My First Metalcore Concert – Parkway Drive

I’ve always been pretty mainstream with my taste in music until I met Mychal (boyfriend) and he introduced me to so many new things. One of those things was metal music.

I knew nothing about this genre except that some of it sounded scary and that people injured their necks headbanging to it for some reason. That was all.

Not long after we started dating, almost three years ago, he began to play a song or two in the car while we would drive. I never really had an interest in it. I just waited quietly until the song was over and then picked up on conversation again.

Flash forward to about nine months ago when Mychal started listening to a new album by a band called Parkway Drive. He loved the album and started playing some of the songs around me and I found myself actually questioning what I was hearing. I liked the sound of it. I liked that song and the song after that and the song after that…

Move forward about a month. It was 11pm and I was in my small town park working out in the freezing cold listening to One Direction and Taylor Swift and I couldn’t find any motivation despite my best efforts.

That’s when I remembered that BA guitar riff from that one Parkway Drive song Mychal had played that night. I typed the album name “Ire” into Spotify’s search bar and selected it then chose the song “Vice Grip”… I powered through that workout like I was starring in an hour-long Nike training promo. It was killer and Parkway Drive was my soundtrack.

Flash forward again to about a month and a half ago to when I had the desperate urge to go to the beach when classes were over. I started looking and thinking and planning and by sheer fate, I discovered that Parkway Drive was headlining a show at some hole-in-the-wall nightclub in Biloxi, Mississippi at the end of April. Before I could stop myself I had purchased tickets for Mychal and I. I looked into hotels and found affordable rates “ON THE BEACH — FIVE MINUTES FROM THE VENUE”.

This was fate. It had to happen. Stoked and already packing, I took Mychal to lunch to surprise him with the news. He was so surprised and happy that he would get to see one of his favorite bands on their new tour.

Friday, April 29, 2016 — Mychal got off work at 7:30 p.m., came to my house and we made the 6-hour drive to Biloxi in the dark, stormy night. We arrived at our hotel around 2AM and the sliding glass doors were locked and no service attendant was in sight. We were locked out of the hotel until I called the desk phone about four times until a sleepy, half-conscious attendant came to answer the phone and let us in. We checked in, got our room keys, and crashed. I woke promptly at 5:30 a.m. so I could look out the window to view the Gulf. It’s probably just water to some people, but it was beautiful to me.

We went to the beach that morning, swam at the hotel pool, relaxed in the Jacuzzi, showered, had lunch, then relaxed until it was time to head to Kress Live, the local nightclub where Parkway Drive was playing. Doors opened at 7 p.m. We arrived and stood in line for a bit in some light rain. My hopes started to fall because I thought we would get drenched before we could get in, but just as I really started to worry, the rain stopped, the sun came out and a beautiful rainbow appeared right over the venue.

Fairy tale stuff. I took it as a yet another sign that this was supposed to be happening. We were among the first 50-ish people to get in so we found the merch table and bought up a few awesome band shirts, then we headed into the showroom to get on a lifted side stage and find a spot we liked. We killed a little time and watched four opening bands (Amoretta, Outlaw City, Wildfire, and Cover Your Tracks). By this time the place was packed, everyone was misted with sweat because there was no ventilation and no open doors. More importantly noted, was the atmosphere.

This place was stuffed with people. I’m talking sardines. I said it was hot, and it was, but the air was laced with electricity. Every person there was so different, yet they all seemed so similar that night. There were girls dressed for top dollar parties, middle aged men with ratty t-shirts, couples, older women in wheelchairs, injured people, tattoos galore, gauged ears, facial piercings, wild hair colors… But they all came here for one thing and because of that, there was a mass relation. They all loved the release and the freedom that this music provided. The lyrics to the songs, the way Winston McCall (lead singer of Parkway Drive) screamed them, the chills that his stage presence forced you to experience, the way the hair stood up on the back of your neck at the sound of the crowd screaming the lyrics back at the band at the top of their lungs in unison never missing a word…

They all came here for this.

This was my first metal concert and it was the best experience of my life.

For three hours I escaped my apprehensions and found myself screaming the lyrics back to the band, headbanging, jumping, overheating, and having one of the best bonding experiences ever with my boyfriend/best friend. Nearing the end of the show, I could feel myself overheating and, being a complete lightweight, I knew I was close to passing out. My legs were shaking and I noticed darkness on the outer edges of my vision.

They played their last song and I used the last bit of energy I had to clap, scream, jump, anything to show my new-found devotion to their contribution to the world. Then people started to bail and Mychal drug me through the closest exit into the crisp, night air and I felt better almost immediately.

Mychal drove back to the hotel and by the time I showered and crashed into that beautiful king-sized bed, I had talked his ear off about what an amazing show it was.

I went to sleep exhausted and hoarse, but more importantly I was a changed person and I was so happy. Apparently metal concerts just have that effect.

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