Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Nokia hates us all

You know, I wince when I hear myself described as being "more into metal" than...well, anyone else. Which is not to say it isn't true...just that it gives me the heebies. The onset of the hair metal era is what drove me screaming from most music that even faintly resembled it. It wasn't intentional or all that conscious, but I do remember noticing how vacuous, stupid and superficial it was becoming all of a sudden. And by the time speed/thrash/death/whatever metal started to emerge as a reaction to all the silliness and disposability, I was long gone. It took years before I would even consider listening to any music that could be classified into any sub-genre with the word "metal" in the description. I remember engaging in more than a few drunken conversations in my early twenties with John and Mike and the guys in their bands about how I thought speed-metal bands like Slayer, Metallica, Venom and Anthrax were nothing more than Black Sabbath riffs on crank. Which isn't that far from the truth, really. But the album that made me reconsider my intolerance was Metallica's Garage Days Re-revisited (an EP, actually). All it was was a collection of punkish, hardcoreish cover songs, but it pointed out to me how closely related punk and metal could be. (One of the best Slayer records, FYI, is their own covers album, Undisputed Attitude. Just forty or so minutes of treating your face like a punching bag, it is beautifully brutal.) And I didn't really even like Slayer until maybe a decade or so ago when I saw their "Seasons in the Abyss" video. I was instantly hooked because I loved how dark the chorus sounded...and just the sound in general - there's a weird tension in Slayer's sound that nobody else can duplicate. A lot of it is the result of Rick Rubin's productions - you can hear it in System of a Down and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and every other hard rock band he produces. But it's also just this weirdly unnerving vibe the band generates. I can't quite put my finger on it, but you know it the second you hear it.

So if you followed the first link, you got to read Val's review of the show. Turns out, she wasn't at all alone in her assessment. And while I agree with her for the most part, I have to admit being a tad disappointed in Slayer's show. I get the feeling the band wasn't completely committed to the notion of playing an hour-long set before that numbnuts followed them and were perhaps running a bit on auto-pilot. Then again, maybe I'd just waited so long to see them live that I built them up a little too much. But even if they were on partial auto-pilot, they were still better than a lot of bands on their best nights. (Please enjoy my kick-ass camera-phone photography. Makes you feel like you were there, huh...?) And while I did think the visual setup with priddy friggin nifty - what with the light show and the speakers arranged in upside-down cross fashion just above the amps and the strobe-speed video behind them - the sound of that place last night was just for shit. The guitars were muddy, Tom Araya's voice was inaudible at times. I told Val if I didn't already know the songs, I wouldn't know what the fuck they were doing...it would have sounded just like an hour-long, super-fast thrash song to me. For a facility whose sole existence was supposed to have been predicated on state-of-the-art acoustics...it was just fucking dreadful. The whole thing was a dull roar. And you had to pay fifteen bucks to park before listening to said dull roar. That ain't right.

And the silly double-bill setup just meant, I'm assuming, a shorter-than-usual set from the band. There were a ton of songs I'd have loved to see them perform (and, yeah, I know that's a bitch everyone has about every show). I'd have been a mighty happy dude if Slayer had played another hour or so. Though, that might also be proof that they weren't playing at one hundred percent; if they had been, it would have been pretty difficult to take that kind of pounding - as an audience member - for two-plus hours.

I will say I enjoyed being reminded of the more amusing aspects of going to metal shows. Whether you're at the Enormodome or the National Guard Armory, you can always expect certain elements and events to take place at any metal show. Walking through the lobby area, you will always hear one guy who's just drunk enough bellow the next band's name for no particular reason..."Ssllaaayyerr!"...which, in turn, elicits a response in the form of a wave-like crescendo from other folks who happen to be in similar stages of inebriation...only much, much louder - "SSSLLAAAAYYERRRR!!!" Never fails to happen and it never fails to amuse me. And confound me, for that matter. Another equally reliable and equally confounding inevitability is the collective viewing pleasure one gets from observing The Metal Chick. Now, while Slayer draws a predominantly male audience, Manson brought in the chicks. So god bless him for that, I suppose. What clothing wasn't tight was at least revealing (or vice versa). I don't remember the last time I saw so much cleavage in one night. Interestingly, though, I also never once saw the on-her-boyfriend's-shoulders-peek-a-boo flash that usually starts occurring a few beers into the evening. Maybe I was asleep if it did happen.

And then there was Manson. And, yes, I did take a brief nap during his set. Frankly, I don't understand what kept everyone else awake. It was everything I feared it would be, only worse. I was expecting to at least be treated to some kind of visual extravaganza, even while the music sucked. Instead, he just kinda slithered around basking in his own self-adulation. Val's comment that he amounts to a second-rate Alice Cooper was on the mark...most of the stage props - from the "knife" microphone to the enormous, Lewis Carroll-inspired chair (which reminded me of Spinal Tap's infamous "Stonehenge" moment somehow), to the top-hat he threw on from time to time...the only things missing were a guillotine and boa constrictor. And maybe, I was hearing things, but I'm pretty certain there was some serious prerecorded "assistance" going on in Manson's set. Unfortunately, we were seated where I couldn't quite watch the one good thing about Manson's band - his fantastic drummer, Ginger Fish. Now if only Ginger would wise up, bail out, and find a real band to play with...because he is outstanding.

So, anyway...that was the Val and Danny Metal Show Experience. I owe Valerie many thanks because I'm pretty sure my ticket was a birffday gift. So thank you again, Val.


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