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H.I.M. / Monster Magnet / Auf Der Maur (Sunday, November 21st, Quest Club, Minneapolis)

By Traci Hanson

In what she deemed “an evening of romantic rock” Melissa Auf der Maur opened the show for Monster Magnet and HIM on Sunday night at the Quest. You remember her. She’s the red-headed bass player from Hole. I think the coolest thing about her is the fact that she survived Courtney Love. But I think the jury should perhaps consider the murder of MAdM’s career when sentencing Ms. Love. I didn’t expect much from Melissa Auf der Maur and her band, Auf der Maur (Bon Jovi, anyone?) and I got…not much. At least I broke even.

I tend to steer clear of the mosh pit when I’m not seeing a band that leaves my jeans soggy. But on Sunday, the part of me that still gets pissed I quit smoking was kicking me again. Monster Magnet lead man Dave Wyndorf entered stage right and immediately began dispersing cigarettes throughout the first few rows of the crowd. “Who wants a cigarette? Do you want a cigarette?” Yes, but I’m up here in the balcony with the old people pretending I can see through the leather jacket standing in front of me. Then again, that mosh pit down there is looking a little rough. In fact, it’s consumed the entire center of the crowd. By the time Monster Magnet broke into their massive summer 1998 hit, “Space Lord,” the crowd had become a foaming pile of rage and ecstasy. Wyndorf looks kinda like Iggy Pop on metal and protein shakes, but the band sounds more like Metallica back when they used to party and not suck.

Speaking of soggy jeans and mosh pits, I swear I thought the girls in the crowd would faint the moment HIM took the stage. Okay, so vocalist Ville Valo looks like sex personified, and they’ve been labeled as “love metal” which of course makes them every goth girl’s wet dream, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen a club react that strongly. Valo et al opened with “Your Sweet Six Six Six” and the crowd was entirely with them from the very beginning. Valo needed only lean his head back from the microphone to hear hundreds of rabid fans finish a lyric.

But I guess the problem with booking a semi-popular (thanks in part to the obsessive fandom of Jackass and Viva La Bam’s Bam Margera) band from Finland is that they don’t get to Minnesota very often and when they do, people get really excited. So excited, in fact, that it may seem a good idea to many to crowd surf during “Join Me in Death”—a power ballad, mind you—and it may seem a good idea to few to throw a bottle at the fucking vocalist. Come now, kids. You know that will only lead to a lecture and the band’s threat to leave. But, Valo said his piece and moved on so quickly, I nearly missed the entire fiasco.

Despite the crowd’s lunacy, I will commend them for their devotion. It took less than five seconds for the majority of the crowd to break into “Happy Birthday”—and in unison, even—when Valo mentioned that Monday was his birthday. The only other time I have seen that happen is when that guy from the Flaming Lips made us sing it to Beck’s unborn offspring at Coachella. That was far less cool. Valo was obviously touched and shared with us a line that solidified my fandom. Pertaining to the fact that he thought he should be a legend at twenty-seven and he was about to become twenty-eight, he said, “I’ve got just these two hours to die and become a legend.” And immediately they launched into “For You.”

I was introduced to this band a few weeks ago and they piqued my interest with a cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” Now, I consider myself somewhat of a purist and I so rarely enjoy a cover. And I’ve always liked Isaak’s version. (So shoot me.) But turn it into metal and put a goth/glam version of Jim Morrison behind it and I’m sold. Despite being saddled with the “love metal” label (and the less tactful “chick rock”), HIM albums have been met with positive reception. Sure, every single song is about love, death or a combination of the two. But it’s easy to overlook that when the music is pure. Him play metal the way it was meant to be played. By the time the show rolled around, I had high expectations and even higher hopes for their delivery. And I’m definitely satisfied.

Christ, I never thought I’d put myself in the same group as a guy from Jackass.

Traci Hanson is