Ryan and the Technicolor Wardrobe
Short Stories and Essays

When I was in 5th grade, I had to be lab partners with a guy named Colin. He was a bigger, taller kid who had red hair that wasn’t quite wild enough to be a mullet. We didn’t hang out during recess or at lunch but it’s not like either of us were disgusted by our pairing, at least not until he told me that his favorite band was Metallica. Like the good Christian boy I was, I told him “I don’t listen to devil worshipping music”. Not that I listened to Christian music as a kid, but Metallica seemed to be the opposite of Kris Kross, and that’s what I was listening to at the time, so Metallica and Colin had to be evil. After all, Colin did pour vinegar into his test vial of sugar to ensure that whoever his lab partner was, they wouldn’t want to sneak a taste.

Little did I know that Kris Kross would not withstand the test of time and that Metallica was the horse to bet on, but fortunately Colin and I never kept in touch after I moved to San Diego so he can’t point that out to me. He also can’t make fun of me that my first metal show ever was just a couple of weeks ago, at the ripe age of 27 years old.

You might expect a fascinating story of how I went from “Metallica is satanic” to “I’m going to a metal show”, but honestly it’s not much of a story at all. In fact, I still don’t like Metallica. I like two metal bands, Mastodon and Dethklok and Mastodon is considered “metal for people who don’t like metal” while Dethklok is a cartoon, though their music is actually well respected by the metal community. (Dethklok consists of Metalocalypse creator Brandon Small – who went to the Berkelee School of Music, Steve Vai’s bassist, Frank Zappa’s guitarist and a drummer known as the “Atomic Clock.)

No one can really take credit for getting me into either of these two bands. No one made me listen to these bands in the car, or slipped me a burned CD. For Mastodon, it was the critical buzz and the fact that they had Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) sing on their song “Colony of Birchmen” on their album Blood Mountain. For Metalocalypse, I had been a fan of Brandon Small’s previous (and super underrated) cartoon, Home Movies (remember I’m a film major), so checking out Metalocalypse was a no brainer for me. When I found out that both these bands were going tour together, it was clear to me that this was a sign to go see my very first metal show.

I found out about this show on a bus trip from Minneapolis to Chicago. Surprisingly this isn’t the only concert I ended up getting tickets to on this trip (Jon Brion + Nels Cline = mind explosion). I didn’t have wireless for my laptop on the bus, so I called Sherlan and he happily picked up the tickets for what would be both the first metal show for the both of us.

A couple of friends voiced their concern about my safety regarding this show. I didn’t really think it was warranted since these two bands don’t have a typical metal following. Sure, since they’re metal bands, they’ll have some metal fans, but they’re also two bands that reach non-metal audiences, with Mastodon reaching the hipsters and Dethklok reaching cartoon-loving nerds. Of course, that didn’t prepare me to see a guy wearing a Bathing Ape button down shirt when we got to the show. (Also we parked next to a car with a license plate that read M. Bison)

The show itself wasn’t a disappointment, but I would say that it was pretty much the same as a regular concert except for the fact that kick drum is mic’ed to be intentionally ear drum shattering loud and that the bands take little break after a few songs from all the intense shredding and drum beating that they do. Also, the Dethklok soundcheck might’ve been the only soundcheck ever that has amused me, as their roadie went up to each mic and growled a monstrous “HEYYY!” into each mic before walking off stage. Check one two, one two, this surely was not.

There was a mosh pit, there was some crowd surfing, but all in all, it wouldn’t be that different than going to a Foo Fighters show. There were no animal sacrifices or prayers to Satan. Nothing was harmed during the concert (except in cartoon form, lots of things die in the world of Dethklok, including mermaids), but more importantly my ears weren’t ringing and no one made me bleed with their spiked bracelets or whatnot. I know that while this was not a typical metal show, metal shows in general aren’t as violent and grotesque as I was led to believe as a child. So while I do feel bad for being so judgmental as a child, what happened happened and I can’t change that, nor can Colin change the fact that he put vinegar in the sugar. Dick.