Updated: Oct 2
The Bay Area music scene is a couple slow dancing in a mosh pit.
Photo Credit: Jax Samsell
Yesterday, Mt. Eddy played their first show in multiple years. The Oakland native band, comprised of Jakob Armstrong, Kevin Judd, Enzo Malaspina, & Chris Malaspina, is now known as Ultra Q, but ‘now’ is a different time. It’s a time where image is so important to the further progression of your musical career, and releasing music that is a true representation of the person you are ‘in this moment’ is vital to your success. The irony is that in a world where everyone wants to be someone else, what truly sells within this art form is the truest represenation of what one truly and honestly feels. Being yourself is more relatable than being someone else. It is incredibly difficult to be your authentic self 100% of the time, so when someone can do just that, we admire and idolize them. For this reason, Mt. Eddy became Ultra Q; the new version of themselves and a truer representation of their more updated musical taste, (at least this is what Jakob Armstrong mentioned in the band’s ‘One’s to Watch’ interview).
If Mt. Eddy is a period in time, last night was a time capsule. They played the entirety of their 2017 album Chroma to celebrate the project’s five year anniversery. As someone who never listened to Mt. Eddy while they were active, and instead found their music through Ultra Q, I was fascinated to see how the album would translate in a live setting. As I predicted, my expectations were blown out of the water. Yet, what I got out of yesterday’s show was somehow a bit more conceptual than a simple night seeing a fantastic band. It felt like I was watching a piece of history, a formative memory in so many people’s minds being rehashed in real time. I thought about all the people who probably fell in love, broke up, found their best friend, or realized they wanted to make music at a Mt. Eddy show. It was difficult for me to contextualize what I was feeling within the moment. Don’t get me wrong, the emotions were overwhelmingly positive, but to put them on paper felt impossible at first. That was until I saw one specific image that made me fully comprehend the things that I was feeling.
To the left of me was a gigantic mosh pit; nothing out of the ordinary for a show at San Francisco’s historic Bottom of the Hill. However, as I laughed and watched in awe at these people enjoying the energy that Mt. Eddy was providing, I couldn’t keep my eyes off of one specific couple. The two were slow dancing in the middle of the mosh pit. It was as if they were hearing something entirely different than everyone around them; as if they were at a Michael Bublé show and not a Bay Area punk concert. It was absolutely beautiful, and it helped me realize and contextualize what I was feeling.
The Bay Area music scene is often fueled by chaos. It thrives based on the display of chaotic and unruly energy that radiates from the Bay’s different small venue stages. We have to remember the history of Bay Area music is largely rooted in East Bay punk. 924 Gilman Street is one of the most historic venues in America, and arguably the epicenter for any and all DIY punk music of the late 80’s and 90’s. The ethos that time period represented, was one that hasn’t really changed. Amongst the madness live solace. Amongst the pain lives life. Amongst the chaos lives beauty. The Bay Area music scene is a couple slow dancing in a mosh pit. The unruly chaos breeds a realization that life is out of our control. What is going on around us is uncontrollable, so instead of avoiding the mosh pit; why don’t we just slow dance in it?
When I interviewed Carpool Tunnel (a Bay Area based surf rock band), their bassist Spencer Layne said it best: “Something about the Bay Area music scene just feels like a warm hug”. He’s right. People very rarely leave here forever, and if they do, they tend to keep in close contact with where they’re from. AG Club, (one of the biggest hip hop acts to come out of the Bay in the last ten years) is having an event next week where they are having dinner with fans, hosting a talent show and a community bike ride, all in the town they grew up: Antioch, California. They are calling it “Thank you for giving Me my Start”; and it truly feels like almost every large act to come out of the Bay in recent times has echoed that sentiment. “Thank you for giving Me my Start”. People from here never act like they’re from anywhere else. They are proud to be part of the Bay Area music scene: because it’s special. I am proud to be part of the Bay Area music scene because it’s special. I am proud to have grown up in the Bay Area, because it is truly special.