Mitzi Szereto with some Staind homies
I guess they don’t call it a “mosh pit” for nothing…
…as I found out on Monday night.
My Massachusetts lads were back in town again. Now if you don’t know who my lads are, we’re talking Staind, who have become somewhat of a grand musical passion of mine. Seether was opening for them, and I happen to like them too, although not with the same fervour which I reserve for Aaron and the boys.
Luckily, my mate “Alexi” is mad enough to queue up at gigs hours in advance in order to secure a good spot at stagefront. When I arrived at The Forum in Kentish Town at half past 6, I heard my name being called out – and there they all were, my mates from the Staind Hard Rock charity gig last September, including Steve the Headbanging Glaswegian, who’d given me that drumstick Aaron Lewis signed for me.
The heavy steel barrier was swung open for royalty to step through (that royalty being me of course!). And there in the freezing London night, we stood waiting for the venue’s doors to open, having a gay old time snapping pics and engaging in lighthearted banter. I even found a fellow Hungarian in the queue whose smile, when he found out my surname (and knowing its meaning), grew ever bigger. Not sure if anything else grew bigger – that would be a topic for another blog post!
Once inside, I managed to secure a place at the stage right in front of the barrier and right in front of the mike stand reserved for the lead singer – no one save for the security guys and the professional photographers could get any closer. This was going to be great. Or was it? To be honest, I nearly didn’t go to the gig at all, then pretty much decided to on my flight back to Blighty the other day. Having seen Staind back in September, I had misgivings about how I’d react and yes, I’ll admit that when they performed “Believe” I lost it and cried. The song has particular meaning to me, and when it was first released I really DID believe.
Still, it was worth it. I mean hey, when a bloke in the audience shouts out “I love you, Aaron!” you just gotta know these guys are good. Talking about love, I was certain I felt the little Scottish lad behind me pushing his erection into my bum (no it wasn’t Steve!). I figured he was just caught up in the excitement of the gig and the mosh pit (and having my fine self right there in front of him). I didn’t want to make a fuss, as he did seem like such a sweet lad, but enough was enough. It was then when I realised it was probably the box from my earplugs, which I’d stuck in my back jeans pocket. Guess that accounted for the wee laddie’s rather unimpressive… umm… stature?
When Seether first came out, I thought the mosh pit would be a breeze. Yes, I’d been warned by my mate who’d gone the night before that the Birmingham crowd had been a bit wild, but these spoiled Londoners shouldn’t be too bad. I felt confident I could stick it out – and stick it out reasonably unscathed. More fool me! Everything was fine until Seether launched into what lead singer and hair-dye afficionado Shaun Morgan referred to as “a love song.” Well, guess what that love song was? “Fuck Me Like You Hate Me.” This sentimental little ditty set off a near riot, and I had images of myself at A&E with broken ribs and a punctured lung. Talk about Dying For It …
This hysteria continued off and on, and I began to hope Seether would finish their set and go back to South Africa on the first flight out. Having been to two Staind gigs already, I thought conditions would improve. I should have known – the lads always get into some of their heavier songs at live gigs (I’m dying to see Aaron do an acoustic show). The moshing began in earnest and, despite signs at The Forum warning that crowd surfers would be ejected, so did the crowd surfing. At one point I had to duck down so low I was nearly on the floor as the very same lad once again sailed over our heads, with the crowd control guy dragging him out of our way. I’m not sure who I wanted to get away from more – the surfer or the crotch of the crowd control geezer, which was right in my face. I can only imagine what this scenario looked like to those who couldn’t tell what was happening.
Of course there’s no greater climax to a good evening out then the commute home. As usual, I’d checked the National Rail website in advance to make sure I wouldn’t be stranded. The only glitch in the system from what I could see was that I’d have to change overground trains at Stratford. I left Kentish Town dying of hunger and in plenty of time to get home, only to arrive at Liverpool Street station to find it virtually empty of people, and no sign of anyone working there except for some bin men who were ready to go home. According to the electronic board, a train was about to depart within minutes to Stratford, but it didn’t say which platform. I ran up and down, seeing no such train. I realised I’d better get out of there and quick, so I raced back to the tube (where I’d just come from) and jumped on the Central Line to Stratford.
Fortunately, there was a train scheduled for when I arrived, but not only was it to be on the wrong platform, but I’d have to stand in the cold for another 30 minutes for it to turn up. I made friends with an irate journalist from the Times, who blamed all these transportation cock-ups on the London Olympics. (All I can say is that I’d better emigrate the hell back out of here before 2012!) We killed time by chatting on the journey home as our train kept stopping for no discernible reason outside nearly every station, with us sitting and sitting as the hour grew later and later. (I’d like someone to please explain to me how I could leave Kentish Town just after 11pm and not get home till half past one. This journey shouldn’t have taken too much more than an hour.) As I despaired of ever seeing my bear again, I heard the sound of angels. Some passengers seated nearby were listening on their camera to the exact same music I’d heard earlier – we’d all come from the same gig!
Anyway, at least I got to hear about the journalist’s night out in the West End, which consisted of seeing an updated version of Romeo and Juliet which, unbeknownst to her and several other members of the audience, was a hiphop hodgepodge of the old version. According to my new buddy, the original cast had walked out due to the musical’s financial woes, leaving the new cast to read from scripts. Apparently most of the audience had walked out too, save for three old ladies, one of whom finally hobbled out of the theatre on one crutch.
And people wonder why I’d rather go to a gig than go to the theatre.
Aaron Lewis of Staind
Staind video I shot: http:/www.youtube.com
Seether video I shot: http://www.youtube.com