A wise man once told me not to pay for what you can get for free. He’s currently doing a stretch of 2 to 5 years at Rikers Island for passing bad checks, but his point was well taken. After my ticket for Saturday night’s Ghost, Opeth, Mastodon show at The Masquearde in balmy Atlanta, Georgia fell through, I was faced with two possible futures. One involved me jumping in my car, heading over to The Varsity and drowing my sorrows in 12 pimento cheese sandwiches and the other involved me standing out in the parking lot and craning my neck around some light poles to get a glimpse of Ghost, the current greatest band in the history of the universe. The choice was obvious.
By the time I got to a spot that allowed me to view 1/12th of the stage, they had already launched into a rip-roaring version of their Mercyful Fate tinged masterpiece “Elizabeth”. Apparently, I was not the only person leery of actually paying to see a concert. There were two 15-year-olds staring over the fence with expressions of cold, awe-struck horror. One of them had his “throwback” Bullet For My Valentine “Scream, Aim, Fire” shirt on and the other one looked like he was dressed for the eventual random onset of a golf match. They clearly were in the wrong place:
Metal Kid #1: Why is the singer of Mastodon wearing a Pope hat?
Metal Kid #2: I don’t think that’s Mastodon. That’s probably Opeth.
Me: No….that’s Ghost. Ever heard of them?
Both Kids at Once: No????
Me: They are completely crazy. Keep watching. You’ll see some terrible things.
Metal Kid #2: What do you mean?
Me: Well, first of all, you know where he got that hat from?
Metal Kid #1”: No.
Me: He stole it from the real Pope.
Metal Kid #1: No….No way! Is that true?!?!
Me: Oh yeah. These guys are pure evil. The drummer punched the Pope one time at an IKEA in Munich and the singer took the hat and ran. They mugged the Pope for Godsakes! They were supposed to play America a year ago but they were banned from the United States.
Metal Kid #2: Whoa! What for?
Me: They are into trafficking and selling animal organs. The singer got caught trying to sneak 150 sheep livers into his suitcase when they went through customs. It was a big international incident. That and the whole thing with the walrus got them into a bunch of trouble….
Metal Kid #1: (horrified) Walrus??? What happened with the walrus???
Me: Jesus, doesn’t anyone read the newspaper anymore!!!! They did a concert in Poland and at the end of the show they brought a walrus on stage and beat it to death with hammers. They cut it up and gave pieces to everyone in the audience. It was unbelievable. They put birthday candles in each of the pieces! People ate it completely raw and something like 46 people died of food poisoning. Horrible! That’s what got them on the FBI’s 12 Most Wanted List.
Metal Kid #2: Oh my god! Wow! These guys are awesome!
Metal Kid #1: Do you think they’ll kill a walrus tonight?
Me: God no! They found religion and recently became Jehovah’s Witnesses. They swore off all of that praising Satan and slaughtering animal stuff and now they go door to door preaching The Word. The guitarist, the one dressed like a Jawa from Star Wars, he sold me a copy of Watchtower magazine last month.
Metal Kid #1: Whoa!!!! That’s amazing!
I quickly tired of filling the minds of these kids with insidious poison and began to focus my attention onto the mellifluous tones of Ghost. The solo from Ritual was casacading to its nearly perfect peak when I became aware of a terrible presence only inches from my right arm. As the song ended, I turned and came face to face with The Hipster With the Glass Eye.
The fella was probably six foot three and 98 pounds soaking wet. Imagine your average beardo coffee shop barista decked out in his best Piggly Wiggly tee-shirt and you’ve basically got a mental image of the dude I was looking at. Except this person had a glass eye. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Did he have some terrible accident Vespa racing? Was this some kind of sadistic, post-ironic fashion statement? Did he pull the original eye out in frustration when he couldn’t find a copy of the new Band of Horses album? Do they sell glass eyes at Urban Outfitters now? This rare specimen of humanity had my interest for a full two minutes worth of conversation. Then, things got ugly.
Me: Nobody knows who Ghost is. They’ve only done two interviews. Both of them were in caves. The interviewers were blindfolded and driven hours away to a secure location. They did the interviews wearing hoods!
Hipster With The Glass Eye: So, no one knows who they are?
Me: No one!
Hipster With The Glass Eye: (excitedly) Wow, so they are kinda like Banksy??? That’s awesome!
I looked away and shook my head in horror. An uncomfortable, awkward silence fell over us both. He stood there waiting for a response that would never come. I decided that the night was officially over. I walked to my car filled with hopelessness and despair. At least the band was good.