Normally I’d be standing up, pumping my fists and screaming, just as I have for years. But sitting here quietly taking in my surroundings, I seem to be the only one in Cobo Arena who isn’t jumping up and down, slamming my body into someone else’s or screaming along to the music coming from the nine men on stage, wearing warped clown masks and collectively known as Slipknot. As I feel a light rain falling from someone’s cup of beer, thrown from a couple rows up, I’m beginning to worry.
I could care less about the beer sprinkling on my clothes or the mosh pit forming on the stairs nearby. My only concern is how, as a young child, all it took was a Bon Jovi song to make me want to run around in circles — yet at the moment, sitting in an arena filled with the aggressive sounds of the Pledge of Allegiance tour’s thundering drums and crunching guitars, I’m finding it all very calming.
Although you couldn’t drag me to a Bon Jovi concert today (without me trying to gnaw your hands off), there was a time I thought my 8-year-old life might as well be over, all because Mom wouldn’t let me go to one with her. For a couple of years, I religiously listened along to Mom’s Bon Jovi albums. Each day I watched the Slippery When Wet home video she owned and I’d jump off the couch, trying to emulate the moments when Jon Bon Jovi floated above the stage, suspended by invisible wires. When the glorious day came that Mom announced that she had tickets for a Bon Jovi show, I was ecstatic, naturally assuming I’d be tagging along. But I cried when she told me I would be spending the night at my grandparents’ house instead. “There’s a warm-up band playing called Skid Row, and they use bad words,” was the excuse she gave me.
At age 14, when a friend invited me to a Nine Inch Nails show at Pine Knob, something told me this was destined to be my first live rock experience. Granted, Nine Inch Nails isn’t exactly heavy metal, but it was as close as I could get. I had an overwhelming feeling that Mom would forget about her “wait until you’re 16” rule and tell me to go have a good time.
When I first approached her about it, she wasn’t comfortable with the idea, but it seemed as if she was actually considering it. Apparently having done some research on the band, she came storming into my bedroom a couple of days later quoting the infamous line, “I want to fuck you like an animal,” from the NIN song “Closer.” “That’s the show you want to go to? I don’t think so.”
As I sit here now listening to Slipknot’s front man, Corey #8, sing about wanting to kill people, slitting their throat and fucking the wound, I have to wonder how many of the kids here have had the same fight with their parents. I’m also wondering how many of the teens here lied about where they were going tonight, just as I did to see NIN.
Mom tried to tell me that there would be things going on in the crowd that she didn’t want me to see. To this day, I haven’t witnessed drug use at a show anything close to what I saw in the bathrooms of my high school.
There was one thing, however, that I got away with in my teens at large-venue concerts that I couldn’t anyplace else. I would walk around between sets until some sleazeball, who was old enough to be my father, would start catcalling me. Hiding my disgust, I’d walk over to said sleazeball, make short conversation about what a great concert we were at, then hand him a couple of bucks and ask him to buy me a beer. Thinking he was impressing me, the guy was always happy to oblige. But as soon as he returned with my beer and handed it to me, I’d walk away, easily losing him in the large crowd.
Now as I make it back to my seat, System of a Down, whose album Toxicity recently debuted at No. 1 in Billboard, comes on. Though the band’s often mistakenly referred to as the next Rage Against the Machine for touching upon a few political matters in some of its songs, guitarist Daron Malakian reminds the crowd, “Don’t take anything we do seriously. We’re on heavy medication.”
The crowd around me is singing along to every song SOAD plays, bouncing around looking like they’re having a blast — I don’t think they need the reminder.
Now Slipknot is taking a break between songs. Corey #8 is asking everyone for a minute of silence so he can say something really important. The crowd refuses to be quiet. Corey gives his speech anyway:
“The rise in hate crimes in this country since the attacks is fucking unacceptable,” he scolds us. As soon as he finishes, a girl on the main floor, sitting on someone’s shoulders, flashes him her tits.
The kids here aren’t looking to these bands for advice on serious matters; they’re just here to let loose and have fun. Any parents who’ve ever worried about what kind of influence these bands have on their children should breathe a deep sigh of relief.Editorial assistant Nicole Jones is Metro Times’ resident metallurgist. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org