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Are you coming or what?

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

"When you're young, not much matters. When you find something that you care about, that's all you've got. When you go to sleep at night, you dream of the music. When you wake up, it's the same thing; it's staring at you in your face – you can't escape it. Sometimes when you're young, the only place to go is inside. That's just it. The music is what I love. Take that away from me, and I've really got nothing" – Mac Miller, on his 2009 debut album KIDS.

Although his genre-bending music never really made the transformation into the dance sounds many of us know and love, hearing a young 17-year-old Mac Miller spout these words for the first time, lying back stoned as fuck on a field in Fenham with the sun setting in the horizon, somewhere between the ages of 14 and 15, was certainly enough to ensure it stuck with me for the rest of my life. In my opinion, this is the greatest piece of work the 21st century has yet produced in terms of documenting and representing youth experiences in an accurate light, inspired by Larry Clark's 1995 directorial debut of the same name - KIDS. The interlude is particularly special to me. Now at 17, these words have never been truer. I resonate with these words to my core. My passion for music has transformed my life and made me a better human.

Growing up in the west end of Newcastle, as many would agree, there's fuck all going for you. Whatever good times you have are usually of your own making, with pals you've known and loved your whole waking life. Yet, at some point, there's a crossroads. A moment where getting legless in some field or your mate's kitchen doesn't quite hit the spot anymore, a point where conscience takes over, where a longing for expression of human emotions kicks in, feeling truly interconnected with the people around you.

For me and my friends, the turning point in this desolate headspace was discovering Newcastle's rave scene. At this point last year, I felt disconnected, marked up and like I would never escape the boundaries of what I knew life to be as an aggy teen from Fenham. Yet over the last year, that has drastically changed, and so have my perceptions of life itself; I am at ease to say I am the happiest I have ever been. I feel better-natured in my interactions with others, more compassionate, and more empathic. Perhaps I've developed what some would call a justified passion for life.

A defining night in this transition for us was the boiler room in Newcastle at the beginning of December. I'd just turned 17, and this was the first event I had ever been to. As soon as we saw the tickets come out, we knew this would be a special night, and we had to be there. Of course, I was shitting it. I'll never forget the speed of my heart rate when I got to the front of that queue, cowies tucked in my shoes, handing the bouncer possibly the shittest ID I've seen to date. Yet this was all part of the experience, I guess. What made it so exciting yet nerve-racking at the same time.

We began the night in the main downstairs room. The music was good, but the atmosphere was mixed. An apparent revelation came across me that many of these people were here for the image, not the music. Phone Flashes on, fluorescent tricky always, Mallets and block shades, the type that would give you the strongest hackies you've felt in your life for not conforming to their social milieu. Yet this all changed once we made it to the upstairs room; a sense awoke in me that now, our night had truly begun.

We'd heard of Shy Bairns before, a few of the lads who started it went to our high school whilst we had been in the lower years, and we'd seen their logo stickered around our local area and others, but before this night, we had no idea how special a thing it was. There was a brief grace period between us entering the room and figuring out what to do with ourselves before our pills kicked in, but from there, the night took itself on its own journey, and the rest was truly magical. Suddenly we all looked at each other, me and my other 2 comrades, filled with pure warmth and love, and didn't even have to attempt to utter words; we just smiled and hugged each other. The night's anxiety vanished at this moment, we knew what we were in for and that we had never experienced anything like it before, yet I think we also all knew at that moment this was a point of no return; a new dawn was upon us.

We were cascaded with wave upon wave of emotion; the correlation between sounds was immense, yet beautiful. The music poured right through you, touched every nerve, every feeling, every thought, a body high like nothing else. Something about house music, man. It picks you up when u need it, fills you with faith, lets you know everything will be alright, and carries you. It's good for the heart, man; It's truly good for the soul.

The atmosphere in that room was electric. Everyone you came across greeted you with a 'geet' big smile and a hug, then asked if you were alright and treated you like an old friend you had just bumped into again. I honestly feel like the piano section from the start of the 'Into the Music' track that night must have run through my mind for a good two weeks after. I truly felt the most alive I had done for a long time. I knew this was something I had to do again and again and again. There was a real afterglow from that night, a sense of belonging. We had found something that was meant for us.

Since then, me and my friends have been to events across the toon, but particularly down Ouseburn. We comprehend the fact we're young, and there's a risk associated with us being there, yet we are there on the firm basis of pure intentions. The sense of community there is immense and inspiring for a person my age. It's reassuring to know and see there are like-minded people out there, and once you look, it's not hard to find them. Yeah, occasionally, you get the odd funny look cause you're younger-looking than everyone else. We've still got a bit of that radgie scruff look about us, but once you speak to people, they get it, they understand. For people like us, there's not really much else, like what mac miller said.

As a wise man once said to me, 'Music describes the indescribable', and I resonated with that phrase to the utmost level.

Newcastle's special man. It's got a real buzz about it. It's exciting being this age at this point in time. Such amazing things have been created here, and I can't wait to see what the future holds. I guess it begs the ultimate question, are you coming or what?

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