Like many people around the world Friday afternoon into the night, I was glued to my computer as the news came trickling out from Paris on the widespread and coordinated terrorist attacks that led to the death of 129 people, the vast majority of which were fans and staff at the Bataclan music venue seeing an Eagles of Death Metal show. Watching, hearing, and reading about it in real-time was the kind of horrifying event that just leaves you with the sensation of a bottomless pit in your stomach. It renders you feeling helpless, depressed, nauseated, angry, and a whole other mixture of complicated emotions. As details surrounding the attacks — of how they were carried out, by whom, and what, if anything, can really even be done to prevent such things from happening again in the future — are slowly uncovered and probed, for now we find ourselves in a state of mourning, particularly as more people became aware of another (and far less-covered) gruesome attack in the Lebanese capital of Beirut just the day prior to the Paris attacks.
Naturally we all want to feel like we’re contributing in some way to show our support in solidarity with the people directly and indirectly affected by these attacks. That’s why simple gestures like Facebook’s French flag avatar option spread so widely so quickly. Likewise, the music community has seen an enormous outpouring of support for the EoDM family, who lost one of their own in merch manager Nick Alexander. In the past couple of days though there’s been an unfortunate trend taking shape. A string of international touring bands are now canceling upcoming concerts in Paris, including U2 (who were supposed to be filming an HBO special), Foo Fighters, Motorhead, and Deftones (who were slated to play a 3-day residency at the Bataclan and some of whom were in attendance at the EoDM show). And, quite frankly, it’s a damn shame, especially when these kinds of shows are what are exactly needed at a time like this.
Of course, there are plenty of legitimate reasons for canceling these shows, some of which are simply outside of the bands’ control. Aside from the more obvious reasons such as wanting to be respectful of the tragedy and pay their respects to those who suffered and lost as a result of it, there are real logistical barriers to playing in a city like Paris after such an attack. The French government announced shortly after the attacks that they would shut down entry and exit of their borders (though the reality is far more complicated than that), and multiple venues have simply shut down until further notice. With tightened security all-around and a nation both on-edge and still reeling from what just occurred, it would be natural to look around and come to the conclusion that now is not the best time for a rock concert, that there are far weightier things on the minds of the people of Paris, and that simply “going on with the show” would be disrespectful to those who have suffered and lost so much. Certainly no one in their right mind would fault Deftones for wanting to return home to their families after being thrust into the center of the chaos.
And yet, it’s nonetheless unfortunate, and it not only further penalizes the people who perhaps need music more than ever, but it reinforces a sense of victimization and defeat at the hands of an enemy we continue to feel utterly helpless against. In times of personal and public anxiety, sadness, and grief, we frequently turn not just to government, community, or spiritual leaders for guidance and solace, but also art, especially music. Music can express the words and emotions we feel or want to say but cannot. It can provide a safe space to feel grief, sadness, anger, and hope. It can provide community for those who have no other. And perhaps most importantly, it represents everything that is great, wonderful, awe-inspiring, transformative, and empowering about the power of free human expression and creativity — the exact thing that extremist groups like ISIS want to stamp out. So what are we saying then when, in the face of terror and evil, we so easily give up these things that define us and separate us from them? What are we saying when we are doing exactly what the enemy wishes us to do?
There is no right and wrong answer to any of this, and this thought and opinion is merely that, an opinion. But I couldn’t help but feel compelled to express it after seeing everything that has transpired over the past few days, and especially after seeing the reaction of one band who appears to have no intention of backing down and canceling their upcoming Paris show. Only one day after the attacks happened, Shining (NOR) took to their Facebook to say this:
Regarding our upcoming concert in Paris:
Our planned concert at Le Divan du Monde on Wednesday is definitely going as planned. The only thing that can stop it is if either the government bans shows for that day or if the venue themselves shut down.
We are of the opinion that these idiots who committed the atrocity are not going to be allowed to affect our lives. We think the right thing to do is to keep on living our free lives just as we want to, to prove to ourselves and to anyone who wants to scare us that no one will ever be able to restrict our hard-earned freedom. But the fight for freedom has to be fought every day, especially in hard times. This is a time to continue the fight for our common beliefs. This is a time to fight for liberté, égalité and fraternité.
We are also of the impression that Paris is safer these days than ever, with the heightened security measures implemented. If you’d rather stay home, it’s a choice we highly respect. But if you’re like us, show up at Le Divan du Monde on Wednesday and help give a united “fuck you!” to yesterday’s terrorists and anyone who faultily thinks that it’s acceptable to use violence to promote their extremist and intolerable views.
I couldn’t agree more, and based on the reactions of their fans who would be attending the show, they feel the same way. So I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re in Paris and reading this, you should definitely go to that Shining show on Wednesday, shout until your voice is raw, and live through all the feelings that you and everyone around you want to work through. It’s your right and your freedom, and in the end, I think that speaks a lot louder than whatever bombs we drop and guns we fire.