I left work late Monday afternoon and drove to Collin County to pick up my young friend. Then we drove to downtown Dallas, to the fun Deep Ellum area. We arrived a few minutes before the 7 p.m. scheduled concert start, will call ticket confirmations in hand. We found that the line outside the Prophet Bar was about fifty persons long. Soon, the line behind us was substantially longer.
We stood in line, in 90ish degree weather, until about 8 p.m., as the most inefficient "will call" admission process I've experienced finally admitted the crowd. As we were almost through the front door, the first band, Your Demise, began to play. We finally gained admission, and found ourselves at a pleasant distance from the band in a standing-room club setting.
The order of the day was metalcore, a neat compound word that combines "heavy metal" with "punk hardcore". The ambience of the show included the bands head-banging and leaping about a great deal, the audience pogo-dancing, a mosh pit in which folks danced odd dances and sometimes caromed off one another, and a relaxed security situation in which audience members were welcome to come on stage, say hi to the band playing, and then body surf across the top of the first few rows of audience.
The music was quite satisfying, if one doesn't mind one's music very fast, rather loud, and accompanied by vocals based on the human scream. I was intrigued by how many younger teens attended this all ages show, as well as by the fact that a number of parents attended the show with their kids. Though as I bobbed my head and sometimes pogo-ed along to the music, the other older types seemed to instead stay seated and sometimes review their cell phones. The kids were all wired in. As is customary with the younger set, many texted and tweeted as the band played, unwilling to miss even a poignant moment of actually listening to music, in the rush to tell others about that experience. One set of kids even took the stage mostly to take digital camera pictures, which was, shall we say, not very 1977.
The three bands we saw were:
--Your Demise, a UK band on the hardcore end of the spectrum, who played with exuberance and whose lead singer was great with the audience. Their lyrics were a bit hard to make out, but seemed to focus on how the band intended not to accept what it considered inauthentic points of view.
--Miss May I, an exciting metalcore band fronted by the same fellow who passed out promotional cards for their new album while we all stood in line. This band faced some guitar tone problems at the outset, as it turned out the distorted guitar sound the roadies seemed to love were less to the band's liking. Yet unlike the traditional frustrated-band-sound-system debacle, the band completely played through the hassle, kept the breaks to a minimum, and kept the crowd on its side. The band's acrobatic approach to performance, coupled with the engagement of the crowd, really made for a great show. I was amused when the lead vocalist started directing the frenetic dance action, sounding rather like a square dance caller for a mosh pit.
--The Devil Wears Prada, the headliner, showed that while its recordings travel more on the metal and screamo end of the spectrum, its roots are much more punk in orientation. The audience was filled with devoted fans, who were able to sing along to almost every song. Although I somewhat preferred the exuberance of Miss May I, the headliner nonetheless gave an excellent show. The members of The Devil Wears Prada are Christians and forthrightly said as much during the show. Rather than spend time on sanctimonious sermonizing, though, the band mercifully just rocked.
The show ended at eleven. We picked up a late night sandwich, and then drove my young friend home. This was his very first rock concert--an excellent set of memories.
My first rock concert was Grand Funk Railroad in 1972, which I remember as a great show, albeit one in a haze of second-hand cigarette and marijuana smoke that saturated my clothing, and perhaps elevated my mood. Monday's show was different from that show by a country mile. Monday there was no smoke indoors, little drinking, and little sign of drug use. The only distress I saw was one teen who appeared to have gotten overheated, and had to sit down and drink some water. Also, while the music was loud, it was not of the ear-ringing loudness I remember from rock concerts of my youth.
I liked this show because it had the populist feel of punk without the sense of violence-in-the-awning the accompanies some genres of this institution. Even those whose dances approached slam-dancing were extraordinarily careful of one another. At the same time, the music was not the bowdlerized power pop which marketers disguise as "punk", but instead energetic, aesthetically satisfying music. It was geared to kids, a bit, true, but rock remains a kid's game. I'm a bit post-rock these days, of the mind-set that we have all moved on, a bit. But I like a good, fun show to remind me to review my casual assumptions, and just bang my head. I'd go see any of these three bands again, though I'm not really a metalcore guy.
The United States Chess Federation on-line postal chess tournament I entered is in full swing. I had entered it when I noticed that my USCF correspondence rating is only 1529, as it dates back to when I was 17, and I've never played enough postal to get it up to a proper level. Thus far I have already won three games out the six in the tourney, and hold a piece advantage in a fourth. The fifth and sixth games, curiously, have not begun at all, as I have not heard from my opponent. It's fun to calculate tactical variations, and sometimes to get one right.
I'm reading A.J. Cronin's "Keys of the Kingdom". I ordered it from bookmooch.com once I saw the movie recently. I like the story, and I like Cronin novels, so I anticipate a nice, relaxing read, particularly on the evening after a rock concert.