Headbangers Ball

I do not belong here. That is abundantly clear.

My first sign, as I stand, shifting from foot to foot on this cold December night, is the extended line of long-haired, black-leather-jacketed guys standing in a line outside of the doors. A guard stops me from going in, pointing me to the end of the line.

Me too?

It is not, readers, that I feel myself above a bag-search and a pat-down. In fact, I might even enjoy it under certain circumstances. It’s just that I’ve never had to be patted down before a concert before. This is, most likely, because my taste runs more to the mellow. I’m pretty sure no one ever got patted down before a Michael Buble concert.

And as I stand there, in my carefully selected cute-but-not-slutty lacy top and my heeled-but-not-too-high clogs, clutching my smaller-than-usual purse (again, carefully selected to hold the essentials, but too small, unfortunately, to hold the book I’m currently reading), I am certain that I have made a grave error.

This is not my place. Actually, I’m not sure whose place it is, but I’m pretty sure I’m about to find out.

The cop looks in my purse and pats me down as politely as is possible… Can one be patted down politely? I’m not sure. But if one can, this cop certainly gives it his best shot. Clearly, I am not the enemy.

“I’ve never been patted down before a concert before,” I tell him, most unhelpfully, when he asks me to open my bag.

“Just checking for any drugs or weapons,” he says.

“I think I might have some Tylenol in the bottom of my purse,” I volunteer.

“I meant illegal drugs,” he explains.

“I knew what you meant,” I shrug and smile at him.

I’m pretty sure this guy has things he’d rather be doing than standing in the cold, patting down leather-clad weirdos, but I don’t volunteer this thought out loud. Instead, I continue inside, where my hand hesitates to pull the $12 for the ticket out of my purse….

“It’s not too late to escape,” an insidious voice inside my head whispers.

Instead, I twist my face regretfully and pony up the cash. I’ve come to see my friend …. I haven’t seen her in months and I want to talk to her. I remind myself of all this as I stumble carefully through the dark, crowded bar-space. Thankfully, the bar downstairs is not open, or I imagine the bodies would be a lot thicker on the ground. You have to go upstairs for a drink, a nightmare I’m not desperate enough to brave. The un-open bar, however, gives me a place to hide, tucked away in the corner next to my friend and her husband (erstwhile enjoyer of these things), desperately clutching my big, puffy coat and purse and gazing out at the leather-jacketed crowd.

The head-banging is all around us, done by guys (and probably most of the girls) who look like they could beat me up without thinking twice. Not, reader, that it would be a challenge. I’m decidedly easy to beat up. You don’t even have to put your mind to it, quite frankly.

The ear-drum-shattering music pounds through the place, indecipherable, screamed lyrics over raging music, in which I can only barely discern a beat. On a whim, I count the beats and do a little dance in place.

“You could cha-cha to this,” I shout in my friends’ ear. “If you really wanted to.”

She smiles at me. Clearly, I am out of my element here, amused though I would be to see a roomful of elegantly-dressed couples sliding gracefully around a dance floor to the pounding of this particular music.

“Raise your fist!!!!” the head-banging guys on stage scream and a hundred fists rise into the air, fingers pointed as if to whip the sky.

“Do I have to?” I ask quietly, gripping my coat a little tighter.

The music is loud. And I don’t just mean loud. I mean I can feel my internal organs vibrating. The screaming gentlemen on stage appear to be rebelling against something. I’m not totally sure what. I don’t really think they are either.

In “The Wild One” a girl asks Marlon Brando’s character “What are you rebelling against?”

Famously, he answers, “Whaddaya got?”

I get the feeling these guys are like that. Rebels without a cause. And probably without a good lyricist. Not that the lyrics seem to matter, really – it’s the rage that matters. It feels like the one kind of music designed for angry white guys with no real, substantial reason to be angry.

I can just imagine the infomercial now. Cue the showhost-type guy with a big, wide toothy grin, voluminous gameshow hair and a powder-blue suit (I don’t know why it’s powder-blue – just go with me, here), on a clean white background. He places folded hands on his stomach, steepling the fingers and a serious expression covers his fake-toothy grin.

“Are you angry and you don’t know why? Do you have a lot of rage without any good reason for it? Well, boy howdy, have I got some music for you…..”

There are quite a few guys in the crowd with hair longer than mine, which I suppose isn’t that unusual for this kind of show. I watch them head-bang with a mild amount of envy.

I couldn’t headbang if I wanted to – especially not like that. My glasses would fall off. Again, my instincts here are completely wrong. I imagine someone who is actually into the music would get wrapped up in it and head-bang along.

My only instinct is to go up to one of the guys with the long hair and make polite conversation. I would ask him what kind of conditioner he uses – after all, so many of them have long hair and it does look shiny and well-taken-care of. Possibly it’s the head-banging that does it – somehow aerates the hair, I think. Like the way aerated chocolate, with the little air bubbles in it, is always good.

Some of them have completely shaved sides with a big, thick, poufy hank of hair swept back across the top, a la Macklemore. I think of this, somewhat, as the male version of a bouffant, although I doubt any of these guys would like it referred to that way. The guy on stage – the drummer, I think – has a ginger one.

Ginger Bouffant, I think, would make a surprisingly good stripper name. I try to keep myself from laughing. It’s probably not a good idea to laugh at this particular moment, I tell myself.

Thankfully, I don’t have to stand through the whole concert, as it were. About halfway through, my friend takes pity on me and we go up to the roof, where the smokers have found refuge and there a bunch of cafe-style tables and chairs set up. It’s cold and I know I’m going to smell of cigarette smoke later, but it’s worth it to talk to my friend.

Not a bad night, I think, now that I’ve gotten the stench of cigarettes out of my puffy jacket. Would I do it again?

Probably not.

Guess I’m just not cut out to be a ‘banger.


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