Whiplash in the front row

Ozzy Schowalter

Heavy metal shows are an extremely important part of many lives, but they are often misunderstood by many.  Are they a place where satanists blast the most evil sounding jams while sacrificing goats, a place were dads who are balding but still desperately clinging to their long hair go to try to relive their youth, or the place to be for pissed off wastoid delinquents?  

In reality, a metal show is for anyone with a passion for heavy metal to jam out to the best tunes from the gnarliest bands and say to each other, “Woah, this is like the coolest thing ever.” It’s not about evil or rage, it’s about energy, devotion, and being with the sickest people out there.

Everyone’s best friends at a show.  There’s no need for any kind of introductions or awkwardness, you don’t have time for that when you need to tell this random guy about how you almost just lost your tooth in the pit or when that other random guy has a shirt of your favorite New York thrash band on.  I was in the bathroom checking out my bloody mouth after my tooth was knocked loose in the pit and that basically caused the bathroom to just be a temporary hangout spot as like five other guys just started telling their own injury stories, no one had a problem rockin’ a piss while talking about breaking a finger or something like that.  To quote Slayer, “evil has no boundaries.”

Which brings me to the next best part of a metal show, the cheese.  It has the charm of Halloween, a time when everyone is together being themselves and embracing the cheese.  We act all edgy and “evil,” everyone’s wearing goofy outfits, covered head to toe in denim and leather with some white shoes to top it all off, screaming violent song lyrics to each other, and thrashing around like maniacs, it’s just an all around fun time where everything is a joke.

Then there’s the friendly violent fun:  the mosh pit. It consists of the craziest fans thrashing and slamming into each other while dodging the feet of crowd surfers and headbanging so hard that a concussion seems to be guaranteed; it’s fast, it’s intense, it’s aggressive, it’s basically the physical embodiment of heavy metal, and to top it all off after every song everyone congratulates each other on avoiding death and then have no issues with a good old sweaty, hairy bear hug because despite just assaulting each other, we’re all bonded by blood.  

The pit doesn’t care who you are, all that matters is that you’re there and ready to thrash.  I mean I’ve seen a twelve year old boy with short hair and Nike shorts on tear it up and even crowdsurf, a 4’11” girl hold her own against a 6’5” hefty drunk dude, and a dude who still hasn’t changed out of his office clothes thrashing like mad, anyone is capable of letting out their inner caveman and doing the toxic waltz.

So next time your local thrash band plays a show do yourself a favor and bang that head that doesn’t bang.  Besides whiplash, tooth loss, a broken nose, hearing loss, paralysis, or death, what’s the worst that could happen?