Metal: an all-inclusive, bullshit-rejecting brotherhood.

On a forum I attend, there was a thread which touched on what seems to be a growing divide among metalheads; an age gap which is punctuated by each side saying the other’s music is not metal enough, that neither is metal enough to be calling themselves a “Headbanger”. I saw the following comment, and was compelled to speak out.

“[T]he [Metal] scene here in Canada is that most the people are showing to concerts to get into the pits and to hell with the music, they get all high on ectasy [sic] and go nuts in the pits…”

My response took over an hour to craft, but was highly emotional for me, as I felt called to action, to dispel what I saw as shit. It follows this cut.

I highly doubt you and I go to the same shows (@ Everyone else we’re in the same ~1M pop city). Anytime I go to a show, there’s always a couple drunken “bros” as I call them, the college frat boys who go into the pit to pick fights and punch people in the face. The pit takes care of them pretty quickly, by reciprocating the same lack of respect, ie. not picking them up when they fall.

I’ve never seen anyone on E on the floor, let alone in our pits; those ones usually show up at the EDM shows, and flail around as if experiencing a seizure, whilst clutching their glowsticks in a death grip.

The ones who go “all nuts” in the pit are usually the type that think hardcore dancing belongs at every show, instead of just their floor-punching, ninja-kicking demonstration circles. They get told quickly not to, and then get surfed/dragged to a bouncer whether they like it or not.

In fact, the majority of the shows I attend are at the smaller venues, and not the arena, which promotes mass-consumption of shitty beer and attendance from all circles, especially those not well versed in metal etiquette.

Real metal shows (or at the least, real pits) have an element of brother/sisterhood; if you fall down in the pit, you get picked up. At the end of a song, everyone has sweat-drenched grins on their face; hugging with huge pats on the back occurs, while anyone finding a shoe holds it up in the air to be reclaimed. If someone gets their glasses knocked off, a human wall immediately forms while the poor sap searches the floor for them. and best of all, spontaneous, shoulder-to-shoulder arms-linked walls of headbangers emerge at the edge of the pit, with no-one sent flying their direction.

As closed-minded as everyone in the “real world” is, we, in our microcosm, must open our minds and our eyes, and realize that we all are one family, linked by our love for all the shit in the world that is heavy. It’s not about who has the most patches, who can find the most distorted, guttural, drum-head-abusing noise out there, or who beats up whom in the pit. It’s about a collective togetherness; a feeling that regardless of what the rest of society thinks of us, in our black t-shirts, long hair, intensity of self, and disdain for that which is fake and bullshit; that we are here, we belong, and that we are not alone. Nay, we are a force of nature to be reckoned with. Our gatherings must be punctuated by both a rejection of that which does not belong: the egotistical, watered down, mass-marketed, fashion-trendy SHIT; and an acceptance of everyone present, whether well-versed in our ways, or on the outside wanting to belong.

We need more of what I saw at Opeth on Thanksgiving Day here in Edmonton. A disabled guy, in a small athletic wheelchair, got to the show late, missing Katatonia as openers. Obviously, with a large crowd in a small venue, he had little opportunity to see what was going on, and was trying to make his way closer to the front before Opeth’s set started. I advised him that he could try and cut through the pit. As it opened up, he cut in, and did not cross; quite the opposite. he was in there with everyone else, at half the size. Nobody pushed him to the floor; instead he was there with brakes off, owning his own corner, allowed to be one of us. Near the end of the first song, the eight largest of the pit went over, picked him and his chair up, and hoisted him in the air, allowing him to crowdsurf for the first time ever. The bouncers were furiously trying to coax the crowd into sending him their way, but with horns in the air, no one would have it. He surfed for almost a minute, and then was brought down again into the pit, still another of us; an equal in a bunch of what society views as a mass of stupid, fucked up, immature ingrates.

That’s what this shit is about.

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