“Oh, Conan’s a hugger.”
“Yeah, it’s his thing.”
“I’m not letting him hug me.”
“…When it comes to Conan…Nobody really gets a choice in the matter.”
Beth was trying to keep up with me on the way to the show. She was still pissed that I made her take the skytrain with me as opposed to me just parking my car on Hastings. When she asked why I wouldn’t, it took her a solid two seconds for her to remember why that’d be a bad idea. That street was built to have cars broken into. Apparently for her, it was cold out.
“I told you not to wear fishnets, both for weather and metal reasons.”
“Guys think they’re cute.”
“No, guys think you’re wearing them to scam free drinks off them.”
“Well aren’t you?”
“That’s beside the point! And how are you not cold?!”
“Because I’m not wearing fishnets, you dumb broad!”
When we got to the rickshaw, it was as vacant as it usually is this early, so there was no line. The Rickshaw is my kind of venue. It proudly boasts all its scuffs, scars and stains. The place used to be a theatre that showed Kung Fu flicks, until it was closed down after people lost taste in good cinema. Anyway, it was Beth’s 19th birthday a few weeks ago, so I bought her a ticket in. No more giving the bouncers handy j’s in the alley to ignore her lack of government ID. I think we’ve all been there.
Anyone who knows me knows I love me some Traditional Metal. Cauldron are probably one of the best Canadian Trad bands out there, and Enforcer from Sweden is no slouch either. My problem was I’d have to wait a good 3 hours for them, because the opening acts were Torrefy and Dead Asylum. If it isn’t glaringly obvious already, I fucking hate Death Metal.
Throw me in a hall with a bunch of Death Metal bands on the stage, and I’ll find the nearest bench and fall asleep. It’s boring, uninspired faux technical riffs and monotonous vocals that put me out faster than any vodka bender possibly could. That being said, I don’t hate ALL Death Metal. Just 90% of it. Early stuff such as Deicide and Possessed, most Melodic Death Metal, some tech stuff like Nile and Obscura, The genre has it’s perks. But that’s a poorly written rant for another time.
The only thing that confirmed my suspicions that I didn’t like the two bands is that I slept straight through both of their sets.
When Beth kicked me awake, we leaned on the rails waiting for Exmortus. I was more interested in Cauldron, as I said before, but what little I’ve heard from Exmortus seemed promising.
“So, have they ever cleaned the washrooms here?”
“Beth, I doubt that a bottle of windex has ever actually been near that bacterial battleground.”
“… At least the beer’s cheap.”
"Beth is one of the people I keep under my wing. If it weren't for me, she'd be 6 feet underground, or worse, in a church with a Trivium shirt on."
"Jay, you're narrating out loud again."
“Shit…I’m gonna go get some beer.”
“Grab me one… AND THAT SHIT ABOUT TRIVIUM AND CHURCHES ISN’T TRUE!!!”
When I got a can of cariboo for me, and only me, I bumped into The Duke. I don’t know why I’m surprised when he shows up at a show, he always does. Maybe I think he’s going to be dead before I next see him, so I just assume he is until I hear him hobbling on his cane through the door. He shared some drunken wisdom with me until Exmortus showed up.
Now, while I did sleep through them, it was in no way their fault. I really liked the stuff they were playing, basically sounded like Melodic Death Metal with a Power Metal paint job, It’s just that the incomparable blandness of the first two bands carried over for a good chunk of the night and put me in an exhausted stupor for longer than I would’ve tolerated. So Exmortus, if you’re reading this, I appreciated your stuff, and did not hesitate to illegally download your entire discography for listening at my leisure.
I was eventually nudged from my slumber by a familiar, pale face.
Part of me does know her name, but another part of me just wants to see how long it’ll take for me to piss her off into throwing a punch. Her endearing character trait is that she can get drunk faster than any woman I know. not a minute had passed after she entered the door, and she had gone through 8 beers. She was boasting about how hammered she was getting, while I was coasting on one beer at a time. I sometimes envy you mortals for not having the tolerance of a god.
I practically kicked down the fucking doors when I heard Cauldron getting on stage. I carved a path to the front of the stage, probably severely injuring those in my way. From what I understand, their last few shows have been dropped/aided by guest vocalists due to Jason Decay having some sort of throat Infection. He still showed up and sang some of the songs, but periodically opted out for Olof and I think Joseph from Enforcer to do guest vocals. regardless, it was an awesome, energetic set as usual from them. It’s a damn shame they didn’t play anything from Chained To The Nite.
The next hour was sort of a blur. Beth was hanging out with her friends that showed up, Nat faded in and out of conversation with me, and I took residence back on my bench. I saw Warbringer before, but I do not remember them being this fucking boring. After a while I pulled myself up and wandered in and out of the Rickshaw. I’d go buy some junk food from next door, desperately waiting for Warbringer to fuck off, or for Conan to show up so I could have a worthy opponent in the pit. But nothing.
I considered fucking off for home. Beth’s resourceful, I thought. Perhaps those fishnets actually worked on some hapless fool and she can get a ride back and an extra 50 bucks. Dio knows she needs to learn how to survive on other people as opposed to just me. Eventually I heard a prolonged silence emanate from deep within the Rickshaw. I cautiously re-entered. When I passed through the newly ruined doorframe, I was met with a fucking encore. I hate encores. Hate it when bands intentionally put a good set off balance, and hate the people who cheer for them doing so.
I vented my frustration by getting some more beer. As I got to the counter, I was approached by some asian chick.
“Wanna buy me one?”
“…Depends, are you going to take off as soon as I hand it to you?”
Looking back, she probably would’ve hung out with me. But it would’ve been a waste of time anyway. I haven’t been able to get it up since Lemmy died.
For the next 25 minutes I was in the lobby drinking, sleeping, and smashing my head against the wall. People probably thought I was re-enacting Accept’s Balls to the Wall video, but really I was trying to stay awake. I finally got fed up with it all, walked inside, and shouted at the stage to fucking end already. They politely obliged, and I went back outside. Seriously, their encore must’ve been longer than their actual set.
There I was, standing in the pissing rain, a few minutes from going home. I was kind of pissed at how lame of a night it was so far. I’ve gotten more sleep than I do most work nights, and so far I’ve engaged in negligible skirmishes in the pit. The night was looking to be a bust. But then, some thing came down the streets of hastings. It looked like a mountain that walked like a man. A grand monolith that gives off an aura of might.
He actually forgot his sword at home
“Conan, you flaming mook! Where the fuck’ve you been!?”
In reply, Conan immediately ran towards me, barely giving me enough time to apply a counter hold. Usually our duels go on in a stalemate, but that night I was barely holding my ground. In horror, I realized that I’ve lost weight since our last encounter. Son of a bitch had the bulk advantage over me. When our duel decimated the pavement, we entered the Rickshaw. When I mentioned Beth, he demanded he meet her.
“So is she a girlfriend, or just your friend, man?”
“She’s not my type.”
“What is your type?”
“Black, Power Metal or Thrash Metal, could potentially kick my ass in a one on one fight.”
“…By black, do you mean-“
When we reached Beth, a massive, hearty grin stretched over Conan’s face. anyone who didn’t know him would probably think he’s crazy…and he kind of is, but really, he likes having new victims for his mighty embrace. Beth had no time to react.
“You must be ConAGH!”
He easily lifted her fairy frame into the air, unintentionally creaking her ribcage. She was unable to offer a real reply, only declarations of pain and discomfort. When her feet finally returned to the ground, she learned the she survived with just an irregular heartbeat. Also, Enforcer finally got their shit together and started playing.
Enforcer were in top form, Olof has one of those voices that doesn’t give out for the entire show, and they played all of their best songs. Katana, Midnight Vice, Death Rides This Night, and several others that I couldn’t name because I was far too focused on the bedlam in the pit.
It wasn’t one of those nights where every single person was going in, it was more like a gladiatorial arena. There were only 4-6 people in it at a time, and we all had our marks and would occasionally team up. There was this one guy who reminded me of a younger, less handsome version of me sporting the precursor to a mullet. He kept looking back at me whenever I briefly stopped to enjoy the show. Guy seemed intent on earning a spot as my pupil. But that position is already filled, Robin. I already got Batgirl.
He kept trying to show what passed for his might in the pit, tackling into me repeatedly, but I just kept walking forward as though he weren’t there. Eventually, he resigned to just being another in the pit. There was this one guy on the rim, who for some reason keep grabbing the kid as he was running by, to throw him at the front of the pit. The pit may be an arena right now, but that kind of shit doesn’t fly.
I immediately grabbed the kid by the shoulders, gained some speed and rammed into the tosser.
All that was left was to face down Conan.
Before we even started, I knew I was at a disadvantage. I accidentally lost weight after the last few months, So there was no way I’d be able to take him down head on. I’d have to use my brain against him. We bounced off each other for a bit, then I faked him out, allowing him to crash into the rim. He went into a berserker rage as he turned around, steam visibly shooting out his nose. I refused to fake him out a second time, preparing to take the full brunt of his attack.
Fueled by booze, rage and Swedish Traditional Metal, Conan surged forth, and delivered the payload of a 600 pound Canadian titan into my chest. I flew back into the rim, dazed, but not out. Still, I knew I wouldn’t be able to take another one like that. The other moshers were unaware of our metal combat, and continued to mindlessly slam into each other. I realized what I could do. It’s almost a dirty shot, but this is Conan we’re talking about.
It’d take some luck, coordination, and even more luck, but I could pull it off. I slammed into conan a few more times, my shoulder barely holding up. Then, the time came. Two other moshers took point at the back of the pit. Instead of bouncing off Conan, I braced for the impact, grabbed him by the arm, and the two at the back saw this opening. The two of them combined were not capable of knocking over me or Conan, let alone the two of us at once. But it got the ball rolling.
At the very second of impact, I spun Conan around on my shoulder, and backed straight into the front of the pit with a furious roar.
To this day, neither of us know who truly won, but we do know we probably killed some people that were pressed up against the stage.
Some of you may wonder what The Duke does at shows. Does he grab a seat, does he stand off at the side, does he mosh, do the owners usher him into some mythical VIP lounge? The answer is that he does indeed mosh. And he can actually throw down. But lets remember here, the dude’s old. Motherfucker was friends with the editor of the Old Testament. He knew Julius Cesar on a first name basis. The guy’s cane has a sundial built into it. He had been drinking pretty hard the whole night, but later in the pit, he took a pretty hard hit.
When he got back up, he kept swaying back and forth, but didn’t leave the pit. This is when the moshing stopped for fear of killing someone people actually knew. Anyway, Enforcer fucking killed it, and they actually stayed on stage to get their encore over with. God, I hate encores. “Hey! We’re out of here! But we’ll be back in thirty seconds to play you three more songs!” Blow me.
So, with that all done, me and Beth took the long journey home.
“So, did you actually scam any drinks?”
“Maybe next time you’ll think and just put on some pants.”
“…By the way, you’re paying for the gas on the way back.”
“…I fucking hate you.”