One night in 1995 I waited for that college radio hit by 4AD label darlings, Throwing Muses, to explode in front of me. The standing-room only audience was a polite wave of bodies. I saw potential for crowd-surfing in this mosh-less space. My friend had done it several times at concerts while I stood idly nearby (or far away depending on where he was in the maelstrom), holding his glasses and flannel shirt. I was tired of being the venue’s coat rack so I decided that night I was finally going to crowd-surf.
I wanted an ocean of strangers to carry me through “Bright Yellow Gun.” As soon as the song was in play, my partner-in-indie-rock-crime assembled a team of many arms and hands to hoist me into the unknown. I’d seen people float in that lazy river of bliss. Sometimes it would get a bit clumsy but looked cool against a backdrop of killer music and professional lighting.
This wasn’t stage-diving. This wasn’t circle pits like I’d experience years later when I should have known better. This seemed like a rite of passage where you trusted others who shared whatever magic was in that particular music. You were all inside the armpit of this tightly-packed speck of planet earth for a reason!
I was lifted with a deep breath and a pleasant sigh. I relaxed into the crowd and felt light. People passed me around in the uneven flow. It’s been 23 years and I remember I was wearing cut-off socks on my arms and Boy Scout uniform pants.
My moment finally happened! It lasted 45 seconds. After that, I was dropped but caught upside-down. All attempts to rise like a phoenix with red, drugstore hair dye were a bust. Who groped me? I’m done!
I was letdown that I didn’t spend 3–4 minutes in the current. Strangely I felt like I accomplished something, but I never tried again. I was back to securing others’ belongings as they began treading water, waiting for the right time to swim or sink in the live show.
About the author: Lauren Parker is a writer based in Oakland. She is a graduate of Hiram College’s Creative Writing program. She has written for the Toast, the Tusk, Ravishly, The Bold Italic, Harlot Magazine, Hoodline, and plain china. She’s the winner of the Summer of Love essay contest in the Daily Californian, the Vachel Lindsay poetry prize, and a was featured in Bennington College’s Best Undergraduate Writing series in 2012. Follow her on Twitter @laurenink
About the author: C. Kubasta writes poetry, fiction & hybrid forms. Her most recent books are the poetry collection Of Covenants (Whitepoint Press), the novella Girling (Brain Mill), and the just-released novel This Business of the Flesh (Apprentice House). For each major publication, she gets a new tattoo; someday she hopes to be completely sleeved – a labyrinth of signifiers. Follow her @CKubastathePoet
As a high school senior back in 2005, I was excited to buy This Bird Has Flown — a 40th anniversary tribute to The Beatle’s Rubber Soul — with money from one of my first paychecks ever. Despite boasting contributions from some of the indie-world darlings of the time, I found the album largely disappointing, with a few exceptions, of course.
One of those exceptions is Sufjan Steven’s brilliant cover of “What Goes On.”
If I had to list all of The Beatles’ songs from my most favorite to least favorite, the original version of “What Goes On” would fall somewhere towards the bottom of the list. I just find it kind of…hokey.
Sufjan’s version, however, would be at the top of my list of favorite covers of all time. I wouldn’t call myself a true synesthete, but the colorful explosions this song brings to life in my brain give me a taste of that magic. Maybe you’ll see/taste/feel it too.
About the author: Scout Bolton is a poet, psychology student and features writer living in the North of England with their husband and tiny son. They are the author of two full collections of poetry: Softcore Cloudstep (79Rat Press, 2013) and Wild Heather (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016), and currently working on a novel about a person who eats the same sandwich every day for two months. They’ve never been so exhausted, or so content.
About the author: Jessica Berger is a Chicago-based writer, PhD, and fiction editor of both Grimoire Magazine and Always Crashing Magazine. My work has been featured or is forthcoming in Ninth Letter, Barrelhouse, Pank, trnsfr, Gamut, The Spectacle, Maudlin House, Dream Pop, Nat. Brut, and elsewhere.
On Discovering Explosions in the Sky During My Freshman Year of College by Stephen Briseño
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About the author: Stephen Briseño’s writing first appeared in Memoir Mixtapes. Since then, his poems have appeared in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, L’Éphémère Review,formercactus, Barren Magazine, and Rabid Oak. He lives in San Antonio with his wife and daughter, teaches middle school English, and drinks far too much coffee. Follow him on Twitter: @stephen_briseno
To read this piece, click on the album cover below.
About the author: René Ostberg is from Chicago and currently lives outside the city. Her writing has appeared at Hobart, Cease, Cows, the Brevity blog, Literary Orphans, Tiny Donkey, and other places. Her website is www.reneostberg.com.