Killswitch Engage or Lamb of God — Thrash Metal Alien

Man, what band are you here to see? Killswitch Engage or Lamb of God? This from the guy beside me.

I never thought I’d ever find myself feeling like an alien at a metal concert, but it was happening and apparently which band you devotedly follow determines your spot within the thrash metal caste.

I’m here to see Testament and I’ve waited a very long time to see them play live. I’m not sure where that comment put me in the caste.

I didn’t want to tell the kid talking to me that I’ve, in fact, been waiting for 24-years to see the band play live, pretty much since Practice came out and before MTV killed the metal scene. But somehow, I’ve never been able to coordinate being in the same place as a Testament concert (they’re one of the few “core” heavy metal bands that I missed in the 80s/90s).

Man, they are pretty good. I’d never heard of them until now but they are tight. I’m going to buy their album.

Where have you been? Testament is one of the bands that started it all. How can you not know Testament?

Regardless of my snarky comment and non-committal to LOG/KE, I haven’t been shut out of conversations with the boys in the front row and learn pieces of their lives. We’ve got an awesome spot; best spot in the house folks. Two rows back and a little more centre and we’d be mauled. Some serious mauling is going to happen tonight. The guy who says this looks more hipster than metal and is wearing huge round glasses.

All the front row boys spent their entire day travelling on a bus from Revelstoke. One of them accidentally booked his return bus ticket for the day before he arrived and was making phone calls in the middle OF THE CONCERT to try and remedy this. He says to me (between I-can’t-hear-yous), Don’t listen to these guys… I’m a huge Lamb of God fan, but having Testament here is amazing.

When Testament comes on stage he goes nuts. I’m not sure what happened to his phone but he knocks his friend’s glasses off.

The girl behind me conducts a 10-minute unfiltered, emotional diatribe on how Anthrax is the best band in the world and how the Anthrax/Testament/Death Angel concert was the best concert of her 20-year life. It reminded me of the Halifax Persistence of Time concert (1990) where Anthrax (the opening band) got an encore and when it came time for Iron Maiden (the headliner) to play, 70% of the attendees walked out. This made it possible for me to make my way to the front of the venue and be forced to stare at Bruce Dickinson’s crotch in the 1980s running shorts for the remainder of the concert.

I would have loved the Anthrax/Testament/Death Angel concert too.

These days I’m more likely to attend a spoken word tour or wine tasting; ironically, there was a tasting next door in the same venue… and I toyed with the idea of doing both. While standing in line, I noticed a well-coifed couple behind me who looked like they belonged at Cambridge and not a Canadian Thrash metal concert. Someone rudely pointed out to them that the line for the wine tasting was on the other side of the building. To which the man replied, Alex Skolnick is a classically trained musician; that’s why we’re here.

I didn’t have the heart to correct him (and, I wanted to hug him); while metal guitar does have roots in classical music, Alex is more known for his Jazz training. But, I also believe that metal concerts can attract diverse and complicated people and no one should care who attends because ultimately everyone in attendance supports the musicians who are playing; and, music should never be exclusive to a certain set of individuals, regardless of the genera. Exclusivity kills diversity.

I’m trying to determine if metal has always been this way, where it treats people who don’t “fit” like aliens. This seems rather ironic to me.

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