Generation Metal

I went to a metal show on Friday night at a club in downtown Olympia. The performance space was the smallest I’ve ever seen. Well, I have watched a band practice in a bedroom, which was technically smaller, but that wasn’t a paid gig. I’ve been to a lot of shows. I’ve been listening to heavy metal for 35 years and I am still a devoted fan. I try to keep up with new bands and I go to concerts whenever I can. On Friday night, though, I crossed some weird generational boundary. The band I saw was composed of people who could, quite literally, be my kids. The guitarist, Sean, is a classmate of my daughter. They are both seniors in high school.

I first saw him at a Curriculum Night at school when my daughter was a junior. I noticed he was wearing a Megadeth t-shirt, and I was intrigued. Then, at Curriculum Night at the beginning of senior year, I saw him again. He was his escorting his mother and grandmother from class to class and he made a point of personally introducing them to his teachers. I was impressed with his manners and obvious respect for his teachers and family. One of Sean’s teachers mentioned that Sean set a goal to complete work on his album. This was very interesting information, and as we were leaving the room, I asked Sean what kind of music he played. He said heavy metal and I told him I was a metal head. With some excitement, he asked me what my favorite band is, to which I responded, “Slayer.” He was stoked. He, too, was a Slayer fan, and he had tickets to see them perform a few weeks later. It was going to be his first time. I’ve seen Slayer half a dozen times over the last 25 years and they are always awesome. I was excited for him.

Because we live in the 21st century, we became friends via social media. After a few weeks of examining each other’s posts on Facebook, to ensure we had a mutually acceptable appreciation for metal, we agreed to meet up for pizza. Sean brought his bandmates, and I brought my best metal friend, also named Sean. We spent hours together. Sean and I shared our stories of what it was like to be there in the mid 1980s when metal was King and Sean “Jr.” and his bandmates drank it all in. I was impressed with these kids, as they know their metal history. Of course, they know Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, but that’s just the basics. They also know obscure, old school stuff like Stormtroopers of Death. That’s some deep, specific knowledge. You don’t hear S.O.D. on classic rock radio. You have to study your metal history to learn about Sergeant D and the S.O.D.

When Sean “Jr.” told me his band, Esoteria, was playing a gig in Olympia, I knew Sean “Sr.” and I would be there. Esoteria was the headliner. Sean and I listened to the opening bands and agreed they weren’t particularly good. But Esoteria stood out. Yes, I’m biased, but I’m not naïve. These kids can play. The singer has a multi-octave range and is classically trained; a full-on vocal diva. The bassist plays a six-string and it’s not just for show; he’s got skills. Dylan, the drummer is ferocious, and, Sean is a shred-tacular guitar player. They play true metal and they do it with passion. It was a great set. I am excited to know that there is a scene of young people that loves metal, writes songs, and performs live, even if the performance is in a walk-in closet.

Thanks Sean, Dylan, Merritt, and Ryan. You make me feel young. Metal Rules!

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