How to easily enjoy a heavy metal gig (when you're not into the bands)

I mentioned in another post how I got to see New Zealand thrash metallers Alien Weaponry on three hours’ notice. It was on a weeknight, during the middle of winter, at a small venue — and to be entirely honest, I’d barely heard of them.
The three or four top tracks of relatively simplistic, mid-tempo groove thrash that I hurriedly streamed for all of 40 seconds said to me that this was a group that under usual circumstances I would not go out of my way to see.
And yet, I had a brilliant night out.

Make your own perspective

There was once a time when I would leave disappointed if the music at a gig failed to grip me. I can’t quite articulate it, so the closest I can come up with might be something akin to a feeling that I’d invested time and energy and money into something that had not impressed me.
But not this time.
I attribute it to something very simple — I merely made a conscious point of setting out to get the most out of the evening.
I have come to believe that what you get out of a heavy metal gig (i.e. how much you enjoy it) has a lot less to do with what you expect, and a lot more to do with how you decide in advance what you will make it out to be.
In short: how you feel about a gig after it’s finished can, if you want, be determined by what you wished it to be before you got there.
Or, it can depend on perspective. And expectations.
So what does that mean?

Great (thrash) expectations

 They were on their way to a European tour and will even plan Wacken Open Air. But some at Metal Archives still don't feel they're metal enough to warrant listing.
Pic: Abby Phillips

The unexpected invite for Alien Weaponry was at Melbourne’s Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar, with tech-metallers Primitive in support.
The Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar is a wonderful, albeit small venue in inner-city Melbourne. It’s the sort of locale that comes to mind when one uses term “cosy”.
As mentioned, I’d never heard anything from the Alien Weaponry discography when I accepted the invite from a friend. Nonetheless, I accepted and pledged to myself that I would have a great time, for the simple reason that I had no expectations. Importantly, no expectations is distinct from low expectations.
Expectation is a funny thing. Of all the complex thoughts and emotions that we understand as human feelings, the thoughts that amount to what we define as expectation arguably have the most power to influence how we felt AFTER doing a Thing — because we created pre-conceived perceptions BEFORE we actually did the Thing.
The nature of expectation is why established artists are guaranteed to always disappoint a minimum proportion of fans, yet if a new artist were to release identical material they would garner praise (yes, that’s a bit metaphysical, but bear with me). Similarly, a show may not “live up to expectations” because of what fans have “come to expect” from a high standard that occurred in the past. Or a talented musician may form a new group but the artist’s “long-awaited” debut is either insufficiently original or too far removed and unrecognisable from what we expected… in other words, what we imagined and hoped it would be.
We then feel disappointed or even angry because we’ve invested emotionally (and probably monetarily) in something and we find the return is not what we desired.
To get a little bit more metaphysical, our evaluation of art and performance risks becoming less about the merits of an individual work of art (for example, a new release) and more about how it compares to our pre-conceived ideals and expectations. Indeed, those expectations are in themselves based entirely on previous works of art, such as an artist’s discography.
Expectation can influences how we feel about almost anything — be it a gig, meeting a new person, a movie or even sporting event — before we’ve even left our home. It is for this very reason that I often explain how unexpected gigs and performances can often be the most memorable.
As mentioned, it was a fantastic show. But not because I was a frothing fan of their music. Alien Weaponry is a band that I would not have considered seeing on the merits of their sound alone, yet I made a point of removing expectations in my mind that would traditionally have told me that a variety of heavy metal that I’m not much into would fail to be enjoyable.
Instead, I consciously saw the very best in the fact that this was a heavy metal gig, at an accessible venue, where just about everyone was thoroughly enjoying themselves, and that there would be many more gigs like it to come.

·         Having said that, if you actually want to know how the gig went, see my Alien Weaponry gig review.

Support came from Melbourne's Primitive.
Pic: Abby Phillips.

As I say behind the above link...

“It made me once more supremely thankful that I live in a city where I am spoilt for choice when it comes to weekly gigs that play music that is hard, fast, nasty and heavy.”

And no, metal Metal Archives currently still won’t list them.

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