Two weekends ago, I went to my first “death metal” concert. Before March 8, I would have said I was watching “hard rock.” But now I have seen the light and can tell you with certainty that both those terms are HIGHLY insufficient to express the breadth and (anguished) depths of this musical genre.
What I really saw, ladies and gentlemen, was a concert opened by a Rock band, continued by a Progressive Rock band and headlined by a Renegade Bong Metal band. Oh, yeah. (There’s nothing worse than a renegade bong.)
I freely admit, I’m kind of a musical prude. Not on the Frasier Crane level of classical compositions and operatic arias, but I am pretty committed to my classic rock, my Top 40, my musical numbers, and my 90s alternative lite. I rarely branch out. I completely identify when my friend Jess says supporting her boyfriend’s punk band requires a kind of love she hadn’t dabbled in before. And then, a few Fridays past, J said:
I planned our date for this weekend. It’s a surprise. You’re definitely gonna hate it.
Well played, husband. He know I’m like Barney Stinson when it comes to accepting a challenge. “I’m gonna love it!” I whooped. “For sure!”
Cut to Saturday night. Thank the unholy baby Satan (or whoever these guys worship) that I happened to be wearing a silky black blouse instead of my usual bright-colored sweaters. When we rolled up at the dingy, thumping concert hall, the crowd outside gave me my first inkling that this wasn’t one of our usual excursions. Facial hair and skeleton T-shirts and a dude wearing a milk jug on his head – oh my!
The next surprise came courtesy of the guy at the door. J tried to pay the cover charge with a five, four ones, and four quarters. It was all we had! The doorman got indignant . “Naw, man, we can’t take change. We have to pay the bands with this haul!” Replied J: “But it’s money.” Deadbeat Doorman: “No it’s not, bro. It’s change.” *Looks at us like we’re stupid.* J: “Ummm, actually… it is money.” DD: “You’re gonna have to go to the ATM, dude.” J: “Are you serious? I have $10 right here!” DD: “Well…” Me (exasperated): “Screw it, we’re out of here. Make sure to tell the bands you lost them two ticket sales.” DD: “OK, OK, if you’re gonna be like that…” *He stamps our hands with a black cat.*
Once we were in, I spent most of my time at the bar drinking hard cider and sneaking sidelong glances at the grown man wearing a milk jug mask. He was quite a dancer. After the Progressive Rock group finished their set, J told me one of his old high school friends was playing with them these days, and that’s why we had come. It was actually pretty cool to see this long-haired bear of a guy go from tossing his head with a concentrated snarl on his face to hugging J like a long-lost pal. And – I admit it – I did my fair share of fist pumping and head nodding as the night went on.
What I never, ever would have expected was the specificity of the band descriptions listed on the “Coming Attractions” bar sign. Turns out a group called Mobile Death Camp plays Swampy Thrash/Speed Metal, but the band Irata plays Progressive Heaviness. Lorin Walker Madsen goes in for Hell Raisin’ Heart Breakin’ Country, while Obliteration churns out Old-School Norwegian Death Metal. And I’m confident nothing could prepare my eardrums for Grooms of the Stool and their Brain-Souping Metal, let alone “Shtfcker” and their Crusty Metal/Punk.
Did you guys know about this? Am I just out of the loop? And would you ever go to a concert to hear something called Crushing Swamp Sludge?