Rwake. I don’t know how you pronounce the name of the band, but I saw them play at the Busted Lift last year, opening for Alabama Thunderpussy. Here, in my little midwestern redneck town, there was some serious metal to the point of blowing the circuit breakers twice. Maybe that’s why I liked Rwake so much. Maybe it was because the drummer was a really cool guy. Regardless, I enjoyed them more than the band I went to see. Unfortunately, I didn’t pick up their album at the show, and I couldn’t find it anywhere after that.
[15:09] L: that rwake album downloaded
“L” was someone I stumbled across almost randomly. I wasn’t looking for him; he just happened to be there. My recent breakup wasn’t going well. I needed an escape. Lo and behold, it was advertised that he was a big progressive and metal fan, among other things.
Now, prog fans are a mixed bunch. Most of them are music geeks, failed musicians, or simply drooling nerds. Depending on how much the prog bands enrich their geeky music with other elements, you may also see die-hard metal fans or silly pop-fan girls. Of the prog fans that I have encountered at shows, almost none of them will speak to me. See, I have a vagina, and that’s terribly far into the unknown realms of fright.
Yet there was “L,” noting that he liked the good kind of music that I adore, and managing to look pretty damned gorgeous to boot. While I haven’t always been one to be a sucker for a pretty face, it was the one-two punch of the waist-length hair and the high-quality music choices that snagged me in.
And he found me that damned Rwake album. How could I ever walk away?
[18:10] *** L is trying to send you “207 – Raven & Udo – Born To Be Wild.mp3”.
NWOBHM. Do you have any clue what that means? It means Metallica had source material, roots, on which they built to become the behemoths they did. Have you ever heard any NWOBHM? Oh, so much of it is awful, awful music. Imagine every late ’70s-early ’80s cheesy metal cliche, and you have an entire genre in a canister. Think Rob Halford’s old Judas Priest getups. Think band names like Sweet Savage, Agony Bag, Angel Witch, Ezy Meat, and Blackmayne. The acronym stands for New Wave of British Heavy Metal. I learned a lot more about it from “L”.
It started with him just playing these hilarious songs for me. It escalated into throwing a single or two onto a CD-R for my listening enjoyment. Somewhere in the middle, it became a full-fledged collection and obsession on his end. It was a research project. It was its own being. Yea, for “L” would soon come to own so many bizarre NWOBHM singles that the pain stopped being amusing and started being painful again.
I had such a soft spot for that “Born To Be Wild” cover though. I had never heard anything so god awful that I felt compelled to play it nonstop. While I knew the music wasn’t great, it had some sort of odd charm that kept bringing me back. In fact, that pretty much sums up my relationship with “L”.
[18:38] me: I’ve said a million times over. I love the concept of prog, but I am also a sucker for a really well-written song with a good pop sensibility. When some of the prog folks completely forget what songwriting is about and lose sight that they’re making SONGS, I am easily bored, regardless of how “complex” the musical textures are
[18:41] L: well thats fine if thats your preference, but I really have nothing to say to that, I’m sorry
See, “L” was still a prog fan. “L” was, in fact, the sort of stereotypical prog fan that makes most girls run screaming from progressive rock in its entirety. In essence, if a musician is not playing the most complex song structures using the most complex methods in a bizarre time signature, it’s crap. Not only that, but all other music is simple minded.
“L” even looked down his nose at my Dream Theater fandom. He found it derivative and boring. Oh, he once enjoyed the band, but the more prog he found, the more he “realized” they sucked.
Yet rather than truly thumb his nose at me, he made me mix CDs of other prog bands that he found to be much higher on his totem pole. I did appreciate the exposure, but it certainly didn’t change my mind about DT. I don’t necessarily think that he expected it would, but I knew he was looking for me to be awed by that which he found awesome.
Sorry, a lot of prog rock is boring.
It just is. When people try so far against the grain that they don’t realize they’re just making a mess in the name of being avant-garde, it ceases to be sincere, likeable music. It becomes art for art’s sake instead of an inspired creation. This is why you find Beatles fans torn between the early and late years. The White Album, for as brilliant as folks purport it to be, really does have a lot of utter garbage tossed in. Why? To make the art-fags swoon? It worked, didn’t it?
[15:17] L: ok, the J-Cup ’95 had Liger, Motegi, Mochizuki, Naniwa, Lionheart (Jericho), Nakajima, Damian 666, Funaki (yes, that one), Gedou, Dos Caras, El Samurai, Wild Pegasus (Benoit), Ootani, and Ultimo Dragon
[15:18] L: nakajima & jericho were pretty bad, and damian & naniwa worked a comedy match so they don’t count
[15:18] L: everything else was pretty good but the matches were a bit too short since it was a 1 night tournament
I forgot to mention he was a wrestling elitist as well. This should have tipped me off.
Or when he wanted to make out while Meltzer’s internet radio show was blaring from his speakers.
Or the way he constantly insisted that he was unique, un-phony, could not be controlled by the establishment, and so on…
The combination of all of the above was just too much. My laid-back, open-minded personality wasn’t going to be able to handle this much longer. While I am a music fan, “L” remains a music snob. And not just a music snob, but an everything snob.
My patience was starting to wear thin; coupled with some other major issues, I knew it wasn’t going to last, so I ended it.
[20:17] L: I’m going to give you some lyrics. I normally don’t like quoting lyrics since my words are better off for me than someone else’s, but it fits so much who I am.
If I could capture the rage
Of today’s youth and bottle it
Crush the glass with my bare hands and swallow it
And spit it back in the faces of you racists
And hypocrites who think the same shit but don’t say shit
…and then he quoted Eminem at me.
He quoted EMINEM at me.
D12. I love Eminem, but…
Needless to say, it was nothing but a downward spiral after that. The cloud of his fantastic music choices, it had dissipated and the sky was clear blue. “L” had started out impressing me with a lot of odd and fascinating detail; in the end, it was clear that he used these details merely to define himself rather than to integrate it into his already-existing personality. He buried himself in a pile of “smart” things so as to hide his shortcomings. Lack of emotional interest, lack of motivation, and lack of responsibility; someday, maybe, he’ll figure it out.
More than anything, I was upset at having lost a fellow music fan. Between the two of us, our geeky music brains were nearly unstoppable. Our combined knowledge base was comparable to All Music Guide; our combined music collections could be a frightening high-quality mecca of all that is audible. Alas, the great taste (and HAWT LOOKS) couldn’t be tempered against an elitist and obnoxious personality.
Perhaps he fell into my life in some cruel twist of fate to punish me for not seeing anything but music. I ignored a lot of warning signs in pursuit of odd taste, obscure bands and mix CDs. Eventually I opened my eyes, but apparently not soon enough to prevent a lot of anger and rap quotes.
In the meantime, I have my friends to comfort me in my loss.
[13:28] iAMnotROBblatt: i want you to understand how i feel right now
[13:28] iAMnotROBblatt: hi
my name is
my name is
my name is
And I think I’ll manage, somehow, to live without this paragon of musical and social elitism in my life.
Now, how to further avoid being seduced by idiots simply because they inundate me with great music. This could be the true struggle.