So there I was, at a popular local rock club DJing between popular local bands during a show sponsored a popular local music blog. The last band was predictable, bordering on yawn-worthy. The next band was supposed to be "quirky" and I had promised to stick around to the end — always a bad idea. I was bored, and I was stuck. So as the captain of the USS Interstitial Music, I decided to take evasive action in hopes that I could outmaneuver the Battleship Boredom, which was nipping at my aft.
Time to make a move. Damn the torpedoes, I cue up Pentagram's "Sign of the Wolf." And as the monster riff and howling, anthemic chorus — easily one of the best in heavy music — blast over the sound system, a friend and colleague — who's a well-respected person in our local music community — leans over, looks me in the eye, and asks, "Do you really like this shit?"
My answer, of course: "You don't like this shit?! What the fuck is wrong with you?"
For all intents and purposes, Pentagram should be getting the same amount of lip service around here that the 3 Crow crowd give to The Stooges, Black Sabbath and Motorhead. You'd think that Pentagram would be on the lips of every ungroomed, polyester-bedecked pinhead trying to fake their way to some street cred. They've only released six albums in their 40 years, they've been left out of the VH1 rewrite of music history, have a dizzying number of singles and rarities on labels you've never heard of, and they've been an influence on countless hipster-approved bands. But surprisingly they're not something the cool kids want to use as a calling card.
Maybe it's Nashville's notoriously delicate ears, or the current crop of New Urbanist cool kids trying to put a firewall between and themselves and their repressed suburban/rural roots, but a vast swath of otherwise cool, open-minded music fans won't touch heavy music with an un-ironic 10-foot pole.
Bear in mind that there is an active heavy music scene in Nashville, however marginalized, but the numbers in that scene pale in comparison to those that will name-check all sorts of blues, noise, psychedelic and punk records — all of which share DNA with the American metal monster and are just as ridiculous — for a chance at winning a few more points in the "I Like Music More Than You" game.
But for all the Terry-Riley-as-trump-card hands that get played, very few folks in Nashville's, uh, mainstream underground-music scene — yes, that's a thing, sort of — are willing to rub elbows with their goat-throwing, way-underground music peers. What's the deal, folks? Are they going to take away your fine arts degree if you hang out with the heshers? Are you gonna get kicked out of the Arcade Fire fan club for listening to some blast beats? Is Jeff Tweedy gonna cry if you acknowledge the awesomeness of solid-state amplifiers and the drop-C tuning? Is Satan himself going to skull-fuck that unicorn right off your shirt? No.
Well, maybe yes on that last one, but aside from that, this town's music scene as a whole could stand to gain from adopting and exploiting metal's more visceral elements.
So many music fans around here will turn up their noses at heavy music — they're so desperate to keep their fedoras cocked at just the right angle and the hipsters fooled. But they don't even realize they're missing out. It's like staying home to play Dungeons and Dragons instead of going to the school dance — either way you cut it, the photos are going to be embarrassing.
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Thank you for your honesty, Steve. Your comment really puts things in fucking perspective.
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