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May 25, 2009 | by  | in Arts Music | [ssba]

Parachute: An Angel at my Turntable


Parachute. My and Yazir’s lifeline to wholeness. That’s what he said. And maybe. People like Jimi Hendrix were spawned on this kind of stuff. And me and Yazir needed to find out.. Not for ourselves but for everyone, in a more cosmic sense.

Not that I would have even gone near words like ‘cosmic’ before my Parachute experience, but when you hang out with someone like Deacon Melvin Upbright, it kind of rubs off. He was the guy who dreamed up the ‘Cuddle and Caress Spunk for Love Pit’, a feature that elevates Parachute so far above its less forward-thinking rivals in the Christian music festival scene, and we were lucky enough to get introduced to him on our first day.

“You see, a lot of people assume Christian youth to be hidebound, trapped in a Brady Bunch mould and mindset,” he explained, “but the truth is, we’ve moved way beyond that. Transcended, like. If people open their eyes, they’ll see that we give nightcaps, we don’t always use our $100 bills just for spending, and yeah, sometimes we do it bareback.”

He claims that a major factor in the shift towards a more worldly Christian youth consciousness was the reinterpretation of scripture in the early 90s, especially that of Bishop T. D. Jakes. “These guys were on a wild tangent, coming up with some insane stuff, but it just kind of made sense. Sure they were on a lot of drugs, but when Jakes came up with his revolutionary theory explaining Jesus’ crucifixion as a drug-induced hallucination, and the Seven Wise Men as a network of dealers, there was a widespread feeling that mainstream Christianity was never going to be the same.” And judging by the amount of hard drugs readily available at festivals like Parachute, it seems futile to argue with him on this point.

The classic dance music formula: hypnotic four-four rhythms, some flashing lights, strong hallucinogens and you’re in for a good night. So easy it could practically be a limerick chanted by small children. Parachute says, ‘try that, kids, but add Jesus to the mix’. Some call it a Prophet Soul Punch, or a Saint Bartholemew Flip. We call it the best thing since some celebrity on some movie you all like did or said something you all identify with. Talk about neuron blasting! When you’ve got 2000-plus rabid Christians tearing up on one of the most sweaty and brutal outdoor zones since the Coliseum, then it’s well-nigh impossible not to be carried away by it all.

You see, the difference between this and your average outdoor dance party is that the collective hallucinations have some much more sturdy archetypes and icons to work with as raw material. And ooh, baby, I sure do like it raw! Compare the hippie raver myths of little whimsical goblins, inanely floating smiley faces and well meaning but ineffectually defined spirits with sturdy Bible classics such as Sodom and Gomorrah, waves being parted, smooth men and hairy men, pestilences, all that begetting, and women being forged out of ribs, and you can see why the basic ‘architectures of consciousness’ upon which mass hallucinations form are much more powerful at a party like this.

Or maybe it was simply that they do the drugs better. I was dismayed upon attending the Phat festival late last year to find it infested with low quality smack and BZP. No such compromises for this savvy Christian bunch; high purity PCP, otherwise known as Angel Dust, was the order of the day. This could be partially explained by the fact that most of the audience come from reasonably affluent families so are prepared to pay for quality. But to me, it also spoke volumes about the vibe of the party. PCP was notorious in the 80s as a volatile and dangerous narcotic, commonly sending its users into psychosis, and that this tendency was less pronounced at Parachute seemed to testify to a group of people able to look out for each other.

It seemed to be summed up well by the lyrics to one of the many slamming hard house/ happy hardcore anthems that pulverised the festival: “We all have our devils and our angels/ dust to dust/ so let’s dust off our angels/ then let’s ****.” And let me tell you, being high on a gram of angel dust, with hot Christian chicks pressed up hard against us and a collectively hallucinated Jesus the size of the Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters swaggering across the floor in time to deafening Jungle with biblical overlays is an experience that could be imitated, but never, ever replicated.

Yazir, coming out of coma momentarily for a timely quote (especially seeing as his almost complete absence from this article may be making him look suspiciously fictional) put it well: “If Jesus be any rock star, he mus’ be Bon Jovi, man. Cos even though they both are baby faces who lookin’ kinda innocent, they get all the pussy! He he!” Or at least it seemed apposite at the time… So thanks Parachute, together with Jesus we positively floated into the New Year*… “With G-zus in the house, let’s bring on them last days!” Boyeeeeeee!

*Editor’s note: the author of this article appears to be under the impression that Parachute is a New Year’s festival when in actual fact it takes place in late January. As he abandoned his Professorial role and secured a job in Temuka petrol station immediately following Parachute, a position he has continued to occupy, and refuses to reply to correspondence, we have been unable to obtain his permission to alter his original draft.


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