BREAKING DOWN THE WALLS: The universal language of music

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First Posted: 1/20/2014

As I write this, I’m sitting in a hotel room in São Paulo, Brazil enjoying what will be my last hours here. By the time this is off to the printers, I will be on a 10-hour plane ride returning to the luxury of Northeast Pennsylvania, but this short trip was again another inspiration for myself.

As a musician, I deal with and write about certain types of music. Since I am able to travel because of this, I often meet people with many similar interests throughout the entire world. We arrived Thursday morning and met an entire group of people who simply enjoyed the same bands as us, and a bond was created.

These people that we met have never been to Kingston or the places Title Fight sings about. They have never met Uriah, who has a song named after him. They have never set foot on Memorial Field, but somehow even lacking knowledge that was essential to the formation of the band, they knew exactly what we were talking about. Through a geographical and language barrier, through music we were able to translate these ideas to people in places that literally couldn’t be more different from Wilkes-Barre.

Last night as I was watching Chilean band Remission play an impressive set, I thought about how this music that seems so small at times brought people from all over South America to a small library on an industrial street in São Paulo to enjoy seven bands. Was it the next-to-nothing celebrity status four people hold, or was it something deeper? In life, it seems that we are always searching for the deeper meaning in trivial moments, perhaps the symbolism of real life. What is symbolic in this situation? A simple answer can be found – the music.

We, as humans, determine things that will give us fulfilling lives, and while the goals vary drastically, the emotions in successes and failures of the pursuit are the same across every border. So although I may not be able to understand what it feels like to feel sorrow after the loss of a sports team, I can relate in that I too feel sorrow when something doesn’t pan out the way I was hoping. When bands are able to capture these universal emotions, that’s what makes music powerful. Power through relatability.

It’s a great experience and opportunity to be able to travel and play music, but to be able to return home and see this power in a small town is perhaps the most important realization of all. We all have the ability to express our thoughts or emotions from music, and so many of us do just that. There are so many bands from the area, and while the commonality may not be through musical genres, the experiences we all face are the same.

Music has always been a critical form of expression, and we are fortunate enough to have a striving scene available to us right at home. In order to feel this live and in person, come out to West Side Park on Feb. 13 for Turnstile, Diamond Youth, Angel Du$t, Blind Justice, Shorthand, and Noisepet or on Feb. 24 for Backtrack, Xibalba, Downpresser, Not Til Death, and Haze.