Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Initiation and Triumphal Return

Saturday, August 26, 2006: I tell my friend Matt, also a staff member in Glenn, that he probably couldn't guess the strange place where I was the night before. Interestingly, he guessed Beta, which is probably the frattiest fraternity on the Tech campus. While this was an imaginative guess, and in fact in some respects stranger than where I ended up, it was in fact not correct.

Where I was, it turns out, was the Masquerade. The Masquerade is a concert venue in Atlanta that has a part-merited but mostly undeserving reputation for utter degeneracy. (Broken windows and decades-unpainted walls don't exactly help its case.) Concert venue? Not at all strange for a college student. Shady concert venue? Not too strange, considering its prime downtown Atlanta location. The truly strange part was the concert that I was actually seeing.

The friend of mine that organized the venture told me "Zao is toward the hardcore end of metal." Toward? "Okay, so they pretty much are the hardcore end of metal." Add them to a headliner band called Throwdown and (without any description of any music that Throwdown plays) you have a decent image of that concert. Though there are many adjectives that could be used to describe me, "hardcore" probably isn't toward the top of that list. And neither is it toward the top of my musical preferences. The truth was, I had nothing better to be doing that Friday night, and as long as I had friends who were being proactive and constructing something to do, why not go along with it? College is about experiencing things that you'd never ordinarily do... or something like that.

My immediate conclusions regarding the concert were 1) "hardcore" still isn't at the top of my musical preferences and 2) I'm not sure that it's worth it to pay twenty bucks to hear some guy go "Gaaaaaah! Wahh rahh rahh rahh!" into a microphone for three hours. However, a chance encounter at the same Masquerade but a few weeks later added a few thoughts about live concerts in general.

This time, I was going as a favor to a friend who (understandably) didn't want to get raped in downtown Atlanta. Add the facts that this time, the ticket is twelve dollars, not twenty, and I get to spend Friday night with three girls (in a welcomed inversion of the typical Georgia Tech ratio), and I'm there. This one featured a handful of bands that were listenable but unremarkable (see? I don't even remember their names), and headlined by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Now, I had heard the name Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, but I'd never heard their music, and I was far from being able to actually recognize any of their songs. Oh well.

My first impression was a lot better than the one I had at the first concert, because more than one in twenty people were wearing something other than black. In fact, the people here actually looked... dare I say normal? Contrast this to Green Mohawk Guy at the first one. And despite the apparent normalcy at this one, the two were remarkably similar.

Okay, so straight off the bat, mosh pits don't make any sense. Various descriptions of these collected over the past couple of weeks have included "barbarian ritual," "emo kids practicing karate kicks," and by a member of some band or another, "dance moves." I remarked how strange it was that "dance moves" translates into "run into each other as fast as you can." Closely related is crowdsurfing, which basically appears to be "get alternately manhandled and groped while not even being able to stand on your own two feet." The strangest part of these pheonmena is the fact that you can't watch the band while you're doing them. Isn't the point of going to a live concert being able to see the band that's performing? Sure, you can give the "a live show is so much higher energy" argument. But how do you notice that "energy" if you're not paying attention in the first place, instead choosing to change the venue into a gladiatorial arena-sumo wrestling ring hybrid.

With that said, let's examine the "energy" assertion a bit more. Live performances are supposed to be more energetic, closer to a "pure" performance than a recorded one. Is this suggesting that during private practices and shows where the band is not out to prove anything or impress anyone, the guitarists jump around and spin on the stage? I've got a tough time believing that. And I'm forced to conclude that guitar-dancing adds virtually nothing to a live show.

My final and biggest complaint is that people in bands take themselves way too seriously. Is it necessary to swear at the audience between every song? I might be encouraged to jump or nod my head in time with the music if you suggest that... but I'm rather inclined not to when I'm instructed to "nod my [insert expletive here]-ing head!" The lead singer of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus seemed rather put off by the fact that not everyone in the world had been listening to them for the last two years. Apparently some interviewer made the grave mistake of asking him what it felt to be an overnight sensation. His (private) response to us was "We've been around for years. Do your [expletive]ing homework." And a huge cheer from the crowd!

That said... Decemberists concert October 27. Probably no mosh pit there. Anyone interested in going?

Currently listening: "Fantasy," Earth Wind and Fire


Andrew said...


Did you hear that song?

Gina said...

Hmmm... very interesting. LOL I can honestly say that I've never been to a concert, though I might try and catch Incubus or Coheed, cause those are the only bands that I like across the board.

Also, I'm so picky about my music that I think going to any kind of concert would annoy and rub against my music sense, cause there's no use in hearing music live if it's not good. LOL!

You find that a lot with vocal groups like Rascal Flatts and(especially) Big and Rich. Those concerts are for the music and tone deaf, and possibly all kinds of deaf people as well because the horridness of their performances. So I have to get a LOT of background info on the band in concert before even thinking about buying a ticket. I"m not gonna buy a ticket to a concert that's gonna make me vomit.

Never heard of the Decemberists. LOL!

Matt Pavlovich said...

Haha! I didn't hear that song specifically... though I've heard myself singing "I Hate Physics 2" more than a handful of times.

You know our list of songs for Ogrebloode that only contain one word or phrase in the entire song? Like "Rape," "Ham and Cheese," "Death," etc.? I thought of some more good ones: "Semen" and "Potato."

Incubus plays good music, though I suspect that Incubus tickets would be inconveniently expensive.

The Decemberists are an exceptionally college-kid band: indie and not exceptionally well publicized, but very intelligent lyrics and unique melodies. Great music.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, but I'll stick with Fantasy by Earth Wind & Fire. Good listening, old school stuff there. I'm so old school I never heard of any of the bands you talked about. But that doesn't surprise you, does it? I would like to hear the I Hate Physics 2 song though.


-- Zach said...

Woo Decemberists. Lets go.

Anonymous said...

You want great musicianship and great music at the same time? Go see a Arturo Sandoval concert.


Anonymous said...

... currently listening to Arturo Sandoval