Up Close and Personal

Oh yeah.  I just HAD to talk about my concert on Friday night.  Too bad I didn’t do all of this that night when I got home all jazzed about it!

I’d had a pretty crappy week.  Not terrible, just a whole long grey rainy week full of blah.  So I was ready to throw it all away and let my hair down let my chrome dome shine.  As I said, I’d been looking forward to this for a long time.

After work, I changed into my Sheldon Cooper costume of a red Flash t-shirt over a charcoal long john shirt (like this, except bald with the piercings) and went to McDonald’s to grab some horrific grub that would sustain me for a long while.  I was in one of those positions in which not going home would give me a LOT of time to kill, but going home would have made me rushed as hell.  Knowing my week, Dys graciously gave me permission not to come home.  So instead I ate my burger and fries and read some Douglas Adams for a while before finally heading to the venue.  (My favorite local place – here’s the blog of the last show I saw there.)

The doors were set to open at 7, so I left McD’s a little after 6 and drove across town, parked up the street a block or so (the lot across the street wasn’t full, but I know it’s easier to get out from up the street a bit) and walked down to the venue at 6:30, where the line was already pretty frickin’ long.  I chose not to wear a hat or sweatshirt over what I had on, because I knew I’d be hot as hell later.  So outside, I quickly settled  into a nice shivering pattern.  I also, pardon the expression, had to piss like a Russian racehorse.  That’s a long fuckin’ half hour, especially when you spend it looking around and thinking, “Wow, this crowd is younger than I expected.  Quite a bit younger.  Oh, no fucking way, THOSE FIVE KIDS JUST GOT OUT OF A MINIVAN.  FOLLOWED BY THEIR MOM.”  (Consequences of mostly attending death-metal shows – they tend to draw a slightly older crowd than the 17-19 year olds that night.)

Finally they split the line into will-call and paper-ticket sections again.  Being smart, I had a paper ticket this time, so I got into the shorter line that would go in first.  The five-foot tall/four-foot-wide black bouncer with the enormous voice screamed, “IF YOU ARE OVER 21!  AND YOU INTEND TO GET DRUNK!  I NEED TO SEE YOUR ID PLEASE!  SO I CAN GIVE YOU A BRACELET!”  Behind him, someone hollered, “Bitch!”  To which he screamed over his shoulder, “FUCK YOU, NEEDLEDICK BASTARD!”  Heh.  I like this guy already.  I didn’t plan to drink, but fuck it, why not keep my options open?  I got a wristband.

I made it inside, bypassed the biggest part of the crowd that was heading to the bar, and went right for the men’s room, which looked more or less like you’d expect a men’s room in a small heavy metal venue would look.  I whizzed for about 10 minutes straight (using the abs – I didn’t wanna have to go again later, dammit!) and then went out to the floor.  Still very few people inside – bonus!  So what did ol’ TB do?  Oh yeah.  Ol’ TB went right the fuck up to the stage.  There was no rail.  It was my belly to the lip of the stage itself.  I was just to the right of the mic, in a gap between monitors – resting my arm on one of them.  This, I thought to myself, has the makings of one awesome night.

While the crowd filed in, a couple of other guys joined me right up front.  One was a kid who reminded me of myself about 18 years ago – thin, long haired, desperately guitar-dorky.  He was pissing himself with excitement, and kept babbling about all of the bands on the bill.  The other was a guy close to my own age, standing with his arms crossed and a dubious look on his face.  I exchanged vague conversations with the kid.  The kid turned to talk to the other guy, who talked music for a minute.  I heard him say he was a drummer.  The kid then asked, “Oh, well, which drummers do you like?”  The guy scoffs, “Oh, I quit listening to other drummers years ago.”  Okay.  Well, thanks for helping me peg you as a pretentious prick so quickly!  The kid continues to gush, though.  Eventually Pretentious Prick Drummer leaves, saying he’ll be back – only he doesn’t come back.  Oh, boo hoo. I’m just sorry I couldn’t remember his band’s ridiculous name so I couldn’t link you all to their Myspace page.

The first band takes the stage, looking like a couple of high school kids.  “Good evening everybody, we are Scale the Summit from Houston, Texas.”  They then launch into this upbeat, cool, and highly technical 7-string prog metal that really astounded me.  At one point I heard the kid say that they had met at Musician’s Institute, and brother, I can believe it.  These are clearly some kids who have studied their technique.  A LOT.  I defy any of you, yes ANY of you, to listen to this song all the way through and not be impressed.  That part around the 4-minute mark is two-hand tapping on the fretboard – by both guitarists.  And I’m saving the better song for next week’s Monday Music.

SO.  I’m standing here, looking up at this little blond kid who’s barely shaving standing above me with one foot on the monitor just beside my arm, and having my mind blown.  And this is the opening band – that probably merits a CD purchase sometime.  Yep.  A good night is on tap.

Scale the Summit leaves the stage, and the kid asks for and receives a guitar pick.  Myself and a couple of guys nearby me make small talk with them, and thank them for coming out.  They’re appreciative – one of the guitarists takes a couple of photos of the crowd.  Heh.  That sort of thing from a very young band is pretty damned cool.

So then the next band starts setting up.  The band I came to see.  OH YEAH.  DEVIN TOWNSEND, BABY.  Dev himself is over to one side of the stage.  Wearing a pinstriped suit over a black tank-top.  Hah!  I actually got to exchange a couple of words with him before the show.  I think I said “Hey man!  Nice threads!”  and he said “Nothin’ but the best!” before noticing, “Oops, my fly is down!”  *zip*

Now that’s not something you see every day.  One of your idols noticing that the ol’ barn door is open in front of a couple hundred people.

But whatever!  He was laughing and smiling and came over and shook my hand.  FUCKIN HELL.  STOKED.  ME.  YEAH.

They strapped up and started playing “Disruptr.”  Fuck yeah, I’d been listening to that tune earlier in the day!  So Dev is playing right over my head and to my left.  And then, every so often, he steps down into the gap between the monitors.  RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.  DUDE.  As I told Dys that night, I actually thought he had BO until I figured out it was the fuckhead to my right (not the kid) –  if he’d been any closer I’d have been able to tell you if he was circumcised or not.  I could have reached up and strummed his guitar for him.  If I dared.  He was standing in that spot when he got to my favorite part of my favorite song of his, the descending riff in “Truth.”  (Starts at 1:09 in this clip.)

Best of all, they were all having a fucking blast.  It’s not every day you see your favorite metalheads just busting out in big ol’ grins, but they all were.  Brian “the Beav” Waddell on the bass caught my eye a couple of times, grinning.  Dave Young on the rhythm guitar was all smiles after the show, and was talking with us as he packed up his pedalboard.  Promising that they’d be back.  HELL YEAH.  I hollered at Dev, “Hey, thanks for coming out, man!”  And he hollered back, “Thank YOU!”

Fuck yeah.

Next on the list was the band Cynic – this band was one of the leaders of the death/jazz fusion renaissance of the early 1990s in Florida, releasing a true classic album called “Focus” in 1993, but disbanded soon after.  They reunited just recently and released their second album in 2008.  These guys can PLAY.  The bandleader, Paul, plays and sings (with his vocals doubled an octave higher by electronic effects) and the other guitarist does the occasi0nal death scream.  The drummer was all the way to stage right (unusual, but cool) and the bass player was right in front of me, playing a gorgeous five-string.  The bass player would do this cool thing in which he’d drop into a deep, wide stance and slowly roll his head instead of headbanging.

Both guitarists played Steinberger guitars, most famous for being “headless.”   Lucky for me.  Because not only did Paul stand in the gap between the monitors to play, but he actually crouched down a couple of times while he did it – putting him right at my eye level.  He looked me in the eye and grinned while I hollered at him (something like “Fuckin’ go Florida!” or “holy shit!” or something equally loquacious).  Once when he stood up, well, if his guitar had had a headstock, I’d have needed stitches.

Also, and I emailed Crisitunity about this already – at one point Paul acknowledged “the onslaught of a four-band bill” and so led everybody in half-moon yoga poses.  “Arms straight up – hands together – forearms over your ears – now keep your hips in position and lean to one side…now to the other…there, you’ve had your first yoga lesson.”  HAH.  A surprising number of the crowd did so, too.

Considering I was all the way up front, I was not at all noticeably crowded until the end of Cynic’s set.  By then I was starting to feel a little pressure.  But I was mainly there for Dev, and to a lesser degree, Cynic, so I had always planned to abandon that post when Cynic was done.  So I did – I turned and walked away, at which point I heard a guy say, “FUCK, somebody’s gonna take THAT spot!”  At every other show I’d been to at this venue, the upstairs bar was closed and the merch table was over to one side, but this time the merch table was upstairs.  (It did seem to be a bigger crowd than I’d seen there before.)  So I’d planned to go upstairs, buy a shirt, and watch from the balcony.  And after fighting my way upstream through the crowd, that what I did.

I ended up with a zip-up DTP hoodie for $40.  The merch girl (who was a slightly big girl, but was drop-dead gorgeous) looked and looked for a 2X for me and came up empty, so I took a 1X and it’s turned out fine.  I went over and watched Between the Buried and Me (aka BTBAM, pronounced “Bee Tee Bam!” by the scene kids) from the rail.  I paid about as much attention to the moshers in the crowd, and the bouncers taking out the more rowdy and/or unreasonable of them, as I did to the band.  They were good – just not quite my cup of tea.

In the meantime, I noticed said gorgeous merch girl looking hellaciously bored.  It was hot as hell up there, and she was intermittently fanning herself with a bit of paper and texting someone.  I finally said, “WTF,” and walked up to her.  It took me a couple of tries to get her to hear me over the music, but I finally got it across to her:  “You can tell whoever you’re texting that some bald guy came over and told you you’re beautiful.”  When she finally heard me, that got a big smile and a “Thank you!!” which was pretty damned cool.  I then retreated back over to the rail again, every now and then looking her way, occasionally catching her looking my way, at which point we’d smile and both go back to what we were doing.  I’d planned on hanging out a little after the show to ask her name and then say goodbye, and I did hang out until the place was mostly empty but after they cleared the lower level the bouncers moved up top.  “If you ain’t buyin’, you’re flyin’!!”  I pondered lyin’, but decided nah.  It was time to go home.

After being so freakin’ hot upstairs, the cold air outside felt good.  I went home, woke Dys up from her nap on the couch (Xbox controller in hand, heh) and gushed for a few before sending a few quick squee-ish Twitters, taking a shower, and crashing.

All in all, probably the most fun I’ve ever had at a concert.  And that’s saying a lot.  Now I’m just crossing my fingers and hoping that the rumors and the vague promises by band members that night are true, that Dev will be back through on a headlining tour, and soon!

I don’t have many people that I admire enough to call an “idol.”  Dev happens to be one of them.  I’ve never before had the opportunity to face one such person, shake their hand, and thank them for what they do.  I have to say, it was fucking fantastic, and I hope I can do it more often.

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10 Responses

  1. Still bloody happy for you for this one. 😀

    Thanks, babe.

    I do think I look good in the hoodie, too.

  2. I loved this entry a lot because I “get it”. Just being so psyched to hear your favorite band or performer and they don’t let you down. Awesome!

    It was nice of you to tell the merch girl that she was beautiful. So often people think nice thoughts, but never say them because they are afraid of what the other person might think. You probably made her whole day. (Especially if she had a bad week prior like YOU did!)

    I knew you’d dig it – and maybe even recognize some names!

    As for the girl, well, that’s what I thought. I don’t usually do such things because I don’t want to make people uncomfortable, but in this case, what’s the problem? The next night she was on to the next town, and we both knew it. Cuts down on the creep factor mightily, I’d think. (I did make sure she wasn’t wearing a ring before I said it, tho.) Either way, it made me happy. And I was just sayin’ the truth – she was beautiful!

    • Even if she WAS wearing a ring, the compliment would have still been nice. You weren’t trying to get her to go home with you or anything. 🙂

      And not all merch people travel with the band. I handled merch booths for some national bands when they came through Chicago years ago. I was helping out the venue or the magazine that had sponsored the show.

      Hmm. If I pass her on the sidewalk at the university, I’ll try not to be mortified. 😀

  3. Sounds like a great show. Incidentally, the half-moon he taught you is from Bikram. I am not remotely surprised. 🙂

    Okay – this would be funnier if I knew the in-joke context. Explain-ay-voo, por favor!

  4. My thoughts as I read along:

    1. My daughter also has a matching Sheldon Cooper costume! Wait! TB’s dressing like a teenager? Or does my daughter dress like TB? Hmmm…. Disturbing, very disturbing!

    If she still has hair, you’re good.

    2. How DO Russian Racehorses piss? Is it somehow different from American racehorses? Does it make a difference what breed the race horse is as to how they piss? Do they somehow piss with an accent, maybe?

    I always wondered that, too. But it sounds funnier. So I’m stickin’ with it.

    Sorry, TB! Just had to poke a bit of fun at ya since I’m in a deliriously happy and silly mood!

    Glad you had a good time at the concert, that it didn’t disappoint and that your band made your day!

    I’m the same way; when I’m in a good mood, I’m downright merciless in the amount of shit I give people. So no offense taken, and woohoo again on your good news!

  5. I r a music boob. I know not who Devin Townsend is. *hangs head in shame* But I get the excitement. It’s just exuding from the page.

    Then I did somethin’ good!

    Dev was the singer for Steve Vai’s Sex and Religion album in the early 90s, then he was the main force behind Strapping Young Lad, if that rings any bells. I greatly prefer his own solo stuff, tho.

    And you said “boob.” *snicker*

  6. Sounds like quite an adventure! Glad you had fun.

    I love pretentious musicians. But then I enjoy laughing. When I was doing music production we’d meet with a ton of bands. If we didn’t know them we’d ask for a recording just to get a handle on things. We’re at a restaurant with this band so I grab the tape, pop it in the player and put on the head set. The band ripped the tunes directly from the Rush songbook. But, before we speak, I give it to my partner to take a listen. He thinks the same thing. At least we know what we’re dealing with.

    So, already knowing the answer we ask about influences.

    “Oh, we don’t listen to other musicians.” Said the bandleader.

    “Never have.” Said the bandfollower.

    “We influence ourselves.”

    “Oh,” Said I. “So you’re musical savants who just happened to sound like a Rush cover band.”

    It was just ugly after that.

    We were doing a critique of a bands live show. We’re meeting with them and all their parents (I sure as hell wasn’t used to that) and started to talk to the lead singer who said,

    “I know what I’ve been doing. I’ve been doing this for three years.”

    I reached out, shook a few hands and said,”Good luck.”

    I’m leaving and a parent comes up to me trying to get me back and I said there’s nothing I can do for someone who’s been doing it for so many years.

    Then he asked if I’d give him some of the money back.

    Silly parent.

    Heheheh. How ugly COULD it get? Anybody that stupidly pretentious, in my experience, tends to be the opposite of someone whom you’d look at and think, “Hmm, I better watch it around this guy or he’ll kick my ass.”

    “We influence ourselves.” Yes, if you’re deaf and have never seen a page of tab. Why would you stop listening to other musicians? If not for inspiration, then to realize “Oh, shit, that opening riff HAS been done before. What’s the name of this song again? Stairway to what?”

  7. I was involved, TB, it could have got REAL ugly.

    Okay, it’s too easy. “I know! It got uglier when you walked in the door!”

    It’s funny because it was that line, “We influence ourselves.” that cemented that we weren’t going to work with them. That’s like me saying I’ve never read anyone else. Hell, I’m probably stealing from something you wrote right now. It’s amazing how convinced people can be about their own greatness.

    When we’d be in the control room one of the longest running games we’d play was, Guess That Riff. It’s the exciting game where you try and figure out just where the sound you’ve just heard was stolen from!

    I do that all the time. I came up with something brilliant to serve as 30 seconds’ worth of theme song for my radio show. I refined it for a day or three. I spent an hour or so recording it all. Only two days later did I blink and say, “Oh. Yeah. The chords are the same as X song from 1988.”

    It’s inevitable. It’s how you learn. And to deny that fact not only makes you pretentious but it causes everyone around you (unless they are of that ilk) to think less of you. I’ve met some pretty pretentious people in my life who were awesome. It’s not a trait I like but I had to give it to them because, as assholey as they were, they had the talent to back it up. It’s like Dizzy Dean said, “It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it.”

    But, for the most part, it’s a middling talent with a little too much Mommy praise who denies their knowledge lineage. I’ve had discussions with people that Shakespeare wrote every plot; Poe created every fright; your favorite author here mastered the art. Everyone else is just picking the remainders. Sure, they had the good fortune to be born a safer distance from the apocalypse, but they also set a good foundation that could be plundered for the rest of time.

    There isn’t anything, sports, music, art, juggling, that you don’t start off copying from someone better. And it’s only a big, fat, smelly doofus who’d do deny such a thing.

    Okay, I’ll fess up. I stole that last sentence from the book, ‘Nietzsche, The Pre-School Philosophies.’

    Damn skippy. ACKNOWLEDGE your influences. Try to learn from them and pay them homage. Denying you’re influenced by someone only makes you look like a tool.

  8. Nuthin’ better than a great concert. I am still swooning over Willy Porter, and that was 2 mos ago. It goes a long way.

    I still remember your Willy Porter squee. It was a good one. 🙂

  9. […] Posted on February 1, 2010 by Taoist Biker Okay, I promise (I think), the last MM related to the concert from Friday before […]

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