Friday, June 4, 2010

Death Metal and the Coordinated Head Bang

I first realized that a friend of mine was into death metal when I heard him grumbling what sounded like chants to Satan. In case you're into more wholesome music, I should probably explain that death metal singers grumble and scream. You can't understand a single word that they're saying, which is probably a good thing since they're usually singing about going Freddy Krueger on your ass.

Last week my friend got word that a death metal concert was coming to New York. He invited me and another person, with this poster image displayed in his email invite.

Yes, that is a cloaked figure sacrificing somebody on an alter. And yes, there apparently is a band called "Hate." I hesitatingly accepted the invite, and the other person declined. The other guy is a christian and I think was concerned with his salvation. He asked if he could still go to heaven if he attended. Probably not.

The first band I saw was called Blackguard. Scary as shit. They were all painted up like demons and the two guitarists on each side of the stage had long hair that they would eerily sway around in unison as they head banged. They seriously practice their head bangs. They would do some circular head banging for awhile and then both change to a vertical head bang at the exact same moment. Impressive.

The next two bands were a good time, and appeared to be well known to the crowed. So everyone was really into it. When death metal-ers get "into it" they do a couple things. Let's make a list.
  1. Head Bang: people actually exhibit unique styles when head banging. I could write an entire blog entry about head banging styles. Let's just say it's really annoying when the dude's hair in front of you keeps hitting your face. It's especially annoying when you aren't sure if he'll try to kill you for complaining about it.
  2. Mosh-pit: when death metal-ers get pumped up they like to run around pushing each other really hard. This ends up forming into a congested mass of pushy people. Sometimes the pits can get overly aggressive, but mostly people are just trying to experience what looked like "happy aggression."
  3. Crowd Surf: this became the ultra-cool thing to do about halfway through the concert. It seems like somebody was crowd surfing at almost every moment. Get a couple big dudes to pick you up and the crowd takes care of the rest. They might take care of your wallet and phone too if you're not careful.
  4. Put up devil horns: this is that hand gesture where you extend your pinkey and forefinger so they look like horns. People throw these up instead of clapping their hands. I don't know if this is supposed to be the devil salute or what. But all the cool kids were doing it.
I'm proud to say that I engaged in all four forms of death metal-ness. With a little encouragement from my friend, I broke into the mosh-pit and started pushing people around while trying not to get injured. And then I did it about six more times throughout the evening. What I learned about the pit is that death metal-ers aren't trying to hurt each other. People are pretty physical, but if somebody fell down, they wouldn't start stomping on you with their goth military boots. They would make sure you got up. I know because I tried to stomp on someone after I pushed them over, and people gave me funny looks. Ok, maybe not.

Crowd surfing. Oh yes I did. I had some big dudes pick me up. And next thing I knew I was being carried over the death metal-er's heads toward the stage. Some security guy grabbed me and helped me down near the front of the stage. Then I ran back and tore up the pit again. This is getting fun.

A note about head banging. It's the cool thing to do. Apparently it's also cool to get in a row, put your arms around each other's waists like a bunch of can-can girls, and head bang in unison. I saw this a couple times...head bang bonding.

I'll finish with a photo of me and my friend with his newly purchased poster. See that hand sign that we're doing? Those are the devil horns. Guess that makes me a cool kid.


  1. Ohhh man I can really appreciate this post - I used to date a metal-head and I went to a few concerts. It's funny how even though I hated the music I really enjoyed the concerts.. it was just a crazy kind of energy. Though I have to admit I don't think mosh pits are quite so girl-friendly. It's like half the boys didn't want to hurt you so it was hard to push off people and then the other half thought you should earn your place and pushed extra hard and it was hard to stay on my feet. I did fall down a few times and yeah... people are super nice to help you up :D. I even head banged once in a while though it usually made me dizzy :D. Metalheads are fun :D

  2. Wow. I feel super, super preppy reading this. Don't even think I know anyone who has been to this sort of thing. Well, besides you. Your take on it all was funny!

  3. I'd like to go!!! The closest I got to a metal concert was when I saw Metallica. But that's not death metal, at all.

  4. Hehe yeah it's not something I do regularly, more like an ex boyfriend that I was trying to make an effort to experience his hobbies...

    And he asked me out on a phone call... a mutual friend had told him that he may be interested in me and so he called and we chatted for an hour or so and at the end of the phone call he said "I know it's kind of a weird first date but do you want to go for a run Saturday?" :D

  5. uh, yes you are both 'cool' and terrifying. all at the same time. congratulations? i do think you should get some sort of prize for braving that though. seriously. terrifying.