This past Saturday (May 9th) I attended the Marilyn Manson show in Chattanooga, TN. It’s a decision that took little effort to agree to and one that I have to admit, I rather enjoyed. Manson has a long standing reputation for putting on a good show and I figured this was my best chance to see him in a small venue (Track 29 holds about 1800 bodies). The tickets were a bit more than I like to spend (more than double my usual price), but I figured I deserve a treat.
As is my usual behavior, I was more than happy to brag to friends and online folks about my ticket to the show and my excitement with the upcoming event. I was a bit shocked with responses I received. A friend from work said I was sponsoring a serial killer. Another friend from work said I was praising Satan by attending the show. Online, I received everything from homophobic accusations to questions regarding my legitimacy. I can say of all the bands I have seen, this one polarized friends against me more than any.
My friend Matt and I left for the show three hours before doors were to open (Chattanooga is approximately an hour and a half drive for us), with the plan to be first in line. When we arrived to Track 29, we found we were not the only ones with this idea.We took our place in line and began engaging the folks around us in conversation. My own preconceived notions of Manson fans began to crumble. As conversations focused on jobs, families, bands we like and life in general, the stereotypes I had created for my fellow music fans dissolved. There was no army of trenchcoat wearing school shooters in training; instead it was relatively normal (at least by society’s standards) folks who were simply looking forward to blowing off some steam and enjoying the night.
Track 29 is basically a warehouse with a stage. Concrete floors and metal roof/walls greeted us. This generally doesn’t make for the best acoustics, but as the night progressed, it wasn’t bad. The biggest issue I had was the concrete floor after four and a half hours of standing on it, my back was screaming for relief.
The crowd started off compacted and cramped, with everyone trying to position themselves as close to the stage as they could. It was a tight fit, but everyone seemed genial and polite, overall. This would fade as alcohol permeated the brains of some attendees and the excitement of the music took hold, but at the beginning, it was ok.
The opener was Knee High Fox. Don’t feel bad if you have never heard of them; neither had I. They were not bad, a mix of The Pretty Reckless and In This Moment. The lead singer was a young attractive woman with a penchant for flashing her panties to crowd, but her voice was nice and I’m old, not dead. They played a decent hour long set (pretty amazing, considering most openers in Atlanta are lucky to get 45 minutes) that set the stage for Manson and left most folks fairly satisfied (at least based on the conversations I had with those around me).
Manson finally hit the stage and the crowd that had been fairly docile literally exploded with energy. As sweat soaked, drunken behemoth of a woman attempted to barrel over me. I was glad I have taken up lifting weights as a hobby, was that new found strength is the only thing that me from being beaten to death by her grotesquely large bosoms. As Manson played an electric version of “Deep Six”, the behemoth skank began rubbing herself against me. I pushed her off and thankfully a opening appeared in the crowd and absorbed her. I still feel so dirty…ugh.
With the smell and residual skank sweat gone, I was able to focus on the show. Manson truly delivered the goods, keeping the crowd engaged and delivering his biggest hits, as well as new material and old goodies. I do have to say, however, that I have never seen a crowd behave the way they did that night.
Long time readers will know I prefer to see concerts at Atlanta’s Masquerade, a venue with a loyal clientele and unwritten rules of decorum. Moshing is frequent, but fights are rare at my beloved Masquerade. Track 29 would do well to take note of this. There was plenty of attempted moshing, but no one was willing give up there spot in the crowd, which snuffed that idea. This unfortunately led to “crowd jumpers”, those people who feel it their right to dislodge you from your spot so they can stand with their friends, who have little interest in the show, other than to text each other pictures of themselves at the concert. These crowd jumpers led to tempers flaring and a rather nasty fight developed next to me.
I will say I am not a large man, a man skilled at fighting or a hero on any level. However, I have dedicated my life to helping others and I can’t abide violence, if I have the ability to stop it. So, I found myself alone in breaking up the fight. As Manson belted out a fantastic song and was backed by a world class band, I found myself standing between a 300lb mass of muscle and a drunken idiot who was provoking him. They finally calmed down and I said a silent prayer, thanking God for following through on the old saying (you know the one:”God protects fools and children.”).
The remainder of the night was relatively tame on the crowd front. Maybe it was my no BS attitude, but I think it had more to do with my desire to let Manson’s music carry me away. And he did that, very well. I didn’t know more than five of the songs he played, but he engaged me completely.
I have heard people badmouth Manson as lame, old, fat (all of which I relate to completely) and washed up. I saw none of that. Sure, he’s put on a few pounds, but so have I. He still has personal energy that commands respect. And, as he’s aged, he is less arrogant. One of the touching moments was when he acknowledged his father, who was off stage, and thanked him. This is not the same guy who did anything possible to shock and dismay the Christian Right. This is more of a guy I could see myself playing cards with and not minding when he cheats.
The night ended and the ride home was a true labor. I was exhausted from the night, but grateful for the music. And that’s the feeling I had been missing for quite some time. That’s the feeling that has us all going back for more.