They were us. The 1,500 people filling the Parisian concert hall the Bataclan to take in a concert featuring Eagles of Death Metal and the Deftones were our people.
We go to concerts just like that one, in places just like that one, all the time. And we do so with the assumption that we’ve entered into a sacred space, where time and trouble and the outside world don’t apply, where we cling to the illusion that all men and women are brothers and sisters united in their love of music, if only for a short time, because it feels real.
All of that changed Friday night. The outside world intruded upon that sacred space in the form of unspeakable violence. More than 80 people are dead, and untold others will be forever scarred by what they experienced, as terrorists opened fire in the packed club, turning a celebratory event into a scene of bloody mass murder.
Platitudes won’t help here. Nor has the immediate rush to politicize the tragedy in some quarters done anything but add insult to grave injury. Social media has been alight locally with comments from people just like the ones who filled the Bataclan on Friday, most of them expressing the deepest sympathy, anger, outrage, heartbreak. A smaller group launched campaigns of negativity, and in so doing, offered a disturbing illustration of just how easily hate-fueled extremism can spread in our Internet age. None of this has changed the reality of the situation.
“The targeting of a concert venue, home of the most universal form of communication – music – is beyond reprehensible and cowardly,” Tweeted music journalist Anil Prasad, via @Innerviews, shortly after news of the attack came to light.
Yes – reprehensible, cowardly and terrifying, because we’ve so long assumed that we were safe when we entered our musical bubble.
Just two days previous to the attack at the Bataclan, thousands filled Buffalo’s First Niagara Center to partake of the jubilant bacchanal that was a performance by Dead and Company. The feelings of brotherhood, acceptance, optimism – what some might simply call love – were palpable during this concert. Those feelings are what the armed assassins in Paris thought they were snuffing out. We, the members of the worldwide music community, need to prove them wrong.
“We play tonight with heavy hearts for all those whose lives were taken in Paris,” Dead and Company’s Mickey Hart posted on his Facebook page on Friday evening. “Music is the best healing agent we know.”
It is. And we need that healing more than ever.
I’ll see you all at the next show.