On Saturday I made my way inside The Golden Pony. I made sure I was early: it was Macrock night 2, the metal showcase. I tried to get in opening night for the Pony Friday, but the line was almost backed up to the intersection with Elizabeth St. So instead I spent a cold and wet night inside Clementine Cafe.
I’m not a metal connoisseur. You won’t find it on my iPod nor in my dusty record collection. But there’s always been something about Macrock weekend and metal that sends me into a joyous fit.
Originally, we at 22807 planned to go all out with our coverage on Macrock from all angles: show reviews, multiple reporters, maybe even follow a band around all weekend— “Almost Famous” style.
Through circumstances and decisions, those wishful thoughts didn’t play out. Walking in the rain from Three Notch’d Brewing Company Friday night, night one of the festival, the idea came to me walking through the parking lot behind Jack Brown’s.
‘I simply want to write a piece about my experience from the weekend. No quotes, no interviews,’ I thought.
So, for the next two evenings, into the wee hours of the night, it was me withan 80-page, three-by-five memo book and a black Pilot G-2 pen. (Plus an extra in my back wallet pocket, you know, just in case.)
I harkened back on the roots of journalism: write down what you see. I think there’s too much pressure put on getting that bold-faced quote or the ultimate source that it becomes easy to forget why you’re there— to tell a reader a story of what you experienced.
Back inside the Pony, descending the stairs from the front entrance into the basement, I grabbed for my ear plugs. I see a lot of music and I’m an avid proponent of saving whatever hearing I still have left. But my ear plugs weren’t in the left breast pocket of my forest green L.L. Bean jacket I wasn’t prepared for the decibel assault Artificial Brain was about to project.
I strolled past the bar, speaking to my friend Scott, a local bartender and member of the local band, Elephant Child. I took each index finger and signalled to my ears. He quickly got the memo and pulled a bucket of earplugs from under the counter. Just before the plugs could naturally swell, filling my earholes, Artificial Brain begun.
The band was described as, “Cosmic tech death metal,” according to the festival guide. The instrumentals were loud, soul shaking.
The man behind the microphone struck me with fascination. Standing a few ticks above six-feet tall, he possessed the mic as if he were freestyle rapping. No mic stand, just him, a wired mic and a white towel, fitted around his neck.
He paced around the front of the stage, speaking to the crowd in a New York accent, Long Island to be precise. His black, oversized shirt must’ve been at least an 3XL. I was under the impression a normal XL would’ve sufficed. He donned jean shorts that could’ve used a belt. A thin, one guard buzz cut sat on top of his sweat-glistened head shining from the house lights.
His sunglasses were odd, like the ones old people get after getting their eyes dilated. A tiny piece of cord connected the back end of the glasses arms around his head, secured by duct tape.
A simple and traditional cymbal count began most of their seven-song set, but what happened in the microphone stopped anyone in their tracks.
Our well-described, aforementioned frontman consistently conjured roars of passion as if he were attempting to imitate Batman, but even deeper. Most of them were grunts and screams from his inner beings. Some of them may of had words, but you couldn’t understand them.
He walked with purpose around the stage making eye contact with various audience members during songs. His persona and demeanor on stage left me infatuated. As they wrapped up their set, he stepped off the stage, putting his persona back in the closet for the time being.
As he walked past me, I spoke to him, “Awesome set, man.”
He replied with a genuine and gracious, “Thanks brother,” his voice still emerging from the underworld it had resided in minutes prior to this encounter.
As he went in for the one-arm handshake and hug, his forearm sweat coated my jacket. Reaching for an oversized, 24-ounce Deer Park water bottle out of his back pocket, he marched to the merchandise table. There he grabbed his backpack and pulled out nice, wire-framed glasses, wiping his face before he mounted them onto the bridge of his nose.
He then turned around and began to sell merchandise to a line of eager fans. From the depths of the vocal underworld to a plastic fold up merch table, that’s what Macrock is all about.
A weekend of spotlight on the unlit world of do-it-yourself music.