On April 2, 1986, the seminal British metal band Venom played a gig in Trenton, New Jersey, at a punk club called City Gardens. Also on the bill: Black Flag, as then fronted by Henry Rollins.
Legend has it that a Black Flag roadie recorded the entire show — and then cut out all the songs in Venom’s set except a few nano-seconds of the guitar intros and outros, leaving behind the between-song stage banter of Venom’s frontman Chronos. The only part of that story that’s legend is who did it — because someone plainly did.
This 8+ minute bootleg montage of Chronos communing with the punks, metalheads, and assorted refugees from the law in the audience was subsequently released as a seven-inch “single” on the Ecstatic Peace label. Somehow, I’d never heard this until a good friend sent me a link to an mp3 of the single yesterday.
Let’s just say it’s not the finest example of metal stage banter, but let’s also say that it’s representative of the majority of metal stage banter, which is to say that it’s a caricature of itself. It’s dumb, meaningless, and unintentionally funny, but also kind of endearing. To quote one blogger who wrote about this in 2009, “There’s a lot of Spinal Tap in so much heavy metal…”
Here’s my theory about stage banter: the more into the music you are, and the more fucked up you are, the more willing you are to applaud and yell over utter nonsense being uttered on stage between songs. If you think a band is killing it with the music, you’re more inclined to convince yourself that the frontman is killing it with his repartee, too.
Or maybe you actually realize that the banter is knuckle-dragging gibberish, but you’re willing to cut the dude a break because the music is so fuckin’ good, and because it’s fun to be talked to by someone whose music you dig even if he can’t hear you talking back.
On the other hand, when you come across someone who really DOES have excellent, clever, funny stage banter — or ultra-serious banter that actually makes sense — it’s a big bonus.
There’s no bonus in this Venom montage, but you know, it’s a bit of fuckin’ history and it is pretty entertaining as an unintentional parody. Check it out, and as you listen, here’s a question that you might consider answering in the Comments: Of the metal bands you’ve seen live, who had the best stage banter?
ALRIGHT! INDEED! INDEED!
VENOM STAGE BANTER 1986[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Venom_-_Live_at_City_Gardens.mp3|titles=Venom-Stage Banter]
When I first heard this (via WFMU), my favorite line was “You wanna hear something really heavy? ….YOU WANNA HEAR SOMETHING THAT’S GONNA KICK YOUR BALLS OFF???!!!” Still is, actually.
Yup. That’s a good one, though I got a bigger laugh out of the “Indeed! Indeed!” line.
I think my favourite bit of stage banter ever was from Mortification off a live recording. It went like this:
Mortification: Who wants to hear some METAL?
Mortification: Who wants to hear some JESUS CHRIST METAL??
Certainly, most people there should have known what kind of band Mortification is – and that they don’t play “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs. Still, I’m not surprised that Steve Rowe was met with silence with that one.
That is choice. Surprised that it was left in the live recording instead of edited out.
mike from opeth is the king of stage banter
Indeed, indeed. I’d also mention Devin Townsend and Frank Mullen off the top of my head.
Allegedly, Mikke learned how to stage banter from Devin back when SYL and Opeth toured together. That was an amazing show: Devin came out and roared at the start of SYL’s set, “There are two things you need to know at an SYL concert. First – fuck you! Second – buy a fucking t-shirt!” I’ve never been happier to have someone curse me out in my life.
this is true, Mikael told me the story last night. He used to be quite “shy” but watched Devin as he went to get a drink from a water bottle on the drum riser. It wasn’t there so Devin came back to the mic and yells “I DIDN’T WANT ANY FUCKING WATER, ANYWAY!” or something to that effect. And so, Mikael learned that you have to just not give a shit.
yes how could i forget good ol’ devin!
i had no idea frank mullen was a man of stage banter, he does have however a pretty nifty handtrick/karate chop
Frank Mullen yaks his head off in between songs — his monologues sometimes go on for minutes. He’s a riot.
I saw SYL at El Corazon about 7 years ago or so, pretty sure it was still the Graceland back then. At one point Devin took someone’s disposable camera from the crowd, put it down the front of his pants, and took a picture. He returned it and instructed the owner to inform people that they had visited a mushroom farm. It was pretty great.
I was just coming on here to say the same thing. Opeth and SYL really stand out in terms of stage banter.
In somewhat related news, I just saw that Black Flag’s Greg Ginn has a new band with skateboarder Mike Vallely named Good For You, with a debut album named “Life Is Too Short To Not Hold A Grudge” coming out on Feb 26.
carcass had the best stage banter
Dave V.I.T.R.I.O.L Hunt always have great, and what seems to be honest, things to say between songs. I don’t know if I would call it banter, its more of a passionate and pissed off introduction to the songs.
Last time I saw Anaal Nathrakh, some idiot yelled “Fuck you!” between songs, to which Dave replied something like “Why don’t you come up here and we can see who can “fuck you” the hardest? One thing is for sure, I’m drunker than you, and more angry than you, so come up here or shut the fuck up and listen”
He was pretty pissed about Mick Kenney not being able to attend the gig, due to some greencard issues or something..
There’s a band I’d give blood to see live. One of these days . . .
Last night I was at the last show of the Weed and Speed tour and Phil knows how to work a crowd with banter as good as anyone. Also, Venomous Maximus’ front man is one hell of an entertainer.
Man, I’m envious. That’s one show I really wish I could have seen. I’m especially eager to see Venomous Maximus (at the risk of suffering severe neck sprain).
I’d heard VM a couple of times and not paid them too much mind. Their live show impressed the hell out of me. So, I bought two discs of theirs.
For me, it was Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth. He’s a funny dude on-stage!
This sounds like a grindcore show.
City Gardens was the gretest damn place on earth while it existed and this Venom show/banter is still to this day one of the most talked about events. John Stewart actually used to be the bartender there.