For some strange reason, the last two big metal shows I’ve had tickets for have resulted in me hurting myself just days before the gig.
June 2016 I took a friend to Download festival to see Black Sabbath, managing to get my left elbow hyper-extended and dislocating my radial head just days prior.
Fast forward to Jan 2017 and I’m booked for a double bill of Municipal Waste and Suicidal Tendencies, and I separate my shoulder 3 days before!
The one plus; I had become accustomed to the limbless protocol needed to go to one of these shows and come out intact. Thrash gigs are known for being full of people who don’t give a fuck, socially, outward appearance or otherwise. As soon as I’d entered I felt slightly intimidated at how packed the fucking place was. Numerous people to my left and right, barging their way past one another. My arm was in a sling but it was so dark in there no one could see a dark blue arm-hammock on black attire. Body positioning became key, as did standing location.
I explained explicitly to my compadres that they would have to mosh twice as hard at this show, partly to make up for my absence and partly to stay alive. It was one of the biggest pits I have ever seen, taking up three quarters of the standing space of the venue. And there were some giant carnivorous sapiens in there!
Despite being surrounded by some of the most aggressive-looking humans across London’s populous, what struck me was the positive atmosphere and level of enjoyment amongst everybody. Everyone was so fucking psyched to be at the show and you could really feel it. For many people who don’t listen to heavy music, they struggle to understand how the mosh pit etiquette remains and massive brawls don’t break out. But for those in the know, we wonder how on earth a brawl could break out when everyone’s there to vent and have a fucking good time.
Municipal Waste are a band who embrace this attitude 110%. If you listen to their music, you can’t help but be seduced by their energy that has been captured on record, regardless whether or not you think they sound like an industrial accident. When they came on stage, the London crowd before them were pretty stoney. That’s just how we are in the south at shows. We ain’t moving until you’ve earned our respect to start moving, despite listening to your records as fans, for years. What blew me away was that within 4 minutes of coming on stage and introducing themselves, Municipal Waste had created a fucking riot at The Forum, starting possibly the biggest circle-pit of raging bodies I have ever seen! Think of a beer-skulling necromancer creating a tornado of bodies beneath him, accompanied by shredding guitars and speed-freak drums and you’re almost there.
You always know when a band has smashed their set because it’s all over too quickly. It only felt like Municipal Waste had been on stage twenty minutes, just as I had figured out how to pin my right arm to my ribs to allow me to mildly headbang in my small, don’t-smack-in-to-me metal square.
Suicidal Tendencies had a hard act to follow in terms of upbeat, raw power. However, what I’d failed to appreciate is that these fuckers were veterans. I’m pretty sure the whole band were in their late forties, early fifties. And they sure did crush it, with the old trick that I’ve not seen in years; the Stage Invasion. Crowd surfing bodies started launching into a D-Day landing as the bellowing voice over the sound system demanded as many people on stage as possible. Next thing I know, there’s a hundred people on stage rocking out like it’s some big fuckin’ party!
One thing you have to do if you’re headlining a show is entertain. It’s one thing playing your music but the audience are there for a spectacle as much as they are to feel something. It’s hard to deny the power of a stage invasion; countless strangers on stage with their idols – a place that is normally so inaccessible and so out of bounds.
I’m pretty sure I left the show so buzzing I didn’t even feel the pains in my shoulder. What better pain killer than going to a Thrash Show with your homies!
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