Do I wish I had been born earler? let me count the ways...
Instead of being a meeting ground for those who've rejected society, it is evident that today;s death metal concert is plagued by social rejects.
Case in point: the opener will always be a metalcore band; preferably French-Canadian with two vocalists: one will have poor posture and a tendency to replicate the flagellation of monks with a series of microphone-to-forehead connections. Add a few rodeo-style microphone swings for good measure---but watch out as to not drop the darn thing! The second vocalist will present himself with less gusto, and perhaps his shimmer basketball shorts make this statement before his mediocre-at-best vocals do.
The few "hardcore" kids, who are generally pudgy or otherwise out of shape, will commit themselves to fierce arm-flailing during the opener. They own every CD (all 1 1/2 releases) and know the choruses by heart. Here it is fun to stand near the edge of the mosh pit and poke your finger at them as they pass by--just so!--and with enough skill and dexterity, you'll see the culmination of a bad day gone worse as their faces contort to restrain tears. Give him a break; high school/community college/menial clerical work is tough!
In the meantime, you will be able to observe the many bored faces. Some will be warming up their headbanging during the breakdowns of the aforementioned band, but if you make eye contact, they'll harden their glance to shirk off embarrassment. You'll notice that there's a disproportionate amount of tall persons, a lesbian couple or two, a handful of ARE YOU TALKIN TO ME? and Death fans, and many, many Mexicans (some wearing Burzum shirts, but most with Kreator or some other 80s speed metal band portrayed on a black Hanes tee).
At this point, you might wonder who here actually understands the humor of the situation, the presence of a shoddy group of performers who rip off Suffocation riffs (of whom you'll wonder what level of importance they ascribe to their music--or is it just for fun?) who were somehow drawn in to perform as a result of a straw vote or other heinous act of democracy, and how ugly so many folks are. You look at the younger teenagers (or preteens?), and trace back in your memory to find that you had been much older when you went to your first show. It's a weekday night, and you can readily assume that their parents are hardcore liberals with poor authority and other necessary skills.
The second band may be a bunch of seasoned veterans, more worthy than the band that follows them, but you are greatful to see actual artistic integrity and musical sincerity represented. You can immerse yourself in the experience, noting how the newer songs don't quite compare to their earlier efforts. They'll thank the audience for standing around--it's come to egalitarianism even among death metalheads, and you curse their inability to recognize the potential power of advocacy they weild instead of extending gestures of amicability. Still, it's certainly been an improvement from the previous bands appreciation of the diversity in the audience (as if that somehow sweetens the deal).
The band just before the headliner will be junior to those they follow, but the indiscriminate audience will thrive off of the buzz and energy of their over-hyped new album. This is history in the making, or so these dolts are led to believe. The audience knows the lines to every single song, singing in chorus. If there are females present, they will make their presence known at this time, inching their way to the front of the standing area. But stand clear! They are the aforementioned lesbians. All in all, there is nothing new or praiseworthy to this band when compared to the opener, excepting the fact that they do attempt to maintain to some structure more similar to metal, and their packaging is sleeker. Stage outfits earn kudos points among the masses.
Finally, after an overly lengthy period of set-up, the headliners make their way to the stage--after a five minute intro segment of ambient noise and b-movie excerpts, that is. They open with a classic song, and you're genuinely glad that they're playing with as much energy as they are. It is ALMOST like what I must have been like twenty years ago; that thought is bittersweet, and it summarizes all too well the feeling as you leave the venue after a solid hour-and-a-half-long performance.
What was it like then? I can only wonder...but the sense that they've lost sight of what the music is meant to embody: an idealism that emerges from a jagged, organic coil of energy that shoots its tendrils into the dark, moist soil that provides the greatest sustenance. Their roots have withered--you can tell--and as they pack off to their tour bus and whip out their cell phones to call the wife (and kids?) back home, you keep in mind that it's only a gimmick to those who will never understand....