Beginning near the end:

Angus Mohr is rocking their way to the end of, “Long Way to the Top.” Paul’s already warned us that this is the last song. It’s after six, the band’s been playing since two with only a couple of short breaks. Sunday dusk light breezes in through Defy’s! open bay door, and the work week is a dozen hours away. It’s been a good day, but a long one.

And then Damien shows Paul a clipboard with “Sonya wants ‘Hurt,'” written in blue marker letters two inches high. Seconds latter, Matt’s voice carries us into the song’s slow build.

I hurt myself today, 
To see if I still feel. 
I focus on the pain. 
The only thing that’s real. 

Whether you love the Nine Inch Nails original, the Johnny Cash cover, or you’ve been lucky enough to be at the rare Angus Mohr show where they’ve played it (the last time I remember was at Herman’s Hideaway over year ago), it seems like everyone is moved by the pathos of  Trent Reznor’s lyrics.

The needle tears a hole, 
The old familiar sting. 
Try to kill it all away, 
But I remember everything. 

Byrd said later, “It’s a beautiful song, but we were afraid it would bring everyone down.”

It did bring us back to the big picture of why we were all there, especially when one of the dancers led Matthew Robbs to the dance floor. There they swayed in slow revolutions while evening crept in.

What have I become

my sweetest friend

Goes away in the end.

You could have it all, 

My empire of dirt. 
I will let you down. 
I will make you hurt. 

Steve’s drums do their shared heartbeat pound, drawing together our rhythm. I’ve written about catharsis before, but that moment of recognition transcended Aristotelian abstractions. Yes, in the end Hades inherits all, but we were not dancing against inevitability and time and death’s equal call.
I wear this crown of shit, 
Upon my liar’s chair, 
Full of broken thoughts. 

Instead the injustice of letting affluence decide who deserves access to health and happiness drove us. The 3383.66 we raised will not cure Matthew Robbs; it will not cover all of his medical care, and it will not erase the fundamental breach of our social contract that allows treatable conditions to become terminal when people are diagnosed without insurance.
I cannot repair. 
Beneath the stains of time. 
The feelings disappear. 
You are someone else, 
I am still right here. 

3383.66 will however, ease Matthew Robb’s pain; it will ease his family’s financial strain–and it eases us, not forever, but for a while.

If I could start again, 
A million miles away, 
I would keep myself, 
I would find a way.

The world  is a messed up place with a screwed up values system, but by showing up, giving a little of what we had to give, we have reclaimed some of ourselves back from the hungry faceless machine.

In the end, maybe that’s the best we can do, and even if it’s not enough, it beats the hell out of doing nothing.

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