How My First Metal Concert Helped Me Face My Social Phobia
The time I nearly got roundhouse kicked in the face at an Attila concert.
I've been to two concerts in my life. The first was actually a music festival, Warped Tour 2017 in West Palm, FL. The second one was just in August 2019. It was an Attila concert in Jacksonville, FL. If you aren't familiar with the band Attila, they are a metalcore band from Atlanta, GA. Wikipedia categorizes them under the following genres: metalcore, deathcore, and nu metal.
I've been into alternative music since the sixth grade. I was starting my phase of teen angst and listening to a lot of My Chemical Romance and Marilyn Manson. I also started listening to bands like Pierce the Veil, Bring Me the Horizon, and (of course) Attila, which featured screaming. In other words, I was an emo kid. I was no stranger to metal. I had grown up with my uncle showing me Slipknot and System of a Down and teaching me how to headbang. But, this was the time when I started exploring the genre on my own.
I am a shy, quiet person. I am only 4'10". In other words, I am the least threatening, least intimidating person you will ever meet. No one ever expects me to listen to such aggressive music. Even with people I'm comfortable with, I tend to be chill and easy-going. So, how has my concert experience allowed me to come out of my shell?
At Warped Tour in 2017, I did not move out of my comfort zone at all. For every band that played, I was that person who just stood with a straight face. I didn't jump, I didn't sway, I didn't dance. I enjoyed it and considered it to be "the best experience of my life." But, I didn't show that I enjoyed it.
When I arrived to the Attila concert, I was anxious. I was nervous about the amount of people that might show up, or the intensity of the show. I had no idea what to expect. There were three opener bands, of which I only remember two: Second Death and Personalities. I remember the band Personalities (a local band) because the lead singer seemed super rad and energetic. I loved his stage presence. The opener bands were intense. I remember feeling this rush throughout my body and feeling the bass through the ground. I couldn't stop smiling, but I still remained still. When Attila finally showed on stage, every one in the crowd became excited, this is what they came for. I remember colored lights flashing everywhere and strobe lights. The music was more intense than ever and I felt awkward and out-of-place just standing there. The mosh pit was right behind us so we were being pushed around every which way. I was pushed up against the wall but my adrenaline was high and I didn't care. It wasn't until my sister was a few feet away from me that I really let it out. I began by slowly and awkwardly jumping with everyone else. I know I looked uncomfortable but the jumping helped me to really feel the beat. I would laugh and watch my friend as I began jumping higher and started nodding my head slightly to the music. By the end of the show, I was dripping in sweat, jumping as high as I could, banging my head, and even singing along to the songs I knew. I felt accepted and it was a totally judgment-free zone.
The metal community is super accepting. Yes, you will meet the middle-age metal fans who've seen Death in concert and gatekeep who can call themselves a metalhead. But, overall, it is a group of outcasts, misfits, and totally rad people of all ages! If you fall in the pit, they will pick you right the fuck back up again.