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A few days ago I attended a Dave Matthews Band concert and quite frankly, after seeing what went on there, I'm concerned for this nation's youth.

If that was their idea of what stadium rock is all about, heaven help us! Where were the guys outside the stadium hawking glow-in-the-dark headband/necklaces? Where were the freaks you used to see only at concerts and other similarly degenerate affairs? Where were the diligent security guys, checking for bottles and cameras in every woman's purse and under every guy's shirt at the entrance? Where were the illegitimate T-shirt and concert paraphernalia vendors? Where were the fans trying to sneak down from "the nosebleeds?" Where was the sense of excitement and anticipation, and maybe even a little danger? Where were the drugs!?

Motley Crue chose nitro funny car racing to send their message to the masses. Drag racing's color, speed, sound, danger, and sense of urgency are perfectly suited to the band's hard-drivin' image. (Photo by Ian Tocher)

Instead, it was a neat and orderly scene all around, full of fresh-faced kids and twenty-somethings from the suburbs with cell phones stuck to their ears, the latest from Abercrombie & Fitch on their backs, and $7 beers clutched in their hands. The only person I saw escorted out was a young girl who looked more confused than rebellious or dangerous. She probably put her feet on the chair in front of her or did something similarly threatening to the shorts-and-golf-shirt clad "safety personnel." Maybe it's just me, but there was just something more authoritative -- and yes, even comforting -- about a bald, 280-pound muscleman in a black T-shirt with SECURITY stretched in yellow across his ample shoulders.

The stadium (with a large section in the middle barricaded to prevent damage to the precious sports field) was totally inappropriate as a concert venue. The band was so squeaky clean and over produced, it was like watching Journey on steroids. The fans seemed to feel obligated to enjoy the self-indulgent jam sessions that interrupted even the most radio-friendly pop songs. I may be wrong, but I just can't picture too many of those people kicking back in the parking lot with the tunes blaring and genuinely grooving to a jazzy 10-minute saxophone solo like those that were repeatedly (repeatedly!) foisted upon us.

Watching it all unfold made me feel a little like Homer Simpson at Hullabalooza. About the only thing I recognized from my misspent youth were the legions of scantily clad teenage girls trying to look sophisticated, but who were young enough that they still seemed to be playing "dress up." I guess some things just never go out of style.

Anyway, as I watched Mr. Matthews et al, I got to thinking, if his band and show were a racing series it probably would best resemble endurance sports car racing: technically brilliant and capable of exhilarating bursts of performance, but also prone to lengthy periods of redundancy that leave you waiting for something - anything - to happen. Dave's fans also struck me as being like some sporty car types who tend to look on any other kind of racing as more suited for lowest-common-denominator mouth breathers than for aficionados such as themselves.

Drag racing, on the other hand, more closely resembles the heavy metal shows I recall and favor from the '70s and '80s: loud and obnoxious with lots of flame and smoke, and straight to the point! The fans of these shows are more likely to say, "If you don't get it, you probably never will - just don't hassle me, man."

Like Iron Maiden in days of yore, drag racing needs to emphasize its over-the-top action to modern-day fans. The demographics for drag racing - excluding the import craze, which may someday save the sport from itself - suggests that current fans are getting older and there's not enough new ones to take their place. But I'm sure for every future corporate clone in the stands at the Dave Matthews show, there's a future gearhead out there who loves Mercyful Fate, AC/DC, and maybe even a little Led Zeppelin.

The point is, when people like me go to a show (and you, I suspect, since you're at Drag Racing Online), they want to see something out of the ordinary. They want something that they can only see in a special setting. Heavy metal and drag racing both satisfy this desire. Both blow things up - often with spectacular results - and seriously, what more could you ask for? $6 beers?

See you at the races!



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