December 16, 2004
Far Beyond Driven: Joshua Jabcuga looks at the factors that lead to tragedies like the recent "Dimebag" Darrell shooting, and other music-related commentary on Rolling Stone, Opie and Anthony on XM and more.
The last show “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott would play was at a club here in Buffalo on December 7, 2004. Just a day later the legendary ex-guitarist of PANTERA fame would be gunned down onstage by a deranged fan.
You can’t really make heads or tails of a situation like this. You can analyze it until you’re blue in the face, but the sad truth is, there just ain’t no makin’ sense of it.
Hard rock slash heavy metal concerts are certainly unique experiences. And metalheads are a breed all to their own. Although, to be fair, it’s safe to say that any public display of art or exhibition (in the sense of sports competition) draws its own subculture of diehard fans. Look at NASCAR racing. Look at pro wrestling. Look at curling. Look at Jay-Z concerts. Fanboys at comic book cons. Tailgaters at football games. Granny groupies at Clay Aiken concerts. Trekkies at Klingon conventions.
The point I’m trying to make is that anything that has a fan base is likely to have its share of over-enthusiastic nutcases and whackjobs. And while at a heavy metal or hardcore punk concert there may be drinking and weed smoking and the preternaturally aggressive and typically male-centric masses, by no means should someone consider a situation like the grisly murder of Dimebag Darrell isolated to just quote-unquote rock shows. And as such, metalheads shouldn’t be labeled as trouble-makers or even psycho gun-toting freaks (although some sure do try to fit the bill, don’t they?).
Let me attempt to illustrate my point: A few years ago, at a Buffalo Bills home game, some local yahoo had one too many soda pops in his system and upon his exit from Ralph Wilson Stadium, decided to throw caution into the wind, among other things, and hurl a glass beer bottle into the crowd. If memory serves me, the bottle landed on some terribly unfortunate and unsuspecting individual who was severely injured as a result (I apologize, but I cannot remember if this person ever recovered from said injuries).
Again, this is another instance where one cannot succeed in trying to find rhyme or reason. The same can be said for the murder of Dimebag Darrell. The optimist in me can’t help but think maybe some good can come out of this situation. Rock concerts can get out of control. That’s the nature of the beast, but raise your hand if you’ve ever attended a show and felt at least somewhat tense or nervous because of a brawl that broke out in front of you or by the wave of people pushing behind you trying to get to the front of the stage. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
We’ve all seen mosh pits. As crazy as it may seem, there’s an established code of conduct, a law of the land, an honor system, which somehow presides over this public display of chaos known as the mosh pit. Many venues permit them, and just as many do not. I’m led to believe that a venue allows the artist to make the call as to whether or not moshing will be allowed at a particular show. The larger the size of the venue, typically, the better the security (emphasis on the word “typically”). One reason being the size and popularity (the draw, that is) of the band not only necessitates a fuller security section and stronger presence, but the band also has better funding to implement such measures.
Now let’s take into consideration a smaller venue, usually clubs, sometimes bars, sometimes theaters, but much smaller in capacity than an arena, that a band like Damageplan was making their recent tour-stops at. The security is almost always an issue at these places, I hate to say. Either the security is too lackadaisical, more concerned with scoring their own groupies than with crowd control and maintenance, or too gung-ho, like a gang of Nazis on speed hearing Wagner for the first time. In either case, it doesn’t help matters.
A couple of years ago, I was at a Soulfly concert. The mosh pit was intense. The crowd was whipped up into a frenzy like hammerhead sharks at a Red Lobster buffet. There was one extremely intelligent kid that decided he wanted to jump off a platform onto the crowd below. I viewed the whole thing in slow-mo. He dove off this platform, landed onto the crowd beneath him, crowd surfed for all of a nanosecond before being dropped smack dab on his noggin. It was an ugly sight. And do you want to know the worst part? Security had no clue about the situation. They were totally oblivious. This kid, probably no older than fourteen years old, started convulsing, and I could only see the whites of his eyes. The crowd began trampling him. I tried to reach into the pit to retrieve his nearly lifeless body, but my arm got twisted in the current of the crowd, and I nearly lost my balance and certainly couldn’t get a grip on the kid. Thank God there was someone within arm’s reach of him who had the sense to pull the kid off to the side, where he and I tried to alert the attention of the security.
And that brings me to the other horrific portion of this story. Including the band’s personal bodyguard, there were three security guards total. TOTAL. The Good Samaritan that rescued this young man from the crowd stood over him, sheltering him from any further bodily harm, while I did double-time to the bar to get the bartender to call 911. Paramedics arrived and the boy was carried off to the local hospital. The crowd was still riled up, though, and they didn’t seem like they were going to let up. So what does the venue do? They actually recruited the Good Samaritan that saved the boy to assist them with securing the barricade at the front of the stage. I still cannot believe the negligence of the band and the venue, who took the safety of themselves, and more so, the safety of the concertgoers for granted.
This has very little to do with the murder of Dimebag. I don’t know what the security situation was like at the club where Dimebag was killed, so it would be ignorant for me to comment on that. Could this have been prevented somehow? Again, I can’t comment on that because I won’t even pretend to know the specific details.
From years of attending live concerts, especially at smaller venues and clubs, I can say without any doubt that security in general needs to be addressed. Whatever the nature of the concert, be it death metal, rap, alternative, bubblegum pop, you name it, the entertainment industry needs to take this opportunity to reassess the perceived safety of both their performers and their fans. They need to be proactive. They need to set better standards and regulations. They must quit playing with fire. Few things in life are worth dying for. Attending a soccer match or a football game or playing in a band or seeing a rock concert live shouldn’t be on that list.
There’s been a lot of attention paid to the loss of Dimebag, but let’s also remember Nathan Bray, a 23-year-old fan; Erin A. Halk, a 29-year-old who worked security at the club; and Jeff "Mayhem" Thompson, a 40-year-old crew member, who were all killed that night. Keep their families in your thoughts. We’ve all been to concerts; it really could have been any of us who were hit by one of those bullets.
I’m not going to be one of those cats who says the world isn’t what it used to be, and that it’s all doom and gloom from here on out, and whoa, when I have kids, I’ll never let them go see a rock concert. No, I’m not going to be some paranoid android. Crazy is as crazy does. It’s always been that way. It makes no sense whatsoever. Look around you, though, and appreciate everything you have, especially during this Christmas season. Life is too fleeting and too precious, some days more than others.
Rolling Stone magazine has put out another one of those completely useless list issues. This time, we, the ignorant, unhip, unholy, and otherwise uncool masses are treated to what the experts call “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
Yeah, basically it’s a double issue enabling them to take an extra week off from publishing for the holiday season. I have no qualms with that. I could do without some of their fucking stodgy assed writers, though. This list is pointless, really, as most are. There’s nothing enlightening about it, and even the seventeen-year-old poser working in the electronics department of Wal-Mart could probably guess twenty-four out of the top twenty-five songs. The remaining four hundred and seventy-four are practically arbitrary, of course, but what do I know?
Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” takes the top spot, followed by The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” John Lennon’s “Imagine,” “What’s Goin’ On” by Marvin Gaye, “Respect” by Aretha Franklin at number five, “Good Vibrations,” by The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” “Hey Jude” by The Beatles, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Cobain and Co., and “What’d I Say” by Ray Charles at number ten.
They also provide a list of “acts with the most entries”: The Beatles (23); The Rolling Stones (14); Bob Dylan (12); Elvis Presley (11); The Beach Boys (7); Jimi Hendrix (7); U2 (7); Chuck Berry (6); James Brown (6); Prince (6); Led Zepplin (6); Sly and the Family Stone (6).
These lists aren’t very stable. Depending on who the critics’ darlings are next year, this whole list could have a different sequence. Case in point: If Ray Charles didn’t have the biopic out right now, nor had he just died, and had the timetable of Charles’ death been flip-flopped with the timetable of Johnny Cash, you’d have seen more of an emphasis on The Man in Black instead of Ol’ Ray. Just a hunch.
We all know that certain songs just have this cultural significance about them. Some are snapshots of the times. Some change the times. Some stop time. I’d be more interested in seeing a list of 500 underrated songs, though, and even that isn’t so original. It sure as hell beats seeing a list of the top one-hit wonders, or whatever VH1 is conjuring up this week.
Anyway, I’m providing you with a list of ten songs that I think should make this proposed list of The 500 Most Underrated, Unheard, Underplayed, Under-whatever Songs of All Time. Here’s a list that I’m quite literally pulling off the top of my head. I’m looking at a stack of my CDs and just sharing whatever moves me. There’s not much thought put into this list, and some you may have even heard of before. This list is in no particular order, and I encourage you to download these songs just to get your feet wet, if you want to try something different. If you like what you hear, maybe you’ll be turned onto a whole new body of work that you never knew existed. If not, you can always check out that Beatles group I’ve been hearing so much about. I hear they’re the bee’s knees. But where’s the adventure in that these days? Oldies and Classic Rock formatted radio stations took the fun out of that years ago.
Without further ado:
(A sample of) The 500 Most Underrated, Unheard, Underplayed, Under-whatever Songs of All Time (that may introduce you to something new):
1. “Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space”: Spiritualized;
2. “He’s Waitin’”: The Sonics;
3. “Ain’t Nothing You Can Do”: Bobby “Blue” Bland
4. “The Way I Walk”: The Cramps;
5. “You Don’t Miss Your Water (Till Your River Runs Dry): Richard Hawley;
6. “Stranglehold”: Ted Nugent;
7. “Lover I Don’t Have To Love”: Bright Eyes;
8. “Voices Carry”: ‘Til Tuesday;
9. “I Walk The Line”: Alien Sex Fiend;
10. “Perfect Strangers”: Deep Purple
I don’t believe any of those songs made the Rolling Stone list. That’s a good thing.
All hail the return of Opie and Anthony to the airwaves. For those of you wondering, they blow away Stern. Stern’s the same old same old. He has been for years. These guys might not get the A-list celebrities on their show like Stern, but they don’t rely on unfunny stripper routines to get them over day after day, either. They’re on XM Satellite Radio. Yeah, it’s an extra two bucks a month in addition to the basic service fees, but well worth every penny. If you’ve never heard their show before, try them for one month. You’ll be appalled by some of their bits, offended, but sometimes you just gotta laugh at things. O & A help remind you of that. Everything is fair game. To label Opie and Anthony (and their sidekick Jim Norton) as simply shock jocks would be selling them short, though. And satellite radio allows them to run free without the reins.
Fuck Clear Channel. Fuck FM radio. Fuck Infinity Broadcasting. Satellite Radio is a Godsend. And with Howard Stern coming to Sirius, things are only looking better. Competition is a good thing, especially when it means giving people alternatives to the mindless sludge being force-fed down their throats by the FCC. A change is gonna come.
Oh my gosh, The Verve mentioned in an article! It is awesome to see
someone claim that the Verve kicks ass! Ever since one of my hipster, art-class, thrift-store shopping classmates introduced me to A Storm in Heaven back in my senior
year of high-school, (Gawd, '93!) I have been enamored with the
Kick-ass riffs, right on lyrics (sometimes moody), and great overall
vibe. I practically killed my CD player listening to that album.
Besides 'Bittersweet Symphony', they got no props! It made my day to
see someone give them the recognition they deserve!
Thanks soooooo much,
Jabcuga replies: A Storm in Heaven is a brilliant album, isn’t it? And The Verve truly never got their props in the States. Just goes to show you how much good music is out there that goes undiscovered by most people. Hope that doesn’t sound elitist, but it’s true. I sure as hell wish I knew about them in high school, like you did, Richard. It might have saved me from being such a geek all those years. Music can save lives, but that would have been asking too much of just one album, I’m afraid Bittersweet…more bitter than sweet, though.
When not tracking down and burning all known pictures of himself from high school, Josh Jabcuga can be found writing Squib Central, published every Thursday, exclusively at www.moviepoopshoot.com.
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