Heavy Metal Thunder
Jan. 29, 2011
Pike Restaurant & Bar
I took one of many swigs from a Pabst Blue Ribbon and was greeted with a blond hair that was at least 12 inches long. On any other night at any other venue, I would have returned my beer and asked for another. But not on Saturday and not at Long Beach's Pike Restaurant & Bar because on this particular evening, I knew where the hair came from, and it wasn't the staff. It was the Hessian standing next to me, rocking out to the headbanging sounds of Heavy Metal Thunder, a DJ night thrown by Katon W. De Pena.
The Hirax lead singer isn't a traditional DJ in any sense of the word. Or maybe he is and what we now consider a traditional DJ--you know, spin records and not speak--isn't so traditional at all. Instead of sitting back and letting the music do the talking, De Pena plays about five or six tunes, then takes to the mic for all sorts of non-spinning activities.
On Saturday, first, it was trivia. The master of ceremonies invited the crowd to look to the television screens for a slideshow featuring photographs of metal bands. The first audience member to name 10 groups won a Judas Priest CD. Then it was back to the music, which included lots of requests for Slayer as well as classic metal by Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, Suicidal Tendencies and UFO.
Next De Pena emceed a beer-drinking contest won by a guy who said his name was "Mario the Beast." The rules were simple: two rounds of one beer--drink, pause, do it again. After gulping down two drinks in a flash, the longhaired contestant proved he wasn't just the beast, but also the man. He won a pitcher of Pabst Blue Ribbon, the equivalent of a million dollars in the metal scene.
Then more metal by the likes of AC/DC, Scorpions, Ozzy and Motörhead before De Pena invited the crowd to participate in an air-guitar contest to Metallica's "Seek & Destroy." To say this was the highlight of the participatory events would be a massive understatement. Not only did the contestants use inflatable guitars as props, but also they all knew the song, which meant they weren't just fiddling their fingers in the air. They were actually playing the song.
De Pena ended the evening with a debate between who was the better band--Metallica or Slayer. Needless to say, there was no actual debate because to the metalheads in attendance, the answer is Slayer. It always has been, and it always will be.
The best part of Heavy Metal Thunder was the cool vibe that permeated the Pike. Metal dudes and metal chicks hung with hipster dudes and hipster chicks and all was well, like they were at freakin' Woodstock or something. Not one person who just happened to be at the Pike seemed upset or worried about the massive amounts of rock taking place. In fact, the general populace seemed pleasantly surprised and welcomed the change of pace.
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Oh, yeah, I almost forgot: It was fucking loud. Which is exactly how it had to be.
The Crowd: Long-haired dudes dressed in all black, 20-something hipsters with visible arm tattoos and two guys in Slipknot T-shirts.
Overheard In the Crowd: "When that guy stood up for the beer contest, I knew he was going to win."
Random Notebook Dump: Regardless of the event, there sure are a lot of good-looking women at the Pike.
Motörhead, "Ace of Spades"
Iron Maiden, "The Number of the Beast"
Suicidal Tendencies, "You Can't Bring Me Down"
AC/DC, "Hells Bells"
Metallica, "Seek & Destroy"
Scorpions, "Another Piece of Meat"
Ozzy Osbourne, "Over the Mountain"
Rainbow, "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll"
AC/DC, "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap"
Girlschool, "C'mon Let's Go"
Napalm Death, "Nazi Punks Fuck Off"
Thin Lizzy, "Emerald"
UFO, "Only You Can Rock Me"
Iron Maiden, "Where Eagles Dare"
Pantera, "Yesterday Don't Mean Shit"
Sepultura, "Chaos A.D."
Slayer, "War Ensemble"