Report: A Second Generation Of Metalheads Comes Of Age

Mark Holmberg of the Richmond Times-Dispatch has issued the following report:

Heavy metal — long reviled as the worst, most-evil arm of that musical devil known as rock'n' roll — is now some 40 years old.

A second generation of metalheads has come of age, joining the legions of graying headbangers with burning-skull tattoos and T-shirts that range from the moronic ("Kill Yourself") to the platonic ("Only The Dead Have Seen The End Of War").

In some cases, such as Friday's 18-band marathon metalfest at Portsmouth's Harbor Center, you can see fathers and sons happily torturing their eardrums together.

"I'm not going to be happy until I have grandpa and grandma," proclaimed underground music legend Dave Brockie. He's the lead singer and chief fake-blood-spewer for GWAR, a Richmond-based shock-rock/art/parody/metal band and one of the big draws for the Sounds of the Underground tour.

He said it's getting to be a regular occurrence to have older guys come up to him at shows, saying, "I've seen you 500 times. Here's my kid."

Heavy metal "is the most consistent form of rock-and-roll," Brockie added from the air-conditioned comfort of the pavil- ion's hospitality area.

Steve Knight of Highland Springs, sitting out in the amphitheater's tent-shaded 90-degree heat, agreed.

"It's never going to go away," said Knight, who had a flaming-skull shoulder tattoo and a matching skull on his METALLICA T-shirt.

He was collecting autographs for his 10-year-old son, Steven.

"My son loves metal," Knight said proudly. "He's obsessed with it. He's [also] an honor student" at Fair Oaks Elementary.

Knight happily pulled out a dollar bill signed by Randy Blythe, the screamer/growler for Richmond-based LAMB OF GOD, the reigning kings of metal and headliners of Friday's tour stop. "Steven: Stay metal."

He was also quite pleased with the autograph for his son from GWAR bassist Beefcake the Mighty: "Hey Steven: Stuff it!"

"I've seen GWAR like 30 times," Knight, 34, confessed.

For Earl Puffenbarger, a 43-year-old Alcoa factory worker who came to the show from Staunton, his lifelong love of metal has become an important connection with his son, Brett, who will turn 18 this Friday.

"It's our common ground," Puffenbarger drawled shortly after THROWDOWN played a blistering set. ("Those boys git-er-done," he said approvingly of THROWDOWN.)

"I like to hunt and fish," he explained. "I tried to pass that along. He tried it but really didn't like it."

So father and son began a hunt for live music, most of it metal. "I started him off on DEF LEPPARD. Took him to the FedEx Field in Washington to see METALLICA."

They've been all over together, tracking the likes of OZZY to new metal acts such as ALL THAT REMAINS, whose drummer is a friend of Brett's.

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