It had been a stiflingly hot and dry day. Everyone at the festival spent most of their time sitting in the shade of the trees, sipping on beer that had already warmed to room temperature by the time they found a place to sit, waiting for the headline act start. It was a hostile atmosphere. The event had been poorly managed and long lines of people waiting to buy a drink snaked all over the festival grounds. Only the truly dedicated waited out in the baking sun to get good spots waiting for the band.
In the 20 minutes leading up to the final act, people were getting restless and testy. People pushing their way to the front were met with irritated grunts and “are-you-kidding-me” looks. Excitement for seeing the band had turned into an expectation to have their so far terrible day redeemed.
The blaring sound of feedback began to emanate from the speakers on stage, signalling the start of the show and the crowd immediately went wild. The crowd's energy and excitement was coloured through their frustrations that had built up over the course of the day. They weren't just enjoying the band, they were violently relishing it, waiting for the opportunity to unleash their rage.
The band gave it to them as they unleashed a brutal hard-rock riff onto the park. The crowd took their cue and mosh pits began forming all over the place like human whirpools. Crowd-surfers rode the stormy sea of people towards the stage, getting pelted by half-full cups of warm beer and plastic wine bottles. The few that just wanted to stand and listen to the music found no place to hide, encountering drunken brawls everywhere they went, getting shoved this way and that by the masses of bodies that surrounded them.
The band stood above it all, modulating the audience's aggression with the intensity of their music playing. The brief gaps between songs offered the crowd a small respite before the next wave of brutal catharsis was under way. For two hours, everyone forgot where and who they were as they purged away their anger, sadness and shame by crashing into each other and feeling the thump of people doing the same to them.
When the band finished up its final song and left, the audience slowly filed out of the festival grounds, relieved. They all felt free. Free of their insecurities, their neuroses, of the worries that plague them every day. Tomorrow they would all rush back. Tomorrow they would all return to their normal lives and remember why they are unhappy. But in that moment, they were all the best versions of themselves and all that was left to do was go home.