Well. The day before finals, and I decide to go to a concert. Probably not the best decision in my academic career, but, yknow, after you’ve studied for 12 hours for an exam that’s more about thinking than memorization, another 6 isn’t gonna make much of a difference. Especially if the exam isn’t until 1 in the afternoon.
- Protest the Hero
- Oh No! The Afterlife
at Mr. Small’s. It was a good show, the roughest pit I’ve ever been in, and the most drama of any show I’ve been to. I went with Alex and Rebecca (both of whom I went to the last show with), and one of my other friends. We meet up, expecting a cab at 6, end up waiting for another 20 minutes, finally get to the theater around 6:40 (show starts at 7), and I realize that I didn’t grab my ticket. I bought another one at the door, no big deal, but wow. I almost forgot my ticket last time too. Not looking too good on me… Anyways, as we walk in, I predicted “I don’t think we’re gonna get a spot by the stage this time,” but the theater was less crowded than I’ve ever seen it twenty minutes before a show. In fact, rather than being stuck by the stage right speaker like we usually are, we managed to end up dead center on the stage, with only a single row of people separating us from the bar at the edge of the stage.
The stage was set up with Dethlehem‘s gear. They’re a local Pittsburgh band, unsigned, so we were unsure of what to expect. They come out on stage in freaking Medieval garb, like tunics and armor and chain mail… I was hoping that they would pull off something really impressive musically, since they had the balls to dress the way they did, and they were opening for Protest the Hero, but ehh, it was pretty mediocre. They did put on a decent show though. So. At the end of the mic check, this girl in the front row yells out “HEY!” and the singer looks at her, and growls “what do you have to say to me?” She replies “bring the fucking ruckus” and he comes back with “I will destroy your mind with a spell you wouldn’t believe.” It was kinda funny. They started shortly after that.
A few songs in, this.. thing comes out from back stage, all hunched over and crawly, wearing a really ugly mask. The singer turns and looks at it, and says “what the fuck is that?!” and grabs it by the neck in a headlock. It was followed by a guy wearing a shirt that said “GAGA HAS A WIENER” carrying a big red inflated ball thing. The singer from Dethlehem took the ball thing (which was actually a lots-of-sides-ed die, menacingly said “decide its fate,” and tossed the die up in the air. When it landed, he looked over at the number facing up. “18? You’re dead!” and pulled a sword from somewhere, held it up, and proceeded to saw off the thing’s “head.”
He then tossed the thing down to the stage, and held the head up for the audience to see, as the drummer started the next song. Both the beheaded body and the head lay on the stage for the remainder of the set. They played a few more songs, and as an exit, told the audience that they had “cool slash dorky t-shirts,” along with free “Dethleham” at their merch booth. They did indeed.
Oh No! The Afterlife came on next. The drummer’s bass drum had a few pillows in it, but didn’t have a second head, which we all thought was kind of strange. Overall a younger looking group, they played a pretty decent set. Their guitar players could actually play. I was fairly impressed. The rhythm guitar player and clean vocalist had pretty sweet dreadlocks that looked like a lot of fun. Their style didn’t sound all that generic, and they played well. They even announced a “jam session,” and just jammed for like 3 minutes. At one point the guitar players walked up to each other, and fretted the other’s guitar while strumming on their own. It was pretty cool.
They all got really into it, too. During the first song, every one of them was doing full, 180-degrees-of-motion headbangs, and jumping around on stage. It was a pretty good show. They’re also an unsigned semi-local band, from Slippery Rock, PA, but they played really good stuff for an unsigned band.
During their set, this family makes their way up right next to us. It was a mother (~45 ish), daughter (~20+), daughter’s boyfriend (a big guy I wouldn’t want to mess with), other daughter (~15) and son (~12). It was an interesting group of people, and they seemed nice enough, but ended up being quite problematic.
Architects came on and started setting up. They were playing some really obscure and expensive amps (Blackstar, Orange, Splawn) so I was expecting great things. They introduced themselves (they’re from the UK), and started their set. I thought that I downloaded some of their music, and it was good. Really fast paced, progressive, fit in well with Protest. But it was not at all what these guys played. Turns out, I downloaded “Architect” while these guys were called “Architects.” Ooops. They played really tight, but they were nothing special. We were still at the front of the stage though, and it was an exiting place to be. The crowd had been pretty tame up to this point, but the crowd surfing began when out of the blue, two guys came hurtling off the stage into the crowd. One got held up, the other didn’t make it very far before hitting the ground. As the roughness in the pit increased, the boyfriend of the girl in the family next to us was starting to aggressively shove people away from them. The girl told me she’d break someone’s neck if anything happened to the little kid. Well, that’s all well and good, but you have to realize that you’re in the front row of a pit at a heavy metal concert. So this guy starts crowdsurfing away from the stage, but starts really close to this family. They huddle together to avoid him, and the guy ends up falling on his head and blacking out for a few seconds before struggling back to his feet. The singer of the band motions for the guy to get up on stage after verifying that he was okay, so the guy tries to fight his way to the stage, but he tries to go right through “the family.” They start viciously punching him as the girl shields the little kid from him. Seriously. What the fuck is their problem? This guy just landed on his fucking head from eight feet up because you’re out of place in a metal pit, and then you go and start beating the shit out of him because he’s trying to get to the stage after the band’s singer told him to? Come on! He’s not out for blood or anything, he’s just trying to get to the stage! He didn’t do anything wrong! Jesus. So he gets up on stage and the band finish the song. The singer holds him back as the guy’s about to leap again right before the song ended. He addresses the audience, instructing them that “when a guy is crowdsurfing, you don’t move out of the way, you put your fucking hands up and keep him afloat! Now. I don’t want to see a single crowdsurfer hit the ground.” You could tell he was concerned for the guy who landed on his head, and pissed at this group of people next to me. They started the next song, and the guy jumped into the crowd again, successfully making it across the pit. A song or two later, I look back, and the dreadlocked guitar player from Oh No! The Afterlife is in the pit. I tap him on the shoulder and pound it. Architects finish their set, and Protest the Hero starts setting up. Someone in the crowd shouts “rock and roll pussy hole!” and my friends and I kinda just look at each other… “That’s a new one…”
I have never been in a crowd so desperate to get right up against the stage. The crowdsquish was incredible and unrelenting. But “the family” thought they could take on the whole freaking crowd. They just kept viciously shoving people away from them, just causing problems in general. YOU’RE IN THE FRONT ROW. YOU WILL BE SQUISHED. DON’T FIGHT IT OR YOU’LL MAKE THINGS WORSE. Jesus. So the crowd fought back, and it just got really rough. It’s a ripple effect, yknow? The family shoves people away, they come surging back, with the weight of the entire crowd behind them. The pit got so rough and uncomfortable that we all ended up moving off to the edges of the stage, halfway back in the theater where it was calmer cause we couldn’t take it anymore. Aside from that, Protest played a great set. Most of the songs were off Fortress, but they did play 3 off Kezia (Heretics and Killers, Turn Soonest to the Sea, and The Divine Suicide of K). The mix was really muddy, so I couldn’t hear any of the really intricate guitar parts really well, and the vocals were turned down a little low, but they put on a high energy, entertaining show. The crowd matched their energy for sure, singing along to every song to the point where it made it a little hard to hear the band’s actual vocalist. The guy from earlier in the show who was wearing the “Gaga has a wiener” shirt turned out to be one of Protest the Hero’s guitar players. The singer was wearing a “something corporate” shirt, and explained (while drinking a beer toward the end of the set) that “they sound like this:” and did a nasally, whiny impression of one of their popular songs… and said that he bought it off some dude for $20. I was confused. But whatever. The guy started talking about hockey and the Penguins, and, since he’s from Montreal, there was a little bit of rivalry going on. However, as he clarified, he hates Montreal, and is rooting for the Penguins. He held up a Penguins towel to emphasize his point. They played a few more songs (including Wretch, during which he meowed into the microphone, replacing the cat meowing on the studio album, which was pretty funny). They announced very definitively that they were going to play two more songs, and no encore, and that is what they did. The crowd stood around for a minute or so chanting “one more song!” but they never came back, and once music started coming out of the PA system, everyone knew there was no hope and started leaving.
We had to wait for a cab, so we didn’t leave right away. Rebecca went and bought a $3, unmarked, home-burned demo CD from Oh No! The Afterlife, and my other friend that came with us bought a tab book for Fortress, and a T-Shirt that ended up being a size too big. We hung around for a bit, talking to the guys from Dethlehem, who were really disappointed that no one took any of their ham. So we did. I mean, they were nice guys, and it was just sliced deli ham. But a piece somehow ended up on the floor, followed by a series of comments: “Oh no!” “…how?” “Why? Why??” “Five second rule!” Rebecca then picks up the ham off the floor of the pit, and says that she’d do it. They just kinda looked at her funny, and she took a bite of it. It was pretty gross, but really kinda funny. The guys in the band were just like “dude. That was soo nasty!” and “you are fucking metal! That was probably the most metal thing that happened tonight!” which was really funny. She just kinda laughed evilly and started walking away. The guitar player runs after her, and hands her a cd “for just being awesome.” We thank them, laugh, and leave. Waiting for the cab outside was equally rewarding. We were standing out there for a while, talking about the show, when this guy asks us if we had a lighter. Between the four of us, none of us had a lighter. It was kind of impressive, especially given that two of the group usually have lighters on them. The guy was kinda flabbergasted and walked away ranting about how four people don’t have a freaking lighter. Then we see some of the guys from Oh No! The Afterlife (I think) come out and walk by with some gear, and a dark blue van drives by. They just kinda stop, look at each other, and look at us. “That was our van…” one of the guys says. They laugh, put their stuff down and wait with us. It was kinda cool. They’re all really nice guys. The van came back, they loaded some stuff in it, and followed it around the corner. After a while, the dreadlocked guitar player walks by, and I sort of stop him and say “Dude, I think you guys were my favorite set tonight.” He looked genuinely really happy, and was like “really? you liked it?” He asked if we had picked up cds, and we said no. He fished around in his pockets and pulled out a few of the unmarked demos that Rebecca bought, and handed them to us. I asked if I owed him anything, and he’s like “nah, unless you want to make a donation or something.” I thought I only had a $20 in my wallet (cause that’s what I left with – I forgot I bought another ticket), so I didn’t, but it was kind of cool. The cab finally comes and we make it home by 11:30 ish, leaving plenty of time to study some more.
And a word about Alex – He’s an awesome drummer. I’ve been jamming with him for about a month. We’ve been playing White Walls by BTBAM. Like, actually playing it. The whole thing. It’s pretty awesome. Unfortunately, the song is longer than youtube’s limits, so I’m going to have to put it up somewhere else, but I’ll have a video up before I get home on the 13th.