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Ghost Rider

I have just wrapped up my review the Death reissues alternately titled Vivus!, and it really got me thinking about all the missed live band opportunities in my life, especially from 2003 and on. I had started doing various Metal review sites since the late nineties, but it wasn’t until my time with WSFX FM that I started having the option of going to shows for free in exchange for press coverage. This was great considering I was a poor college student. I got to interview many of my favorite bands that came around here, both at the time and to this day, such as Goatwhore, Killswitch Engage, Wednesday 13, The Absence, and so many more. This still continues because of Apoch’s Metal Review. However, things are not too easy anymore for me to just go and take in a show.

As many readers who have me as a friend on Facebook will know, I suffer from Multiple Sclerosis. I make too much money to be on a government health care program, yet can’t afford bigger ones or get denied due to pre-existing conditions. I have been dropped from various plans quite often, and each time it lands me in the hospital unable to walk. Well, as of late, I got on a medication that works, but of course is the most expensive, and I’m without coverage again. I’ve been in the hospital and physical rehabilitation more times than I want to count, and because of it I lost a good deal of maneuverability. To be perfectly honest, half the time I want to go to a show, I’m afraid to. I’m afraid I won’t be able to walk or stand half way through, which is what happened when I saw Kittie, Kataklysm, and Devildriver at an off-tour date. I could barely make it to my car after Devildriver, and wound up leaving early so I could get up the hill and in my vehicle before everyone left and made it hard for me. But, walking is one of my very few concerns thanks to what else this disease has done to my body.

But, that’s not all sadly. I basically live within a rather short drive of the cities of Allentown, and Philadelphia. We no longer have shows where I live outside of locals and the occasional festival that ventures our way to a decent drive venue location like the other two areas. The whole walking thing hit after a long trek to Montage Mountain for Mayhem Fest a few years ago, having to go to the bleacher seats of the main stage and miss out on Behemoth and Cannibal Corpse because it hurt so bad to stand thanks to the long walk from the car just to the actual venue (seriously, what the hell?!) But, one of my other issues is transportation, as well as a general disliking of driving through Philadelphia, something I intend to overcome soon. I don’t mind the city at all, I think it’s a lot cleaner than my first time there ten years ago, at least with some of the venues like the Trocadero and the Theater of Living Arts. The problem is my current car has transmission issues, and I have a hard time going to other venues for local shows that are half the distance, let alone to there, the longest drive of them all. The distance issue comes into play with Allentown as well, but if there’s a show at the Crocodile Rock I really try to get there as I really like it there.

The final complication becomes work. I’m with a small branch of a larger company, and for two years we’ve been trying to restaff after three people walked out around Christmas. So unless a show falls on a Monday or Wednesday, chances are good I won’t be there. The good news is things are looking up here now, and I’ll be getting more time off, especially the days I want. I’m already eyeing up the impending Ghoul/Gwar show at the Croc Rock, and am antsy to finally get to see Megadeth, as well as Rob Zombie at the Montage Mountain venue again since the last show I went to for Megadeth was overbooked and I couldn’t see past the sea of people that were all six inches taller than me (and maybe a foot more on top of that for my fiancée) during the Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying anniversary tour.

I’ve had the chance to see plenty of bands, many of which I didn’t expect. Daath was a surprise band on a tab I only went to see one group off of. The same goes for Cynic who were an absolute treat, even if the vocalist put me to sleep with his soothing speaking voice. Of course that was on a tab with Dragonforce who horribly let me down, blaming all the faults on the stage design, and some guy who wouldn’t bring the guitarist a beer. Seriously. I’m not even kidding.

But, with that said, there are some that I wish I could have seen. There were so many groups that came by I just missed out on for one reason or another, and it sickens me. Exhumed was one, but the good news is they’re still around at least, and hopefully will be playing near me for the Summer Slaughter 2012 tour. I also wish I could have seen Kamelot while Roy was the vocalist. I really enjoyed his work in the band, and was really disheartened to hear he left before I got the chance to see him perform on stage. Recently there was Cavalera Conspiracy who I missed due to work, and the Iced Earth/Symphony X tour I couldn’t get to due to lack of funds to cover the rising cost of gas to and from Philadelphia that still has me really bummed out.

With all of those bands, though, I know I still have a chance to catch them. Sadly, there are others I know I’ll probably never get to see, and should have when I had the chance. Obligations be damned! And for obvious reasons, I’ll never have the chance to. Carcass is listed as still being active, but they seem to only be doing large festivals, mostly overseas, and I can’t afford to go to Wacken Open Air any time in the near future. There’s also At the Gates who did some reunion dates and broke up right after, having missed out courtesy work and the walk out. I’ll never get to see Pantera live because of the tragedy that took Dimebag from us, and if for some reason it ever happened it would not be the same in any sense. Death is another group I wish I had the chance to see at some point in my life, but never actually had the opportunity due to my age, lack of venue, lack of transportation, and other issues like that. Those also were reasons why I never got to see Pantera either. I never had the fortune to see Ronnie James Dio live either. I really wish I did, especially with the Heaven & Hell tour, everyone I knew went to that but me, and again that was because of work. I let it slide, I said to myself he’ll be around again. Clearly, I was wrong…

But with Dio, that was due to obligations. There’s one band I really kick myself for never seeing live pretty much every day: Type O Negative. I had the chance to see them live a few years ago, but didn’t. I was back to better health. I had the night off of work. I had the cash to get there. But, I just didn’t. Why? I didn’t feel like going. I was tired. Work was Hell the day before and just wasn’t in the mood to take in a live show. To this day I regret not going when they came through Allentown, all because I assumed the same thing as with Ronnie James Dio, that he’d be back and I’ll catch him next time when I’m more in the mood.

As time goes on, the window of opportunity to see many of today’s big names in Metal, as well as my personal favorite act, is growing smaller, but the good news is thing are looking up. I feel healthier, the work situation is getting better, so hopefully soon I’ll get to see a lot of the bands I’d like to watch on stage before they, or I, are gone. There’s a few shows coming up I have in my sights, including those outlined above already, and plenty of others. Recently a bar opened up maybe ten minutes from where I live, which has been doing some Metal shows lately for local acts, and the funny thing is it’s literally two minutes from where I work, so taking in a show before work is even more of an option now. So, hopefully, as the months go by in 2012, things will start picking up for me, and I’ll get to see many of the bands on my “Whichever Comes First Bucket List.”