The rockstar and the mob
There’s a certain relationship that exists between the rockstar and his mob during a live show that’s difficult to describe, but I’m going to attempt it.
This relationship can only exist during a live show. Listening to an album or watching a concert may stir some emotions, but there’s nothing like seeing an artist live, surrounded by others and all of you completely transfixed by this singular being who commands your completely attention and devotion. It’s also most powerful in a general admission floor setting, your body pressed against those of other members of the mob, not seated on the edges of a stadium.
Those in the mob lose their individual traits and become part of the greater whole, one with their fellow audience members. Their actions and emotions are not individual, but shared with all those around them.
The rockstar, on the other hand, is elevated to a role beyond the individual. He becomes the only force that can control the mob. He both robs the individuals of the mob of their power, but is the empowering force behind the mob itself. He becomes almost a god-like figure.
As he commands his music, he commands the energy of the mob. If the sound is calm, the mob is calm, but when the beat quickens and the volume rises, the mob goes crazy. The rockstar hasn’t lost control, but he’s let the mob free, for the moment.
As he moves, the mob goes with him. He acts almost as a gravitational force, the sea of people in front of him drawn to him wherever he goes.
When the time of departure approaches, the bond has to be broken, and it’s up to the rockstar to determine how best to do it. He needs to destroy the concept of the mob and return its members to their former individual selves. He has three options: he can slowly bring them out of the mob with mellow sounds; he can wear them out, ending with such a bang that the mob is broken by the sheer amount of energy expelled; or he can take a big risk and leave the mob intact, to see what happens.
This relationship is incredibly interesting to me. While I’m sure my assessment is very basic, it’s a topic I return to every time I see a concert. The rockstar’s performance holds such sway over his audience it redefines the already uneven power structure to cede nearly all control to the rockstar.
What would happen if a rockstar tried to harness that power in other ways? Could it be transplanted? What would be the outcome? There are so many questions. The possible answers, and the relationship itself, fascinates me.
This post was inspired by the Marilyn Manson show I saw on 11 February 2015 in Denver, Colorado.