As I was sitting at the breakfast table, enjoying my morning cuppa, I found myself perusing Creative Loafing. For those who may not be familiar with this publication, it focuses on local politics, local music, local food and other noteworthy local events. Many large cities across the US are home to their own Creative Loafing office. I’ve been reading it for over twenty years for two reasons: 1) it has a great rundown of the upcoming concert choices for the week and 2) it’s free. As I have aged, I typically only read the food and music reviews, but this morning an article on political activism caught my eye. It encouraged readers to get involved in their local politics. Sure, national politics determine your taxes military, but it’s your local political crap that will determine how your day to day life is lived. Such is the same of metal bands.
As I come off the weekend show of Slipknot/Lamb of God, I now turn my eyes back to smaller clubs for my metal fix (there are more major metal tours coming to Atlanta, but I’m not interested right now). Instead of going to the Ticketmaster website to pay horribly inflated prices to attend shows, I turn to Creative Loafing to see what’s cooking on the club level.
There are quite a few benefits to this plan. Tickets are much cheaper, the venues are often limited to less than 1000 attendees, the locations are more convenient, parking is usually free (or only $5) and last, but not least, the opening acts are mostly local bands. It’s that last part that has become more important to me. I’m finding myself more and more eager to see what bands are carrying the torch for metal in Atlanta, a city not typically known for it’s metal community.
Oh sure, we have our constants. The Masquerade has been hosting metal bands for as long as I can remember. Clubs like The Earl and The Drunken Unicorn are nicely picking up the slack. Goatwhore has chosen to visit The Earl this time around, scoring a small coup over The Masquerade. But, in general, Atlanta is known for it’s hip-hop culture, it’s love of country music and it’s transient population, not for it’s metal.
I could go off on a Mastodon tangent, but I’ll spare you that. Instead, I’ll focus on the need areas with a small metal community have for it’s members to show support to upcoming acts. It’s hard. I get it. It’s easier to sit on the sofa and watch the thirtieth re-run of THE BIG BANG THEORY or THE SIMPSONS or SOUTH PARK while wearing your metal shirts you bought online and listening to bands on Spotify. I’ve been there. The misses the point of a metal show.
Bands (both established and up and coming) use shows to market their new and old products (using business terms). The more established the band, the more product there is to present. Younger bands use these shows to hone their skills at interacting with the audience and to improve their songs/product. No one plays their first show sounding like a 20 year veteran. It’s to be expected that some of these bands suck. Some have zero redeeming quality to their music, no matter how nice the members are. Others have great musical potential but are total jerks and have zero social skills. This is where the metal community comes in. It is our job to teach them how to entertain us. That’s right: it’s our job, our duty. We teach them with our reactions to their music and interactions with the crowd. We reward them with praise when they do a good job. We boo and heckle them when they fail. We reward laconic presence with apathy.
I watched this with great interest Sunday night. Motionless in White opened the show. They really tried to invigorate an already hot and tired crowd, an uphill battle on a steamy Georgia summer night. MIW failed on every level. Oh, they had a smattering of fans scattered through the crowd, but no one was really buying their particular brand of music.
Bullet for My Valentine was next and only slightly more successful. This crowd was their for something heavier and to subject bands like MIW and BFMV to a crowd that was mostly there for Lamb of God wasn’t fair. (I would have loved to have seen King 810 and Black Tusk open for LoG instead; are you listening, Mr. Tour Planner?)
It wasn’t entirely the heat. LoG and Slipknot had zero difficulty in amping up the crowd. It was the lack of music and interactions that were accepted by the crowd, a crowd that swelled to over 10,000 by the end of the night. Such is the same on a smaller scale at your local metal club. By getting off your sofa and attending the shows you do your metal duty and teach bands how to entertain you.
For a lot of folks, this is a foreign concept. We have become such a consumer society, readily taking whatever is offered. We forget it is through our support and encouragement that bands live and die. Sure, do support the bands you like by purchasing t-shirts from their websites. Do buy their CDs. Do add them to your Spotify or Apple Music playlists, but more importantly, GO SEE THEM LIVE. And, take an interest in your local metal scene. Support those up and coming bands. They are the future of metal.
As I plan my day, I will head down to the Masquerade to pick up tickets for Trivium and Tremonti. I look forward to the show. Trivium puts on a class act, but I’m just as excited to have the chance to meet newer, younger bands. And it beats watching reruns anytime.