My eyes rise to the night sky as Florence sang the words, “You need a big god / big enough to fill you up.” As I watched her under the lights, statuesque as her voice soared over our heads, I tried to imagine what it must be like to stare out, beyond the concert grounds while thousands of people cheer you on. What god are you limited by.
As long as I stare at the stage I’m limited to the creative world of Florence + the Machine; but, when I stare up toward the sky, her voice sinks into the background. Suddenly, this festival, the positivity that surrounds me, it’s all but the first wind pushing my ship from the harbor into the ocean beyond, into the wide world.
Earlier, the screen zoomed in as Florence and a fan held hands while she sang. The way she held people, placing her head against theirs, reminded me of an evangelical preacher healing his followers in a canvas tent. I saw the way she commanded the stage like a televangelist, sending her messages through the microphone.
I haven’t been to church in a while, but in the meantime, I’ve studied other religions. There are a lot of parallels between pagan ceremony and modern musical performance. The costume, dance, and music introduce a theatrical narrative in which the crowd shares.
“Put your hands up,” Florence said, “think about a time you were hurt, or that someone broke your heart, or something you’ve been worrying about and let it go.” The crowd was in a hush as everyone rose their hands as if in prayer. When the music came in, it was as if I was filled with helium. I lept into the air and sang along to “Shake it Out.” My feet landed and fell down on a plastic cup and for a moment I was angry. Who would drop their trash on the ground. As I looked up, however, the concert came back into frame, and I couldn’t help but smile.
I knew that when the morning came the grounds would be cleansed and so would I. The stage would be empty and the world would be quiet, and my mind.