A Life Changing Experience

Guess who I went to see this week…..

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I’ve been waiting 13 years to see Korn, and it was definitely worth the wait. The played main support to this other little band Slipknot, don’t know if you know them. The lead singer sometimes looks like this….

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But more recently looks like this…

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They are two bands that helped to define the soundtrack to my teens and early 20s. This was also the biggest gig I’ve ever been to.

It was at the Manchester Evening News Arena and, I’ve got to say, the simple size of the place took my breath away. I didn’t really look at the size of the building before we went in. We got there early and spent some time looking at the overpriced merch and drinking overpriced beer first, then made our way to the door with the ‘Standing’ sign over it. The guy checked our tickets and told us to go straight down the stairs and onto the floor. Now, I’ve never been in an arena before, I was expecting to go down a staircase and come out of a door onto the floor. Nope. When the guys in front of me moved away I saw that I was standing at the top of the arena facing the stage and I felt like I was on top of the world. Hundreds of people were already on the floor, with a seemingly unending amount more pouring in from all sides. I had to hold the rail for a minute to get my bearings, the whole world had seemed to tilt for a second and I was sure I was going to tumble all the way down the steep, steep stairs.

Something you should know about me, I don’t like big things. Looking up at really tall trees, or skyscrapers makes me dizzy, and I hate being in big caves or standing next to those huge cruise ships, it turns my stomach.

When I first looked at the view in front of me; at all the people swarming in, the sheer size of the room, my vision wavered for a second, but then I saw clearer than I ever have. This was the most people I had ever seen gathered in one room. And all for the same reason, to see two bands that changed the face of music: The gods of nu-metal (in my opinion at least).

I slowly made my way down the unnecessarily steep stairs. When I reached the floor I turned to see where I had come from, the stairs seemed longer than they had walking down them and looking from the bottom up made my stomach do a backflip. I was at the bottom of a huge bowl, that was slowly filling up with all the kinds of people your mother warned you about. There were punks, Goths, rockers, metal heads, old bald bikers and young scantily clad women folk with pins through their faces. It felt like coming home.

The first band, King 810, came on with the arena still filling up. Now, I’m not too familiar with King 810; I only really knew one of their songs before the gig. The first song they played reminded me of a Tim Burton movie with a Danny Elfman soundtrack. They played the one song of theirs that I know as the encore, of course. The majority of the audience seemed to listen with polite curiosity, with only the front few rows really seeming to enjoy them. I felt like the lead singer, David Gunn, didn’t really connect with the crowd, but I can understand his nerves; this tour is probably the biggest gig they’ve played.

Before Korn we went to get more overpriced beer and came back in to an almost full arena. The lights went down and for a second it was almost quiet, then the intro started. We fought our way through the crowd to the middle, close enough to see but far enough away so as not to get caught in the moshpits. As soon as Jonathan Davis walked on stage and started singing ‘Twist’ I felt 15 again. Memories I hadn’t thought of in years came flooding back, my first house party, discovering all the different places that would become our teenage hangout spots; all those places that adults don’t even think about until they see kids hanging out there. It almost felt wrong that my old gang weren’t there with me, but, like we all do eventually, we have grown up and grown apart.

The crowd was a lot livelier during Korn, not to mention a lot louder, and when Jonathan Davis came out midway through with his bagpipes, I honestly thought the noise was going to rip the roof off. Like I said, this was the biggest gig I have ever been to, so I didn’t get how much louder a crowd this size can be. They played all the songs I’ve been listening to for over a decade, and seeing as how Korn has been around for 20 years, I felt very privileged to hear this particular collection. When they ended with ‘Blind’, the song that started it all, the noise doubled and I almost felt I could die happy. (If I could have tweaked the set list just a little, I would have added ‘Coming Undone’ but that’s just me.)

By the time Slipknot came on there was barely any empty space on the floor, and the only empty seats I could see were way up at the top. The whole arena was on their feet by the time the intro finished and ‘Sarcastrophe’ started and we were so much closer to the front. A moshpit formed around us which forced us slightly further back. This being the first time seeing Slipknot live, I was slightly taken aback with how tiny Corey Taylor seems standing next the likes of Jim Root and Mick Thompson. They were everything I hoped they would be, even down to the unnecessary pyrotechnics. The whole band was so full of energy and they seemed to energize the crowd with it.

When they played ‘Left Behind’ I was back to being 14, sitting in my parent’s bedroom watching music channels on the old Nynex box. By that point in my life the heaviest music I had experienced was Meatloaf and turning on the TV that day changed my life. It was the summer holidays in 2001 and I had nothing better to do than sit in and watch TV, I turned it on and ‘Crawling’ by Linkin Park came on, followed directly by ‘Left Behind.’ I wasn’t aware then how much that music was going to influence my life, but now at the age of 27 I can confidently state, Rock and Metal have defined me.

After ‘Spit It Out’ we all sang Happy Birthday to the tiny, bouncy Sid when Korn brought out his Birthday cake and proceeded to rub his face in it, I would expect nothing less. The next song was ‘Custer’ and I knew it was going to be mental. We had moved to the back by that point because of two idiot women who kept trying to create a two woman moshpit, but got shitty with anyone bumping into them. The highlight of the set for me was definitely ‘People = Shit’. You haven’t experienced unity until you witness 17000+ people of all ages, races, creeds and colours shouting “People = Shit” at 9 men in masks, and seeing the joy on their faces.

Like I said, this was the biggest gig I have ever been to and even almost a week later my hearing still hasn’t fully recovered, but I think I can honestly say that this gig has affected my life in the same way that stumbling onto Metal did way back in 2001.

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Aliens…maybe…

Been reading some things and watching some things, and I had some thoughts. It’s not particularly well researched, mostly just off the top of my head thoughts.

How do we know aliens don’t exist? Is your answer ‘we’ve never found any evidence’? But what if we have? There is so much we don’t understand which could, I’m not saying is, but could, be attributed to them. Almost every religion in history contains some sort of story about men like creatures, (Gods? Aliens?), coming from somewhere above us and descending to earth; Ancient Greece, Ancient Roman, Egyptian, even the Abrahamic religions. Look at the ‘Book of Enoch, ‘Angels’ descend from a mountain to mate with human women; just like all the Gods of Ancient Greece and Rome used to do, and guess where those ‘Gods’ lived. Just a thought.

I suppose some people would ask, why haven’t they been back if they’ve been here before? Well, look at our history. Look at all the times people have ‘discovered’ a country or a place “never before seen by man” only to discover that not only has man seen there, they’ve built things there, or, in the cases of the Indigenous Peoples of America and Australia still live there. Those things happened on our tiny planet, that we hadn’t even got the capacity to leave yet. How do we know that there aren’t Alien life forms out there, perhaps living on a planet similar to ours, just a few hundred light-years away that haven’t done the exact same thing; moved on with their own lives and civilisations and completely forgotten that they ever came here to our infinitesimal blue dot; an unremarkable speck in the possibly infinite universe.

I like aliens, or rather, I like the idea that we are not alone. I like to imagine that somewhere out there, someone else is working towards a better future for their civilisation, much like our scientists and all the science minded people right here, and one day we’ll meet and exchange ideas and make the human race even greater.

Who knows, maybe we already did…

2014

Officially in to the New Year now and I hope all of my friends, family and random acquaintances survived the New Year celebrations and have successfully recovered from their respective hangovers.

I know that a lot of people are more than happy to kick 2013 out of the door and start fresh this year, I am one of them. Last year brought more downs than ups for some reason and I am determined to make up for that. Even just in the last week of 2013, amongst other things, I found a lump on one of my lymph glands (doctor says it’s probably only an infection, but that didn’t stop me panicking) and found out that my dad has diabetes. I know people who may say that diabetes isn’t a big deal any more, and I know it’s entirely manageable but it’s still not a great thing to find out.

To be honest, it seemed like the universes had decided to cram as much misery as it could into the last few days of the year.

               Anyway, I digress. I’ve never been able to stick to my new year’s resolutions, and I have made many – to quit smoking, to go to the gym to eat less junk food- but new year’s resolutions are like fad diets; unless you’re willing to make an entire routine change, all the weight you lose eating only cabbage for a month will jump straight back on the moment you start eating normally again.  To really make a difference I believe you have to make many small changes, and for life.

So this year I’ve decided I’m not making New Year’s resolutions, I’m making small life changes.

First of all, I am going write every day.

I have always loved writing but I struggle to find the right words. I have always been conscious of the viciousness of critics (and as we know, everyone’s a critic) and this has held me back many times from even just expressing my own opinion.  This brings me to point two;

I am going to stop worrying about what other people might think.

I enjoy writing both fiction and non-fiction pieces, and I’ve never worried about people not enjoying what I’ve written, I worry about the type of person they might think I am based on the content. I have realised now that it doesn’t matter. If its what I want to write, or say, or think, then no one has the right to label me as anything other than honest.

Thirdly, I am going to try and figure out who I am.

At 26 I still haven’t figured out my place in the world. Yes I have two amazing kids and my main purpose in life is to ensure that they grow up to be happy, free thinking adults; but how can I succeed at that if I am just drifting myself? Yesterday was the start of these small changes that will, hopefully, lead to something big, not just this year but for the rest of my life.

Bedroom Tax

Ok, so this ‘bedroom tax’ seems to have every man and his dog reaching for their note pads. People complaining on every viable medium, from local and national newspapers to social networking sites and even open air protests, but is it really valid aggression? We all know that throughout history if anyone of let’s say exaggerated means, should even mention the word tax the under classes will rise up and shout about how unfair it is, sometimes without even considering what’s really going on. It’s just that word, those three little letters ‘TAX’, it just makes everyone crazy. Now throw in that it could affect the disabled in some way and you’ve got an all out class war. But does the ‘bedroom tax’ really deserve this reaction, is it really as bad as everyone seems to be making out?

Let me start by clarifying, I am not one of the elite upper classes, in fact I am an unemployed mother of two on benefits, including housing benefit, and allegedly I am supposed to be outraged at what the government is trying to take away from me and my family. My fiancé and I are currently living in a private rent two bedroom house with our children aged 1 and 6. We receive full housing benefit to cover our entire rent, if we were to move to a three bedroom house we wouldn’t. this makes sense to me because housing benefit, jobseekers allowance, and any other money that the unemployed receive is money for nothing. This means that some people who don’t work, have never worked and don’t plan on working are literally being paid to do nothing. I also understand that the benefits system helps the majority of people who have worked and do want to work, however, i don’t see why anyone should be receiving money for extra rooms in their house that are not needed. Should the hardworking tax payers really give extra money to a couple with, lets say 2 kids under 10 who live in a 4 bedroomed house?

Before this so called bedroom tax took effect, this is the sort of thing that was happening. I understand that some people need an extra room; for instance, the disabled who need room for a carer to stay in, or those who have semi permanent foster children living with them, and provisions should be made in these specific sorts of cases. I don’t like the provision that ‘prayer rooms’ are exempt from the change in policy. I don’t see why someone who believes in a just and honorable god, be it Christian, Muslim or any other religion, needs the country they are living in to pay for a specific room in which to pray for/to Him. Surely that is what churches mosques and synagogues are built for. Why is it that people who claim to be so devout need to have other people pay for their personal place of worship when there are so many people out there who hold the same beliefs, yet are happy enough just to be allowed to pray. Has religion and belief become so much fashion that people need an entire room to show for it?

I personally have found many problems with these recent welfare reforms, a well as many other decisions the government seems to be making as of late; I do think, though, that people have latched onto the bedroom tax as a point of protest because its easy to think, ‘Tax? That must mean they’re taking money from the underclasses!!! Grrrrr!!’ i would advise everyone to look under, over and around any well publicized decision of the governments, because its usually hiding something else.

Why do i write…

I write because I need to sometimes. Just to see my thoughts on paper and prove that they are real, that I am living and breathing and thinking. Not always coherently, it rarely makes sense before refinement, but these things I think are what make me feel human.

There was a time when I couldn’t tell if what I was thinking was real or not. My whole life felt like it was a dream. I had nothing to hold on to that kept me from floating away. Each day was a unique experience only in that I had no idea where each day would end. I know that many people think that this is an exciting way to live, and I suppose it could be if it was a chosen life but I just sort of fell into it. I had no home, no anchor, no base of operations, and because of this everything else felt disjointed. An hour could seem like either a day or a second because I never had anywhere I needed to be or anyone that wondered where I was or what I was doing. I would forget to eat for a day or two, forget to sleep for longer and then when I did eat, I would gorge and when I did sleep it was like death. The only constant was a writing book I carried with me, and thinking back to that time now it’s the only thing that is in focus. Can you imagine that, living a life out of focus? Floating around from place to place, never actually doing anything, just existing in what feels like a bubble. Interactions made through fog, through a barrier of your own creation.