There’s been a ton of talk lately over Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. I greet the news with a shrug. As I’ve grown older and wiser, I’ve gained some appreciation for the man’s art. I still find him generally unlistenable, but as someone who appreciates the written word, I can understand why he’s such a big deal to so many people.
In my youth, though, I despised him. It is an aversion I have to overcome every time I think of him. He was one of those artists held up by a previous generation as an example of what was so much better, and more pure, about the artists of their time than those me and mine were drawn to. He was beloved (and still is) by all those ex-hippies who sold out, went to Wall Street, and proceeded to screw up the world.
Which brings me to . . . fuckin’ SLAYER.
This band headlined a near perfect triple bill of thrash metal awesomeness at the Wilma in Missoula last night, and I am still feeling ecstatic. I don’t care what anyone says. SLAYER is as iconic and important as any band America has ever produced. They’ve been sticking to their guns for 30+ years (their first record, Show No Mercy, was released in 1983). One of the original “Big Four” thrash metal bands — the name given to the pioneers of the genre, where they are joined by Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax (who also delivered the goods last night) — they’ve never had gigantic commercial success, yet everyone has heard of them. You either get what they do or you don’t. And if you don’t, they are probably terrifying to you. Which meant everything to a bunch of dorks who grew up in 80s Montana hating the world we were being presented. Metal was my tribe well into my twenties, until the 90s made it something else and I fell away. Watching the love that people expressed last night, for one of my era’s bands, made me miss loving anything so much as I loved music back before I got bitter and hateful. SLAYER, and Death Angel and Anthrax for that matter, washed all that away for several gleeful hours last night.
A few points I’ll close with:
- There was quite a bit of security last night, but I suspect the Wilma is populated by more fight-starting meatheads at any given Fly Fishing Film Festival event than at the show last night.
- I shared more smiles and grins with random, unknown people last night than at any event I’ve attended in recent memory. The kindred spirit among metalheads was alive and well in Missoula, and it made me proud.
- There was one guy in the next aisle, his entire body just full of energy, on the front of his toes, a big smile on his face, his eyes lit up . . . he was in a state of joyous ecstasy that can’t be faked. I wish I’d photographed him.
- Nothing in the limp world of “peaceful” music approaches the catharsis found in the raging environs of a metal show. I gleefully screamed, “I reject this fuckin’ race, I despise this fuckin’ place!” over and over with Tom Araya and a couple thousand other people and I smiled all the way and feel happy today because of it. Go figure.
- Even the music played over the PA before and between bands was everything that made me love music in the first place. Maiden. Priest. Dio. AC/DC. Pure magic.
I could go on, but if you’ve stuck around you get the point. I loved it. Here’s a shitty cell phone picture taken from my seat front and center of the balcony. The Wilma posted some fantastic ones of their own. Dig those HERE.
I feel good today.
But I’m pretty sure it won’t last.