Tonight, I’m going to my first metal show, ever.
I’m pretty much a Great American Songbook girl all the way, having grown up on a steady diet of Cole Porter standards, Rodgers & Hammerstein classics, a little bit of rock and a totally unhealthy stream of MTV pop trash for balance. I have an open-ended appreciation for all forms of music, though, and new experiences have become something of a drug for me in the last few years. So, when one of my favorite people I’ve ever known asks me to go on a road trip and absorb some mega-angry industrial metal with him at the Toyota Center in Houston, I’m all about hopping in the car, even though it’s going to be like this.
Ah, the things we do for love of learning… and also just for love.
Let’s be clear: my only reference point for this super-upset band we’re seeing, Rammstein, is a snippet from a song of theirs called “Du Hast” to which Beavis and Butthead banged their heads a long, long time ago when Beavis and Butthead was something people actually watched. That’s all I’ve got. That’s all I’m working with here, kids — a memory from the mid-90s. The broader perspective isn’t much better; my entire metal catalogue consists of exactly one — count
‘em it, one — Rage Against the Machine song that everybody over the age of five probably also knows by heart, and yes, it’s the one with the F-bomb in the chorus. Tee hee.
Cindy Brady here, reporting live from the mosh pit!
When my boyfriend first asked me months ago — a hundred months ago — if I wanted to go to this show with him, I saw how excited he was. He’s a planner by nature, so the advance notice didn’t really surprise me, but apparently this particular (German) band doesn’t tour the US often, and he wasn’t passing up the chance to see them even if it meant going on his own. This boy was logging onto StubHub and making some magic happen whether I was on board or not, but he was sweet enough to ask me along anyway. I looked him straight in the eye and said, “Yes, on two conditions. I’ll go with you if you let me wear a bike helmet and a light pink tee shirt that says ‘Baby’s First Metal Show.'”
Know what? That fool agreed.
Just kidding… he’s not a fool at all. But he did agree. This brilliant and amazing person has totally signed up for my randomness in all its forms. He’s fully aware he’s joined forces with a pearl-encrusted borderline unicorn enthusiast. He understands he’s in a relationship with someone virtually incapable of sarcasm or acidity, and he’s completely cognizant of the fact that sometimes, hanging out with me entails Muppet references and a completely made-up language. Although I try to keep the fairy dust to a minimum, he knows it’s entirely plausible that his date to the Rammstein show will be rocking pigtails and a maxi dress. I might even scamper up into that joint in some ballet flats. (I did find a sweet pair of earplugs made to look like 9mm bullets, but I didn’t order them in time. I mean, look, though… I tried.)
In the end, I think we’re all just people looking for other people whose dreams, fears and weirdnesses fit like jigsaw puzzle pieces up against our own. Although I doubt I’ll walk away from the Rammstein show a believer, I’ll likely have learned how to curse a jerk out in German… so, there’s that. Perhaps I’ll have figured out how to throw the sign of the beast without looking like I’m rooting on the Longhorns or saying mahalo. And hopefully, I’ll see and hear in person some of the stuff I’ve learned this week from the metal documentary I’ve been watching a little of each night, which was produced and directed by a diehard metalhead who also happens to be an anthropologist and which includes sound bytes from my literary spirit animal, Chuck Klosterman, who would probably sigh and roll his beady little eyes if he ever read this sentence, because a) I’m such a rock neophyte it’s ridiculous, b) this sentence is nine miles long and horrifically constructed, and c) aside from being practically unreadable, this sentence also includes an a)b)c) section, which is something he does fairly often and which, therefore, looks super-reductive coming from me. OHAI, Chuck. Love your work. <awkward pause> Kbye.
Anyway, most importantly, there’s the fact that tonight’s show is going to make my boyfriend really, really happy. If he can sit through The Muppets with me, I can experience Rammstein with him. He’s a good egg. I think I’ll leave the bike helmet at home and bang my head with him just this once.