Tuesday, October 11, 2005
At Metallica Concert
Mosh pit beside me! I feel one of your bodies slam into mine!
Crowd of five-thousand, I feel your collective body odor
Crowds of men and women—okay, mostly men—attired in sweaty t-shirts, how
Curious you are to me!
In your Volkswagens and Chevy’s you came by the hundreds,
leaving your homes, are more curious to me
than you suppose,
And those that shall travel to these concerts in years to come are
more to me, and more in my reminiscings, than you might
The immeasurable bond we share at all times, no matter what is
popular on the radio at the moment,
The rowdy, yet organized seating structure, myself lost in crowd,
each fan lost in the crowd yet part of the seating structure.
How similar this concert is from their 1997 tour,
The glories of the Master of Puppets album sit along side
the better numbers from Load, the many wonders of the
self-titled album meshing with Kill ‘em All, sometimes
even segueing into one another,
The banging of Lars Ulrich’s drum kit in perfect timing with
Concert-goers on tours to come, these bonds we will share,
The certainty of more concert-goers, their raised fists and sore throats.
Others will pay the sixty-five dollar ticket prices and clamor to find
Others will arrive hours earlier and watch the rush,
Others will join in banging their heads in unison, and making the sign of the devil
with their outstretch hand,
Five years hence, others will see their heads banging, silhouetted by the
spotlights in summer nights,
Another decade hence, or ever so many decades hence, other
concert-goers will see them,
Will enjoy the kick-ass riffs, the bruisings of the mosh pit, the
lulls when the band performs one of it’s ballads.
It avails not, album nor song preference—age avails not,
I am with you, you sweaty Metallica fans of this generation, or those of you
who’ve been fans since Ride the Lightening,
Just as you shed a tear during “Fade to Black,” I also wept like small child,
Just as you played air guitar during “Eye of the Beholder,” I also pretended,
Just as you are relieved by the catharsis that comes from singing
“Seek and Destroy”, I too am relieved,
Just as you are sensitive enough to appreciate “Nothing Else Matters”
yet hardcore enough to know the lyrics to “Whiplash”, I also know.
Just as you look throughout numberless days for tour dates and news of their
latest album, hoping that it would rock, I look’d.
I too many and many a time swapped lyrics with friends of old,
Watched the official web site, saw its black background glittered with red,
red and white letters telling of band news, giving up their secrets,
Waited as they took years off at a time to recover from the wears and tears of
touring and left fans with whetted appetites,
Waited through their record, release, tour and rest cycle hoping they would come
the to South,
Saw the gleam in mine own eye reflecting from the computer screen,
Had my fervent hopes raised when they announced they’d come to Atlanta,
Felt the bearing weight of anticipation as they days crept ever more slowly
toward July 7,
Felt the taunt of expectation when they played first in other regions,
Felt the hot sun as I waited in elongated lines outside the Georgia Dome,
Felt the unspoken competition for a decent view as the hour approached,
Saw the band enter during the strings and chorus of “Ecstasy of Gold,”
Saw them as they played the opening of “Creeping Death,” saw the other
fists pumped in appreciation,
The roadies at work tweaking sound level, dashing about to plug or unplug wires,
The giant box-shaped amplifiers, the tilting motion of the spotlights, the slender necks
of Gibson guitars,
The steam rising from hundreds of shirtless young men, the occasional security guard
wandering from row to row,
The voices gradually growing more hoarse after each anthem, the demands from
James Hetfield that we keep singing along,
The fireworks launched with yellow streaks, set to go off during “One,”
The wave-like bounce in the crowd, the gaps that opened as the mosh pit formed,
the chorus of “yeah!” that followed each song,
The patches of crowd that went silent during older portions of the band’s catalog
that they didn’t know the words to,
The fans who started following when the self-titled album came out, or perhaps
it was Reload, or perhaps they only enjoyed particular songs like
“Enter Sandman” and “Until it Sleeps,”
The fans who knew every word to every song recorded sing 1983, even though some of
us were but fours years of age at the time,
All of us cast our hands to the sky in unison, our white arms covered in perspiration,
reflecting the glow of the yellow spotlights in the dark
of a midsummer night.
These and all other thrash metal fans are to me the same as to you,
I loved well these 220 beats-per-minute staples, loved well the 120 b.p.m. songs,
The smelly young men there were all (a little too) near to me,
Others who attend in next tour the same—others who will pay upwards of
seventy dollars for mediocre seats,
(The time will come, though I have spent my money to-night and am broke.)
What is it then that sends us?
What are the school bills and car bills and rent that seek to prevent us
from seeing our favorite band?
Whatever they are, they avail not—tuition avails not, and the rising cost of
gasoline avails not,
I too, drove here from a distance several hours away,
I too will be dead tired during my summer class in the morning, catching
rest on the wooden desk beneath my face,
I too will face questions from parents about how I spend spare cash,
In the evening among crowds of metalheads sometimes I wondered if this
was the best use of my time,
While singing along to “Sad but True” I wondered if I would need my speaking
voice the next day,
I too received my identity through my fandom,
I had made the sacrifices necessary to be a fan, and what I should be I
knew should be in fandom.
It is not upon you alone that popular music falls,
Pop threw its three minute singles down upon me also,
The best songs it seem’d to me too dissonant and pretentious
The great bands as I once recognized them, were they not in reality
Nor is it you alone who know what it is to be a sellout,
I am he who knew what it means to sell out,
I too, purchased the CD of Nickleback,
Creed, Bush, Silverchair, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Staind
Had CDs, cassettes, singles, MP3’s, posters, t-shirt, I should have not bought,
Heard grunge, pop-punk, hip-hop, nu-metal, glam-metal, worst of all, rap-metal,
The fair-weather fan, the fashion victim, the poser reflect in my CD purchases,
The Will Smith, the Kid Rock, the Sammy Hagar-era Van Halen, in my CD
The Bon Jovi, Everclear, Offspring, Linkin Park, the Blink 182, all
of in these in my collection,
Was one of the fads, the trends, and the styles on MTV,
Flaunted my trendy purchases for young girls hoping they’d notice me
in approaching or passing,
Felt the weight in my wallet diminish as I wasted income, or the resignation
when I see them collecting dust in my CD rack,
Saw many groups I respected languish in the underground or as opening
acts, yet I spent not a dime on their efforts,
Listened to the same Korn with the rest, the same screaming, yelling,
Play’d the album that that still sends royalties to record labels and corporations,
The same album, the album that is what music business makes it, as popular as
they say it is,
Or as forgotten as they say it is, or both over- and underrated.
Their next summer tour approaches,
What songs you will know the words to, I knew as well as you—I brushed
up on the older numbers in advance,
I memorized lyric sheets and song directories before you were even a fan.
Who knows what kind of crowd will show up on those evenings?
Who knows how they will enjoy the songs off the St. Anger album?
Who knows what distances they will travel to attend, I am as good as smelling
you already, for Metallica fans are not known for good hygiene?
What song can ever be so poignant and yet rock so hard as “One,” off the
epic …And Justice for All Album?
Clean picked chords at the beginning and machine-gun riffs at the denouement?
Lead guitarist making his Stratocaster cry and moan, lead singer commanding
from the stage, the bass player doing his part and staying out of the way?
What band can better them that batter our ear drums with power chords, and
with voice I have longed to hear say sing of Lovecraftian things that
should not be as we chant along?
What is more awesome than this which bonds me to the women or men—okay,
just men—who stand beside me?
What brings us together tonight, and pours your sweat glands into my nose?
Rock on, Metallica! rock with the rhythm guitar, and beat the bass drum!
Mosh on, energetic and misunderstood metalheads!
Hard-hitting anthems during the encore! batter with your speed me,
or the men and, uhm, men in concerts to come!
Come in your Volkswagons, countless crowds of concert-goers!
Raise up your fists during “Battery!” throw out your voices during
“For Whom the Bell Tolls!”
Spend, impoverished and devoted fan! dish out your savings and buy second-rate
Forget everything outside while you are here, inside the sea of fandom!
Listen, open and thirsting ears, to the lengthy “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”
or the more radio-friendly “King Nothing.”
Sound out, voice of James Hetfield! loudly and musically sing the chorus,
“Just call my name, ‘cause I’ll hear you scream!”
Spin, old Metallica albums! play the songs that didn’t need MTV airplay to
become concert anthems!
Play the new songs, the songs some consider too polished and popular, depending
on the tastes of the listener!
Consider, you who purchase these albums, whether I may not be banging my head
at the same time you are;
Be firm, rail against the boy bands and support those who languish in the
underground fighting against pop music;
Wail on, lead guitarist! play with melody, or play with the inspired dissonance
of “The Shortest Straw;”
Support the riff, you bass player, and faithfully hold the rhythm section till
the four-, six- or eight- minute song is finished!
Pound, wooden sticks, to the drums of Lars Ulrich to the motion of my neck,
or any one’s neck, in the perspiring crowd!
Come out, support crew from behind the curtain! get the speakers and equipment
on stage in Memphis, Indianapolis and Phoenix!
Sing, James Hetfield, lead singer of all singers! but take some due time off to rest
your vocal chords!
Loom large on stage, you gods of metal! cast long shadows on the Billboard
charts! bring white noise and dark subject material to our boring
Our presence, now and in tours to come, indicates what we are,
We necessary fans, continue to purchase albums and concert tickets,
Otherwise the band couldn’t maintain its current lifestyle and have to get
Thrive in future albums—record speed-metal favorites, mid-tempo songs,
more melodic and thoughtful ballads,
Diversify, and don’t worry about those afraid of change,
Keep your energy and intensity and you will keep your smelly fans,
We have waited, and will always wait, we intense, misunderstood
We receive your output with arms outstretched, and are for now
Not any more this week shall be able to frustrate us, or withhold
satisfaction from us,
We use you, but will not abandon you for Slipknot—your albums
are on permanent rotation,
We are not worthy—we love you—there is good in even
your worst albums,
You kick ass in your live concerts,
This tour or the next, you kick ass in your live concerts.
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