Sunday, March 01, 2009

You take the bad with the good

Don't let the title of this post mislead you. As a follow up to yesterday's post, I'll explain that we did have a great adventure last night. However, I must also admit that there were some not so enjoyable aspects to the concert that had us moderately upset. But the whole event worked out really well for more of us than was originally expected - but I'll explain that later.
OK, so it was me, Bob, JT, and Matt. We headed out for the Arise and Conquer Tour at 4:00-ish. Made pretty decent time with the exception that my Mapquest directions were a little bit off and we had to circle the block a few times before we could figure out if we were really at the right place. We were. So we found a place to park and went to stand in line at the doors with everyone else. We only waited about 10 minutes before the doors opened.
It was a decent little coffeehouse called The Blue Violet Cafe with a decent sized hall attached to it, but seperated by heavy doors. I believe it doubles as a catering hall when it's not being used for concerts. We grabbed drinks and loitered out in the cafe while the bands did their soundcheck and whatnot. Meanwhile, all of the bands had their merchandise tables set up in the cafe so we got to look around at what they had.

Now, I'm going to express a thought here that was not my own - I'm stealing it from JT - but it is an honest observation. And I don't want for this to sound as judgemental as it may seem, because it's not. Again, this is only an honest observation that JT vocalized, but Bob, Matt and myself did agree with. As we looked around at the crowd we noticed that between the guys and girls there were two seperate and distinct groups of people within each group. The girls were either Skater-Goth or Emo-Slutty, and the guys were either big-n-hairy or scrawny and wearing girl-pants. The second of these distinctions, the one between the guys, would become a big issue for all us later on in the evening. But, again, I'll come back to that.

After about a half an hour of just hangin' out and wandering aimlessly around the cafe somebody came out of the hall to announce that the show was starting. It was only a few minutes after 6:00, so we were a bit surprised, but we went in anyways.
What we were not aware of was that there were two local bands slated to open for the main show. That's what was happening now.
The first of the bands I have no idea what their name was. I do know that JT found out what it was, and he told me the name, but I really don't remember it, nor do I suspect I'll have any need to. I do remember that they were from Somerset - which is about 2 hours away from the venue - but that's about all. They were OK, but not remarkable. I'd say they're one of the dime-a-dozen screamo bands that pop up in any given community. And as such, there was no mosh pit starting yet. Nobody was into the music enough to start up. They played about 5 songs and were done.
Next up was another local band, whose name escapes me, but they were from Ambridge - just a stones throw down the road from where this venue was. And they were actually pretty good. We figured they were local high-school kids since so many of the teenage girls flocked to the front of the stage when the came on. And since some of the guys obviously knew them, the mosh pit started up. And we were sorely disappointed with it...

It was not the kind of moshing that we enjoy. These kids were thrashers. And they were all of the scrawny girl-pants wearing variety of the guys. We don't like thrashers. It's nothing personal. It has nothing to do with their sense of fashion. It's just that, as far as we're concerned, thrashing is just a fight looking to happen. That became especially true when we saw some of the thrashers conspiring to cause problems for the people who wanted to just slam and push mosh with each other. It was about to make for a fairly long night.

Anyways, this band played their 5 songs and moved on so the headliners could take the stage.
First band up from the Arise and Conquer Tour was Hope For The Dying. I really liked these guys. Hardcore sound and hardcore faith. One thing I've noticed about a lot of the Christian hardcore metal/screamo bands is that they tone down their faith in many cases. But I was really glad to hear these guys talking about it up front. And when their set was done we went out into the cafe to talk to them.
This is the only picture I have from the evening.



They all loved the ink-n-fire, and they were great to talk to. They just signed with their lable a few months ago. November I think their lead singer said. So this tour was a big new thing for them. And being kinda new to it all, they really didn't have much going on in the way of having places to stay while on the road. In fact, they had a little handwritten sign on their merch table advertising their "special" where you could allow the band to crash at your house rather than them having to sleep in the van in 20-some degree weather. So I asked about the special to see how serious they were. They were dead serious. So I offered them my gameroom.
Now some of you may remember that way back when my Ex first bailed out on me, I had invited a friend who was down on his luck to stay with me until he could get back on his feet again. And that situation worked out just fine. And I know I haven't posted anything about this, but I had another friend staying with me from May of alst year until just a couple of weeks ago. So it only seemed fitting that since I had the space, I should offer it to someone who needs it - even if only for the night. These guys were happy to have it, too. More on that later.
Next band on the tour ticket was Inhale Exhale. These guys I already liked. I'd seen them at both Creation and Purple Door last summer. These were the guys who gave us the Wall of Death at Purple Door. We were hoping to have it again at this show, but when we yelled out for it they said that there wasn't enough room and people would just end up getting hurt, and they didn't want to see that happening to their fans.

Of course, they said nothing of the little sh!+s that were thrashing around, practically punching and kicking anyone that they got too close to. It got to the point where most of us just stood at the edges of the mosh pit with our arms extended so if they came too close they'd just hit our hands and start moving away. And when they didn't move away on their own, we moved them! Several times Bob, Matt, JT or myself would just haul off and shove them across the hall to make them stop flailing around us. But they insisted on being jerks through the entire night and just kept coming back for more. By the time the last band was up there was real sense of resentment and agner in the air. Those of us who just wanted to slam/push mosh were about ready to just start wailing on the thrashers.

Anyways, Inhale Exhale had a good set. The crowd was fully participatory. During the chorus of each song the lead singer (screamer?) would hold the mic out to someone in the audience who would then scream out the lyrics. Pretty cool. And everyone enjoyed that they got the audience active in the show.
And, since I didn't get any good pics of them, and they were never together long enough after their set for me to get my pic taken with them, I'm embedding one of ther videos here.
Now, I realize that my taste in music may not be compatible with some of your own, but you don't have to watch the video. It's only here in case you decide to check out what it is I've been enjoying lately.



OK, back out into the cafe between sets and talked briefly with the lead singer for Inhale Exhale. I expressed mine and Bob's disappointment with not having a Wall of Death. He said he felt kinda bad because they enjoy doing it, but they didn't think the hall was the right size and maybe the next time they were in town they'd have a bigger place to play.
Oh, and for those of you who don't know what a Wall of Death is, it's when the band asks the crowd to seperate down the center as they're playing through an instrumental riff, then the vocalist will tell everyone that when they kick back into the song, or when he begins to sing/scream again everyone charges at each other from the opposite sides of the room. The result of that charge is called the Wall of Death because the people on the frontlines of either side tend to get squashed pretty good. Unless, of course, you happen to be mine, JT's or Bob's size, then the other side gets squashed a bit further past the frontline by their own people.

Seriously !!! It really is a lot of fun !!!

So, back to the hall and next up is a band I've heard of before, and I know one or two of their songs, but I'm not a huge fan of their stuff; Destroy The Runner. They did put on a good show. They worked the crowd well and had everyone moving. And I'm including a video below since I didn't get pics with these guys either.



And, again, the thrashers were getting on our nerves during this set, except this time they were flat out trying to instigate something. Bob told me after the set that one kid in particular kept flicking off anyone who was trying to slam and not thrash in the mosh pit. At one point Bob asked the kid what his problem was, and he told Bob that he thought "Anyone who doesn't thrash is a pussy. Only thrashers are hardcore." To which Bob said "No, the only reason you guys thrash is because if you had to face down guys like us in the pit, you'd get crushed." And Bob is right. The only reason why the scrawny little punks with their girl-pants thrash is because it keeps guys like me and Bob and the other slam/push moshers from getting too close and hurting them. That kid backed off from Bob and us for the rest of the night after that.
Of course, in defense of the thrashers, they can thrash. Bob and I can't. We're not built for it. We don't have the right body shape or size to get out onto the floor and start flailing our arms or kicking or legs wildly. These guys do have the right size and shape for it. And to be completely honest, if they want to stay in the middle of the circle and do that, fine! But these kids were never happy to just have their circle to thrash in. They had to push their luck by moving towards the edges and intentionally getting close to people who didn't want to be bothered. And that's why I always say that thrashing seems like a fight waiting to happen, because any time I see kids thrashing, they can't just let well enough alone.

But back to the rest of the evening.
I should probably mention that during the times while the bands were switching up on the stage, JT was using that time to network with them to get permission to use their music on his podcast. That's one of the reasons why I take JT to as many shows as possible. It's a win-win situation for both of them. For JT, he may get some recognition from these bands and their fan base, while his audience may find out about a band that they like, but never heard of before. Everybody's happy. Besides, we like hangin out together and enjoying the music.
Final act of the night was War Of Ages. I had never heard of these guys before I found out about this Tour coming through the area. But once I checked them out I figured it would be well worth seeing them live. I was not disappointed. They were awesome live! The music was intense and powerful. The audience was into them and everybody was moving. And for a little while it seemed like the ongoing conflict between the thrashers and the slam/push moshers was going to come to an end. One thing I really liked about these guys was that they actually had some good stuff to share about their faith. Yeah, the other bands spoke of their faith and it was encouraging to hear, but the lead singer for War Of Ages really laid it down for everyone. He said it flat-out that being a Christian doen't make you perfect, and it doesn't make you "safe". He reminded the audience, many of whom reacted very positivly when the bands would speak of their faith in Christ, that we will all have struggles to go through in this life, and God expects us to fight our way through the wars that will rage around and against us. Very cool!
No pics or videos available though. Bummer.

About halfway throught this set the thrashers acted up again. This time they were rushing the stage and practically slamming the people in the front row against it. Then there were times when they would stand against the wall on one side of the hall then they'd rush across the floor while flailing their arms and try to smash into people who were just standing around watching the band. There was one kid who tried doing this to me. It was actually quite comical as he hit my shoulder four or five times and I didn't budge. Instead, I just kinda glared at him and and shifted my weight enough to give him a shove. When he stumbled backwards I think he understood that his technique wasn't going to get to me. There was one kid who had been thrashing and kicking all night that finally made a near-fatal mistake. He kicked some big guy for the third time, during the same song, and the big guy didn't like it - oh, and this big guy had a mohawk. So the big guy grabbed the kid's leg and held him for a few seconds to tell him to back off. That's when all the thrasher punks got in the big guy's face and tried to make it like he was the one who started it. So the big guy pushed the kid away and just stepped back towards the wall.
And that's what the rest of the night was like. The thrashers just kept getting in peoples faces about what they were doing and when anyone reacted they would all converge on the person and act like the problem was that person's fault. There was one girl, a little heavy set, that was getting kicked by the same kid that was kicking the big guy, but she took a different approach to the situation. After she got kicked for the third time, she just hauled off and slammed into the kid and then just kept slamming into him, driving him into those of us who looked big enough to push him back so she could continue to slam him around some more. When the thrashers came to harrass her about it she told them that she's allowed to mosh the same as they are, just because she doesn't thrash doesn't mean she has to just stand around and watch. I know this because after the incident was over I went over to tell her how cool I thought it was that she reacted the way she did. That's when she told me what was said. It warmed my heart!
For the rest of the set we just kinda kept pushing the thrashers away from us whenever they got too close. A few times we were a bit more forceful than may have been necessary, but we just didn't care anymore. I wasn't bothered by the fact that I nearly drove some kid's head into the floor when he got too close to hitting me in the face. I just sidestepped and put my hand on his shoulder and shoved really hard and quick. He stumbled and I let my weight drive him down. He was lucky that I wasn't trying to hurt him because if I had been I would've crushed his skull under my full weight - or put him through the floor.

When the last band was done we went out one last time to talk to them and so I could make arrangements with the guys from Hope For The Dying. The lead singer for War Of Ages was very cool to talk to. Not only was he gald to hear that JT wanted to play their music on the podcast, but he was really glad that I brought him out to the show. I had to confess to him that I had come out because of Inhale Exhale, but when I checked their Myspace out I figured it'd be a good show, and it was. I also told him that I really appreciated the straight forward way that he shared his views. He told em that he doesn't always do that but he lets the Spirit lead him and tonight the Spirit lead him to share something serious.
Shortly there after I talked to the guys from Hope For The Dying and they were getting their equipment put away. They asked if I wanted to just give them my address so they could program their GPS and I was cool with that. I gave them my contact info - address and phone number - and told them that we were going to make a stop to grab a bite to eat on our way home. So we left and told them to be safe since they weren't familiar with the area.
We got a few miles out and came to a Sheetz where I grabbed my usual roast beef pretzel melt and Mt Dew, Bob had a 12" egg salad sub, JT bought Combos and a coffee, Matt had the five piece chicken strips and we were on our way. I got home and dropped Bob off so he'd be there in case the band showed up while I was still taking Matt and JT home. Dropped off Matt first and JT next and got back to my street just in time to see that the guys had missed my house. So I directed to where they coudl turn around and then headed home to wait for them.
After they got pulled in I brought them inside to show them around a bit and let them know where they would be staying. They were pretty happy about it. I showed them the gameroom and let them see the adjacent "toy" room - the place where all of my edged weapons are on display - they really liked that. I did have to apologize that the gameroom wasn't as clean as it should've been, but my friend had been moving out slowly and has had some health problems, so he hasn't gotten everything out yet and hasn't finished cleaning up yet, either. But they just said "Hey, were musicians, were not the cleanest people in the world." They were just excited about having a warm place to sleep. And I was glad that I could share that with them.
They brought in a few things and got settled in. We talked a little bit and I showed them around the kitchen and told them they could help themselves to any food I had. I explained that there were plenty of places where they could grab breakfast in the morning if that's what they prefered and I gave them their privacy.
Somebody immediately took to the shower. They were really excited to know that there was a full bathroom and shower downstairs. I imagine that they don't get a hot shower everyday if they're not sure where they're staying on any given day. So, once again, I was glad that I cold provide that for them.
As they copntinued to thank me for allowing them stay, I thanked them for allowing me the opportunity to minister to them. I felt truly blessed to be able to invite them here. And it makes it even more clear to me that I do have the spiritual gifts of Hospitality and Service.
I stayed up awhile longer and told them if they needed to use the computer for anything, internet or whatever, they could. I reaffirmed that the kitchen was open for them. And they could all feel free to take a hot shower. It made me feel really good about inviting them here.

When the morning rolled around I came out into the living room to play on the computer before having to get ready for church. They were starting to wake up slowly and the singer, Josh, came upstairs and we talked about a lot of different things with each other. We shared a little bit of our personal lives with one another and just enjoyed talking about what God was doing in our lives.
James, one of the guitarists, came up next. The three of us talked a bit more before I had to leave. They were floating the idea of going to Golden Corral for breakfast. James had never heard of Golden Corral, so I'm hoping they went because it would be a good experience for him. They thanked me again, and I thanked them for the opportunity to be of service to them, and I told them that if they need a place to stay the next time they're passing through this area, keep my contact info and feel free to call on me.
I had invited them to come to chruch with us, but they had to be on the road before 11:00, and church doesn't start until 11:15. I imagine they got out OK. Bob was here to see them off and answer any questions they might have about the area before they left. He said everything was cool with them when the left. So I was gald to hear that.

Some adventure, huh? Even with the thrasher-crap we had to deal with, everything turned out pretty good. The bands were awesome and I got to minister to a group of guys that had minsitered to me. And isn't that the way it should work out?

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for letting H4TD stay at your place. My son is in the band and it worries me to think of them sleeping in that smelly van in the cold weather. I appreciate people like you and it makes it easier to know they are out there with others watching out for them too.

11:54 PM  
Blogger M+ said...

Anon,
Thank you for saying so. It was my pleasure to be of service. I consider it all a part of my own ministry. I enjoyed hangin out with them for the time that we did have. And they are welcome back anytime they're passing thru the area. I've been praying that they find others who can help out while they're on the road. I'm glad that this helps to put your mind at ease about their tour.

3:21 PM  

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