A few people smoked their cigarettes in peace while people of all ages milled around or chilled out at Rock the Relief 2012 held off Morgan Road in a beautiful pastoral setting in Bradley County, Tennessee.
I went to hear one band. (TheGoldRoom-bandcamp.com). Before The GoldRoom played, a young woman in a peach-colored cowgirl hat leaned back on her tanned arms and it seemed like her whole soul was happy when she stretched her blue-jeaned legs out in the grass. Two little girls danced and pranced around the front of the stage and one of them wore shoes that flashed pink light when she took her steps.
When The GoldRoom started playing, people seemed shy about the bold clear sound of progressive rock. But as the band played the songs they write themselves, the crowd got more and more interested. Some songs were light, some dark, some slow and some fast. They say whatever is most personal is most universal. The band’s songs, whether about a crisis in a Catholic daycare or the Lone Ranger‘s divorce proceedings, were both.
As the band rocked on, one man in the crowd yelled out, “You guys kick ass!” It wasn’t long before women moved their shoulders and dance-walked. A woman wearing a long flowing chocolate and white sundress floated through the wide open space, gentle like a firefly.
This band’s refreshingly unapologetic sound is so big it seemed like the band perfectly suited to the generous stage that night. The GoldRoom thinks; stuns; mesmerizes; stimulates; soothes; mystifies and satisfies.
When it comes to music, I am not a professional. I cannot tell you one thing about the layers and psychology and technical skills and lyrical meanings and shadings or anything like that about music. All I know is whether music moves me or not, whether what’s happening on stage is real or not. The GoldRoom is real. The sound takes you by the shoulders and won’t let go, but somehow, you know it will never hurt you on purpose.
If one more thing stood out about this band it was joy. These four men plain had fun and you could see they were in their own world but invited you in as well.
That’s what I thought about later–Ode to Joy. I learned that before Ode to Joy was music by Beethoven, it was a poem by Friedrich Schiller. “Joy, joy moves the wheels in the universal time machine…Brothers, above the starry canopy a loving father must dwell.”
And then Schiller, who wrote the poem to honor a friend, proclaimed the privilege of being a friend’s friend, which is what I could sense when I met all the band members before they played that night.
“Run, brothers, run your race, joyful as a hero going to conquest.” And this is exactly what The GoldRoom did, one Saturday night, right under the starry canopy.