When Metal (or any) Music Goes Bad.

It’s funny that my last post was about my encounter with Lars Ulrich of Metallica – funny because just recently a friend of mine told me how excited he is to be catching a Guns N Roses show coming up and that got me thinking.

No no not about Lars Ulrich, even though I won’t listen to their music voluntarily (and one can only hear Enter Sandman and Nothing Else Matters piping through on the elevator speakers…) – in connection with this, I started thinking about a concert I went to that ended in a very bad way.

Again it was almost 20 years ago and while it makes me feel old, Guns N Roses (well mainly W. Axl Rose) royally annoyed me.  I won’t go into ALL of the details as it is infamous by now.  Well by Montreal standards anyways.

There was a triple bill over at the Olympic Stadium (With a 50,000 person capacity). The groups were Faith No More, Metallica and Guns N Roses (in that order). In a series of terrible events, the concert lead to a riot.  Unfortunately I was up near the stage at the time and even today I remember the terrible feeling I had.

Faith No More’s show was uneventful and unfortunately with how terrible the sound was (this stadium has got to have the worst acoustics ever) I don’t think they had even had a chance.  The crowd seemed angry that day my friends or maybe just drunk or stoned or both.

Metallica came on stage to the much happier mood of the crowd and after about 45 minutes of their show, the lead singer got flamed.  Well literally.  He was rushed to the hospital with pretty severe burns with the drummer (oh gosh what is his name again? Heh) promising us they would return another time to finish what they started.  Which they did, see I don’t only complain about Lars Ulrich, I’ll give him credit that his word was good that night!

Now – in extenuating circumstances such as these, the crowd was expecting that the next group – Guns N Roses would pick up the slack.  The tickets were expensive and we all expected a show right?  We waited and waited, the road crew finished up the stage and now we were just missing a band.  The music they played in between replayed 3 or 4 times. It was akin to being on hold.  The only thing to do was people to sit around and drink – which they did and a lot.

Oye ve I am getting long winded again, one more paragraph about the concert before moving on I swear!

The band finally came out and before we knew it, the lead singer who used to call himself W. Axl Rose but I think goes by Axl Rose now has an absolute hissy fit on stage.  Unfortunately to my chagrin I was close enough to the stage to see that there was quite the “bulge” in the front of his pants and I kept thinking to myself – “C’mon he could of gotten a groupie before the show to take care of that.”  My thoughts on groupies will be for another post.  So he has the hissy fit, throws his mic stand about gives us the finger (though possibly that is what he normally did) and pretty much says, “Fuck you. This is over. See ya!”  Leaving his band not knowing what to do, leaving the crowd going, “Hey what just happened?” Perhaps 10 minutes later, the lights come on, the security guards get really dumb orders and someone burns a t-shirt.  The rest is pretty much history, lots of damage, injuries, glass and people freaking the hell out.

I didn’t like that – I didn’t like that at all.  Of course the lead singer is essentially to blame, but also that person up in the nose bleed section who burnt the very expensive t-shirt he just bought was not all together innocent either.

Right – to the topic at hand.

Music is supposed to be a great experience, one to be cherished and enjoyed.  While the artists are doing their thing, someone needs to teach them basic crowd control and how to keep a mob from getting out of control to where people get hurt.  For instance there was an Iron Maiden concert not too long ago where the barriers had not been able to handle the weight of the crowd and had it not been for their lead singer getting the crowd to relax in their ranks, that show could of been disastrous.

While the riot in Montreal didn’t scare me from going to other concerts, it always makes me think “what if?”  I mean seriously one minute you are in a music heaven and then suddenly it turns bad, do you think those 6 security guards at the front of the stage will be able to handle it? Hah I don’t think so!

I remember the morning after the terrible Great White concert at The Station nightclub in Rhode Island.  I woke up that morning unaware of the terrible tragedy that transpired until I turned on the TV and was dumfounded by the news.  Fans and band members burned to death? Trampled on? This wasn’t happening, I was in disbelief.  Because had I been closer to that event, I would of been there right up front enjoying rock and roll.  I cried that day, for myself because it took away a part of me that would never feel safe at a concert again and for the people who were there to simply enjoy the music.  I also felt terrible for the band, they didn’t want that to happen.  Hell even the most satanic worshiping metal group wouldn’t want to do that (maybe only if they were a bunch of anti-satanic metal group types but only maybe). It’s a shame and while accidents can happen anywhere, the fact that something so large scale can happen is mind blowing.

The fact is, as concert goers we risk ourselves every time we are out there.  Not because we are in the front row or in the mosh pit.  Logic tells us that the more people in an area the faster the IQ drops.  I have no doubt about that, it’s amazing how fast it does drop though.

That said, I won’t stop seeing concerts but I also won’t put myself intentionally in harm’s way.  For instance last year I traveled to Australia specifically for a concert and while normally I would of been in the front row – in this case for safety’s sake I got a seat instead. :)

Just beware of everything around you at a concert, know where you can get out (if you are able to). Make friends with the security folks and ask them for advice if you are in need of it.  Don’t put yourself in jeopardy – music might be an essential part of my being (and yours) but don’t get so caught up that you lose sight of your safety.

Hmm after that paragraph I think I need a new “lecture” category.  Nah – no one will ever read it. :)

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