Headbanging. It’s weird, right? Why would a person risk whiplash for the chance to swing one’s hair back and forth wildly to some aggressively loud beat? Well, as a lifelong headbanger, I’d have to say there isn’t really much of a choice involved. It’s something that overtakes the body. It’s an automated response to dank, brutal bass, like your own constant heartbeat or remembering to breathe when you’re asleep.
Yes, I do like this drop—so much so that I will sustain a slight, short-term neck injury for the love of the beat.
Yes, there are risks involved. I can remember being in English class in middle school and having to physically hold my head up with one hand while I wrote essays with the other, because I had weakened my neck muscles with about two hours of sustained long-hair thrashing the night before—but it never soured the experience. A week later, you’d find me at some show, shaking my brain with the best of them, all smiles.
Sure, you might hit the person behind you—or in front of you, or to the left or right of you—with your wild and uncontrollable movements. But that’s just the thing: the better the show, the less anyone will care. We all get swept up in the anxious builds, the mind-numbing drops. Headbanging is an outward affirmative signal to the world that YES, I DO LIKE THIS DROP—SO MUCH SO THAT I WILL SUSTAIN A SLIGHT, SHORT-TERM NECK INJURY FOR THE LOVE OF THE BEAT. It’s also a signal to your banging brethren that you, too, are one of them. You have all been infected with the same swarm of bees, and you are all viciously shaking your manes in an attempt to let out some of this incredible energy the DJ has transferred upon you.
It’s a return to our inherent, primitive natures, a literal nod to our ancestors, who—if they could also hear this booming and beautiful, chaotic noise—would surely join us in a ritualistic dance full of drama. Perhaps we are conjuring a spirit with our movements, or maybe we are just conjuring a morning of aches. It’s still so totally worth it, and imagine what it looks like for the DJ onstage. How else is the headliner going to know we’re with him? We have to show our support, and our flowing, whipping heads are flags of our adoration.