I've had a string of random musings swirling in my brain over the course of not quite a month now, all part of my plan to see the Maidens et al, at the Gaslamp in Long Beach. Thought I'd share. It all started innocently enough about three weeks ago, with an e-mail to my division at work: From: MikeyZ Sent: Monday, March 06, 2017 10:18 AM Subject: Family Metal Night at the Gaslamp Saturday March 18th (*) Colleagues, There’s been enough interest in the upcoming event that I thought I’d let the rest of the group in on the secret. Please join us for an evening of heavy metal at the Gaslamp in Long Beach Saturday March 18th. The Iron Maidens (the world’s only all-female tribute band to Iron Maiden) will be the headliner. While I don’t yet know who else is playing, I don’t expect the Maidens to take the stage until later (11PM or so), so you can more or less start your evening at your convenience. I’m getting the lowdown on tickets now, but they’re usually pretty cheap, like fifteen bucks a head, and the show is well worth the cost of admission. Please stop by my office or reply if interested, and I’ll point you to links to get your own tickets; or I can add your name to the block list (cash in advance, please). Disclaimer: this is not a corporate-sanctioned event. Not responsible for religious conversions (unlikely), zombie conversions (unlikely), hearing loss (unlikely, but bring plugs), or band crushes (67% of all division men polled). (*) “Family” = 21 and over, please. Hope to see you there. Cheers Mike However talented the lineup, I knew a metal show was going to be a demographic hard-sell at my office. There are about 45 people in our division, half are under 30 and a quarter are over sixty. Most of the rest are married with kids and have musical preferences that are closer to 80s pop and alternative. There were two on my list, though, for which I really had high hopes: security and HR. Both are women close to my age. Both I flirt with to some degree which is hazardous to my health because security is married and HR is, well, HR, and I just aced my mandatory on-line two-hour harassment training seminar and I really don't want to have to take that class a second time in the same year. It's skull-numbing. Trust me. So the game would go something like this: Me: "So will you be joining us at the Gaslamp for Family Metal Night?" Security: "I don't see how I'm going to explain to my husband that I'm going to a metal show." "Easy. Bring him along." (with an incredulous look): "My husband is [really old]. He missed the metal train by about [a bunch of] years." "Okay, look, if I can get [HR] to go, maybe you can sell it to him as a "Girls Night Out." She goes to the Gaslamp all the time on Friday nights. She's got a thing for the Knyght Ryder drummer. Will that work?" "Maybe. See what you can do." Then on the other side: Me: "So will you be joining us at the Gaslamp for Family Metal Night?" HR: "I don't know, metal isn't really my thing. I'm more of a 'Knyght Ryder drummer' sort-of gal." "It's not about the metal. It's about the sense of corporate family and community." "We have a blood drive coming up; can we do that instead?" "You know [security] is thinking of coming, right?" "And that would inspire me to join you how, exactly?" "Think of it this way: [security] has a God-fearing streak in her. When the Maidens start playing "The Number of the Beast," they have a fog blower that obscures the band and then a guy in a Satan outfit materializes on the stage. The look on her face alone will be worth the ticket you paid to get in." "That's not bad. What else you got?" "Madonnica. Heavy metal-inspired Madonna. I mean, wouldn't you rather hear 'Lucky Star' played that way? (after a brief ponder): "Okay, you've got my interest. I'll give it some thought." A week later HR punted for another friend's birthday, and security punted because she lost the "Girls Night Out" angle. Man, I have got to step up my game. Oh, well. Baby steps. Anyway, a bit of perseverance managed to get us to a party of five, or about a third of the credible participant pool in the division. This was my first time at the Gaslamp and, like other venues the Maidens play at in the greater north OC area (Long Beach is really in LA county), this was a short drive from my house. I've heard nothing but good things about the place, particularly after a couple of locals ladies in 2005 rescued the building from its prior seedy meat-market moniker Live Bait. They have a great house band on Fridays, karaoke Wednesday (nobody's perfect), and impressive headliners usually on Saturdays (I've got my eye on Missing Persons / Bow Wow Wow next weekend, Metal Jam on June 17th, and Jay Mohr on June 24th). Plus the food is good (try the filet mignon skewers if you go there). I was waitlisted for a table when I called Saturday, but I was near the top and they had a reservation in my name before 4PM. Good thing too: the stage view was pretty bad from our seating area, but it was better than not having a table, especially since we were looking at a five-hour show. We found that sidling up to the ramp near the sound booth got us close. Not "Slidebar close," but close. Some highlights from the show: Big crowd: The Gaslamp was near its capacity of 350, which was probably double the largest Maidens crowd I've seen before. The ladies clearly were unfazed by the big numbers; if anything they were all the more energized. Kirsten in particular captivated the fans with remarkable alacrity, keeping the tempo of the show moving at an energetic pace, dividing us into sections for loud sing-offs, and laughing off various stage gaffes like the dead batteries in the radio mic. Madonna Wannabe: I have a shameful secret that's likely to get me kicked out of UM, but I'll share it anyway: I'm a closet Madonna fan. Not the overwrought so-called sexually liberated modern (read: old) Madonna, but the old-school squeaky voiced bare midriff with a bit of sexy baby fat surrounded by black lace and tulle-fabric skirt Madonna. So getting to see Madonnica's Melody Schoenfeld belt out a few hits in her old-school outfit was a treat. And while I couldn't quite convince myself that I was listening to jus sanguinis metal, it had hard enough of an edge that they could probably get away with calling it that. In any event, if you ever wondered what Vogue would sound like with a couple of axes grinding in the background, see Madonnica and wonder no more. Next up: Iron Kesha, or is that Kesha Sabbath? (hmm, I guess that's two shameful secrets). The Walking Dead: Here's the picture of the office crew who went to the show, counter-clockwise from the left: Jeff, me, Nolan, Rob, Sheida. Perhaps my claim that the probability of zombie conversion was low may have been premature. Incongruity is my middle name: Between the Dia and TIMs sets, colleagues Sheida and Nolan were shouting across the table about something which, between the earplugs and onset fatigue from my previous shouting across the table over the bands, was hard to understand. Prompting her to shout in my ear instead, so I could hear what all the fuss was: "We're trying to remember who the composer was for Thaïs' Méditation!" Briefly stunned at the incongruity of discussing a classical piece in the middle of a metal show, I still managed to cobble together enough neurons to wonder if that name sounded familiar. The fog of my memory slowly parted when prompted, to a chamber piece with a violin solo that I played in high school (and by "played" I mean I played viola in the chamber section). Recalling just enough of the piece to play back in my mind, and remembering that Sheida was an accomplished violinist in her own right, I felt I was better than 50/50. Having shouted across the table most of the evening, my voice was in no condition to sing, but it was the only way I knew to find out if it was the same piece. "Is it this one?" I shouted back. Steeling myself for what almost certainly be a moment that wouldn't end well, I performed my best loud sotto voce: "Quaaaaaaaack, quack quack-quack-quack-quaaaaaaaack quaaaAAACK QUAAAAAACK..." "That's it!!!" she shouted, obviously impressed. So who composed Thaïs' Méditation!?" I went from impressive to ignorant in a half second. "I always thought it was this guy named Thaïs." "No, dumbass, Thaïs is the name of the opera." I continued undaunted. "Gosh, if only there were this massive database of information at our fingertips that we could access instantaneously to give us the answer..." ...which everyone rushed to do. It was Jules Massenet if anyone cares. Caught in a Mosh: A small crowd was moshing on the floor in the back near the sound booth. Hadn't seen one at a show before that, although I do remember hearing that it's common to see at Palomino's. It kind-of looks like there's an art to it, where you just push and bounce and flow without trying too hard to go in any particular direction, which I suppose is ideal if you don't want to get beat up too badly in there. A part of me wanted to get out there and try it. I took a step in the general direction. A voice inside of me said, dude, WTF are you trying to prove? Or maybe that was Jeff who said it while standing to my left. She Blinded Me with Science: In the process of not being able to hear one another talk, our crew of five, science geeks that we are, started kicking around an idea during a break for a dual earpiece that would enable you to talk to your friends at a loud venue while still being able to hear the show. Not sure what the best solution would be, but I was thinking: press a button on the piece, ambient sounds get quiet in the earpiece, have a conversation with your friend, press the button again, sound goes back to normal. Our biggest liability with it is that there's no wearable form that we can imagine that wouldn't look dorky. Imagine wearing a dual Bluetooth headset (maybe without the cable in-between). That's about the form factor of the finished product. And while you might make it smaller, skin-colored, and figure out other concealment for those without long hair, we think we'll still need a marketing team to get past any stigma of wearing them. Still, I'm hopeful. If marketing worked for stylish eyeglasses and Viagra... We start work on it next week. As the new director of innovation for my company, I have been asked to figure out how to operationalize innovation as a core value for the company. I find it odd that the only ideas I've been able to come up with are, "go surfing in the middle of the day," and "invite people to Family Metal Night." We don't visualize new ideas at work; we do it at play. Might as well own it. Tickets, please: This is my souvenir from the show. Usually I like to score a set list (I'm two for my last three shows), but I hung back too far this time to get handed a sheet from the ladies. I was standing next to the sound guy who had a copy to his left, and I suppose I could have asked him for it when he was done, but by show's end at nearly 1AM I barely had enough brain power left in the tank to drive home, let alone stop by to thank personally a special someone for scoring me a foursome. So Linda, if you're out there, please accept my remote, albeit still-heartfelt, gratitude for the tickets. Everyone had a great time. Family Metal by Proxy: a Pro-Epilogue So I had a chat with my daughter, who's still exploring her musical tastes, the night before the show: Me: "I'm going to a club on Saturday to watch some metal bands, so either FaceTime me early, say 6:30, or let's just wait until Sunday." Her (skeptically): "Are you going there to meet women?" Me (wondering if maybe she's watching too much of The Simpsons): "No, not specifically. I mean, if I should run into Linda I'll be sure to thank her for the tickets, and if I should meet Wanda or Courtney I'll be sure to stammer awkwardly with a creepy hovering stance, but I'm not going to the show with any specific intention other than to hang out with people I know from work, and to have a good time." Her: "Well, what if you meet a unicorn?" Me: "A unicorn?" I had forgotten what we meant by that, so when prompted she curtly reminded me that "unicorn" was my terminology. Exactly one woman in the past year has revealed herself to me as such, and to my chagrin she's a happily married mother of two. I deconstructed my visceral response into a kid-friendly version: "Well, I suppose if she were pretty and nice and available, it would be silly of me not to ask if she'd have coffee with me." My visceral response was, of course, I'd be on that like white on rice. I'm working to curb my language and associated attitude around her, but it's hard. I'm in hock with the "swear jar" to the tune of about two hundred bucks. Letting her watch The Simpsons isn't helping with the attitude. If anyone cares, drop me a query and I'll tell you what a "unicorn" is. In the meantime, she was amenable last Sunday to me picking the music for our drive to the Huntington Beach bike trail (we start and end on Warner), which was a bold move on her part because she knew I had Powerslave in the CD player and she's cast from more of my "Weird Al" side of the apple tree. I handed her the lyrics booklet while "Two Minutes to Midnight" was playing and explained to her: "Don't be dissuaded by the intensity of the lyrics. If you look at them more deeply, you realize that the song is really an allegory of humanity's proximity to nuclear Armageddon manifested by how close the hands on the University of Chicago's doomsday clock are to midnight. Moreover, the song reflects the band's discontent with war, and humanity's tendency to embrace it more routinely than perhaps we should." Yes, I said it with these words. Yes, she understood what they meant (she's in a good school). Anyway, divining no such erudition from the actual lyrics, she handed the booklet back to me without saying a word, and went back to reading Magnus Chase in the car. Oh, well. Baby steps.