While social protest rages on, the shittiest of the shitty metalheads can only think about crushing beers in a parking lot in May.
Logging into social media the last few days has been exactly the sort of experience you would expect: nearly every single person you’re connected to has just graduated with both political science and sociology degrees. But above all, my feed was mostly concerned with the really big issue going on in Baltimore over the last few days: "Will Maryland Deathfest, the nation’s largest annual metal festival, be OK," and, "Is anyone selling their ticket?!?" How is heavy metal and its culture responding to the historical protests unfolding in the city of Baltimore? Well, to put it lightly, not well.
Last night when I logged into various social media outlets, I decided to try to catch up on the news coming from Baltimore in the most irresponsible manner possible besides cable news: the views and opinions of people who were hundreds of miles away from it. A few examples of what I saw: “The rioting is just a mosh pit in the street.” “Catch me moshing all over the rioters.” And the crown jewel of them all: “Ya I was kinda hoping it would just turn into a mosh pit too......let's get MDF started early!” These were just some of the reactions on Maryland Deathfest’s Facebook event page, a glimpse into one part of the social media world of heavy metal. Similarly, reactions from other outposts of dynamic thought also were voiced by other lifetime members of MENSA.
As expected with any topic from the latest fast food abortion, to hunting down anyone who either likes / dislikes Pantera, to things that, you know, actually fucking matter, my newsfeed blew up with people’s opinions. One tweet read “This would never happen in my town. I’m locked and loaded!” along with a picture of a firearm used to protect trash cans from empty bottles on weekends. The requisite crust anthems were hoisted from YouTube and posted to show solidarity with the protestors from the comfort of home. I’m not here to tell you which side to take, but when I see people saying they’re going to Baltimore to “help deal with the problem” The posturing element is fucking asinine but, then again, what do you expect when someone actually said they should just have some NSBM play and “no one would riot” because that’s a real thought that a real person had?
But what really brought on the most intestinal discomfort was how people reacted because the biggest metal party of the year, Maryland Deathfest, is less than a month away and many people’s first reaction to a city being torn apart by violence was whether or not their MDF plans will be inconvenienced. “Change the fest to another city!” was one of many posts to their page because that seems easy enough, right? So many people were concerned that the festival itself took time release a statement that actually told trolls on their event page to fuck off.
They issued this while the city was burning around them. These complaints from fans came within hours of the riots becoming a national focal point. These were these people’s real priorities. Lives are being completely undone on both sides of the fight but people seemed more concerned that they wouldn't be able to dress up like a farm animal and maybe “accidentally” bump into another person to try to say they got some MDF action.
Don’t give me some bullshit about missing bands; we all know most attendees are not going to watch any bands. MDF attendees are going to be seen and to get shitfaced. I understand that a lot of people save all year for this and it would be a downer if it would be canceled, but, at this point, barely a day after it happened, perhaps the primary concern shouldn't revolve around a music festival. Keep that shit close to the vest for awhile. There's probably something in an etiquette blog somewhere that says that. It’s the same one that says don’t be a classless parasite and hit every person who is concerned about this shit to try and buy their ticket.
There’s also been a fair amount of people concerned for their safety. I get that. That said, it’s three weeks out and adding to the hysteria is just going to fucking snowball. These events are bringing out a lot of the internet forum tough guys, too, who want to go looking for a fight because apparently it gets people to actually enjoy your shitty demo. Baltimore is already a fairly sketchy place for a bunch of metalhead drunks with a penchant to piss everywhere and yell “SLAYER.” I’m pretty sure the usual rules of “don’t be an asshole, that turns into a target” is the same this year as all previous years. What's more is that people actually suggested bringing the “riot into the pit” which was followed by a lot of stupid devil horns emojis and a discussion on how “brutal” it would be. Are you fucking kidding me?
Metal’s priorities here are fucking sad. Regardless of which side you fall on for this struggle you need to understand that there is a larger event unfolding than the potential inconveniencing of a dearly loved yearly festival. There are things that happen outside of our own lives and every so often it’s good to publicly not be a completely selfish asshole.
PS. To put this next point briefly: Your jokes about Mobb Deep playing MDF are about as funny as crib death. Anyone bitching that this is happening around MDF forgets how Milwaukee Metalfest became a massive joke with pornstars and wrestling. Having Mobb Deep perform at least has substance and a lot less silicone. If you don’t like it, book your own fucking fest or don’t go.