Saturday, November 17, 2007

Yep. That’s what it means to be a dad.

Was in Philadelphia’s Electric Factory Thursday afternoon and night into Friday morning. Stood in line for three hours to see Avenged Sevenfold. Yep. Froze my ass off. The concert was done about midnight. Stayed until 2:30 AM for signatures and pics. Yep. Got home at 4:30 AM, and was up for work the next morning. Yep. Still trying to find my internal clock. Yep. That’s what it means to be a dad.

I was the oldest person in line by a mean count in decades. About three of us were not dressed in black. I saw more metal piercing faces than a shrapnel event in wartime. I learned several new variants of the word “fuck” that I had not thought of before – so that was good. Always nice to increase one’s knowledge of the Urban Dictionary. Yep. That’s what it means to be a dad.

We began the night next to steel railings about three people deep from front stage left. Lasted the first band. During the ensuing set-up, we had to be rescued by security to minimize the crush injuries, albeit not before I took several kidney shots and elbows to the head. My left shoulder is better; thanks for asking. Neck still cranky a bit – should be gone by Thanksgiving. But I had my daughter well-protected as I boxed her in by holding the rail and keeping a foot high up on the side of it. Yep. That’s what it means to be a dad.

The first band, Black Tide, has a bassist, Zakk (the far right guy in the group pic), that was overtly hitting on these two girls up front – to the point where he invited them to meet him afterward – invited them live on mic, gave them water and picks … it was rather humorous. I have my private thoughts about such audience members. The thoughts ain’t pretty.

The band was good, though. It is simply out of my generation. I don’t get the purpose of singing if the mixing board allows every instrument to drown out the lyrics, but that seems consistent in music these days. God forbid there be a story buried in the song somewhere. I can’t really comment critically one way or another on musicians, but I will say that the bassist had was a dominant stage presence in both personality and his playing. So I guess that’s a good thing.

The second band, The Confession, had this lead singer doing a J. Giles impersonation. I found it humorous, but it was probably lost on the audience who were, collectively, born when J. was doing golden oldies tours. They were good, but I thought the first band had more raw talent.

The third band, Operator, was, I guess, good, but they seemed to me to be working hard at being actors fulfilling a role. My daughter said later that the lead guitarist was a direct rip-off of __________. I didn’t catch the name; my hearing was pretty well shot in spite of 29dB plugs. Her statement supported my unspoken conclusions. Seems to me that they are probably good at what they do, but need to rewrite the script – be yourself. Not someone else, not something new, not something different – just yourself. And if you don’t know who you are, then put the instruments away for a month or two. Atlantic Records will understand. Play some Hank Williams, Jr. Stop eating red meat. Just shut up for a while. You might be amazed at who you actually are. You know, before your last song you said something about wanting the crowd to be “really warmed up.” Sons, if you need to tell them … duh, eh? Just do it. And no, your song didn’t. It was just more instruments and less vocals. You should talk with a real band and learn about crowd control. Hell, Black Tide was more dominant on stage than you guys. Stop acting, will you?

So then the headliner boys come out. By this time, the floor has worked itself into a seething mass of sweat and metal. The pushing continued as I watched from a safe distance. The floor looked like a sea with swells that frequently would spit out a body and toss it towards the front. Kids these days call that “body surfing.” Logic? If I want strangers grabbing my ass there will be a Tip Jar.

So A7X comes out. The crowd goes appropriately ballistic as it plays, “Name that tune?” and always bids and wins with one note. The singer begins, “ARRRR URGRGRG FFFFF SAGAWHATKA” or something like that all in a guttural dialect retrieved from the dumpster behind George Lucas’ house when he was trying to figure out primitive space dialects in the early draft scripts of Star Wars. The crowd sang every utterance in time.

They also did one thing that I thought showed a lot of stage maturity. Although they clearly had their individual preference – lead guitar, stage left, for example (right in front of my daughter, thank you) – all of the front guys took extensive time on all sides of the stage, giving more fans up close and personal time. Smart, and, for some odd reason, uncommon.

Again, although the music is simply beyond my ability to comprehend, I will give them credit – they are talented, particularly the lead guitarist, Synyster Gates. Even more importantly, they seem to surround themselves with family and friends – the concession was run by the twin brother of a roadie. That’s smart to limit variables. They also may have taken a long time to meet fans afterwards – two fricking hours for most of them – but when they did, they were polite and cooperative and patient. The lead singer is going to burn out, that is plain as day, but the rest of the band should have long careers provided they don’t play the drug world too hard. I have no idea if they are even dabbling in it … just history can be a great teacher. If they had the time to absorb the venue’s history that would be clear – Jimi Hendrix and Jerry Garcia for starters.

It was an interesting time. Stressful on my aging body. My daughter was at the stage for her favorite band. She got pics with them afterward. She got a bunch of great memories to associate with her fading dad. It was well worth it. Yep. That’s what it means to be a dad.

1 comment:

  1. Haha... to fill in a few blanks here: The lead guitarist from Operator was a complete copy of Dimebag Darrel (from Pantera). They even did a couple of Pantera covers, but they sucked. Oh, and I didn't mention this at the show, but the lead singer was attempting to be like M. Shadows (A7x). Chicks told me that Operator's lead guy was an asshole, too. So he's conceited and an actor... nice.