Saturday, January 13, 2007

Head Banging: An Exploration

Are you familiar with the term "bangover"? I wasn't either, until Municipal Waste frontman Tony Foresta used it during an intro at Irving Plaza a few weeks ago. The Urban Dictionary has a nice definition, with the wonderful side-effect that depending on the audience, it sounds like I had rough sex last night instead of overindulging in the wonderful world of bang yer head.

In the midst of extreme physical activity, like head banging way too much during Pinebox's set up in Yonkers, NY last night, my mind ends up wandering a little bit. Is it because the conscious mind releases so much control to keep the body moving in time with whatever it's doing that the subconscious takes full control? Is it because my levels of ADD are so high that I need to multitask whatever I'm doing, even if it's not effective? Maybe I'm trying to stave off an embolism (aka "bleeding on the brain") by making sure I can still think straight? Who knows.

In any case, when I wasn't staggering around trying to regain/keep my balance, I got to thinking about head banging and why people do it. I'm not a sociologist by any stretch of the imagination, so I'll just put up my own thoughts on the matter and we'll have to be content without any science to back them up. I have two theories:
  1. It looks cool, especially in photos that you see when you're young and impressionable. For me, that was in the mid-1990s, when I saw things like the cover of "Bleach" and the Black Album tour video, which features stills and video of people head banging. Then there was Wayne's World and the "Bohemian Rhapsody" sequence - four metalheads in a car completely rocking out to Queen.

    Speaking of that scene, for some reason, the fashion among the kids with the larger bar mitzvahs was to have not only DJ-ed after parties, but lip sync contests at those parties. Thanks to the time limits on the songs, my friends Jeff, Alan and I chose to enter one of those lip sync contests by playing "Bohemian Rhapsody" right from that "head banging" bridge to the end and won because nothing slays a crowd like a group of thirteen-year-olds doing their best whip imitations with their skulls.

    With a background like that, there was no way I wasn't growing my hair so I could whip it around whenever possible.

  2. The music itself demands you do something ridiculous with your body. Like those old movies about rock and roll where the repressed parents would feel like they were possessed because the back beat in the music made them want to dance, a good metal beat makes you want to move something, hit something, do something in time to the music. Pinebox was the first set last night and I blew my neck's load watching them play. For the rest of the night, there was no head banging, but the rhythm to move was so intense that I had to do something - so I ended up bruising my hand a bit by pounding it against a pillar.
So, let's sum up. Desire to head bang: ingrained enjoyment stemming from exposure during an impressionable youth, combined with frequent exposure to extreme music whose rhythm demands extreme responses from the body. And there you have it.

No comments: