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Rave On, River Rave!

Who Cares About Going Deaf?

By Allison Lewis

WBCN River Rave

Tweeter Center

May 25

There was quite a crowd at the WBCN River Rave -- mostly white Boston high school students -- drunk and screaming on a rainy summer day at the Tweeter Center. On the big stage were the big bands: in order, The Donnas, The Used, Evanescence, AFI, Jane’s Addiction, Saliva, Jack Johnson, Beck, Good Charlotte, and the Dropkick Murphys. There’s no label to describe this array of bands and music -- alternative rock, perhaps? Some contemporary, some more ancient (Jane’s Addiction).

Overall, the music was dark and slightly angry -- an edgier rock than I’m used to. These bands took the stage with attitude and commanded the crowd to jump, scream, and get crazy. A mosh pit was friendly and active near the stage, throwing people around; the security guys in front were kept busy. The musicians and the crowd alike sported similar fashions: black-dyed hair, piercings, tattoos. I was scared ... and thrilled. But no one was sacrificed, thank goodness. The wildest thing I saw were two high school girls -- hoisted up on their boyfriends’ shoulders -- making out with each other in the front row. How clichÉ.

For me, the notable bands were Evanescence, Jane’s Addiction, Saliva, Jack Johnson, and Beck.

Evanescence was my favorite of the night. The band’s sound was harsh, dramatic, and beautiful. Amy Lee’s voice is powerful, with a slightly haunted, tuneful edge. With long black hair, and belly poking through the bottom of her shirt, she was both sexy and intimidating. Evanescence played loud and strong; their sound was commanding and furious.

Evanescence gave a show that Jane’s Addiction, despite their popularity with the crowd, could not live up to. They were good but not amazing. The tune, slightly monotonous anyway, sounded especially boring and unchanging on stage, drowned out by the harsh backbeat.

Still, Jane’s Addiction was fun to watch. Despite their age, the band members had a youthful quality; they were lively and bubbly on stage, like boys who never grow old. They hopped and hopped around. With colorful vests, tight pants, nipple rings, and lots of smiles, Jane’s Addiction danced, played, and had fun with the crowd.

The lead singer of Saliva scared me with his long hair and big belly. He shouted into the microphone punctuating the beat with a throw of his head or his body. The band ran and jumped around the stage, shaking sweat everywhere. The speakers shook. This music was loud.

I caught the eye of one of the Saliva guys, with shorter hair and sweeter eyes than the others. With one sudden sharp bang on his guitar, he flung sweat everywhere, especially on me (I was between the mosh pit and the stage). "Sorry,” he said, and threw his guitar pick to me.

Jack Johnson had a beautiful voice and beautiful, baby face. His music -- simple, tuneful lyrics, and strumming guitar -- were the most mainstream and pop-culture of the night, yet undeniably some of the best. His sound and voice were like a lullaby. I wouldn’t mind having him sing me to sleep.

Beck was amazing -- very obviously and insanely talented -- playing more types of instruments and music than I knew existed. He mixed his turntables with his harmonica; he mixed hip-hop, rock, and blues. His voice was beautiful and energetic -- almost cartoon-like. He had amazing rhythm, great stage presence, and very pretty blonde curls. In his gray suit, he was dignified, fun, and impressive.

The others were good, but not as notable. The AFI band members are cross-dressers (the tattoos and leather pants don’t really match the eye shadow and lipstick). Dropkick Murphys get the most original award for bringing about 50 bagpipe players onstage.

After watching for 8 hours, the music began to blur and sound the same -- mostly pounding bass and throbbing ears. But I was satisfied -- this music had had me. And though I’ll be deaf by the time I’m fifty, at least I know it’s from loud rock music and not old age.