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Taking non-metalheads to metal shows

Meshuggah, 499 dudes, and one girl

. . .

One of my favorite parts of doing this site has been hearing people’s stories. I’m not a good storyteller myself, which is OK because my life doesn’t have many great stories.

“So what do you do for fun?”

“I run a blog”.

“People still do those?”

“I do”.

Clearly, I am single. “But that is a choice”, I tell myself, daily like a mantra. The end.

. . .

I have this topic. I’ll tell my two stories about it, and then I’ll get out of the way because I really just want to hear your stories. The topic is “taking non-metalheads to metal shows”. I’m guessing this doesn’t happen very often because taking non-metalheads to metal shows is like taking (straight) guys shopping. They swear they won’t be bored, but, yes, they’re completely bored, and sometimes they’re also appalled. I guess metal shows can be boring and appalling for metalheads, too, but that’s another matter altogether.

I’ve taken non-metalheads to metal shows twice. Once I took a girl to see Meshuggah. It wasn’t a date. She was just an open-minded friend who didn’t flinch at the idea of seeing metal at a place called The Pound. (I did a retrospective on this San Francisco institution here.) I figured Meshuggah were a semi-safe bet, because they’re not, say, Origin, where shit is really over-the-top, and it’s ridiculous even for metalheads. Meshuggah don’t play too fast, and one can get into the grooves, even if they have weird time signatures. (Meshuggah are good like that.)

The Haunted opened, and it was horrible because (a) Peter Dolving was coming off some injury and was hunched over the whole time, and (b) The Haunted have sucked ever since Dolving returned to the band. So we’re watching this extremely boring band with a hunched-over singer, and I’m feeling awful because it’s never fun to drag your friends to things that suck.

Mercifully, that ended, and eventually Meshuggah went on. It didn’t take long to realize that Meshuggah weren’t a semi-safe bet at all. They are a really, really, really weird band. Jens Kidman has that eyes-rolling-in-the-back-of-his-head thing going on, and he does creepy robot dances on stage. The music is repetitive and forceful, with no choruses to latch onto. So my friend just stood there the whole time, a little wide-eyed. To her credit, she didn’t tug at my sleeve or ask to leave; she just stood there and took it. On the way out, I asked her what she thought. She paused and said it was interesting. When someone pauses and says something is interesting, that means they don’t want to hurt your feelings. So I let it go.

Another time, I took some friends to see God Forbid. I figured God Forbid were a semi-safe bet, because they have catchy songs and look fairly normal. But it didn’t take long to realize that God Forbid weren’t a semi-safe bet, either. It wasn’t because of them; it was their fans. My friends had never seen floor-punching and karate-kicking before, and they found that rather entertaining – much more than the music. So there I was, embarrassed as hell, because the original idea was “a night of heavy metal with Cosmo”, and the actual execution was “hardcore kids doing silly dances”. Ah, metalcore. You were amusing.

Those are my two not-very-good stories about taking non-metalheads to shows. I have not taken non-metalheads to metal shows since. You?

— Cosmo Lee

. . .

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