Last night is a sight — and sound — that will live in my memory forever. Last night System of a Down played a free concert in Republic Square in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. 50,000 people — elders, youngsters, and everyone in between — showed up to rock out and despite the nonstop rain, the crowd’s spirit could not be soiled. Everyone standing outside got drenched, but despite their predicament, they showed no signs of annoyance after the concert, only big smiles. Even days before, while the the ginormous stage was being built from the ground up, the excitement around it was palpable.
And Armenians weren’t the only ones in line for the show. I met a Georgian guy and an Italian guy, both longtime SOAD fans, who came out to Yerevan for the show. Despite the fact that there were people from different parts of the world, all smushed together under less-than-ideal weather conditions, there was major camaraderie happening at every corner. I heard from a friend who was in the mosh pit that when someone would fall down, everyone would stop and help them up. Another friend offered to put a young Armenian child, a stranger, on her shoulders in order for him to be able to see the stage. The “partzratzeer partzratzoor” (rise and help rise) spirit was in full force.
Republic Square had never seen such excitement, such action since I’d say the freedom bells rang during the independence of Armenia from the Soviet Union in 1991 — and since Kim and Khloe Kardashian arrived at the Marriott Hotel during their visit. On the heels of the Kardashian visit, the SOAD concert once again uplifted the spirits of all Armenians and gave them hope that their country is relevant and worthy of the world’s attention. Hopefully this positive vibe will resonate with everyone and continue to permeate the country even after the stage has been torn down.