If you’ve never been to a heavy metal concert, it’s something else.

It’s loud. (Of course.) It’s intense. It’s physical.

You’ll feel changed. You’ll leave inspired, and likely tired. You’ll be amazed at how fast the guitarist’s fingers could move and how intensely your body was pounded by the bass and drums.

Whether you have the denim vest and patches to prove your metalhead status or you’re simply anticipating your first metal show, we have a guide to help you survive your next metal concert.

Considering Mastodon, Coheed and Cambria and Every Time I Die are teaming up to rock Stir Cove on Thursday, this seemed like a fine time to freshen up.

“Earplugs are probably mandatory,” Mastodon drummer Brann Dailor told us. “It’s a lot going on.”

Earplugs are your friend

Ever hear the saying, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old”? Yeah, that phrase is dumb. Your ears are your friends. Treat them well, and they’ll treat you well. Talk to an old metalhead with tinnitus and ask him if he wishes he had worn earplugs. It’s going to be plenty loud even with plugs in. And if you forget earplugs, move to the back of the venue. It’ll be less intense, and it will sound better than if you’re standing up front.

Mind the pit

There will be a mosh pit. It will get crazy. Keep an eye out for it, and be aware that if you want to get close to the stage, you’ll have to be close to the flailing bodies. If you don’t want to deal with that, stay far away. You’ll still be able to hear the show from a few steps back.

Help your fellow metalhead

It’ll be aggressive and crazy, but that doesn’t mean people are looking for a fight. Quite the opposite. It’s a safe space to get a little angst out of your system with loud, fast music. So when someone bumps into you, be cool. When your friend falls down in the pit, stop and help him back up.

Wear shoes, not sandals

This seems obvious, but there’s always that guy who climbs out of the pit with only a single flip-flop. This isn’t a day at Coachella. Wear comfortable shoes, and make sure they won’t slip off your feet.

What should you wear?

Most anything goes. If you wanna dress like Rob Halford from Judas Priest in leather and studs, go for it. If you feel like wearing a chain necklace and shorts, you won’t be the only one. Just jeans and a T-shirt? That’s cool, too.

Rest assured that the majority of the audience will wear a black T-shirt with a band logo. You can’t go wrong there.

Keep the valuables at home

Anything you don’t want lost or broken, keep it off your person. You don’t want to be the person searching the detritus of cups and containers and beer splatter searching for your cellphone.

Don’t wear anything you care about

Unless you like your favorite T-shirt ripped, soaked in beer or smeared with some other dude’s sweat, put on something you don’t mind taking on a little battle damage.

Stretch — seriously

If you plan on entering that mosh pit, it’s best to limber up. This is especially true for those among us who aren’t as spry as they once were. There’s nothing worse than waking up the morning after the show so sore that you can’t get out of bed.

Want a souvenir? You don’t need to rush the stage

Hot tip: Sometimes you can snag a set list or a pick or something from the band members on stage. You can also walk back to the sound booth at the end of the night while everyone else is headed up front.

Have fun

Look. There’s a lot going on. The band is going wild. The fans are completely insane. It’s hard to take in, but try to let loose. Enjoy the show. Have a good time. Just, y’know, wear earplugs.

How to “throw the horns”

The universal sign for “metal” or “rock on” is the horns.

Formally known as the “sign of the horns,” it’s the gesture everyone makes at every metal show.

But do it wrong, and you’ll look dumb. So follow our advice. It’s easy.

First, extend your index finger and pinky. Hold your middle and ring fingers down.

Raise your fist high in the air.

Boom. Done.

A couple of things you shouldn’t do: 

Don’t stretch your index and pinkies outward. That’s the Hook ’Em Horns. You’re not at a Longhorns game. Your fingers should go straight up.

Don’t extend your thumb. If you do, that’s saying “I love you” in sign language. Not the same.

Don’t put your index finger down and your thumb out. That’s the “hang loose” gesture. Definitely not metal.


Reporter - Entertainment/music/concert

Kevin Coffey is the entertainment editor and critic, covering music, movies, video games, comic books and lots more. Follow him on Twitter @owhmusicguy. Phone: 402-444-1557.

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