Thursday, June 14, 2012

Live From the Mosh Pit: Dale risks life and limb and eyebrows at a Rammstein show

I am a fan of Rammstein.

And not in that fanny way that most “true” fans get. I don't obsess about the band or make fashion choices based on my love for them. I haven't studied English translations of their music or posted on an internet forum devoted to them. And I have never been in a fight defending them. For me it means I really really like their music. I like it on a different level than I like most bands and when I hear them I automatically get happier, even when they are singing about a man cannibalizing his own severed penis.

Now, for those of you who aren't familiar with the band, I don't want that penis remark to give you the wrong idea. Rammstein are not a twisted bunch of freaks who gleefully sing about sordid subjects, inasmuch as they aren't what I'd call “freaks”. But yes, they are a bit twisted. And they do sing gleefully about some horrible things. But it's all in good fun. And their music rocks.

I bring all this up because, for the first time ever, Rammstein came to Winnipeg not long ago. So Warren, who is a much more fanny fan of Rammstein, got us tickets.

Tickets on the floor.

So to sum up: I, a 46 year old man with a job and kids and a mortgage, was about to go to my first ever Industrial Metal show to watch a band whose fan base appeared to be mainly comprised of young men who look like variations of Tom Hardy as Bane in the upcoming Dark Knight Rises. And for many of them this includes the headgear.

Despite the looks of the crowd, we arrived in good spirits. Also, I'd noted that Warren had opted to wear a man-pouch around his waist and felt immediately better, knowing that if there was going to be a violent, Teutonic beating that night, it would probably be focused on the wearer of a man-pouch as opposed to that person's largely pouchless companion.

With my heart temporarily lifted by these thoughts, we proceeded to floor level, and into the general admission throng. The crowd was loosely packed, and we were able to move up and into a pretty good position. Close enough to feel the heat, but at just enough range to feel reasonably secure that we would be leaving the show with eyebrows. Did I mention that Rammstein are famous for the massive amount of pyrotechnics they use in their shows? Well, they are. Here is a photo I took 30 seconds in:

And here is another one from 20 seconds later:

Miraculously, I still have eyebrows

So, with a nice spot staked out, we awaited the band's entrance. And then we waited some more. At 8:15 I commented that their lack of punctuality goes against everything they stand for as Germans, and then, pleased with my cleverness, I tweeted it. Follow me @nervoushospital for more gold just like that!

Right after that, the security personnel moved into position at the front of the crowd. These are the guys who pull crowd-surfers to the ground as safely as possible and then give them a cookie and send them off to the back of the crowd, even though they clearly would rather just beat them with those extendable police batons that Jennifer Lopez uses to beat the shit out of that one guy in Out of Sight.

As the security guys moved into position I realized that one of them was a neighbour of mine, Brian, who works security at MTS Center. As he scanned the crowd I waved at him and got his attention. We made eye contact, and after a couple seconds, it registered on him that it was me. I waved again but all he could respond with was a look that said, “What the FUCK” while also somehow conveying a Danny Thomas style spit take. I swear, his look communicated a spit take.

See? Not ALL of their imagery is violence and fire.
Fuck. Never mind.

Soon, the show started, and I have to say that it was a good 10-15 minutes before the first “What the fuck am I doing here?” thought popped into my head. This occurred when the first person from the mosh pit that formed directly behind us slammed into my back and almost took me out. Now I am, as I said, 46 years old. I have never been in a mosh pit. I have never been in the vicinity of a mosh pit. And upon my first exposure to one, I admit my first impulse was to move in and hammer the little fuck who just slammed me. But I am 46, so this impulse was quickly smothered by the realization that I was wearing my glasses and no longer have a spare set, so if these ones get damaged, I'm fucked vision-wise for the next several days. And so, even though the culprit was not one of the Bane lookalikes, I turned the other cheek. Just like Jesus would have if Jesus was wearing his glasses at a Rammstein show and had just been slammed into by a walking embryo with a faux hawk.

The show continued, and my thoughts alternated between “this is AWESOME” and “I am about to die”. We got pretty good at shifting positions to stay clear of the ever-moving mosh pit. And then a second one opened up on our other side. After fighting off the same initial panic that those humans in the loin cloths in Planet of the Apes must have felt when a new bunch of apes with nets came riding in from the other side of the corn field and they all gave each other that “We are now fucked” look, we began a game of human checkers. Whenever the pit would move in on us we would hop over to an adjacent square. I put it this way only to perpetuate my terrible checkers metaphor. Just wanted you to know I was aware.

It soon became clear that the original pit was clearly the Aryan, and therefore the more frightening of the two mosh pits. The newer pit appeared to be filled with people whose moms had dropped them off at the show. There was a bit of spillover between the two pits, but the scene kid pit was clearly the less intimidating of the two, and we used that info to modify our movements, basically skirting the edge of the scene kid pit as much as possible. At one point I rescued a little Asian girl from being thrown to the ground, grabbing her by the arm and hauling her back up before any harm could come to her. She grinned at me happily and gave me both thumbs up in a “thank you” kind of way. Then she slammed herself into a blonde haired kid who went sprawling.

I couldn't help thinking, though, that the guys in the band must get a bit pissed off by these people. Rammstein may be a German Industrial Metal band, but their show is also, in many ways, a performance art piece. And if I'd worked that hard creating a spectacle on the scale they did, I would want people to watch the damn show. As opposed to spending the entire show focused on other sweaty, shirtless bald men with long chin beards and tattoos and flinging myself into them in an orgy of amped up male aggression and barely-concealed man-lust that, at any moment, could conceivably devolve into a mob of dudes violently stroking each other's dicks with one hand and punching each other's faces with the other.

So, Aryans and scene kids alike: next time try watching the nice show. You might enjoy it. After all, you're still free to come all over each other in the parking lot afterwards.


  1. You Magnificent Bastard you! I loved this. I have no idea who Rammstein is but this makes me want to buy some of their music and maybe kill stupid kids, but mostly buy some of their music.

  2. I never knew you were a Metal God, You Magnificent Bastard. I had you pegged for more of a Hootie man. It's good, though, that you had this experience. I've never been in a mosh pit, and I think I'll just live it vicariously through you.
    Who's mom would drop them off at a Rammstein concert? Bloody hell, what is the world coming to?
    I want wings that spew fire. Just sayin.

  3. Ellen baby, in my mind you will ALWAYS have angel wings that spew fire.

    Jamez, thanks for lighting a fire under my ass to get me writing again. I couldn't get my head into the right space for two months, and one sentence from you was all it took. So thank you.