L’Amour and the History of Metal

If you’ve been following my research all this time, you’ll know I’m a big scavenger of all things NY metal. A lot of my research hasn’t only been about the women in NY’s extreme metal scene but to the overall subculture in general.

As of late, I’ve been looking at venues and their histories involving where metal and underground shows were taking place back when extreme metal was growing. After all, the subculture had to be existing somewhere! One such place that was brought up to me was L’Amour.

Back in November 2014, I met a fellow presenter at the Metal and Cultural Impact (MACI) Conference who was from Jersey, presenting on Metal and the USSR. He told me about L’Amour, a venue in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge area that closed down in 2004. Sadly, it was a place I never got to venture to because I really had no connections to the metal scene in the boroughs during my teens. My relationship with metal only became serious in my mid-20’s, during college and beyond. And to add, in the 1970’s when they were having some of their awesome shows, I wasn’t even born…so yeah.

What’s great is that just like Metal Kingdom, the Queens venue that I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, L’Amour also catered to others in an otherwise small and marginalized scene of underground music. It’s closing most likely led the same crowd to start hanging around at places like Metal Kingdom. It wasn’t until 2010-2011, that Saint Vitus and Acheron, both Brooklyn venues opened their doors.

From MetalSucks.net

From MetalSucks.net

These venues allowed for folks to find a place to connect and participate in something that larger society just did not get. Moreover, what made going to such a venue exciting and provocative was the surrounding air of the beginnings of the extreme metal scene. Early shows debuted what would later become a who’s who of metal royalty, including bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, Iron Maiden, King Diamond and Overkill.

I thought it was pretty neat to find wordpress blogger Maya over at VisuaLingual post a write up about her experience and time with L’Amour. She makes a beautiful case of women participating in the scene during the 90’s, when the number of women were even fewer than today.

Kreator at LAmour

Keator @ L’Amour, 1978–Image from Thrasheaters.com

And finally, my librarian self was happy to see a book in the works by resident L’Amour DJ, Alex Kayne called, “LAmour: Rock Capital Of Brooklyn” to be published in 2016. I’m sure it will stand to be a significant work of reference for other metal academics like myself.

L'Amour Book by Alex Kayne, Image from Amazon.com

L’Amour Book by Alex Kayne, Image from Amazon.com

Welcome to Metal Kingdom Documentary

With all the ongoing research I’ve been doing for my thesis, I came upon this gem. It’s a documentary produced back in 2006-2009 by Denise Gaberman called Welcome to Metal Kingdom (see video below). Gaberman chronicled the lifespan of a small metal venue that opened in Queens, NY, back in 2006 called Metal Kingdom. The film is about 35 minutes long and offers a nice snippet of what the metal community, especially the Pan-Latino metal community looked like in the early 2000’s. It documents the year-long journey of the owner, Salvador Gil, and his partner Edwin¬†Mazariegas,¬†towards¬†maintaining the venue’s life amid financial, political, and renovation complications.

Having seen Sam Dunn’s series, Metal Evolution, I found this documentary, in contrast, even more fascinating and quite different due to its exploration of the ethnic groups participating in NY’s local metal scene. Metal has so often been stereotyped as “white male adolescent” music and this documentary contradicts this notion and in fact shows the director’s perceptiveness to include interviews with women and people of color within the scene. Of particular interest to me were the interviews with two sisters (Denise and Wanda Ramirez) who were in two different extreme metal bands in which they employed male vocal stylings-something that is still rare in the more commercial extreme metal bands that are fronted by women. Add to this, that we still see very few extreme metal bands with women period.

Since my research is ongoing, I hope to reach out and get further insight on both the men and women from the Pan-Latino community as it definitely looks like a gap in local NY Metal scholarship.