Thursday, September 27, 2007

Megadeth at Irving Plaza

It's a good night to be out; the weather is cool without being cold, with a little too much humidity that makes any time outside uncomfortable only with some exertion. We're not outside for any real extertion; we wander with a purpose in the Union Square area, waiting for the 9:45 hour, when the bands with metalcore names leave the stage and Megadeth comes on. We sit in a bar, and drink, and talk about music. The sound system is high-end, large sound-reinforcement type speakers dominating a room so shitty-looking it could be out of a punk documentary. The speakers and the room are diametrically opposed in quality; they shouldn't be in the same two block radius, let alone the same room, but the whole thing works. Maybe it's because of the weird mix of tracks: Jawbreaker, Minor Threat, Embrace, James Brown. I'm told to expect "The Trooper" to come on at any second. We talk about Ian MacKaye and his DIY ethic, Blake Schwarzenbach and how he now teaches English at Hunter College. It's a good way to warm up for a concert; a much better way than listening to whatever crappy bands Roadrunner's packaged on this tour.

Seeing Megadeth has become a common occurrence; five times in two years far outstrips my frequency for any other band. It's a little ironic; I remember thinking after I heard that Dave had hurt his wrist that it sucked I would never see that band live. Maybe I'm making up for lost time.

Irving Plaza is packed, almost to the gills. We start out below the overhand, where the sound sucks and for some reason they're not using the extra speakers they've added. As Megadeth takes the stage we squeeze our way through the crowd and into an open area near one of the doors. The difference in sound between the overhand and the open room is palpable. The sound still sucks, but it's gone from a dull roar to a wall, a wall of high frequency fuzzed harmonics and deeper guitar distortion, interspersed with the rhythmic smashing of the drums and the indistinct wailing of whomever is singing. It's like having your head cut off with a sound wave. The air is electric and it feels good.

Mustaine has a cold, or some sort of sick thing that makes it hard for him to sing; he apologizes but tells us he didn't want to cancel. We love him for it and we let him know, just like we let him and the band know how happy we are to be there after every song. The crowd - whatever the capacity crowd is for Irving, small but not insignificant - doesn't sound like 1,000 people in a club when we cheer, but 5,000 or 10,000 or more in an arena or a stadium. It's huge; it reverberates from the ceiling of the old concert hall and startles me every time it happens. It adds to the atmosphere, to the excitement of seeing this band do their thing and do it well once again.

Megadeth, as always, plays a mix of the very new and the very old; think "Washington is Next" meets "Hangar 18" meets "Kick the Chair" meets "In My Darkest Hour" meets "Symphony of Destruction" and you'll get the idea. The crowd doesn't know the new material as well and no one can hear Dave, so the new tracks turn into respectful silences and physical breaks for the crowd, who throw everything they have into every old track the band plays. I sing at shows, when I know the songs; it helps me let myself go into the music more. I'm singing - but I'm always singing - but it feels like everyone else is, too. It's communal, unifying, and it makes the show that much more memorable, because we're all getting our faces melted together and we all know it. They play the new version of "Toute le Monde," and I realize that Dave's little remake trick must be working; there are a lot of women in this crowd. They play "Tornado of Souls" and the fifth time I hear it live is just as good as the first. I lose my shit; I love that song.

It's 11:20. The night's over, the set finished just on the cusp of going too long. We stumble out into the street, swap stories of other shows and other good times built around music and metal. I walk back to the subway, thoughtful. Nights like these are why I go to shows, I decide, in search of the high that only good live music can bring. It's a good addiction.

1 comment:

xxx said...

Amen.