January 22, 2014

Keep Calm and Go Hardcore

It's been 2 days and the ringing has finally died down in my ears. And why were my ears ringing? I'm so glad you asked.

Howdy's 15th birthday is in a few days and a few months back he informed us that what he really wanted for his birthday was to attend this concert featuring 2 of his favorite bands (along with 2 lesser known bands). He'd shared a few of their songs with me and, although it's not my particular brand of entertainment, MC and I decided to get him 2 tickets--one for him and one for a parent. No one else was able to go but I figured I would just hang out in a corner somewhere and try not to embarrass the kid by being so obviously his parent. Easy peasy, right?

When anyone asked what kind of concert we were going to, neither of us knew how to categorize the bands we were about to hear. I decided to slap a makeshift label of Alternative Rock to the music. Oh, how wrong I was. It turns out the bands are considered Post Hardcore, Deathcore, and also Screamo. Never heard of it? Me either.

Let me explain the musical line up...

Band #1, while starting out a little shaky, actually produced some pretty good music. It was like hearing
verses from bands like Blink 182 or All American Rejects with screaming choruses thrown in. An odd mix, to be sure, but somehow it worked.  As one of the singers/guitar players hit his first chord, it was obviously off-key. He looked at his guitar, looked at the other singer, then shrugged his shoulders and carried on. Talent is not a concern here.

Band #2 had better instrumental skills but the singing...well, in my limited view of music it should not be considered singing. The singer would spew out words in a such a deep, snarling voice that it sounded like his open mouth was really a portal into hell and he was stuck gargling on hordes of demon spawn.

Band #3 was my favorite. (Other than the cussing; I could do without that.) But the music was really good. It sounded like taking all my favorite 80s rock bands--AC/DC, Kiss, GNR-- and ramping up the metal, tossing in a bit of screamo, and then mixing liberally with tattoos, piercings, and anti-establishment fueled angst.

Band #4 (saving the best for last, apparently) went farther into the screamo side than #3 but actually sounded more like music than #2. While it's Howdy's first pick, I have to stick with #3.

This is a whole musical culture that I've never experienced. One in which flipping the audience/band members the bird is considered a sign of respect and slamming into other shirtless strangers in a mosh pit is the height of entertainment. And while I love loud cars, loud motorcycles, and the kind of loud bass in music that you can feel in your chest, I have never heard anything as loud as the music played at that concert. After it was over, I not only felt like my ears were underwater, but that minuscule creatures had become trapped behind my eardrums and were trying to push their way out.

But, believe it or not, I enjoyed it. We were on our feet for 6 hours in a pit of people squished in tighter than
Kim Kardashian in spandex, I pointed out the smell of weed to Howdy, we helped along those who were crowd surfing, we marveled at the people in the balcony who were able to stay seated and seemingly unaffected by the music (I suspect they were parental units), and while we didn't actually participate in the moshing we did travel with the waves of the crowd.

It may not sound like a great night on the town to you, but I got to enjoy it with Howdy and I got a rare glimpse into the life of a teenage boy. That alone was well worth the price of admission.

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