A few days ago, I went to Vans Warped Tour, my favorite music festival of the year. It happens every summer and features various types of bands of various genres, from death metal to dubstep, acoustic to alternative, screamo to punk rock. I was pumped to go this year and see a great set of bands, some who I’ve been lucky enough to see live before and some who I love but hadn’t yet seen perform. And while I plan to do a separate blog post reviewing the plethora of talent that I did see, I wanted to take a moment and highlight one of my favorite parts of the day that I don’t see happen very much in this scene of music.
Although I went to see multiple bands, the band I really wanted to see was Memphis May Fire. I fell in love with their sound about a year ago when my friend told me that he was at the concert to see Memphis May Fire, who I had heard of but never listened to. But it wasn’t just their sound or their style that I loved, it was their lyrics; their message. They have so many inspirational songs that have gotten me through some rough times. They are uplifting in a way that many bands that I listen to are not and I love that about them. Upon looking more into them, I discovered that they are a Christian band. Many of their lyrics have spiritual messages that are awesome and is something that the music scene that I love (heavy/screamo/metalcore) is not common. So I was excited to see them live.
They were fantastic (more review-ish material coming in the review post), to say the least. In between songs, their lead singer, Matty Mullins, addressed the fans and told them that he knew “every single one of you out there has a purpose” and told them to go after that purpose or dream, no matter what. Then, they played one of my favorite songs, Legacy (listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bprEMRiRgkQ), which I think is also their most inspirational one.
Now, the bestie that I went to this tour with went to see Sleeping with Sirens, who are one of her favorite bands. I am quite fond of them as well and absolutely love their latest album, Feel, that come out last month. And about halfway through their set, Kellin Quinn paused and asked the crowd, basically, how many people came from broken families, where one of the parents was absent. A good 3/4 of the crowd yelled and cheered. Then, Kellin asked how many people felt they had the power to change the world. About 1/4 of the people raised their hands and it was much quieter reaction. My friend raised hers. I didn’t. And then Kellin said, “Now this is what I fuckin’ don’t understand. Every time I ask these questions, you guys yell and cheer about broken homes like it is a cool thing to be a part of. It is definitely not a fuckin’ cool thing. But then when I ask if you guys think you can chance the world, less hands go up and people aren’t as excited about it. And that’s wrong.” Kellin preceded to talk about how everyone has the power to change the world, no matter how they’ve lived life so far or what kind of family they’ve come from. They have the power to chance the future. Then, they played one of their most infamous songs, A Trophy Father’s Trophy Son (listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdT-JG2hb8w). A story about a fatherless home and how it affects the people he abandoned.
I think this year has been one of the most moving Warped tours I have ever been to (and this is my fourth year going). When people find out I listen to screamo music, they are surprised because of my positive nature and innocent mindset. How can I listen to music that is so dark and heavy? And when they are exposed to bands like Asking Alexandra or Bring Me the Horizon, both huge and well-listened to, who, as catchy as they sound, both spit lyrics that deal with drugs, sex and rock and roll. What people don’t realize is that all bands in this broad genre of music don’t just sing about those topics; bands can also be truly inspirational and inspiring.
And what I also think people don’t realize — maybe the bands themselves might not even realize all the time — is that they are in a position of power. Both Memphis May Fire and Sleeping with Sirens are multi-album dominoes that are not small in their fan-bases; their main stage status at Warped and the throngs of people in their crowds can attest to that. They reach out to thousands of people. They have the power to influence thousands. And with that power comes a responsibility. They could write songs that only deal with drugs and blacking out because of alcohol poisoning and that is what the thousands of fans would take away every time they listened to them. Or, they could talk about hardships, open up their souls about what they have dealt with in the past, and they could tell the fans how they have overcome adversity, conquered their challenges and encourage them that they can do the same. And that is what the fans would take away, from every show and every time one of their songs come on your IPod.
That is what Memphis May Fire and Sleeping with Sirens have chosen to do. And it isn’t easy. But it sure as hell is inspiring and I, for one, are terribly grateful to them for it.
This experience was a great reminder of how much power the media has. Artists, musicians, authors, filmmakers, those who reach an audience of millions across the world, have a great power thrust upon them. They have the chance to influence people without ever meeting them. They are worshiped by thousands and what they say can change lives. I am thankful for those two bands and the powerful messages that they took time out of their set to share, because I think that young generation needed to hear it, especially being a part of that music scene. Not only was I moved and inspired, but my respect for those two bands grew exponentially. And is one of the reasons why I love listening to screamo music, because of bands like Memphis May Fire and Sleeping with Sirens. Thank you.