It’s been a busy day. My wife and I participated in the Earth Day March for Science from our state Capitol to a downtown park this morning. This is my third protest march of the year, which is unusual for me. I’ve never been much of a marcher, just a runner, but there’s just so much that demands protestation lately, I’ve felt compelled to get involved. I like to think it’s an expression of my inner heavy metal rebel peaking out from behind the curtain. Despite the rainy conditions, the crowd was impressive. I appreciate that so many people were willing to make signs, get wet, and raise their voices in support of the scientific method.
After the march, we headed to a local record store. In addition to being Earth Day, it’s Record Store Day. While protest marches are new for me, participating in Record Store Day has become an annual event. My once-a-year vinyl purchases aren’t going to keep the record store economy afloat, but I do like supporting a local business, especially the kind of business that brought me so much happiness as a kid growing up before digital streaming music was a thing. The days of flipping through stacks of LPs and considering a purchase of music based on little more than a band name and album art are gone, but it’s fun to re-live the experience. Today, I picked up a copy of Sanctuary’s Inception, the 1986 demo recordings that formed the basis of their debut record. The album has a gatefold sleeve with lots of pictures, along with a 12-page booklet of photos, flyers, sketches, and liner notes. If you know your metal, you know this is pretty cool. Sanctuary was one of the lesser known thrash bands, but, since they were from Seattle, they were huge for those of us living in the Pacific Northwest at that time. This new release of rare music is – like flipping through records – a blissful return to my heavy metal Eden, circa 1986.
It’s been a week of metal sentimentalism, starting last Saturday night when I saw a band called Blistered Earth, a Metallica tribute band, playing at a club in Tacoma. A Judas Priest tribute band – Seattle Steel – was also on the bill that night. They played a solid set of Priest classics, and their vocalist did an entirely acceptable job copying Rob Halford’s vocal gymnastics. Their tribute was strictly musical, as visually they looked like…well…me. The band was comprised of grey (short)haired guys in their late 40s wearing t-shirts and jeans. While there’s no shame in that, they didn’t leave anyone confused about whether the real Judas Priest had shown up. Even though the guys in the real Priest are in their 50s, they have a certain leather-clad gravitas that Seattle Steel didn’t capture. Blistered Earth, on the other hand, were a time machine. The band members are young and they wore their hair and clothes, even tattoos, as if they were, in fact, the members of Metallica taking the stage in 1986. They performed for us in every sense of the word. They played their parts and their instruments perfectly, and I was lost in the romance of it all. I have no interest in paying more than $150 to sit in the back of a football stadium to see the real Metallica when they come to Seattle this summer, but I would have paid much more than the $10 it cost to see Blistered Earth transport me back to those glory days of thrash.
The only downside to the Priest/Metallica tribute night was that it wrapped up at 1:15 a.m., which is way past my bedtime. Three hours past, in fact. This is a problem I’ve encountered with metal shows at smaller clubs: they start late at night and end early in the morning. This has resulted in my missing a lot of shows I’d like to see on week nights, as I don’t want to fall asleep at work the next day. I’m not too old for metal, but I’m too old to stay up past midnight. I don’t even watch Saturday Night Live live. While I have mixed feelings about streaming music, I’m a big fan of DVRs and watching TV shows at a reasonable hour.
Ironically, two weeks ago, Sean and I went to another metal show and were shocked to find out we had arrived too late to see one of the bands we were there for. The show had started earlier than advertised, so we were only able to see the headliner, Kreator, perform (flawlessly, by the way). The whole show wrapped up before midnight. I was glad for the early finish, but annoyed that I missed Obituary’s set.
Between shows that start after my bed time and shows that start earlier than than announced, I think I need to organize another protest march. My wife saw a meme recently that would serve as a great protest sign. It read, “WANT TO SAVE LIVE MUSIC? PLAY EARLIER!” I’ve got a couple of call-and-response chants in mind, too.
“What do we want?”
“Accurate set times!”
“When do we want them?”
“As early as possible!”
If I can get it organized, I’ll see you at the March for Live Music at a Reasonable, Clearly Advertised Time. It will start promptly at 11 a.m. and end at a very reasonable time. The music will be great, if I can get the bands to start before 10 p.m.