In a documentary I once viewed on the music of the 90’s, the groups Nirvana was praised for their ability to transcend the meaning of words through certain melodic tones in language. The target of this admiration in particular was Kirk Cobain, who, rock experts claimed, was able to express a level of inherently human pain solely through the use of his deep throat and diaphragm. The commentator noted that it was as though Cobain was gargling with nails. Coinciding with this meaning that transcended lyrics was a movement that transcended and eventually changed pop culture.
No rock group more embodies the nature of Nirvana in this first post millennial decade than Flyleaf. They are an all Christian hard rock band consisting of five members, one being a female lead singer whose melodic tone with language is slightly Cobain-esque. On Sunday September 9th 2007, I saw this group perform at Ricochet. The dimly lit setting and the devout listening audience combined with the uniquely fluid matching of music with vocals created an experience that was unforgettable and worth explanation.
My first reaction when entering Ricochet in Fort Myers, Florida had to do more with an analysis of the crowd than anything else. I acknowledged that the people I was standing in line with were a direct reflection of the Flyleaf fan base; more so, they were a group of high school and college youths who had strong moral convictions. I noticed that many members of the crowd dressed the same, wearing dark clothing, makeup eyeliner and nail polish. Many members of the crowd had piercings and tattoos. They wore shirts with logos of other bands similar to the band performing.
While in the line, overhearing their conversations, they talked of prior concerts they had attended, feuded over band statistics and complained over errors posted in online forums and on Wikipedia. As I approached closer to the entrance sounds of instruments being tuned and the sight of crewman dragging in equipment got the crowd more amped to see the act. When I finally had found my place gathered near the stage among the rest of the audience members and the performance was about to begin, hoots howls and chants erupted from the audience.
The stage was completely black, and then the drummer initiated the first sound, the laser lights began to flicker into the crowd, and when the lead singer strolled out onto the stage, it became official in my mind that I was about to see one of my favorite bands play. Flyleaf is a rock band that has been around since 2002, which in a way certifies them as one of the quintessential bands of the post millennial decade, which does not directly recognize their band as a Christian Rock band.
They just acknowledge that they are composed of all Christian members and therefore the Christian Faith will be reflected in everything they produce. While their lyrics are deeply spiritual, the ironic thing about their performances is that it is often difficult to understand what lead singer Lacey Mosley is saying among the eclectically harsh rips and drums produced by the rest of the band. It is the fluctuation between soft and raspy with her voice that exudes raw emotion and creates a sound so horrifically enchanting, the only thing more intriguing is the sight of this grand raw screech coming out of a girl her size.
Standing no more than 5’4, her shadow appeared gigantic through the use of the lighting and in comparison to even the band. The subtle effect of the lighting contrasting Mosley couldn’t compare to the dynamic reaction of the crowd in response to start of one the band’s more favored singles. The point of the concert that I felt was most significant was the performance of Flyleaf’s popular single “I’m so sick. ” I feel the crowd connected with this song more than any of the others.
Lead singer Lacey Mosley stalled the performance with some talk about the band, and in fairness she is a better singer than speaker, but it did not put one damper on the performance the powerful red lighting constantly flashing and being projected out onto the crowd. Surprisingly, there was very little special effects used to enhance the bands performance; they relied almost entirely on their skill and the surroundings. This is where the location came into play as the Ricochet’s triangular stage angle design allowed Mosley to project further out into the crowd making the harsh crackling of her voice cut more deeply into ears of the audience.
Furthermore, the powerful effect of the high pitched electric guitar rips were enhanced by the perfect synchronization of their sound with laser lights shot into the crowd. All of this had a mesmerizing effect that left many of the audience speechless, including myself. It was the perfect way to close the show. In sum, the overall experience was captivating, due to a combination of the crowd’s response and the transition back and forth from sullenly soft to harsh in Mosley’ voice.
The concert was more than just a display of teenage angst, but the tone of the entire performance had an innate spiritual quality, which was only further enforced by its gathering of devout followers. The performance of “I’m so sick” uplifted the gloomy surrounding and audience and had an almost freeing effect on many including myself. By the end of the performance, I had witnessed of the audience display everything from tears of, supposed, joy to celebratory rage. I was so moved by the performance that I made arrangements to see the band again in another venue. All in all, it was an unforgettable experience.