Among the many vibrantly entertaining pastimes and pleasures that COVID-19 has cruelly robbed us of in recent months, there’s none we metalheads miss more acutely than the rowdy, adrenaline-fuelled thrills and spills of live music. The tense electricity of a crowd seconds before a headlining set. The sweaty, beer-soaked euphoria and playful camaraderie of the pit. Riffs so raw and ferocious as to practically liquefy eardrums with their sheer, lacerating aggression. And yet, as we longingly reminisce on these intensely bittersweet bygone times, flooding our social media feeds with all manner of misty-eyed musings on the past, it’s all too easy to forget the various, inescapable irritants and undesirables that come as an inevitable part and parcel of the whole experience. Yes, that’s right, you know what I’m talking about. From iPhone camera-wielding hipsters to super-hostile security staff who wouldn’t look out of place in a Thai prison, we’re here to remind you that it’s all just a teensy bit overrated when you stop and really think about it. Just kidding. It’s fucking awesome and we miss it all indescribably. But some of this stuff can be pretty grating though…
They say there’s nothing quite like living in the moment. Try telling that to this pack of obnoxious, iPhone-wielding irritants. If this were an art gallery or museum, you just know they’d be the type of dickhead likely to be carelessly blundering around brandishing a selfie stick either a. inadvertently blinding and/or maiming innocent bystanders or b. destroying some priceless work of historic art with the aforementioned infernal contraption. Because the simple fact of the matter is that nothing is more precious or meaningful to these mindless, self-absorbed oxygen thieves than the all-consuming business of documenting every single moment of their own tediously unremarkable existence. And nothing - be it beautiful, centuries-old works of art, historical relics, groundbreaking feats of scientific invention, all the infinite mysteries of the cosmos - is going to stand in the way of that. So, odds are, the rare pleasure of seeing your favourite band live probably isn’t going to be registering too high on their list of urgent and pressing priorities. After all, that Instagram account isn’t going to fill itself, ya know. So stop being such a stuffy old dinosaur about the whole thing and get used to enjoying live music the way nature intended: through a series of gigantic, solar panel-sized electronic screens…row upon row of the fuckers, everywhere you look…distorting reality progressively further and further into blinding, fuzzy-edged insignificance like Inception for disappointed gig-goers. #Unfollow
SAFE AS HOUSES?
Don’t get us wrong. The vast, overwhelming majority of security staff do a fantastic job of working hard to keep us all safe and sound from the many potential hazards and pitfalls of attending any large-scale live music show or event. And for that honourable service, we are eternally grateful. But every so often there’s that one security guard that, for no apparent reason in particular, seems to seriously have it in for every man, woman and child within a hundred-mile radius of their boorishly intimidating presence. As if every single one of the bastards was purposely placed there as a personal insult to their frighteningly precarious sense of sanity. You can usually spot them a mile off… a great hulking mass of simmering anger and unresolved childhood issues, typically sporting a shaved head, a bulky, formerly muscular frame now slowly but surely running to seed. So much pent-up hatred and resentment quietly bubbling away up in that big, vacant, melon-like dome…just waiting for the slightest flicker of agitation to instantly ignite into a state of uncontrollable reptilian fury. They’re the ones you’ll see manhandling harmless adolescent kids in the pit for literally no reason whatsoever or barking orders drill sergeant-style at petrified gig-goers trying to enjoy a quiet ciggie in the outside smoking area, making the whole affair feel more like a North Korean death camp than a chilled Saturday night out with your crew. Oh and don’t even think about loitering about in the venue more than a second longer after the headlining act has finished their set, or you’ll be dragged (presumably by the hair) out of the nearest and most conveniently located exit.
Picture the scene. That totally sick new band you’ve been dreaming about seeing live for literally months on end has finally rolled into town, and the very millisecond the clock struck 5 you’d slipped straight into your band shirt and out the door faster than your boss could say ‘1st Stage Disciplinary’. Like the obsessive stalker fan you are, you’ve been diligently queueing for over an hour in the pouring rain without so much as a whisper of complaint along with all the other poor mugs who showed up questionably early for tonight’s show. But now you’re enjoying some serious, much-deserved payoff by snagging an enviably sweet spot near the stage - a flawless view without any hint of obstruction and conveniently placed for swift and easy access to the bar in-between sets. All is right with the world, you think to yourself, sipping contentedly from your plastic pint as the stage lights dim and you brace yourself for the fiercely exhilarating carnage to come. And then you see them - two fucking minutes into the opening song - snaking through the crowd like sharks in hot pursuit of a wounded seal, aggressively shoving and shouldering their way to the front without so much as a mumbled “Sorry mate, didn’t see you there”, euphoric grins plastered all over their stupid, blissfully oblivious little faces. Before you know it, that sweet little spot you worked so hard to studiously defend is long since lost and gone forever. And all you can see now is an Emergency Exit sign, partially obscured by the bulbous bald head of a security guard. Enjoy!
THE SPACE INVADER
Wow, it sure is a tad snug here in the middle of this humongous crowd full of people. One might even say a little stuffy… Has the air-con broken down? It’s hotter than Satan’s armpit in here. Hey, is that a stranger’s crotch pressed up against you from behind? The beefy-looking bloke to your left in the sleeveless wife-beater is perspiring so furiously that beads of sweat are literally dripping off him right now. Hope he doesn’t make any sudden moves, otherwise we’ve got ourselves a human sprinkler to deal with on top of everything else. Shit, he really doesn’t look great. Should I fetch someone? No, just calm down, relax and focus on enjoying the show because there’s literally nospacewhatsoeverinhere and no one can help how crowded it is. It’s definitely not the place to start aggressively headbanging and flailing about like a person on fire, that’s for certain. But what’s that? The person in front of you is having just such an a-ma-zing time they’ve failed to notice the presence of all the other poor bastards packed in around them like maltreated chickens at a battery farming facility. You eye your best mate with mute horror and revulsion as, slow-motion disaster movie-style, their filthy, unwashed dreads whiplash backwards into the pint of pissy beer you just paid the price of a small mortgage for. You begin dodging the back of their violently thrashing skull, anticipating every blow with Muhammed Ali-like speed and agility, doing all you can to resist the instinctive urge to take a step backward, lest you engage in an unwitting dry-humping session with the unfortunate stranger standing directly behind you.
This originally was supposed to be a London venue thing, but experience that says the best that ANY venue in the country can offer is extremely over-priced. It goes one of two ways – the classic plastic pint pot with all the durability of a pound shop bin liner which renders whatever substance that was within a watery urine sample that instantly hits sauna temperature three shuffled steps from the bar, especially when you have three to squeeze together and it runs over your hands. It's a scientific fact that what's left of those pints have never been finished; the foamy dregs are simply too vile, and together the aforementioned plastic cup becomes a further health hazard when it's hurled to the floor and people slip on it. The other more modern way is ordering a craft ale to get something that has a semblance of a flavour, only to be handed a dinky can and expected to hand over a sum that would pay the ransom of a medieval king.