Friday, June 10, 2016

Metal Appeal

The Wall Street Journal puzzles over the global ubiquity of Metal -- while the Observer wonders, can the death of Metal be far behind?

Babymetal and the Fox God would beg to differ.
I've been puzzling a bit over the personal appeal. After the last concert, I mentioned to my wife what an improbable love-fest the Metal scene had become -- all these people togged out in black, festooned with visceral ephemera and declarations of allegiance to Baphomet & Co., pierced-beyond-the-nines . . .

. . . and giving each other long, affirmational hugs in the circle-pit.

Wacken, where this sort of thing doesn't happen spontaneously, apparently.

Recollections of the Satanic Panic in the '80s almost have a nostalgic tang to them. Almost.

"So what do you get out of the scene?" she asked.

Not hugs, that's for damn sure. Approaching the stage in my finest Rockports, Dockers and Polo shirt, I boldly announced to one and all that I was the scariest person circling the circle-pit.

If not hugs, then what? I had trouble answering the question. Truth be told, I hadn't really come for the one certifiably metal act (Lamb of God, though I like them well enough). But I do listen to metal, usually via headphones while doing the more onerous housework (bathrooms -- if you want to get those toilets scrubbed properly better cue up Meshuggah).

A great part of the appeal lies in being the only male in the household. All those years of child-rearing, to a seemingly endless soundtrack of Wiggles, Andrew Lloyd Webber, High School Musical, Mama Mia! Glee -- I had to stake out a musical genre before my nuts withered and fell off entirely.

Midlife sillies play a role, as well. In my early-40s I couldn't listen to more than a few minutes of Cookie Monster vocals. But the older I got, the harder my taste in music became.

Still, there's limits to the noise I'll subject myself to. Sunn O)))'s drone metal, or Wolves In The Throne Room -- if that's your thing, you're welcome to it.

And Metal's appeal to women has advanced enormously. In the 80s and early 90s, metal was all dudes. The latest audience I was in was pretty close to a 50-50 gender split.

I think a powerful show with undeniable technical virtuosity is a draw. More than that, I suspect the pop scene's conflation of sexual behavior with political agency and personal identity has more or less driven audiences to a scene where none of that applies.

Still puzzlin' -- WP

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