Even Normal Brazilians Love Metallica

Posted: October 13, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Last night I attended my first Brazilian night spot. The Bukowski Bar, a club in the Botafogo neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. Never the late-night man and without an active desire to be the “old guy at the club” Chris Rock joked about in his now-classic 1998 comedy routine, still last eve may have been the best one of my life.  In an attempt to be fashionably cool, I arrived around 11 PM – which turned out to be demonstrably early by Brazilian standards – and stood in line for the better part of an hour. Hardly a chore, as the late-night weather was nearly perfect: 70 degrees, zero humidity, a a spring breeze circulating amidst the neighborhood and keeping us all refreshed and in high spirits as the line gradually trickled forward. Ambulatory vendors sold beer from coolers racked on bikes for anyone interested in pre-gaming prior to entrance to the club. I don’t really drink – I have scant experience with adult beverages so a couple quick sips and I’m already nude table dancing – but when in Rome… You get the idea.

Once inside, the bar served copious caipirinhas, which are really just mojitos by a different name (though they are certainly mixed with superior gusto in Rio; these are hair-on-your-chest beverages and my Puritan-like lack of tolerance for anything more robust than Diet Pepsi left me in sad form to imbibe).

But the real crux: the DJ kept playing classic Metallica songs and – oh God, mine eyes doth grow moist from the sheer emotion this memory provoketh- the Brazilians knew ALL THE WORDS, chanting and thrusting clenched fists ceiling-ward in a sweaty, syncopated, and uniquely Brazilian expression of support for the band still resting atop The Big Four’s sizable heap. I say this with full knowledge of how crap basically anything Metallica has released since the Black Album has been sonically atrocious and musically even worse, yet no one can deny their classic period set them up for life and they’re still the biggest-selling act on the planet. And this was not a metal club. It was a normal Brazilian club with normal Brazilian people who wear normal Brazilian collared shirts and have normal Brazilian middle-class lives and jobs. But metal = normal in Brazil, and these folks were SO down with the ‘tallica. I felt the same instinctive euphoria now at 36 years old as I did when I was 12 in the year 1989 and first heard the band and felt inspired beyond my own childish hyperactive capacity. Thus indeed, promises were made in the midst of my excitement last night: I told at least one person we’d definitely start a band.

I left at 3 AM and the line was still snaking around the block, the distinct strains of “Creeping Death” spilling into the Botafogo streets and doubtless gracing the ears of at least a few Brazilian pre-teens in their bedrooms, their hearts likely pounding a wee bit faster and their own minds racing with dreams of electric guitar with Marshall stacks, their parents believing them fast asleep and with no earthly notion of the metal frenzy about to strike their family head-on.

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