Gasoline for the Fire

In my last post, I talked about how music can induce trance states in people. The role of music in the Occupy Wall Street movement is invaluable and irreplaceable. It is through these trance states induced in people by music that puts so much energy, hope, and power in these people. Music has given the people of the OWS movement their fire and their strength. One great example I found of this recently had to do with a band mentioned in my last post. Outernational I randomly ran into at a reggae concert. I liked their sound and thought they were talented so I followed them…straight into the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The following is a Youtube video of this band performing at an OWS event this past March. It is clear that this band and their music brought fire and energy to this group of people. But what is even more fascinating is how LITERALLY EVERYTHING they do musically is reflected directly upon the audience.

Before the lead even starts singing, his way of almost “preaching” power to the audience with the way he used his voice got their attention, made them want to hear more. Excitement was set from the very beginning. Their excitement as well as their fists rose in response as the first song comes to a brief pause and he yells “Welcome to the Revolution!” As the music picks up tempo, so does the audience. A mosh pit quickly starts at around 3:00, which is exactly when an exhilarating and very fast guitar solo starts. At 3:30 you see a police officer escorting someone away from the scene. At first only two people are pushing each other around. By 4:20 the moshing has grown exponentially with almost full participation, again at the same time that the music accelerates in tempo. Then EXACTLY at 4:40, the band stops to sing a melodic line in unison. The second their instruments stop playing the people stop moshing, like clockwork. This unison line seems to bring the group back into focus as a whole as they all start clapping at the same time in the same way, with their hands high in the air. And when the band starts playing again, the audience is uniformly bobbing their heads to the beat. Finally at 5:25 the band stops the music altogether and the lead singer starts a chant. Whatever he said the audience repeated, as they chanted about having power within the OWS movement together. After 6:10 a slower song starts, and the people’s mood calms simultaneously.

This power of music is unstoppable. And it is one of the reasons why the people of the OWS movement feel the same way.



4 responses to “Gasoline for the Fire

  1. coffeeshoprhino

    Can you bring this back to a broader discussion of OWS? Do you have any studies that show the effect of music/sound on people (especially in a group)?

  2. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with some of the claims made in this article…is the audience behaving that way because they all sympathise with OWS or because they are simply enjoying themselves as members of a crowd at a concert, taking cues from the tempo of the music and body language of the band? Just because they are enjoying themselves does not necessarily mean the fire they display is specifically connected to their support of OWS. To me, much of the “hypnotic effect” can be explained by the context in which the people are hearing the music, not necessarily the music itself. Finally, I do not think “the people of the OWS movement feel the same way”…divergences and disagreements between elements of the movement have been well-documented on this blog. Anyway, the concept was interesting and I enjoyed the band’s sound as well 🙂

  3. Thank you for your comments…..I was trying to be broad, just with a specific example within the movement itself. I will definitely look further into studies that have been done on the subject. Also, of course context has to do with these people’s actions. But the music is part of that context. The cues are not only from seeing the band’s movements, but hearing their music. Hearing music actually has quite a bit to do with music itself.

  4. Could this notion possibly compromise the integrity of the protesters intentions? For example, when we talked about the movement being “cool”… perhaps these people are just interested in music and just becoming part of the movement for entertainment, not because it’s something they truly believe in.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s