Question Of The Week: Feels Like The First Time!
Your first concert is a rite of passage, be it a stadium-sized multi-media mega-spectacle, an intimate club gig populated by stinky dudes clustered around brain-searing speakers, or a dingy basement jam headlined by road dogs who’ll end up on your couch for the night.
But in a way, concertgoing is like doing sex: The first time might best be forgotten. But u definitely remember your first awesome concert, the way it all came together to explode your reality, make your memories, and rip your pants off! That was when u first grasped the potential for awesomeness in live music events. Let’s all share that memory in today’s MetalSucks Question Of The Week, a hot survey of our hot staff metalicians on today’s hot issues in metal.
Fearless. Controversial. Half-baked. We give it to you straight every Friday afternoon. Straight to the merch table. Here’s this week’s question:
Inspired by Devin Townsend’s upcoming Retinal Circus extravaganza, we asked our staff the following:
What was your first mind-blowing, unforgettable concert experience?
Was it as awesome as ours? The MS staff’s expert answers below!
I’ve been going to shows pretty regularly since I was 15 or 16, but the first one that really truly stands out and comes with a story worth telling, is the first time I saw EyeHateGod. It was their 20th anniversary show at One-Eyed Jack’s in the French Quarter of New Orleans on August 29, 2008. I was barely 20, definitely underage, and absolutely thrilled to be there. Crowbar and Hellkrusher rounded out the bill, and I was there ostensibly to review the gig for Metal Maniacs (RIP), but really just to soak in the sights, the sounds, and the spilled bourbon to come. I purchased a last-minute plane ticket to NOLA and arranged to have a friend of a friend scoop me up at the airport and let me crash at his warehouse in the dingy, dank Ninth Ward, then hauled ass down south hoping that Hurricane Gustav would remain at bay until my escape from New York. Yeah, a hurricane was coming to New Orleans — always a dodgy situation, but one that my younger self had no trouble throwing herself into. The follies of youth. Weather reports warned that Gustav was about 72 hours away; I was meant to be in town for a measly 48 of them, so I figured, “Fuck it,” and went anyway. The trip went off without a hitch — that is, until the day of the gig when reports started filtering in and locals set about stocking up on beer and batteries. The call came Friday evening: The city was to be evacuated on Saturday — my flight home was scheduled for Sunday morning. Shit. A panicked hour on the phone to the airline resulted in a change to a brutally early flight before the madness hit. With my escape route summarily secured, I was able to scurry on down to the show to wade in some heroin blues and syrupy sludge (with only a hazy idea of what I was doing and just a few lingering doubts). It was all worth it, of course, this gloriously whiskey-soaked evening presided over by a howling, wild-eyed Mike Williams, with riffs ripped straight from the Devil’s blues book, Kirk’s beard, and sheer sonic fury. Somehow I ended up getting a very drunk ride back to the airport from the sound man and his lady, sipping a mint julep on the way before stumbling onto the last plane out of MSY at the eleventh hour. Getting home to NY was just a bonus, though — seeing EHG in their element was the best part of the whole adventure. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
I’m a Neurosis fanboy; I think that new Family album is fucking terrific; I have serious opinions on Morbid Angel’s Gateways To Annihilation; I mildly enjoy Gnaw Their Tongues’ All the Dread Magnificence of Perversity and Wold. And yet, my Ted Haggard-grade hypocrisy is tied to my first concert ever: Korn, Incubus, and Orgy quasi-rocking the Worcester Centrum. Orgy was … fine. Incubus was a lot of fun. (When S.C.I.E.N.C.E. came out, they were still sort of a heavy band.) And Korn was touring for Follow the Leader, their watershed moment, so the crowd reflected it: a pretty even split between death metal-sympathetic dudes and the awkward, slightly-above-Juggalo kids in head-to-toe PacSun gear (just like, y’know, I was). But even in my nascent stages of concert-going, I could smell the bullshit. Korn could not have cared less about where they were; it was an off-night from Family Values Tour, and their show seemed extra staged. They closed with “My Gift to You,” one of their patented share-too-much album finales, and Jonathan Davis, after sleepwalking through its bagpipe passage, threw a tantrum-centric performance. But even then, when I had adored Korn to an extent that now fills me with 23 gallons of shame, it felt gross to witness Davis exploiting a supposedly horrible, tragic event from his childhood for the purposes of theater. It’s one thing to boldly put yourself out there every night; it’s another to peddle trauma like Pink Floyd launches balloon pigs into the rafters. Maybe it was that I caught a glimpse of what I didn’t want to be. Or maybe they just weren’t that great that night. They certainly didn’t play enough from Life is Peachy, that’s for damn sure.
I saw Motley Crue when I was a widdle freshman. It was my first metal show and no one would go with me, but I didn’t even care, I had a blast! They were so tight (the peak of their sobriety I think it was) and so engaging, and at the time they were still one of my favorite bands. I had never thought I’d see them live, so to hear songs like “Dr. Feelgood” live was almost more than my innocent mind could handle. The elder (probably ex-groupie) ladies nearby sort of adopted me for the night and kept passing me their joints; a mother got so offended at the Crue titty-cam that she practically dragged her teen boys out by their ears. Aaand I ran into my crush, oh it was a Dear Diary moment indeed.
My first mind-blowing concert experience was “Weird Al” Yankovic at the West Hollywood House of Blues in 1994. I was 12. My mom had this tradition of buying me every new Weird Al on cassette, even after CDs had become way more popular. So he was already a god to me, but when he performed “Fat” in a rubber suit that got fatter and fatter as he sang, Al ascended to the heavens of awesomedom. I remember his lead guitarist wailing on Eddie Van Halen’s solo in “Eat It,” too. I still have the ticket stub to that show. The ticket was $17.50, or four weeks’ allowance back in those days. Devin Townsend can only hope to be so unselfconsciously silly in concert.
Queensryche‘s Pink Floyd-meets-Crash Test Dummies ballad “Silent Lucidity” hit number one a month before their awesome 1991 tour came to my city. On the arena-packing strength of “Lucidity” and its mostly incredible album Empire, Geoff Tate and crew were newly in possession of the resources to stage their complete 1988 opus Operation: Mindcrime for the first time. And the shit was motherfucking boner-busting awesome: Back then Tate was in peak form and less frequently lulzy as hell (ref. his jean jacket/leather pants/slicked-back pony tail look and mime-on-PCP acting), and only a band nightly savoring the fruits of its persistence could perform that monster concept album (plus bookend sets of classics and new jamz) like 7500 times in a year. And perhaps more motivation came from openers Suicidal Tendencies, whose incredible 45 minutes so perfectly capsulized the high-temperature urban psychosis of ST albums and videos. (I soul-splooged during “Pledge Your Allegiance,” believe that.) Plus, Queensryche’s veins might’ve bulged with even more juice cuz our stop was one of three filmed for the Operation: Livecrime CD/VHS. (It was a year later that we were thrilled to find that out , since nobody we partied with that night recalled noticing cameras or crew. Btw Livecrime‘s retail price was higher than my concert ticket lol.) So u can share our experience — just watch the DVD remaster under a bridge, on drugz, and with your buttcheeks clenched.
Confidential to the pink tank top/cream mini-skirt superbabe at the end of my row: I’m of age now and my invitation stands :))
It was Destroyer 666 at the NYC stop of their 2006 Wolves Over America tour. At that time, they were one of my absolute favorite bands and I couldn’t wait to see them. But on the bus down from Boston with some friends, I realized that I had forgotten my ID. It was an 18+ show, so this turned out to be quite an issue. It took an hour or so of playing “damsel in distress” before a sympathetic doorman finally let me in just before D666 took the stage. I shoved through the sea of leather-clad, spiked gauntlet-wearing showgoers to take my place at the front. As I waited for K.K. Warslut and co. to appear, I noticed that the crowd was already pretty damn sauced and, well, overly aggressive. By the first riff, the floor was covered with broken glass and I in beer spittle and cheap whiskey. Spikes were flying, punches were being thrown, and everyone was just fuckin’ ANGRY. I ignored everything around me, let my hair fly, and shouted every lyric; it was a blast. That is, until a mountain of a man came barreling into me and knocked my shoulder out of its socket. I just stood there looking at the bulge of bone and muscle where it shouldn’t be, and bassist Matt Razor noticed and gave me a look of “Oooooh, that sucks.” At that point, a bouncer dragged me backstage by my good arm, asking if I needed an ambulance or something; I refused with a pained “Nooooo” and gently wriggled my shoulder back into place. I then made my way carefully to the back to enjoy the rest of the show unscathed. Five years later I’d require surgery to fix the damage, but I wouldn’t trade that night for the world: I have great memory of a favorite band’s awesome show — and a neat story to go along with it.
Dude, truly anything can happen at a concert’s convergence of deafening noise, wild rockers, fat suits, drugz and drink, low-lighting, spirited body movement, groupies, ex-groupies, supra-Juggalos, hurricanes, accordions and bagpipes and shit, and repressed rage! Anything!! U should know — you’ve been there! So share your story with us below. Have an awesome wknd!!