Vice’s music website offshoot, Noisey, has been running a series called Big Night Out – itself a spin-off of a series of text articles by Clive Martin. It’s pretty much a self-explanatory does-what-it-says-on-the-tin kind of feature: Martin goes on a night out with one niche subculture of the UK club scene. This week it reached the point where our particular stretch of the internet’s moan-pipe was going to burst: this week it was the turn of the metal night.
After we saw a load of people moaning on Twitter, Facebook, and so on, we spotted a perfect opportunity to score some lazy hits from offering up some comment on it – step forward, Hugh Platt…
For starters, if you haven’t seen it already, go check our the episode of Big Night Out in question:
This video wasn’t taking the piss out of how UK metal clubs operate – it was reflecting it. Sure, sure, there’s been a few minor changes to the window dressing over the years – the overall levels of full-on goths you’ll find in a metal club might’ve gone down, replaced instead by the snapback brigade and their corresponding m0shWAGS, but at its core, metal clubs are still the same places they’ve always been.
I’ve never gone to a metal club in Manchester, but I sure as shit recognised every single person in the film from every time I’ve badly danced to Deftones on a dancefloor up and down the country. Big Night Out reminded me of every tawdry night trying (and mostly failing) to pick up girls in the Fez Club or TUC in Reading around the turn of the century, every time the Goths got annoyed at the dancefloor invasion at The Dungeon in Southampton when the DJ put White Zombie on, every time a braying bunch of #LADS cheered on student girls having a bi-try experiment at Rock City, and that time at the Krazyhouse in Liverpool where that pillock doing hardcore dancing slipped on some spilled beer and everyone in the place took the piss out of him for the the rest of the night. It reminded me why I love all these places, why we shouldn’t be ashamed of them, and why I don’t want them to change.
There’s a natural urge among metal fans to get defensive when anyone they see as an “outsider” comments on “the scene” (because fuck those terms), but Noisey got it right. Yeah, metal clubs look like they’re full of weirdos and mentalists from the outside. That’s what happens when you gather a bunch of people with too many tattoos, an excess of black clothing, and far too many ill-advised body piercings in one place. Let’s not pretend that it’s an unhappy accident that to the uninitiated our clubs look freakish. Let’s not hide behind a wall of fake outrage – we drew this line around ourselves. The funny thing is, Big Night Out doesn’t criticise this fact at all (despite what numerous Facebook blah-blahs about it seem to be claiming otherwise) – it damn well celebrates it. Just look at Clive Martin’s closing statements from the film:
Like no other scene, metal will separate you from the rest of society…sure, drum’n’bass, gabba, psy-trance, they’re all subcultures, but none of them quite invade every facet of your existence like metal does…No doubt this plays in to the sense of community that metal operates in – yes there are different denominations, but these are people sticking together, finding strength in numbers. I wouldn’t say that all metal fans are misfits, but there’s a definite sense that it’s an outsider movement, a scene for people who won’t take what the culture machine is offering them. It might not be everyone’s pint of snakebite, but that’s the whole point – and it’s exactly why, in every week, in every town in Britain, you’ll find a couple of hundred people saluting the Devil.
So why don’t we just shut up with all this complaining that “people outside the scene don’t get it” (especially in instances like Big Night Out, where they evidently do) and go have a little dance?