Friday, June 29, 2007

WWIII, or How I Learned to Practice Safe Rock

As I'm pretty sure I've admitted on these pages in the past - yup, there it is - I've been listening to my mp3/AAC collection chronologically. Because I have a 20 gig iPod and far more than 20 gigs of music in my collection (damn, when did that happen?), I've broken things up by decade - right now I'm on the 2000s. This morning's first selection on the way to work was the title track from KMFDM's WWIII, a song that always blows me away with its sheer power; it's the sonic equivalent of getting punched in the gut, then getting angry about it. Every time I hear "WWIII," though, I think about the last time I saw KMFDM live.

Boston, November 1, 2003. I had just returned to the city, caravan style, from Middlebury, VT after a journey of almost epic proportions: driving up to Woodstock from Boston on Friday to spend Halloween with my buddy Steve, going with him over the border to New Hampshire (Hanover, I believe) for a costume contest that we lost for reasons that still boggle the mind, driving back to Woodstock in disgust, then deciding to drive up to Middlebury in the middle of the night to visit friends at Middlebury College with the express intent of drinking heavily and running a radio show at 3 AM. All four hours I spent sleeping that night were on a floor, so it was probably a miracle I made it back to Boston, but made it back I had and - pounding, sleep-deprived headache aside - it was time to rock.

That night was one of the few concerts where I've viscerally regretted not bringing earplugs. Intellectually, I know I'm doing irreparable damage to my ears every time I go to a concert and don't (as Chris Cornell once put it) practice safe rock, but this particular show burned the message into my consciousness with the fury and precision of six-inch tall letters of fire burned into the inside of my skull.

After the opening band cleared the stage, I made my way to what turned out to be the acoustic centerpoint of the club, watched KMFDM take their positions, heard the countrified opening of "WWIII"...then felt my skull compress and my jaw drop as the machine-gunned guitar and heavy, thumping bassline crushed my eardrums into oblivion with volume I could not have thought possible, while the lighting rig went into an epileptic strobe, dazzling me with the sort of shock and awe then popular in Iraq. It was the beginning of the most physically possessing concert I've ever been to, one where the waves of sound were such a physical presence they felt tangible - something I've never encountered since. It also left a ringing in my ears that lasted for enough days afterwards I thought I was slowly going deaf, like Beethoven but without the composing ability. 'Point taken,' I thought afterwards, when my hearing returned to normal. 'Ear plugs from now on.'

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Metal for Bike Geeks

I'm not really much of a biking nerd - in fact, the best I do is the occasional circuit around the park near where I live - but if I was, you'd better believe I'd lay down the loot for a biking jersey like the one pictured. It's a part of a group of $80 biking jerseys from Primal Wear Clothing that all feature rock and metal-influenced designs.

There are a lot of good options - Iron Maiden/Killers, Led Zeppelin/Houses of the Holy, Metallica/Master of Puppets, Judas Priest/Screaming for Vengeance - but if someone was to put a gun to my head, I think I'd pick the Metallica/Ride the Lightning jersey, for two reasons: first, it's one of my favorite album covers of all time, very simple and clear with its entwined promise of metal and electrical death. Second, if you're going to lay down the money to wear a bike jersey instead of a t-shirt, why not have it tie in to speed and going fast?

Via David Fiedler

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Disability You Want to Get

Three weeks after I declare Finland the world's Most Metal Country and Sweden returns with this broadside: they've recognized as heavy metal addiction as a disability. According to The Local ("Sweden's News in English"), a 42-year-old part-time dishwasher named Roger Tullgren convinced the Swedish government's Employment Service (and three occupational psychologists) that he's so addicted to metal that he has a disability, qualifying him for additional payments from the government, the right to go to job interviews and work in whatever clothes he wants and the right to go to concerts as he chooses, as long as he makes up the work later. He's also been given permission to blast metal on the radio at work, as long as he doesn't disturb diners.

To be sure, Roger doesn't sound like the most productive member of society and he goes to over 300 concerts a year (talk about dedication), but that's not what's important: the point is that Sweden is such a metal country that they'll give you money and benefits for loving metal, albeit a love that's probably far beyond healthy. I may have to reconsider my moving plans.

Finland had no response to Sweden's challenge to the Most Metal Country title at the time of this posting.

Via Seth and SuicideGirls

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bruce Dickenson, Tumbling Artist

I have a bit of a quandary, here: did he manage to recover so quickly and easily because he's a fencer and knows how to fall, or because he's so awesome and therefore took fencing lessons? Which comes first, the fencing or the awesome?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

John Lennon was Effin' Metal

My wife was holding a wooden massage tool when her hand happened to fall into the metal horns, starting a train of thought that lead her to ask - as confirmation, because she's pretty metal herself - whether or not it was Dio who came up with the gesture. After some discussion about Dio's claim versus Gene Simmons's claim, we hit The Oracle for some answers - and came up with this page on Blabbermouth. Assuming the drawing to the left - which matches the criteria, while the picture that Ear Candy claims as proof cuts off Lennon's thumb - is not doctored, we've got cartoon-style John Lennon, staring in the Yellow Submarine, throwin' up the horns long before Dio or Gene. John Lennon was a rock and roll guy, so chances are he'd probably agree with the spirit of rebellion traditionally associated (in metal) with the horns. In that spirit then, I'm going to nominate him progenitor, because if nothing else it'll make good discussion fodder for parties.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Finland's Metal Domination Continues

Two pieces of awesome:

1. Even Finnish television underscores how metal the country is.
2. The drummer is wearing an Avenue Q shirt, which seems wonderfully incongruous with the setting.

I think I may need to make emigration plans...