What’s the fastest way to lose the interest of an entire crowd, you ask? Well. It’s probably throwing punches at people for no fucking reason, dickweed.
My boyfriend is the drummer of a well-known black metal band within the black metal/sludge /death metal/etc. scene in South Jersey and Philly. Not the Warped Tour metalcore bullshit—the heavy, layered, melodic stuff that feels like a swim on the River Styx. Admittedly, it has not been my scene for very long, as I prefer more of the NYC dive bar rock & roll sound akin to say, The Dead Boys or The Ramones. But I can appreciate all music and talent for what it is, and I like to think I have an open mind.
I was nervous about not fitting in with his group of friends or just looking totally out of place when we went to our first show together; our mutual friends were playing. I asked if I’d get pushed around a lot at this show, and he assured me it wasn’t like that. He told me, “That’s not real metal. People stand there and appreciate real metal.” And so I eased up and got stoked on seeing my friends play.
When we got to the venue, which was actually a really nice place, I could already tell something was off with the band that was playing. It felt…tense. Their singer was flailing all over the place and knocking into people, hanging off of people. His own guitar player even knocked him on his ass once for slamming into him. We stood on the edge of the crowd, toward the back, near where other people were seated at tables. We figured we were safe. Not so much.
We managed to make it through the majority of their set unscathed while others around us got pushed and shoved. At one point, he leaned into me and shouted, “Look! No one is feeling this!” And it was true. No one looked amused. I think it was during their last song, when out of nowhere, their singer just totally rushed us. We fell backwards into a table, hard. Drinks spilled and glass broke. Fortunately, we didn’t fall on it. I think someone complained to management; I didn’t see the asshole after their set. I would have had some words for him. Most of them, Unpleasant.
I’m not going to name this band for a multitude of reasons, probably the best of which being I am not a piece of shit drama queen who needs to call out every bit of injustice that happens around me for the sake of readership. Also, the thought of having to interact with these people again for any reason gives me indigestion and they don’t deserve press anyway. Creating rifts between bands is not my schtick either, so as much as I would like to commend my friends’ band for their performance after all this that night, I can’t. And I apologize.
But if I could call you out, homie, I would tell you that you completely and totally bastardized the art by pulling your macho bullshit antics. Part of me really wishes I had fallen and gotten cut up on all that glass. Part of me wishes I had sack-tapped you with my purse.
ALL OF ME WISHES YOU WOULD GROW THE FUCK UP.
So let’s talk about violence at shows. If you haven’t been the cause or victim of it, you’ve at least witnessed it at some point. I’m not saying it doesn’t have its place in the culture or genre or whatever…but I am saying maybe being smarter about it would be more beneficial than preaching community and lamenting your dying scene with your fucking foot on someone’s face, ya know?
I had it extra tough growing up in basements and unsupervised venues—not only am I small, but I’m a woman. As much as some would like to claim sexism and misogyny doesn’t exist in any given music scene…I’ve got the bruises and spit in my hair to prove it very much does. Nothing quite like being grabbed at age 15 by a man three times your size while you were standing and watching your friends, and having “NO CLIT IN THE PIT!!!!” screamed into your face, lemme tell ya.
But I take responsibility for my knocks and scrapes. Every pit I ever entered, I entered of my own volition, knowing full well what could happen to me. I worried my mother sick, coming home with bruised ribs and black eyes, but I loved it. It made me feel like I was a part of something—and THAT’S why the women and the small kids keep going back. However…it’s one thing to be kicked around by other people who are also being kicked around, and quite another to be ambushed by someone who should know better, but is instead only targeting people smaller than them. That is not part of the fucking show, man.
Targeting was not my word, but rather my boyfriend’s; he honestly believes that’s what happened that night. That we were targeted. I don’t know if that’s the case. Their singer looked like he couldn’t really tell his ass from his elbow anyway. But I do know injuring someone who wasn’t anticipating it for the sake of whatever bullshit image you’re trying to achieve is a cowardly fucking move.
Oh, your favorite frontman hits people with the mic stand all the time? Word. He fucking gets arrested for it, too. The guy who sits at the bar you go to and talks about his days on tour in the ’70s says he used to hit women all the time? Neat. I bet he leaves out the parts where their boyfriends all got together and dragged his ass outside, then beat him so hard he couldn’t eat solid foods for a week. Your actions have consequences and you’re going to hit the wrong person one day.
You have a lot of aggression and rage? Join a gym or learn to knit. Don’t take that shit on stage. Don’t make your bandmates embarrassed to play with you. Don’t beat on someone who couldn’t fight you back—it is literally that fucking simple. You wanna be the karate kid? Stay the hell home. There’s no room in any scene for that shit. I can’t even believe this is a thing that needs to be said. Shame on ya’s.