in love with desperately at sixteen and tried feverishly to convince everyone else of their immense power and force. She’d gotten over that, though. She’d found her ken online, through forums and fan-sites – the usual place teenage girls congregate to fantasize, and avid fans come together to worship and respect. She was both – a teenage girl and an avid, serious, dedicated fan.

That was then. This was now. She’d continued adoring them, continued falling in love with the music over and over again. But eventually, her love of the men faded and became respect, admiration, adoration of a different kind. She didn’t want to kiss them anymore – now she wanted to have a conversation with them, be a friend. She’d gotten less and less involved in the online scene. She couldn’t help it that there were other things taking up her time – real friendships, real lovers, real life. So now, three years later, she still considered them the best, her favorites, the all-encompassing musicians for her, and she still listened to them.

In fact, she’d listened to them the night before. Maybe that was why, at 5:47, she’d found herself wondering about a silly detail – a cosmetic feature of one of the men that had disappeared – and through her curiosity, she stumbled back into the websites. She gaped, open-mouthed, at the changes made in her absence. She rejoiced that steps were being made, that there were new people around, that her beloved musicians were still respected.

But it turned her heart into an ache. A dull, stuttering, spluttering ache. It felt like something was pouring out of her heart, dripping on to the floor… Drip-drip-dropping, some essential liquid the heart needed. It felt like a lifetime since she’d fallen in love with stars in a vast sky, and now, rediscovering her fellow worshipers, she felt so lost.

The Concert of My Dreams

A lot of it was a blur. Hours seemed to pass between the time spent in a strange mall, all closed up except for one store blasting out strong music, and the actual event. It was strange, the way everything lost proportion. Time either crawled or hurried past. Scenes and people and views changed in a flash. Only some moments stand out clearly in my memory… That’s how it always is in dreams, isn’t it?

But it wasn’t a dream. It was real. We got to the mall at 15:00, found the neighboring stadium and the cluster of people. It felt like coming home. They were happy, energetic, giddy with excitement. There were nerds, and girls and Goths and metal-heads. There were young boys, barely into puberty and women in their thirties, clearly original fans.  Bottles of beer, vodka and even white wine littered the ground along with what seemed to be a thousand cigarette butts. But it was the one place, the only place, in which I felt perfectly comfortable with it.

We were there for a concert, a show. The rules are different when music pumps in people’s veins and the sun burns their backs to a crisp as they wait at a gate guarded by a couple heavy-set men. The rules have to change in an environment like that – it’s inevitable. Better to throw bottles on the ground where the organizers know it’s going to happen than throwing bottles into a crowd later and injuring someone.

It seemed as if we were in and out of the mall for food and bathroom breaks a hundred times, but finally, at 16:45, we were in the crowd waiting at the entrances. It was hot, sticky, and the sun was piercing and bright. People kept whooping for no reason, getting everyone just a bit more pumped up. Sir B. F. and I played games, guessing at what this or that person was like outside of Concert-Time.

Concert-Time is a different dimension, holding a dream-like quality, and consisting of no more than twenty-four hours in which time itself seems to shrink and elongate. The sunlit hours are the longest, whereas the moment evening falls, the breezes hold sweet and short promises. Crushed in a crowd, time elongates again in the heat and airless place. But then, suddenly, time seems to jump forward – by fifteen minutes, half an hour, an hour. The opening bands are on the stage forever, and then they’re not. The stage is empty forever, and then, suddenly, gloriously, it’s not.

They came on-stage, four men in the their mid-forties, and the crowd roared. We were part of a beast, a many-headed animal that thrashed and begged and demanded to be satisfied. The moment the first note started, we began to feed. Music, loud notes one after another, lyrics yelled at the top of our voices while the men on-stage sang loudly with us, for us. The speakers, huge and foreboding when the sun was up, were now a welcome friend, giving out the drug that we needed – the music.

**

Metallica haven’t been in Israel for eleven years. Finally, on Saturday, May 22nd, they performed at the Ramat-Gan Stadium to the ecstasy of long-time and new fans alike. There were sound issues, issues that the stadium staff blamed on Metallica’s equipment. But it didn’t matter whose fault it was – only that it was fixed, and that the crowd, and I inside it, roared approval at each return of the full blast of the speakers.

There are concerts you can’t ever go to again. Concerts that you know were likely once in a lifetime opportunities. This was one of them, and I cannot express how glad I was to be there. It was a night of enchantment – a night of dreams coming true.