Brian came in heavy at that moment on his guitar, the rapid, high-pitched squeal ranging back and forth as his fingers flew along the frets. As the intro's tempo grew more rapid, Bekka heard Derek's subtle bass line as it worked its way in. After another few seconds Will came in, slow at first, but racing along to match the others' pace. When their combined efforts seemed unable to get any heavier, David jumped into the mix. As the sound got nice and heavy, Bekka began to rock back-and-forth onstage. In front of her, hundreds of metal-lovers began to jump and gyrate to their music. She matched their movements for a moment, enjoying the connection that was being made, before stepping over to the keyboard that had been set up behind her. Sliding her microphone into an attached cradle, she assumed her position and got ready. Right on cue, all the others stopped playing, throwing the auditorium into an abrupt silence. Before the crowd could react, however, Bekka's fingers began to work the keys, issuing a rhythm that was much softer and slower than what had been built up. The audience's violent thrash-dance calmed at that moment and they began to sway in response. Bekka smiled to herself. This is what she lived for.
And it may be that a crowd at a particular moment of history creates the object to justify its gathering, as it did at the first Human Be-In and Monterey Pop and Woodstock. Or it may be that two generations of war and surveillance had left people craving the embodiment of their own unease in the form of a lone, unsteady man on a slide guitar.
As Steve draws me closer to the band, all I can see is a frenzied mass of seething, writhing people, like a many-headed sea snake, grinding, waving their arms, stamping their feet, jumping. No rules, just energy - so much energy, you could harness it; I bet you could power Portland for a decade. It is more than a wave. It's a tide, an ocean of bodies.