I Had More Fun at a Cradle of Filth Concert Than at SXSW

Bill texts me to tell me that his little brother got a gig opening for Cradle of Filth concert in Detroit. He says it will be bizarre and outside of his comfort zone – a fascinating sociological experiment if nothing else. He also mentions that he’s socially obligated to go and would like me to accompany him. I think about typing back something evasive about not believing in making plans. I tell him I’ll let him know and go back to posting shit on the internet.

As it gets closer to midweek, I start to get increasingly anxious about my weekend plans. I always feel that weekend pressure to find something cool to do. By Friday, I’m thinking that missing the Cradle of Filth Concert would be dastardly and I decide to go. It beats hanging out in someone’s basement at a college party. I run home after work on Friday and sift through my closet. I settle on a checkered dress I have that looks passably metal and not like overtly vintage hipster trash.

I can hear Bill talking downstairs. He’s schmoozing. He’s the biggest fucking schmooze I know.

He and my other housemate, Bryan, are talking about the venue. Bryan jokes, “Is it at that skinhead bar?”

“No,” I say pushing Bill out the door, adding, “I wouldn’t really fit in there.”

We drive by my other friend Evan’s while we’re leaving Ann Arbor for Detroit and I make Bill circle the block. I yell out the window, “Dingle dangle.”

Evan makes a v with his fingers and sticks his tongue between them.

“Godddddddamn it,” I yell.

I’m having a moderate amount of fun, banging on the dashboard. Bill’s doing his future politician thing where he does a little nervous laugh and starts using a lot of hand gestures. As we’re getting on the freeway, he goes, “Now, Jennifer. Jennifer. I brought earplugs, gum and some water bottles.”

“Oh, thank you. That’s so considerate.”

I’ve never seen anyone more prepared for a responsible outing at a metal concert than Bill.

“Now, look. Look. Should we listen to Slayer? Or is that too much metal?”

We start talking about the types of metal. How heavy metal music evolved from jazz, blues and psychedelic rock. How it’s origin is Germanic. How it reuses a lot of Christian imagery. How it’s about the performance of masculinity. I repeat a lot of things I’ve read about metal on Wikipedia and Pitchfork.

It starts snowing outside, looking too pretty for a metal concert and by the time we get to Harpos, I’m relieved Bill hasn’t killed us in a car accident because he’s a lot of fun, but easily excitable. When excited, Bill has the potential to err on the side of distraction.

“Yeah, so what’s Harpos like?”

“You’ll see.”

“It’s a place where all the gross people from my high school would have hung out.”

“Oh,” I say and grab the seat while we swing around the theater to find a parking lot.

The marquee at Harpos is kind of faded but still has a regal look and is about eighty feet tall. Harper Avenue has exactly the kinds of businesses you would expect to see in Detroit: bail bonds, supermarkets with signs that have burned out letters, people walking along the snow in the street carrying brown paper bags with bottles. The weirdest thing is all the brick buildings have the most colorful, cheerful paint jobs. I don’t like looking out the window. It makes me feel like a voyeur in a cheap way, but I’m fascinated by learning about other people’s lives.

We get into the theater. Our wristbands have American flags on them. I grimace a little. The crowd looks sparse, but it could just be because it’s dwarfed by the space.

Bill and I grab over-priced drinks from the only hipster in the entire auditorium. The place is packed with troupes of adolescent goths. Girls have glowing shirts on, high -heeled Spice girl boots, and black ornamental jewelry. The boys all have long hair and there are a ton of spikes. They’re almost effeminate looking, pretty and elfish. I feel weird.

Bill says their Wikipedia page purported that the place was famous for having one dollar pitchers. Bill says, “Hey.” And, “Let’s go.”

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