Heavy metal fans are a dedicated group. We often spend hundreds or thousands of dollars a year, and many hours traveling to and from shows to see our favorite bands. It is not out of the question for fans to drive 2,3, or ever 4 or more hours to and from a show in a single night. It has even become a sort of rite of passage within the community as the ultimate show of dedication. The best way to fill the void between departure and arrival within the metal world has always been simple: listen to more metal. It’s almost as if it’s too obvious. However, there seems to be a divide here between many fans, so here we pose the question: What is it that you listen to on the way to a show, is it one of the bands you are going to see, trying to get hyped for the upcoming spectacle, or do you avoid them entirely, not wanting to wear yourself out on the band?
Zach Fehl: I have been pretty firm in this the last few years, I try very hard to avoid listening to any of the bands that I’m going to see during the ride to see them. As I’ve grown, and my ability to afford to travel to shows has grown with me, I use the drive to a show as a palate cleanser for whatever I have been listening to. When you are making a 2-3-7 hour drive to see a band or artist, it’s easy to burn yourself out on their music if you listen to it the entire way. I will make it a point to listen to similar acts, maybe someone inspired by the band or colleagues within the same genre. If I’m in the driver’s seat though, and I usually am, you can be sure we won’t be listening to the band until after we’ve heard them live.
On the other hand, for the drive home anything is fair game. Those new CDs aren’t going to listen to themselves.
Bram: I haven’t been “that guy” in a while. As a teenager going to my first shows, it was almost mandatory to listen to the band you were going to see. And growing up in Philly, for some shows, the rock radio stations (WMMR and WYSP) would sometimes play the set back on the air after the show, which was kinda fun. Since then, I haven’t really done that, instead playing whatever else I was listening to at the time, or letting friends who were driving dictate the tunes. Being a guy “in the industry,” I’ll sometimes play a like-minded band that someone I’m going to the show with might like or haven’t heard. The best thing about being a music fan is that you can talk about music for hours, and Spotify is the great equalizer, giving you almost any artist you’ll ever want to hear at your fingertips. One thing I don’t really understand is the tailgating while listening to the band you’re going to see. Why get drunk and listen to songs you’re going to hear while drunker in an hour? Ultimately, if it’s getting you more pumped for live music, to each their own.
Nick: I don’t really have a consistent rule for this, but the general system I go by is that the drive to the show is for what you guys already said – similar bands, energized conversation about the music, etc. What tends to happen on the way back from the show is that I find myself listening to the band I just saw if I was psyched enough for the songs. Once in a while, I’ll use the trip up to refresh myself with deeper cuts or things in the set list I don’t know as well. (I know it makes me a massive killjoy, but I use setlist.fm religiously, especially if I need to weigh my options and decide if it’s worth going to a show or not) As I get older, I realize I’m way more hillbilly than New Yorker, so I discovered that I absolutely love tailgating. By far the best pregame option in town, if the venue makes it available to you. Saves money, you make friends, it’s hard to dislike unless you’re at a seriously terrible show.
Chris: Generally, when I’m on my way to a show, I tend to listen to bands that are not playing at the show that I’m going to see. This tends to hold true both for music in the car with friends and music in my headphones on mass transit. It’s not always a conscious effort on my part. It’s just something that seems to happen by default.