Posting by JB Maddawg
Picture it. It’s 1991 and I’m at the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago at a concert with of course my cohort here at The ThrowDown, Big Angry Jay Richards, our friend Maxl and the female voice of our group, Tara. I had fought drowsiness from the opening act (a little local group called Smashing Pumpkins or something) and was waiting for our notorious heroes Guns N Roses to take the stage. The show usually started around seven. They went onstage around nine.
Just as the infamous first few chords of Nighttrain started, the guy in the spiked choker next to me screams out…”Guns N Roses is gonna be forever!” That’s when I knew it most certainly would not be forever. It was ending right in front of my eyes, in fact. We were all lost in the garden of Eden which was completely awesome. No, seriously kids. The metal era was a tsunami of leather pants, loud guitars and my favorite part…women with big hair. I was drunk on Labatt’s Blue most of the time and usually trying to make out with whatever hapless young lady came near the footwear department where I worked at K-Mart. They were easily wooed by long hair and the ability to form an A chord.
I could feel things were about to change, however, as the whirlwind life of drinking extremely cheap wine, Metallica concerts and waking up with the girl who worked register #3 (wow, what a freak) was coming to a close. Guns N Roses would give way to Skid Row, Skid Row would yield to FireHouse, FireHouse to SteelHeart. Done. Fun while it lasted, gang.
The next thing I knew folks got all weird, stopped bathing and started shopping at Goodwill to find plaid shirts. We had become so hungry for musical sustenance that complete wackos like Eddie Vedder became rock royalty. Metal had crashed to the ground. Rome had fallen and in its place the youth turned to Seattle. Yeah. My generation burned it to the ground for coffee, fish markets and pensive little whiners that sneered at guitar solos yet more importantly, shampoo. The alternative scene would hit and music became something clearly with no joy.
Don’t get me wrong, not every act was bad A.M. (After Metal) but most were just writing songs to commit suicide by. I always flash back to Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue saying, “Jim Morrison had to be such a miserable wanker.” Indeed. Music had gone from fighting for our right to party to some downtrodden dickhead singing about a runaway train. Game. Set. Match. Tone deaf wussbags were the new normal.
Ah, but those metal years. Excluding the corporate rock crap like Autograph’s “Turn Up the Radio”, metal was a golden era of celebration. Musically, there was an actual attempt to learn music theory, play an instrument with precision and passion. Alternative music became a movement of bands that had zero energy to learn their instruments mixed with an attitude that any off note or off-key moment was “art”. It was terrible.
If there’s any sense of musical karma, it’s at least kind of fun to note that the alternative scene got bumped by one of random light shows, a bass kicker and autotune. Alternative music had become what it despised which was mainstream. When they had to invent terms such as “alternate Alternative” the next generation discovered what the metal generation had already known. Enjoy it while it lasts, at least in the metal genration we were all getting laid. And not the “I cry during sex because I’m so sensitive” bullshit, either.
Yet, deep down in the soul of the young the passion of the metal days lives on. It’s why kids a few years ago discovered the video game Guitar Hero. They hungered for the twang of a purposefully played instrument, the feel of mastering a craft and performing it in front of thousands. Then, they were offered a real guitar and they all went to play Angry Birds.
I’ve already started grooming my two kids for the musical promised land. Sure they sing along to AC/DC’s song “TNT” and it doesn’t matter that instead of singing “oy”, they say “oink”. They get the spirit and passion of an age gone by… and I can see by the look in their eyes that they think I’m completely crazy.
Here’s to the next generation of musical adventurers. I hope you find the garden of Eden one day.