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Hubby and I went to a concert the weekend before last. It was held at Station 4 in St. Paul. A pit of a place that has a notoriously bad men’s room. So bad that the headliner, Devin Townsend, said that he crapped in a bag rather than use the men’s room. Umm, yeah. Too much information, but a good warning for the masses of guys in the audience. Is it really that hard to keep a bathroom clean? I mean, geez, just tile the whole place, put a drain in the floor, and use a hose on it.

I just took a left turn at Albuquerque. Where was I?

A concert at Station 4. The doors opened at 6:00 p.m. and four bands played throughout the evening. There was Stolen Babies, Paradise Lost, Katatonia, and The Devin Townsend Project. All of the bands were good, but it was interesting to note how each was progressively more professional than the previous. This was subtle, so it’s hard to state exactly how, but I noticed that Devin Townsend’s facial expressions were big and theatrical, enough so that I could see them at the back of a dark room. He appeared to be really enjoying the experience and not taking himself too seriously. At one point, he told the crowd to talk among ourselves because he was fat at 40 and needed to catch his breath. It’s easy for metal bands to take on this tough, heavy, life is so damn dreary attitude. Not Townsend.  Prior to his performance, he had cartoons about gummy bears playing. You’ve got to be comfortable with your bad-ass image if you warm up the crowd that way.

Speaking of being comfortable with your image, I was determined to wear earplugs to this concert, no matter what the rest of the metal crowd, 90 percent of whom were wearing black, thought. Having coasted past the 40 mark myself, my hearing has taken a serious beating and concerts like this leave me with a loud hiss that lasts for days if I don’t wear earplugs. I took with the “flesh” tone ones so they would blend in better. (I use the word “flesh” loosely here because I’ve never seen any other flesh color represented among the earplug section of the pharmacy.)

So, here I am, being somewhat conscious of how earplugs will look at a metal concert, but I’m willing to wear them anyway, and I’m surprised to find that lots of peeps were wearing them. And not the discreet ones. Flaming orange, glowing lime green, bright blue … some of them with colorful cords holding the earplugs together. If I’d known that, I would have brought a pair of the flaming orange ones I own.

While I’m happy that concert goers have finally caught on to the importance of hearing protection, I’m wondering why bands can’t just turn down their amps a bit. Not only does excessive volume contribute to deafness, it distorts the quality of the music. The drums on The Devin Townsend Project’s set were so loud they almost drowned out Devin’s dramatic voice. It’s a testament to the strength of his voice that he was heard at all above the drums.

Telling bands to turn the music down makes me sound like a cranky, old person, but I’d really like to get to 90 and still be able to hear the music.