I left the Agent Orange show with a number of bruises, a sprained middle finger, a messed up knee and a new hat. I earned all of these prizes slam dancing.
It had been years since I last jumped into the pit. At some point this particular evening, something in me snapped and I felt the urgent need to join in with the bodies collectively spinning like a whirlpool at the foot of the stage. Arm in arm with two of my 50 year-old friends, we middle-aged hooligans marched in circles until we could hardly breath; stumbling, falling, getting back up, yelling and finally resting against the stage, heaving heavy breaths and sweating buckets.
And then we were off again, running in wide circles, dragging one another around the pit, falling down, getting up, yelling and thrashing about until we were once again too winded to move any further. Besides the members of Agent Orange, we were probably the oldest people in the place. But that was OK. The last time I saw this band I was a teenager and I was doing exactly the same thing; losing myself in a cathartic expression of Dionysian frenzy.
I am unable to offer any subtle aesthetic critique of the music. I don’t know if Agent Orange played well or poorly. All I can say is that the songs were familiar and performed with enough passion and energy that I was moved at some basic, primal level to kinesthetically purge some not too deeply buried emotions. Some people go to church for this feeling. Some people attend sports events. Punk rock works best for me.
The lyrics to one of Agent Orange’s own songs describe it well: “I’ve lost my sense, I’ve lost control, I’ve lost my mind!”