explosions and explorers
by Michele Christopher
Have you ever been somewhere you didn't really want to be? Didn't care to be at all? Just wanted to sleep but you had to be there? Well, sometimes these kinda things happen at shows. Big or small. Somwhere you really weren't expecting much but a beer and a place to sleep till the night was over but something big happened?
Tonight's post is about just that. Shows you saw that you thought were just going to be a waste of time, but somehow, some way, they ended up sticking in your memory forever.
From music you didn't really like to things you just had to do.
And after the band played.
It impressed the hell out of you.
turtle lights it up first.
Coolest show I have ever seen?
Too many to name.
Most interesting show that I wasn't expecting?
Somewhere in Europe. Maybe Germany. Freaked out and fucked up fans. Free tickets and nothing to do that night. Some German band. Some kind of industrial shit. All in German.
The backstage reeked like some sort of Meth lab while I tried to remember how to at least understand German as I slammed a beer. The hell was that on their guitars? The hell was all this wire? The hell was this smell?
Don't ask me what happened that night. I grabbed a piece of pizza and a beer. Lit a smoke and could feel something. Not like crowd heat. That's at every show. But fire heat. Something was burning. Somewhere. I surveyed the stage. Fuck. Those are fire blowers. Looked at the wires connecting the stage to the sound both. Something up hanging off of the top of it. Being dosed in some sort of liquid. The smell. The sweat, pot, beer, and gas I guess, covered the place in a weird smell.
People had told me these guys blow shit up, but really, their music wasn’t my style. I don't give a fuck what "du hast" means. Sing in fucking Portuguese for all I care. I just wanted something to do on the night off. But the smell. The guitars with...flame throwers on them? What the fuck?
I didn’t even ask.
I walked back out into the crowd and just watched.
They played industrial music. Meh.
But they fucking blew everything up.
Didn't expect to see a guitar solo with a flamethrower going over the crowd. Didn’t expect missiles to be shot from the soundboard to the stage. Didn’t expect two of them to light themselves on fire.
They like fire. It's in their blood. Damn Germans always want to take over the world, blow something up or get us drunk on really good beer.
By the end of the night I was smelling like two familiar chemicals, as well as nicotine and some kind of gasoline.
All I can say is that I hate industrial music. I hate music in funny languages.
But if you blow shit up the entire set?
I'm getting your CD, god dammit. - T
Michele gets all sugary on us.
Most interesting does not necessarily mean the best. Just keep that in mind here.
November 1998. Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC. Or maybe it was Roseland. One of those places that is 99% pit and 1% girl’s bathroom line. I’m pretty sure the bill was Incubus, System of a Down and some obscure band. Dial 7! I can’t believe I remembered their name! Well, doesn’t matter. This is about SoaD.
We’re really at the show to see Incubus - this was before Incubus became yet another ‘dead to me’ band - but SoaD’s manic energy is hard to ignore. Lots of screaming and head banging and the pit is aggressive yet friendly. Good times. We (my sister and I) are really getting into SoaD’s set, which is cool because we weren’t sure what to expect with them. We get up pretty to the stage. About ten feet away from Shavo.
Let me tell you, I know crazy when I see it. And this dude is crazy. You can see it in his eyes. He’s creeping us out big time as he stares down the crowd like a serial killer sizing up prey. But the pit has closed up and we’re pretty much stuck there in front of the stage and this sweating, crazy fucker.
The band launches into Sugar. Crowd goes crazy cause this song is the ‘flavor of the week’ on MTV and the one tune everyone knows. The band is still relatively obscure at this point.
Did I mention it’s Columbus Day? Well, it is. So, they start playing the opening notes to Sugar. Over and over. Just that little snippet of bass. Serj - who is a little nuts but only about half as nuts as Shavo, starts to go off on a political rant. The crowd is kind of impatient. They want this song. You can feel the kids in the front getting antsy. They want to get the pit going again. Impatience. Serj going on. And on. The bass line. Serj still talking about whateverthefuck is his mission statement of the week. Damn the man, save the Empire or something like that. These kids just want to get down to the part where they can shout “the kombucha mushroom people!” while jumping up and down, pumping their fists and wondering what the fuck a kombucha mushroom person is. Me, I always thought of those mushrooms in Super Mario. But I don't think that's what they were going for with this song.
Anyhow, Serj is just about winding up his rant. The man this, the man that, free yourself, war sucks, politicians should die, something about Chomsky and America is a hegemony and you know damn well that more than half the people in the place, maybe Shavo included, have no fucking clue what a hegemony is or who the fuck Noam Chomsky is. Holy hell, Serj can talk. Kids are moving. The place is pulsing. Serj is almost done. The band looks ready to go. And then. He pauses towards the end. The band stops. Dead. Silence. The crowd waits. Anticipates. And then Serj, full of passion, and most likely some heavy duty drugs, throws his head back and screams:
"CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS WAS A COCK SUCKER!"
Whoa. That’s....unexpected. People are just kind of staring. Some girl in back of me does one of those fake coughs to hide a laugh. No one is saying anything. Was he expecting a rousing round of applause? I'm not saying that everyone in the crowd worships at the altar of Columbus, but no one really expected him to say that. So between the stunned silence of the crowd, the impatient look on Serj's face and Shavo's menacing glare, I came down with a case of the giggles. I can’t stop laughing. My sister laughs. The coughing chick starts laughing. And the song starts up, the pit forms again and goes into high gear and my sister and I back out of the crowd and towards the bar, giggling uncontrollably as the kids up front do their kombucha mushroom thing.
The whole train ride home, we’re saying it over and over again.
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS WAS A COCK SUCKER!
We just know it’s going to be one of those things we’ll be saying to each other for the rest of our lives.
February rolls around and we're gonna see System of a Down again, this time because they are playing with Fear Factory and Puya. We miss Puya, thanks to a downpour and a stalled car and we get there about three songs into SoaD’s set, right in time for the familiar opening notes to Sugar. Serj opens his mouth for another political rant. Fuck the system or something. My sister remarks that it just so happens to be President's Day. Oh, fanfuckingtastic! We inch up toward the stage as the same bass notes play over and over as Serj goes on about system fucking. President’s Day. We were so sure that at any moment, Serj was going to pump his arm the air, throw his head back and scream "Abraham Lincoln was a cocksucker!"
But he didn't.
He just growled about fucking the system and complained about the evil, tyrannical overlords that America has created.
Which, I suppose, could be construed in the same way.
The next Columbus Day I called my sister at work. Got her voice mail, left a little message for her.
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS WAS A COCKSUCKER!
She had left the same message for me.
Thanks for the memories, Serj! Bless you and those kombucha mushroom people. Power up! -M
And that's our "interesting shows" stories. Not the best shows we've ever seen, that's another post for another day. But the most unexpected fun we had at a show.
What about you guys?
Ever see a band that you had kind of no expectations of and they ended up being entertaining?
Maybe in ways you just didn't expect?