Top 5 Experiences of 2019

I’ve really come to appreciate the value of making memories and having experiences over the past few years. My policy is if I have the opportunity to do something, I always do it. Maybe it’ll be physically challenging at times but in the long run, the brain emphasizes good memories and de-emphasizes bad ones. If I attend a kickass concert I won’t remember my back hurting when I reflect later on, I’ll just remember the fun I had. With that in mind, I’ve gone absolutely nuts this year – and we’re only 8 months in so far.

#1: G1 Supercard – Madison Square Garden – New York City, NY – April 6, 2019

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I decided that I was going to Wrestlemania and was in the process of putting the trip together when I noticed that there was going to be a big show going down the night before. Non-fans might wonder what the point is when I’d be going to whats basically the Super Bowl of wrestling the next night. It’s a different style. WWE is “sports-entertainment,” glitz and glamour, characters and gimmicks. This show was put on by a joint effort of Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling, known for more of an athletic, hard-hitting, high-flying form of wrestling… and wow, did it live up to that description.

Ring of Honor has been around since the early 2000s and is basically the first big step on the way to the top. Many of the guys in WWE right now were in ROH 10-15 years ago. NJPW has been around since 1972 and is the biggest promotion in Japan. Slowly with ROH’s help they’ve been going global putting on shows all over the world and releasing content catering to an English-speaking audience.

I’ve never watched much ROH but have always been aware of them. I started watching NJPW’s biggest shows over the past couple years and have always liked what I saw. Again, their hard-hitting athletic style keeps you on the edge of your seat never knowing when the match might end. What I love the most about NJPW though are the entrances. The dimly-lit arenas contrast with the laser lights and hit my brain just right. I never thought I’d get to experience that in person without going to Japan! Take a look for yourself.

This was a historic show because MSG has been WWE’s home turf since at least the 50’s. There have been disagreements lately about royalty fees for taping shows there, so WWE backed out of their contract and ROH/NJPW swooped in, putting on the first non-WWE wrestling event.

Favorite moment: Bandido picks up both of his opponents on the top rope before hitting an amazing backflip slam.

#2: J-Sin Trioxin Tribute – Debonair Music Hall – Teaneck, NJ – June 30, 2019

trioxin.jpgBack in 2003, I was trying to get involved with horror punk bands and labels in any way possible. I’d send letters with a few bucks in the envelope to labels asking them to send back catalogs. I’d offer to make websites, design flyers, anything. I didn’t actually know how to do any of that stuff, but I figured it out on the fly. One day I saw that a big horror punk show was going down in Baltimore, MA that summer called Ghoul’s Night Out Fest 3.

In 2003 I had been through the wringer between all these sudden, severe health problems, losing touch with friends because I could no longer go to school, a brief stay in a psych hospital… so I figured this would be a good time to ask my parents for a favor. They agreed, found some stuff they wanted to do in that area, and off we went. There I was able to finally meet in person these bands that I had been in contact with over the internet. J-Sin Trioxin had just started playing bass for Blitzkid, one of my favorite bands in the horror scene at this time.

Sadly, J-Sin died last year at the age of 39. This show was to celebrate what would have been his 40th birthday. Members of his family were there including his mother who was brought to tears when she saw how many lives he touched.

As I was getting into horror punk, I read that the Misfits had a singer I’d never heard of named Myke Hideous. He wasn’t with them long, just filled in on a few tours. I explored his discography and liked everything I heard, he has a very unique sound. Once I read his autobiography, I really started liking the guy. He too had health problems throughout his life, dealing with cancer and the effects of its treatments. At this point in my life I felt very isolated. I was very sick yet being treated like an asshole as ME/CFS was even less understood then than it is now. Myke was the first person I identified with who was doing the types of things I wanted to do.

I had been in contact with Myke in recent years through Facebook. He quit the music scene many years ago, preferring to leave the bullshit behind. Pretty much every shocking reunion has happened by now, but I thought Myke was truly done. When I saw him post about a reunion show, I bought a ticket immediately.

I’ve never cared about autographs but I thought it’d be cool for Myke to sign my straight jacket. He was the first musician I saw use one as part of a performance, even before I started getting into Alice Cooper.

Favorite moment: Being able to stand front row center, something I never thought I’d be able to do at a concert, for a musician I never thought I’d be able to see.

#3: Wrestlemania 35 – MetLife Stadium – East Rutherford, NJ – April 7, 2019

wrestlemania.jpgMy two main goals for 2018 were to get into better shape through gradual exercise and to make/save more money. I had a trip late in mind for late that year that I knew may or may not work out. Turns out it didn’t, so I needed to find something big to do with the money I’d saved up. I saw that Wrestlemania was going to be within driving distance and I was off to the races.

Since WCW died in 2001, WWE hasn’t had any real competition. The shows started really suffering as a result, especially over the past few years. Each show felt more like a commercial for their brands and the network. I started watching less and less. However, I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to go to Wrestlemania!

The main theme of the show was that the fans were pulling for certain wrestlers that had put in a lot of work over the years but never got their just due. Everybody wanted to see Kofi Kingston defeat Daniel Bryan for the World Championship, and for Becky Lynch to win the Women’s Championship. The crowd got their wish and the place erupted into a sea of cheers.

Here’s Joan Jett playing Ronda Rousey to the ring in the main event.

Favorite moment: The overall atmosphere, the sights and sounds, fireworks… Wrestlemania!

#4: Niagara Falls / Buffalo Trip – August 3-5, 2019

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My dad and I wanted to go somewhere over the summer but couldn’t decide what to do. There were too many variables. Maybe we’d meet up with some of the Missouri family somewhere, maybe my brother would be joining us, maybe we’d go to Philly, Gettysburg, we didn’t know.

I got my passport last year for a trip that didn’t pan out – they wanted me to send in extra stuff to confirm my identity and the process took too long for the trip in mind… perhaps the fact that at that point I’d never filed taxes was the reason why. In any event, I got my passport and I wanted to use it.

I knew my dad was going to be taking that week off, so I sat myself down and proposed a trip exploring the area. Originally I included Toronto in the trip, but the more I read about Buffalo/Niagara Falls area, the more I realized there would be plenty to do there alone. Luckily a friend of mine sent me a list of things to do since she has spent a lot of time in that area, which helped me put a map together.

As a bonus, after getting back home we took a day trip with my mom to Hull, MA. Hull’s been on my radar for years for a secluded, concrete military fort there.

Favorite moment: Maid of the Mist boat ride under the falls.

#5: Bit Brigade – PAX East / Great Scott – Boston, MA / Allston, MA – March 30, 2019 / August 7, 2019

This was the third year in a row that I attended PAX East, a video game convention in Boston. Since you have to be on your feet the whole day it can be tough. The first year I was only there a few hours. This time, I was there all day.

As the day was coming to a close I heard that a concert would be taking place, so I got in line. I’ve always been a fan of old school video game music. I’ve played some songs on guitar, but my favorite thing to do is play drums over medleys of old video game tunes. There are a lot of video game cover bands out there but most overdo it with modern metal components like double bass drumming and pinch harmonics which isn’t my style. My favorite video game band has always been The Minibosses that play more of a straight rock style. As soon as Bit Brigade started playing I noticed that they sound almost identical to The Minibosses, but with a bonus: they also have somebody speed running the game on a big screen while they play the soundtrack!

Unfortunately, I had to leave halfway through their set at PAX so I could catch the last train back home. I’ve kept them on my radar since then and luckily they came back to do a show on August 7th. I wasn’t sure if I was going to go or not because I had just finished that tiring road trip, plus I spent the early hours of the day in Hull. I eventually decided that yes, I was going to go. I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Favorite moment: Contra, one of my favorites that I grew up with. Can you recite the Konami Code?

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