Do people in South Jersey like metal?  I’d almost argue no, and that is part of the problem.  What is the problem?  Roughly, the problem is the lack of support for these bands.  Yes, when going to a show one may see a new band with tons of “fans.”  Well, after going to a decent amount of shows I hate to say it, but most of the time they’re just friends of the band.  Friends who may not even like metal, but may have felt bad if they didn’t go to at least one show.  Then reality sinks in.  Show after show the “fanbase” gets smaller and smaller.  Yes, there will be those few faithful friends, and even a handful of real fans, which is great.

Just a few weeks ago I went to a local show in Atlantic City to see Shattered Sanctity (a local band), and it was kind of a weird show.  It was in a bar with a section set up for musical acts.  The genre of the night was metal, so I had mixed feelings about the show.  On one hand I love metal, but on the other hand I don’t love when shows end up having 3 bands that sound exactly the same.  Well, the metal loving side of me actually had a pretty decent time.  However, it seemed the other metal band’s members didn’t share, or really didn’t even attempt to share the same open-mindedness (now, some members of bands did, but for the most part they didn’t, and this is for nearly every local show I’ve been to).  Making things worse, the first band was nearly an hour late.  Come on, metal already has mixed preconceptions, why would you want to feed into some people’s bad image of the genre?  Plus, how will you get fans if you don’t try to be respectable to them by playing when you say you will, and in turn throwing off everyone else’s set?

I was also disappointed when very few band members would watch other bands, because at the very least at least fellow metal fans would be able to give bands new fans.  Now that that’s done, I would like to address the original question:

Do people in South Jersey like metal?

I think they do.  However, I don’t think mainstream society knows what metal is.  People seem to assume metal is either Iron Maiden and Metallica and that’s it or it’s Asking Alexandria and Black Veil Brides.  This simply isn’t true.  Metal has a ton of subgenres often having their own subgenres.  It’s hard to blame people for not knowing this, as Asking Alexandria and Black Veil Bride knockoffs (well, BVB is a knockoff of many bands) run rampant through the area.  In all honesty, while I listen to post-hardcore here and there, it is easy to see why it would easily turn people away from the genre (how long can you listen to nothing but screaming and autotune, or in the case of BVB, playing too much with an image and one type of fanbase rather than simply making music).

At the same time, we don’t need anymore Iron Maiden and Metallica knock offs.  That era is over.  Sure, it’s cool in middle and high school because kids are just finding metal then and their parents have those albums, but why do people rarely progress to the modern era?

So, I just spent some time saying how the scene is bad, but now I’ll say what I think can help it:

  • There needs to be more originality.  Friends can only go to so many shows for however many of their friends are in bands that sound nearly the same.  Be different, give a reason for your friends to come back, but more importantly for the people walking out of a venue to stop in their tracks and stay for something that sounds unique.  Not everyone will stop (as some people aren’t metal fans) but I wouldn’t be surprised of the real fans stopped if they heard some gothic, power, doom, symphonic, melodic, or female fronted metal (that isn’t an Evanescence ripoff) in a sea of screamers that populate the current scene.  Or do something daring: do what you want, don’t follow a genre note for note.
  • Change your set list.  Nobody wants to see/hear the same songs played each show.  I know it is hard at first, but try to have at least one song that switches up with every show.  This will also allow your real fans to say “oh man, I really wanted to hear [insert name of other song], that’s my favorite one.”
  • Support other bands.  Watch their set.  Connect with them through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.  Building social connections allows bands to promote other bands, which leads to my next point.
  • The scene needs to be tight knit.  There shouldn’t be any bands not helping out others because it’s not the exact same type of metal they play.  With such a weak scene, bands need to do as much as they can to unite.
  • Respect your fans.  This can be done while on stage by talking to them or after your set when you’re going to watch the next band.
  • Now, this one is more based on what I believe and others will say just the opposite, but I don’t particularly believe in pushing demo discs or anything of the sort on people.  Simply say after the set that discs or any other merchandise are available, and where/how it can be attained.  By pushing it on people it may seem a bit pushy, and nobody likes a pushy person.
  • This last one may throw people off, but hear me out.  Go to shows and avidly support bands outside your genre.  After all, they’re still just a bunch of local people playing music.  Show them respect and chances are they’ll do the same for you.

There you have it, I’ll probably think of more things to add to this list, but I think it’s a brief analysis of the scene and a basis of what can be done about it.  Sure, not everyone will end up being a metal fan, but right now the scene needs as much help as it can get.

I believe all music fans, deep down, will find they enjoy all types of music (to varying degrees of course) and a strong local scene (of any genre and anywhere) can definitely help bring out that music lover in all of us.