Sunday, September 27, 2020

Heavy metal party and The Priest, part 3

(This is a story about how from 2011-2018 I hosted the ultimate heavy metal party and survived to tell the tale. Read parts 1 and 2 here and here).

Are you ready for some
Judas Priest-style heavy metal?

Despite the metal party to end all metal parties in 2016, my house was not destroyed, my neighbors did not unite to force the sale of my home, and so the metal party would return in 2017. As always it was a blast. We upped the costuming. I went with Gene Simmons face paint and an Iron Maiden T-shirt. Others showed up with big hair, leather pants, and denim jackets with back patches. We sang karaoke. Late night featured a bucket of ice cold Zima, that semi-nasty clear malted beverage which made a reappearance after disappearing from the shelves for more than a decade (after drinking one, I quickly came to the realization that it was probably better off staying retired). I suppose I didn’t need those Fireball shots at the bar but we did them anyway. KISS or Fiction made another appearance.

Later we voted on which videos had the hottest chick: “Kiss me Deadly” with Lita Ford, a recut version of Cinderella’s “Shake Me” featuring a gorgeous stripper, or “Here I Go Again” with Tawny Kitaen (if I recall, the latter won). We also cast our votes for worst heavy metal video ever, with Manowar’s “Gloves of Steel,” Thor’s “Anger is my Middle Name”, and King Kobra’s “Iron Eagle (Never Say Die)” competing for the dubious title. Thor was a runaway winner, for the record this video is bad beyond belief and I don’t recommend subjecting yourself to it, unless you’ve imbibed 6-8 Zimas to numb the pain.

But despite the fun I couldn’t help but compare the party to the year prior, when we had nearly blown the roof off the house with a live band. In hindsight it seemed rather anticlimactic.

For 2018, I once again put in a call for The Priest.

They responded, Screaming for Vengeance.

With a year of experience under our belts and a relationship with the guys in the band established, we collaborated on ways we could make 2018 even better. We decided to make it a little more crowd friendly with two sets—The Priest would assume an alias, start out in street clothes and play a broader set of more recognizable hard rock and metal hits. So we got “Doctor Love” (KISS), “Since You’ve Been Gone” (Rainbow), “Flight of Icarus” (Iron Maiden), “Screaming in the Night” (Krokus), “Holy Diver” (Dio), “Rock and Roll Fantasy” (Bad Company), and others. Ron belted out a surprise heavy metal “Happy Birthday” to my sister.

After their set and some time to party and eat, the band went downstairs, and returned as the Priest, decked out in leather and studs. The minute they hit the opening notes of The Hellion/Electric Eye, the real show was back.

Moving in

I had upped my game and so had The Priest. They brought with them a roadie to help set up and break down, as well as a dedicated dude to run the sound board. It was more equipment, more lights, more everything. And it was glorious.

In addition after a one year absence Vin was back with the Tahoe, bigger and better than ever. Here are some photos to give you some idea of what this truck was packing in the back.

It was also a record turnout, with 46 total bodies at the party, band included. My street was loaded with cars, filling all of the circle in the cul-de-sac, and both sides of street, about midway down the straightaway.

The Tahoe

I felt far more prepared than 2016. I knew what The Priest was bringing and the space they needed. More importantly, I knew who they were, and I knew the band members by name. I felt far more at ease with their coming, they were no longer strangers, and as a result my guard was down, and I was able to warmly welcome them. In 2016 I had invited a group of (to be honest, rough-looking) strangers into my home to play music. Now I knew these guys, and two years later it felt like a homecoming. I had the right mindset going into the party, that it was not about the music, or the spectacle, but the people. My mind was on appreciation, not debauchery.

I dubbed 2018 “For the Love of Metal” and it was that, but it was also something more.

I had engaged in the unknown, took a risk, and it paid off.

I had opened up myself—a piece of me, laying bare a part of who I was, who I’ve always been, to a big crowd. I’m a pretty quiet and reserved guy, despite what these stories may tell. This was a unique expression of me.

I celebrated a group of people who I love, and who I was so happy to host, like a Viking jarl in his mead hall. My speech (see below) reflected that.

As I type this I realize it sounds cheesy and the stuff of Hallmark movies, and probably overblown, but it’s honestly how I felt. And still do.

Will I host the metal party again? I don’t know. I’m 47. I have done something I wanted to do, and in a bad-ass way. For a few hours I was like Homer Simpson punching the respectable Ned Flanders right in the face, revealing a side of myself that hides beneath a veneer of white middle class low key suburban dude.

2018 in particular felt cathartic, like a farewell to all that. The growth of the party placed a stress on me, and on my wife (which in turn lends added stress to me). There is always a minor risk of accident or property damage. In 2019 I took a voluntary and needed break. After eight straight years there would be no metal party.

2020 of course has been the ultimate party and live music killer, so nothing this year either.

But I’m SO GLAD I did all this. I made memories to last a lifetime. My closest friends still talk about 2016 and 2018 with a “I can’t believe that happened” air and incredulity.

Sometimes, neither can I.


My speech

There are many things that have brought us here together tonight. Vin’s Chevy Tahoe for one. Let’s raise our glasses to the Tahoe, which is a basically a giant fucking stereo on four wheels!

Who knows the song TNT? AC/DC? I’d like to talk to you about PMP, and why we are here. People, metal, and … I’ll explain the third P in a minute.

Let’s start with the people. There are some damned cool people in this room.

·        It’s a chance to hang out with Wayne Coffill for four hours! That alone is worth it. But seriously, Wayne is one of my oldest friends, I’ve known him since grade school, and since then we’ve seen dozens of metal shows together. Maybe 40-50 KISS shows alone. It’s rare to have a friend like that in your life. So here’s to Wayne!

·        My sister. Lauren Jurta. Let’s hear it for my freaking cool sister, who is a party in and of herself. Lauren almost couldn’t make it but pulled it out at the last second, with an assist from her husband, a firefighter and an active member of the U.S. military. Cheers to him. Also, you may not know it, but today, is her birthday!

·        Let’s hear it for Janet Wyman, who is, by far, the biggest Judas Priest fan here in this here room. Sorry guys in the Priest, maybe you can make a case, but if I had to bet money it would be on Janet. Any else here have a Judas Priest tattoo, or tapestry? Let’s get out that fucking tapestry one more time!!

We’re also here to celebrate the M--metal—heavy metal, the greatest genre of music ever conceived by god or man. My actual goal with this party is not to hang with friends, eat chicken wings, or drink to excess. Though I am currently doing all these and will do all of the above. No, the real reason I do this every year is the since hope that I will convert at least one person to the cult of heavy metal, and in particular Judas Priest.

Who here is a fan of metal? I’ve probably been to 70-80 shows, at least. Some great ones, I’ll bore you with later, but let me tell you about a local show, at the Chit Chat Lounge in Haverhill, when I saw a band called The Priest.

I had a great time, and they were good—outstanding musicians. There are guys in this band that have played gigs in Europe and had a video on MTV’s Headbangers Ball. But they were missing something. Then they landed a guy named Ron Finn, and when I saw them again at Uncle Eddie’s in Salisbury—I was blown away. The pieces came together.

So enjoy this great music from this talented band. And welcome to the cult of Judas Priest.

Finally its about our final P.

For years I was afraid to throw this party. For years I thought, how fucking awesome would it be, to host a heavy metal party? I kept waiting for someone to do it, and then hoped I’d get an invite. Neither happened. So you know what? I did it myself.

Judas Priest has a song called Heading Out to the Highway.

Like all good songs, it works on multiple levels. The highway is a metaphor, you see. It’s your life. There is a verse in the song, and it says:

I’m going to do it my way

Take the chance before I fall

The chance … before I fall.

So I ask, what chances are you going to take, before you fall? Before you grow too old and settle in to a comfortable life watching Law and Order reruns on the couch? Before you’re on your deathbed and it’s too late, and you’re full of regrets, and thinking, I wish I had done this, or that?

I’ll tell you what I’m going do, which is the second P and the purpose of this party—its an expression of me, and I’m doing it because I love my life. Metal is a passion. One life, and I’m going to live it up. Purpose and passion, manifesting in this party.

As Judas Priest said in “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”:

If you think I'll sit around as the world goes by
You're thinkin' like a fool cause it's a case of do or die
Out there is a fortune waiting to be had
If you think I'll let you go you're mad
You've got another thing comin'


D.M. Ritzlin said...

Manowar's "Gloves of Metal" is one of the GREATEST videos of all time, not the worst! If you want to see some truly bad and hilarious ones, check out the Napalm Records YouTube channel. They seem to be cranking out contenders for the all-time worst on a daily basis.

Brian Murphy said...

:) I'll have to check those out Dave.

For the record I don't think Gloves of Metal is even close to the worst either, rather I wanted to shock the party-goers with broadswords and fur diaper loincloths.