Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Jewbiquitous Outing, Part I: I Have No Rage

Hi, my name is Harley, and I have no rage. Periodically, I have anger. I've even worked my way up to outrage, which sounds like rage, but is a separate category of upset. But no. I have no rage. You may ask me, "Harley, is that really a bad thing? Isn't it nice to live without rage? Don't you feel free from the burden of angry extremes?" To which I answer, "Yes. Yes, I did. Until last Thursday, when suddenly I felt bereft, as if my life was absent an essential element."

Last Thursday, Prettyboy and the Rooster (a great name for a rock band) took me to my first thrash metal concert. It's true. I am no longer a Slayer virgin or "Slayvirgin" (Slayergin?). For those of you sad sad saps who've never heard of Slayer, they are the original thrash metal band; they birthed all other worthy metal. That's an exaggeration, but they are a Very Big Deal in the world of metal and their fans are very insistent on this point (and don't argue with them unless you want to be cut deep with a shiv). And they want all of New York City to know it, as became apparent as I waited in line (screaming "Slayer!" translates to "I quite enjoy this band and I am excited about seeing them in this glorious venue).

What does rage have to do with enjoying thrash metal? Everything, my dear ones, everything. I honestly thought that anger would be enough. I read some right-wing screeds, listened to some Rush Limbaugh, perused some fundamentalist anti-feminist literature. I got all fired up and righteously indignant, thinking that would ready me for Slayer. I was so very wrong. So very, very naive.

To truly enjoy Slayer, you need to have the kind of rage only disenfranchised, disaffected, downtrodden white guys can generate (the type of angry white guy who can afford a $50 ticket to a concert on a weeknight. Life is hard.) The Rooster, I need not tell you, has the rage. Prettyboy adorably approximates the rage (it's hard to buy rage when you tend to characterize someone as a snuggly puppy, and when they insist on hand-holding while they rock out). I felt like a bunny among vipers. An over-dressed bunny among vipers (I came from work). Maybe that's an unfair characterization. Despite the Rooster's warnings, everyone I encountered at the concert was delightful, even the yelling people. It was a great people-watching experience. On top of which, although I don't like metal (I realized), the musicians were unbelievable craftsmen. They were truly masters of their instruments and the concert was worth it just to watch their finger work.

As to the content (I don't want to disappoint TR by not mentioning their anti-religion message), I found it difficult to take seriously. Sorry, TR, but it sounded like the poetry I wrote as an angry, disaffected middle-schooler. For example:

Murder at your every foot step./ A child's toy sudden death./ Sniper
blazes you thru your knees/ Falling down can you feel the heat,/ Burn!/ Ambushed by the spray of lead/ Count the bullet holes in your head./ Offspring sent out to
cry,/ Living mandatory suicide./ Suicide.

Get it? It's about war (soldiering). Meh. It's artless and inelegant. The imagery is so transparent and projected, it doesn't trust me to have the intelligence to infer meaning. I understand that some people (including the thousand or so merging bodies at the concert) find meaning and power in these words. It just doesn't do it for me. Even a little bit. And since I'm generally not given to blaming lyrical inadequacies for my distaste in music, I have to blame the rage. If I had enough rage, this music would be screaming poetry to my ears, welcome salt in my wounded, masochistic soul. But I have no rage.
Lyrics aside, their staging and lighting were brilliant. Check out this New York Times review for more in depth coverage (thanks, Autodidact). In terms of stage presence and use of minimalism to evoke mood, Slayer are true artists.

What does this outing have to do with Jewbiquitous? Their producer is the jewbiquitous Rick Rubin. And to put the rumor to rest, despite persistent internet white supremecist gossip, neither Jeff Hanneman nor Kerry King are Jewish. I'm not going to comment on the large amount of white supremacy websites that heart Slayer. I'm sure their taste in angry metal music has nothing to do with their politics.

On a happy note, as much as I did not love Slayer, I did truly enjoy the company of TR, Prettyboy, and TR's friends after the show. And the men did vigilantly protect me from the myriad of pulsating Slayer fans, for which I am grateful. As I was the only woman. Well, almost. There was that one woman who stood on a balcony and took off her shirt as an expression of her inner self. Classy. Yes, I am a hypocrite.

Update 02/21/07: Slayer takes D.C. by storm: The Washinton Post reporter Christopher Porter hearts Slayer more than you.


harley said...

And just so everyone knows: yes, I brought ear plugs. Excellent, inner-ear protecting ear plugs. After the show, when everyone heard the sweet trill of their ear hair follicles dying, I basked in the knowledge that mine were safe and sound.

Aaron said...

Excellent, Harley. Well-worded, astute and ironic, all in one fabulous article. Robert Benchley, Erma Bombeck-- watch out! Harley is the new voice of our zeitgeist. The joie de vivre of our mis-en-scene, etc.

Anonymous said...

Fair commentary, but I think you miss the point by about a thousand miles when you call their lyrics "artless and inelegant."

-The Rooster