Originally written for publication in The Boar, Warwick University’s student newspaper.–
Not so long ago, I was frequenting an exclusive South Leamington cocktail bar. Compelled by housemates proffering a certain glowing green beverage, I was giving a passionate rendition of System of a Down’s alternative metal anthem, ‘Chop Suey’. Revellers at Kelseys seemed surprisingly disengaged by my efforts and some even appeared to be genuinely upset. A friend of mine told me my talents were going to waste on the patrons of this establishment. She invited me to Warwick SU’s very own rock night, Crash, where she assured me that they would be better appreciated.
A few weeks later, I took her up on the offer.
Hours before we set off, I found myself feeling increasingly apprehensive. I was worried that my lacklustre knowledge of the genre would embarrass myself and my friend. If I was put on the spot, I would struggle to describe the differences between metal, hardcore and prog. Although I cannot really remember why, at the time, I thought this would be of great importance. Perhaps I imagined there would be some sort of entrance exam. I also worried that my own tastes would get me in trouble. There was a danger I would accidentally give away a fondness for the Arctic Monkeys and be told to sit in the corner with a lemonade. I couldn’t really attempt to blend in either. I had nothing black to wear. In fact, all I had that was washed was a T-Shirt that featured a cartoon Chewbacca on a skateboard. What the hell would they make of me?
My friend let me know at the last minute that we were getting a lift in with some Warwick Alumni who were long time Crash fans. Minutes into journey, my anxieties were already starting to fade. We chatted about beer, student life and the terror of entering the real world. This instant bonding became a pretty common theme throughout the night. Crash’s attendees were some of the friendliest and most approachable people I have met over the last three years.
The evening kicked off with Warwick graduates, Stone Mirage, playing a decent set to a group of us who had turned up early. Chris Carter was the evening’s DJ and he did a fine job. He played a really good selection of rock and and it turned out, I knew a lot more than I thought. There was of course, a good amount of head-banging. Mosh pits formed for some of the heavier stuff. If anyone fell down they were immediately picked up – a courtesy that sadly seems to be disappearing from some of the larger festival gigs across the country. The entire room participated in a conga to Genesis, which was, simply, an awesome spectacle to behold. I was later told that on a previous occasion, Crash goers had congaed their way from the top floor of the Copper Rooms through a foam party going on downstairs. I could see why people kept coming back.
Apart from the music, the one thing that really set Crash apart from other union nights was its inclusiveness. This was not only manifested in a physical form (it’s hard to be left out when everyone is holding on to each other) but also socially and perhaps (if this isn’t over-egging it) politically. It soon became clear to me that my “indie” look wasn’t going to be a problem, but nor was any facet of my identity. I could have been gay, straight, bi or asexual. Male, female or somewhere in between. I wasn’t going to be told I needed to get laid and forced towards a crowd of women. Nobody was going to make me drink if I didn’t want to get drunk (although, as it happened, I did.) It wouldn’t have mattered if I was a first year or had graduated five years previously. I didn’t even have to apologize for studying PPE. People genuinely wanted to enjoy the night and help others to do the same. Weird, huh?
I had an absolutely amazing evening. Crash truly is a fantastic event. It is one that should be treasured – or at least attended – by anyone with even a passing interest in rock. The next night is on the 27th April. I hope to see you there.