Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ear Plugs Are for Old People

My son, Christian, called me last week to see if I was going to his show on Saturday night. As a parent who wants to be supportive of his offspring, I told him I would be there. I feel that I have time to make up for since I missed so many of his Little League games due to my disdain for sports job. He may have just been calling because he wanted a ride for him and his equipment, but I do try to make it to one of his shows at least every six weeks or so. While I do enjoy being there to show my support, it is sometimes rather difficult to endure be there for him. We have a history of doing crazy things together, but it is not as easy as it used to be. You see, I am forty years old and Christian is in a death metal band.

He looks more devious in this
picture than real life.

I have no problem with this band. They are actually very talented. That may be hard to believe coming from me since I am his father, but it's true. They really are very good. I could especially tell during this latest show since they have better equipment now and it no longer sounds like a rhinoceros having an epileptic seizure in a small garden shed filled with empty tin cans. I still have no idea what words are being screeched out of the singer's mouth, but I can make out the individual instruments. Before, it was just an involuntary violent rape of my auditory organs that took days to heal. The improvements in the quality of their equipment proves that shopping for the best deal isn't always the way to go.  TIP: If you want decent sound quality, do not buy your equipment at BIG LOTS.

Almost every time I have seen them play has been at the same venue. It's the closest place they play to my home, but it still takes about 45 minutes to get there. I believe the building is a youth center during the week, but on weekends it is a showplace for bands. They get some great groups in there. We are in southern Illinois and that night they had a group from Evansville, Indiana and one that had driven all the way from Nashville, Tennessee.

I have worked with youth for about 20 years and have dragged kids all over the country to various events, trips and sometimes concerts. I have been to more than my share of events geared towards a younger crowd, so I know how this works, but I believe I am beginning to reach the end of my days in these settings.

I think he has a bee in his shirt
Christian's group , Odysseus, played second, so my entire reason for being there had come to an end early in the evening. There were seven bands playing and I already felt a headache coming on. I knew I had hours ahead of me and sitting in a corner waiting for the time to pass would have been more uncomfortable than sitting through an episode of Intervention at Lindsey Lohan's house, so I stayed in the heat of the action. However, avoiding injury is a prominent concern for someone who doesn't recover as quickly as he used to.

I tried to capture some video of what was going on in the 'pit,' but the room was too dark to get anything of quality, so you will just have to settle for my descriptions. I hope you appreciate them, because in order to get the scoop, I had to put myself in harm's way fighting to stay on my feet. I have been in plenty of mosh pits and done the crazy slam dancing and thrashing, but I have outgrown it. When I look at it now, it seems stupid. I can't believe I ever used to enjoy getting hurt.

He didn't duck fast enough
They don't just jump and throw their arms around with reckless abandon unconcerned for the people around them, some of these guys are jumping up and doing roundhouse kicks into the crowd. Now, for the people that want to get in the middle of it and participate in this, that is their business If they get hurt, they knew what they were getting into. A person cannot jump into a pool and then be mad because his hair got wet. However, there are some that are there to listen to the music and are not 'in the pit.' Just a little common decency would ensure that they would be safe. Unfortunately, there are some idiots who insist on involving people that do not want to be involved. One rather heavy set headbanger would start backing up until he was at the edge where there was a line of people watching the show. Once he felt he had reached the crowd, he would start jumping and doing donkey kicks behind him striking whatever person was unlucky enough to be close to him.

PILE UP!!!
Other  people crowd the stage to be in front of the dancers, avoid the pit and get closer to the music, but some of the dancers would grab bystanders and fling them into the crowd. There was no place safe unless you got far from the area. I was about as close as one could get without actually being in there. I tried to stay alert so I wouldn't get cold-cocked, but was knocked to the ground a few times. I wasn't really participating, but wanted to get some good pictures. I did my best to protect my camera.

Don't forget to protect your face
I hung in there, visited with people and actually had a great time, until about 11 o' clock. I was just spent and there were still two bands to go. I couldn't leave since I was Christian's ride home and we had to take some of the equipment back with us once the show was over. At that point, I found a comfortable spot to sit and waited it out contemplating  the aches I would inevitably feel in the morning. Christian even came and joined me. We made fun of some of the little people in the mosh pit that were trying to hold their own against the more seasoned and larger thrashers.

Despite my age and reluctance to jump right back into another night of that chaos, I did have a good time. In fact, the band has asked me to serve as their band manager when they go on tour this summer. I have agreed, but have concerns about what this experience on a daily basis will do to my eardrums sanity. Nevertheless, I will be there to:
  1. Review contracts
  2. Work the merchandise table
  3. Find safe places to park the van for sleeping
  4. Guard the van while they sleep
  5. Maintain the tour blog
  6. Confirm show dates
  7. Lug equipment in and out of van
  8. Ward off crazy fans and groupies
  9. Navigate to the next stop
  10. Taste test for poisoned food
  11. Keep track of the money
  12. Make sure they bathe
  13. Never sleep
After all, a musician's job is to write and play music. They have people for all that other stuff.

This summer, I am those people.

23 comments:

  1. I will be looking forward to hilarious posts and pictures and Xrays of your damaged eardrums. Ha!

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    1. I will try to fit those into the tour. In fact, we will be around your part of the county. You should host a show in your back yard.

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  2. I never did get slam dancing. ...then again, I was never really into metal. In highschool, Sarah McLachlan was more my speed...probably a connection there. Good luck with the tour.

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    1. I never did it as a teenager. It has been in my adult experiences that I have done the wildest stuff. I was pretty reserved when I was younger. Being a nerd, I found the metal heads a bit intimidating.

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    2. Ha! Well maybe my crazy days are ahead of me. Nerd power!

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    3. Brett, You didn't need to go anywhere to be in a mosh pit...You lived in one, with you bros! Aunt Claudia

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    4. And I loved it. It prepared me for adulthood.

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  3. Wow! That doesn't sound like an adventure I would want to jump into (oh, I'm 40, too!), but I hope you are able to maintain your hearing/sanity. Hope to read some great posts about your adventures!
    Tracie
    crackyouwhip.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I am sure there will be plenty of adventure. I tend to get into plenty of situations even when I am not with younger people.

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  4. Nice. I know Christian appreciated your sacrifice :)

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    1. I do enjoy going. I don't think I could do it every weekend, but it's a good time.

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  5. Oooo, so uncool when people can't respect that not everyone is there to fling themselves around - and donkey kicks? That kid was intentionally trying to hurt someone.

    I almost got trampled at a show once, even though I thought I was far enough back to avoid the pit. Fortunately some big dude picked me up and carried me out of the mess. I had so many cuts and bruises it looked like I got jumped.

    You are a trooper. I hope your ears survive!!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I have been to enough of these I know the protocol, but I just don't appreciate it as much as I used to. Some people just like to cause trouble.

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  6. Great Post! I'm sure Christian is very happy to have such a supportive dad.

    I remember once I jumped into the pit during a concert and ended up running myself into some guy's sweaty, hairy chest, very much like Ben Styler in Along Came Polly. I had nightmares about that for days

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    1. I haven't had that happen, but I am increasingly more aware of the body odor. It is a stinky sweaty mess.

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  7. That's cool. The world would be a better place if it was filled with supportive rather than critical or judgmental parents. That is not to say parent shouldn't guide but too many try to shove their kids a direction.

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    1. He is a good kid. We tried to let them follow their own paths. We did offer guidance, sometimes loud than others, but their choices (as long as not immoral) were their own to make.

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  8. It's nice that you, being old, support your son who is in a Death Metal band. If I suddenly joined a Death Metal band I think my dad would just shake his head and say "OooooooOOOOOOkaaaaaayyyy" and leave it at that.

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    Replies
    1. I subjected him to enough insanity over the years, I can't really say much about anything he does.

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  9. You are a brave and kickass dad.

    Please bring one of those oldschool hockey helmets to protect your face.

    Added bonus - they make you look badass/homicidal which should fit in perfectly.

    I wish you luck.

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    1. That would be awesome. I may put on full football gear and just sit in the middle of the pit.

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  10. That is awesome. Good to keep yourself young!

    A couple-few years ago I went to a Violent Femmes concert (again) and we worked our way down in the very front. There was one girl just holding the very front railing, the only one in front of us. She wasn't dancing - or moving in any observable way - wasn't singing along, just holding her place like she'd been dragged there. It felt like spite for her to hold the front spot when some of us who were going wild and new ALL the lyrics might have truly appreciated it.

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    1. She was probably trying to anchor herself to the spot so she wouldn't get thrown.

      It was more fun in my younger days.

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