by John Bryan

Lucking into Pantera backstage passes was like winning the lottery to any greasy 90’s metal kid. I most likely spent the day of the show in a buzz of illicit substances and live journal posting. I don’t even remember getting to the show or much of the actual sets by the bands- I’m sure it was highlighted by clouds of weed smoke, Philip Anselmo’s usual rants on the state of metal and stopping songs in an attempt to goad the crowd into “not being pussies”, Soulfly doing classic Sepultura covers (which let’s face it, was 50% of why I showed up) and morbid angel’s trademark self-inflicted stage wounds. I do remember as the show was wrapping up, looking at my friend Mike and having a stomach that was tied in knots as we nodded at each other and grabbed our backstage passes, ready to cash in our proverbial golden tickets.

We walked over to the stairs that headed to the locker room that has graced such greats as Cyndi Lauper, Twisted Sister (in both full makeup and without), and the classic ECW roster of professional wrestlers. We were greeted by two burly security guards and a guy whose face I recognized from the Pantera home videos – “Kat” Brooks. We waved our passes and they let us through, but not before letting us know that next time we should bring a big bag of green “backstage pass” and they’d let us through much more quickly.

We scurried down a flight of steps into the backstage area, found a corner next to the door and parked ourselves there- content to observe, biding our time until we got to meet our heroes. Suddenly, we heard a booming voice yell “SHOTS!” And in another seemingly slow motion moment, Vinnie Paul from Pantera comes around a corner holding a tray of whiskey shots. That’s when things got real. In a total fanboy moment we smiled and raised our hands as he walked right over to us, looked us dead in the face, said “Nope!” and quickly passed by us and handing shots to the other partygoers.

We hung around for a little while attempting to talk to a few strangers before leaving sober and dejected. Turns out the other members of the bands had been doing an autograph session in another room of the building the whole time. We left a conflicted mix of rejection and excitement, walking out into the cold March air to meet our friends and went off in an attempt to unsuccessfully erase that memory forever.

Where are those passes today? Who knows. Probably should have held onto them. Like so many other poor decisions in my life at the time it never occurred to me that I was in a room filled with drunk touring metalheads who were expecting the intoxicated college girls they had given those passes to the night before- and got us instead. Funny thing about hindsight. Maybe I would’ve handled it differently, but probably not.