The first band is on stage and I mistake them completely for Cradle of Filth because they have similar hairstyles. I think I must be really tired. I think I must look like a wreck. I look down from this balcony and check out all these kids swaying to the distorted guitars. There are already two mosh enthusiasts but they appear kind of graceful. I feel like I’m studying these people. It feels exploitative. I don’t like that feeling. I don’t know how to dance to the music. I try to nod my head brusquely.
I tell Bill to get more drinks. The next band plays with a lot of flashing spotlights. The band after that is a Viking metal band, a sub-genre I’d never ever heard about before. I’m so geeked by the fact that there’s a violinist in the band that I want to go over and take a picture of him. I take a Polaroid and then I feel bad – that exploitative feeling again – but this is a performance. From where I’m standing I see all these kids who move closer to the camera and they all start taking pictures. They’re weaving in and whenever something monumental happens, there’s a lot of flashes. I realize that it’s more a desire to capture or memorialize the moment.
The band is wearing elaborate costumes. One has these shoulder pads that are made of leather. I tell Bill the front man kind of looks like Braveheart and then I kind of cackle and howl a little to myself and see why people like this music. There’s something ritualistic about metal but also enchanting, from the guttural pitches to the guitarist and lead fighting for dominance on the stage. Bill says, “I love good showmanship.”
We talk to this band after their set because they come around to their merch table and take pictures with their fans. I go to pose with them and a girl in a wheelchair comes up. I think it might be the biblical imagery from the songs but this is like the blind coming to be healed or something.
“Jennifer, I think the paraplegic gets precedence over you.”
“Oh, man. Look at his pants.”
“Cradle of Filth? Cradle o’ Fun.”
I start to get why people need metal, how young they are and I just slur around and cackle and drag Bill back to the show before his little brother plays and we go in the mosh pit in what can only be described as a ‘prancing’ fashion. When his little brother plays, someone’s mom checks her phone in the corner as she watches her kid’s heavy metal gig.
“These people are so much cooler than me,” I say.