August is here. July has come and gone in the blink of an eye. The Bean and I have had an outstanding summer with campouts and an impromptu Pantera concert. We were lucky to find a deal on some hammocks and switched from a tent to hammock sleeping. I also discovered that we could evacuate our makeshift campsite in under a minute with even a hint of rain and far away thunder. It's pretty impressive, considering I am waking up from a deep sleep.
Since it will be a month of Sundays before the man blog is on a Friday, I have to share some mountain pie ideas we have tried. Browned hamburger with onions and cheese in a mountain pie is possibly the best cheeseburger I have had. Ham and cheese are also note-worthy. But the best we came up with is the Snickers mountain pie. We put chocolate, caramel candy, and peanuts in a mountain pie iron between two slices of bread. The only issue is waiting for it to cool enough not to melt off your lips. As always, the quality of any mountain pie depends on cooking it slowly. My approach is to put the iron in the coals for 20 seconds per side, then let it sit for a few minutes. Check the toasted level and repeat until golden brown. The cast iron stays heated but doesn't overcook the outside while leaving the inside cold.
After a solid month of campouts, every time the weather was fit, my little buddy came home from an outing with her mom and some friends and informed me that "Pantera is playing Friday!" I do not really think that Jordan is a fan of heavy metal. She knows that once upon a time, I was fun and went to concerts, and I am a fan. When I was fun, I would have never thought to check the weather before we bought tickets, but here we are. I was on every site, ensuring the chance of storms was low, and the heat index wasn't awful. Nothing was guaranteed for good weather, but Columbus took a chance, and that was not more than a boat ride. Tickets were bought. This time I went for seats, not the lawn. I had no plans to join a pit of chaos at this point in life or expose my fourteen-year-old daughter to a mosh pit.
We did our pre-trip stock-up of Gatorade and water. (Definitely a different twist on stocking the cooler years ago.) Then we started the drive. It was nice to have GPS and not have to rely on a printed-out version of Mapquest, tripping the odometer every time we made a turn. We made it in time to see the first opening act, SNAFU. We tested the lawn seating and our seats to decide where she preferred. Then it was time to buy a shirt. You can't have the entire experience without having merch to prove you were there. Next up was Lamb of God. Both openers were solid and paid respect to the Abbott brothers, two members of Pantera that had passed away.
Then it was time for the why we made the trip. It had been over twenty years since I was at a Pantera concert, and I can honestly say they have aged like fine wine. One thing that always sticks out to me is that many fans have tattoos starting as soon as their fingernails stop and are solid ink, as far as you can see. They look scary and intimidating but are the most polite crowd you could ask for. They are absolutely the best folks out there. Everyone is there to have a good time and to look after one another. You absolutely cannot judge a book by its cover.
When the band took the stage, it was like the entire crowd was in awe. I can honestly say that I had goosebumps for the first five minutes; this performance was different. They had always been full speed ahead without a second to catch their breath. Over the last two decades, Pantera has developed into something bigger, more than they ever were, if you will. The intensity was still as much as ever. This time they took a breath and worked the crowd. This time, they achieved the intensity with showmanship, not just raw aggression. There was not a moment when any of the band members seemed the slightest bit off. They had aged into the role of performers and entertainers. The band that was once a fast-moving muscle car with no power brakes or power steering was now a Lincoln Town car. Pantera was still just as fast and capable, but now with more style and grace.
A little over halfway through the show, it was announced that Rex Brown, the bassist, had just turned 74. According to the all-knowing Internet, he turned 59. Either way, I am 42 and would need the weekend to recover. Those guys have an entire tour ahead of them. They are the dairy farmers of the music industry. Some of my favorite folks in the world are Pennsylvania dairy farmers. They just don't stop. They keep on doing what they love and never factor in the hours they put in or the lifetime of commitment it takes to keep on keeping on. These guys had found their purpose and embraced why they were put on the earth. I can't imagine touring the States at my age, let alone theirs. I hope they are making serious bank for the wear and tear they are putting themselves through. I seriously doubt that money has anything to do with it.
Many of them are talented enough musicians that they could be sitting in a recording studio, keeping the lights on, and at home every night. I realized that not only was I beside myself to experience a live show from my favorite band with my favorite young person, but we were watching talented artisans performing their passion and their purpose in life. Pantera has been making the same heavy, aggressive music when they could not pay a radio station to play it and just did what they loved. The rest of the world finally caught on. After four hours of what upper management classifies as music that is "just so angry." I thought perhaps aggressive was a better term. Not a single person on the stage was angry. They were having the time of their lives. They were humble enough to thank all of the fans for coming out, the crew for putting everything together, and the event staff. Angry folks are never humble or thankful; genuine happy folks are.
Until next month, if you get a chance to see "The Cowboys from Hell," I would strongly recommend it. Although I doubt their horse-riding abilities, they seem like pretty well-grounded folks at this point in their lives. I suppose the marketing for "The Pennsylvania Dairy Farmers That Are Actually from Texas of The Heavy Metal World" would indeed be a marketing nightmare.