I, while maybe being only a 5′ 7″, fairly small girl, am no stranger to a good mosh pit. In my ~glorious~ high school days, frequented the underground scene in Boston, and I’ve endured my fair share of music festival crowds. I try to work out and run when I can, somewhat trying my hardest to remain a somewhat strong person. Yet, nothing could have prepared me for the insanity of JPEGMAFIA’s Boston show at the Sinclair, not Injury Reserve, or Playboi Carti, or any underground show I’d ever been to.
We got to the show fairly early, taking an afternoon commuter train up from Providence into Boston. The entire way, my friend and I were headphones in, learning the rhythm of JPEG’s songs, understanding the way that everything moved as our train rushed us closer and closer to our destination.
I was beyond excited for the show, although my friend and I had forgotten we had tickets until the night before in the midst of midterm season. When we realized, it was a simple groan of “we have to go,” rather than any debate about it; Our work, obviously, had to move around the event instead of any question of us skipping the concert on our work’s behalf. Did I stay up until 4am to study for my German test? Yes. Do I regret it? Only in the first moment of waking up the next day.
The show itself began mellow with a DJ spinning on stage for about an hour before JPEG was ready to make his appearance. My friend and I somewhat bounced with the music, becoming part of a flow of vague head nods and, far away from a small group of people moshing near the front. For a moment, I was fooled into thinking the show might be chill TM. I was wrong. I was very, very deeply wrong.
From the moment JPEG came on, the crowd fully went off, and JPEG encouraged us often, constantly shouting to open the pit, letting people jump onto the stage to stage dive, and overall making it clear that the expectation was insanity and anything less than that was not allowed.
A song didn’t pass where I wasn’t dodging feet as they came inches away from my face. Falling happened often, but also not at all since you would just land half-standing still on the bodies of the people already on the floor. My friend picked up a pair of shattered glasses on the floor, trying to return them to a kid who just said he lost them. Turns out, there was more than one pair of shattered glasses on the floor. We kept the ones we found as a keepsake.
To be clear, the people at this concert literally sucked. The pit was filled with sweaty, huge white guys who were, objectively too up in my space even under the conditions of the mosh. Men were constantly trying to elbow their way to the front, and I woke up with bruises on my shoulders because of it. I really felt for this one dude who made his entire mission of the night to punch any guy that tried to take his short girlfriend’s spot in the front row. By the end of the night, it was unclear what was my sweat and what had been flung onto me by guys who, for some unknowable reason, refused to take off their sweatshirts.
Yet, no amount of shitty people could take away from the world JPEG created. Every song slapped, and every moment went hard. After the show, we thought about sticking around to meet him for another hour or so but quickly realized there might not be any need. We had already been filled with JPEG, had supported him as he crowd surfed, had moved to every line. Now, we were tired and had an hour commute home. It was time to go, so we left.
I watched the bruises form over the coming days, and then I watched as they faded. I got the work done I had procrastinated, and maybe my grades suffered a tad for it. None of it mattered though. The memory sits fresh, and those shattered glasses still sit on my friend’s dresser as a constant reminder of what had been.