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Beef Of The Week #412: Marilyn Manson v Avenged Sevenfold

By | Published on Friday 13 July 2018

Marilyn Manson

A lesson I learned early on in my gig-going career is that you don’t wear the t-shirt of the main band you’re watching play. That’s super uncool. Other people at the show shouldn’t be given any clear indication that you like the artist you’ve just paid to see. I thought everyone was aware of this rule, but apparently it has passed Marilyn Manson by.

This week, a video was widely shared, showing the self-proclaimed ‘God Of Fuck’ on stage at the Spanish edition of the Download festival in Madrid last month. It’s short, weird, and offers very little context for what’s actually going on. But it got a lot of people talking, so I think we need to understand the events contained within. And together I’m sure we can crack it, especially if we do some decent forensic analysis. So, let’s go.

[00:00:00] Let’s just take in the mis en scène right at the beginning of the video here. We’re standing together watching a Marilyn Manson show. The crimson backdrop and the giant lectern bearing his logo are big giveaways of that fact. So is the presence of Marilyn Manson. Probably should have mentioned that first.

Manson is holding the microphone down to his left side, indicating that it is not currently in use. Guitarist Tyler Bates is also in a position that suggests he is not currently performing. Both instead are looking across the stage at something else which appears more interesting and/or more important than playing any music.

In addition to Manson, Bates and drummer Gil Sharone – who is seated behind the drum kit, as he should be – there are a number of other figures on stage. Three young women are visible from around the middle across to the left side as we view it (stage right). They do not appear to be performers. One – dressed in a pink bra and black skirt – has her back to the audience. Another is holding what appears to be a large poster or flag. A third, further to the side of the stage, wears a mixture of colours, which may or may not be tie-dyed.

It is not these women that Mason and Bates are looking at though. To the very left of the screen we can see another person climbing onto the stage. Bent over as they clamber, we can see that this person is wearing a black t-shirt, part of their right arm is visible confirming its short-sleeved nature.

[00:00:02] The camera zooms in on Manson, who raises his arm to point to the opposite side of the stage. We can also see now that the flag (it doesn’t show signs of folding or being rolled up like you would expect from a poster, so it’s a flag) being held by the woman closest to him bears a photograph of Manson in a red top hat and suit.

[00:00:07] A man appears from the left side of the screen – it’s presumably the same man we just saw climbing up onto the stage seconds earlier. Arms outstretched, he has a green cloth backpack hanging over the front of his t-shirt. In his left hand, he seems to be holding a flag. Yes, another flag.

The woman in the pink bra is now facing the audience, her hands lifted to her face. The possible tie-dye woman has joined the other two in front of the lectern. Manson holds his right hand up to them, fingers splayed, indicating that he does not require their protection at this time.

[00:00:08] “Uh uh, wait”, he says into the microphone, which is still in his left hand, only now lifted to his mouth. A slight flick of his head to the left suggests that this statement is directed to the advancing man, who appears to be coming in for a hug. The man then drops his arms and turns sharply to his left in order to join the three women in front of the lectern.

There is a Reddit discussion about this video featuring a number of people who claim to have been in attendance. One claims that this man was invited up on stage because he had been among a large number of audience members who booed Manson during the first 30 minutes of the show. But the fact that the man immediately attempts to hug Manson would indicate otherwise.

Also, why are the other three non-performers up there if this is all about challenging boo-ers? One is holding a large image of Manson, remember. And we can now see that tie-dye woman is smiling. Actually, we can now also see that she’s not wearing any tie-dyed garments whatsoever. But it’s too late to change her name for the purposes of this narrative, so we’re just going to have to stick with it.

A further question arises here. When denied a Manson cuddle, the male audience member immediately knows where he should be standing. Which suggests some level of discussion about what is happening here has gone on prior to the maker of this video commencing their filming.

[00:00:09] Manson says something unintelligible, which sounds like, “talk to that person”. It appears to be an indication that the new arrival on stage should stand next to the woman with the Manson flag.

[00:00:10] The non-performers all smile wildly. Tie-dye woman holds up an outstretched arm with clenched fist towards black t-shirt guy. That’s what we’re calling him now, by the way. The guy who just clambered up on stage and was refused a hug is black t-shirt guy.

[00:00:11] Tie-dye woman and black t-shirt guy bump fists. Both seem happy to be there. These are definitely not the actions of someone who was recently booing the performer, so let’s discount that argument entirely.

[00:00:14] Black t-shirt guy lifts the flag he is holding over his head in order to wear it like a cape. “You should take your shirt off”, Manson says. Could this be an attempt to subvert the traditional “show me your tits” trope of rock music by the famously progressive Manson? You know, get the guy topless, not the girls.

[00:00:17] Appearing confused, the man lifts the aforementioned green bag with both hands, making a facial expression that implies the statement “you want me to take this green bag off my chest?” Tie-dye woman and pink bra lady’s faces are also beginning to drop into confused states.

[00:00:18] Manson lifts his arms and pinches at his shoulders. A classic, “no, your fucking shirt, like I just said” non-verbal communication.

[00:00:19] Black t-shirt guy pulls the neck of his black t-shirt and appears to also verbally seek confirmation that Manson really means he should take his black t-shirt off.

[00:00:21] “It’s not my band”, Manson says into the microphone while pointing at black t-shirt guy’s black t-shirt. “It’s a different band”.

[00:00:23] Confused beyond comprehension, black t-shirt guy grips onto his flag and waits for this to stop being an issue. Perhaps his confusion is based on his knowledge of the band t-shirt at gigs rule. Of course it’s not a Marilyn Manson t-shirt, he is watching a Marilyn Manson show. You never wear the t-shirt of the main act you’re watching play.

That said, now that the green bag has been moved slightly, we can see that he is wearing an Avenged Sevenfold t-shirt. They were due to perform a headline set once Manson was finished, which may indicate that he is not in fact aware of the rules. Although it’s possible that in his green bag is another band t-shirt, which he intends to change into before Avenged Sevenfold take to the stage.

[00:00:25] “You can wear that flag, instead of your shirt”, says Manson jovially, like this is an entirely normal and reasonable situation. The woman with the flag looks down at black t-shirt guy’s Avenged Sevenfold t-shirt. Presumably at this point she is pleased that she brought along a massive flag with Manson’s face on it to distract from the Nike t-shirt she is hiding behind it.

The graininess of the video means that, while tie-dye woman does seem to be wearing a band t-shirt, it is not clear if it bears Manson’s name and/or likeness. Pink bra lady is clearly not wearing any t-shirt at all. And the bra is also not clearly branded with any band name.

[00:00:28] Black t-shirt guy moves his green bag. “Take the sh…”, says Manson, again motioning at his shoulders.

[00:00:30] Black t-shirt guy moves behind the three women to put down his green bag and flag. It’s not entirely clear why he does this. Maybe he fears that this is all a ruse by Manson to steal these items from him, his vision likely to be obscured for a second or two if he complies with the command to remove his t-shirt.

[00:00:32] He returns to his previous position. Maintaining the confused expression, he motions again at his shirt, seemingly seeking absolute confirmation from Manson that he wants him to remove the garment.

[00:00:33] Manson waves his hand down towards where black t-shirt guy just placed his belongings.

[00:00:34] This seemingly reminds black t-shirt guy that he was supposed to be wearing the flag instead of the Avenged Sevenfold t-shirt and moves back towards it.

[00:00:35] “Yeah, yeah. Shuh, shuh, shuh”, says Manson, pleased that the plan is coming together.

[00:00:37] “Oh no, take the shirt off”, says Manson, his brief joy dashed, as black t-shirt guy – now holding his flag again – looks back still confused.

[00:00:40] “Take this off”, he says, tugging at the Avenged Sevenfold t-shirt.

[00:00:41] “Cos it’s not my band”, repeats Manson.

[00:00:42] Black t-shirt guy lifts his Avenged Sevenfold t-shirt slightly to indicate that he has nothing else on underneath.

[00:00:43] “Put this on instead”, Manson replies, grabbing black t-shirt guy’s flag to reaffirm his previous solution to this challenge.

[00:00:45] Tie-dye woman then points excitedly to the left side of the stage (stage right). We get a good shot of her t-shirt, but I have still been unable to identify its branding and whether it fell foul of Manson’s ‘no other bands on t-shirts on my stage’ rule. Maybe future scientists will be able to complete this part of my research when the technology becomes available. It is also not clear what has caused her to become so animated all of a sudden.

[00:00:49] Black t-shirt guy removes his Avenged Sevenfold t-shirt. The crowd cheers.

[00:00:50] Manson holds out what we can now see is a Peruvian flag for black t-shirt guy to cover his bare chest with.

[00:00:53] The woman with the other flag now grins widely, never happier to be receiving no attention whatsoever from one of her heroes.

[00:00:54] Black t-shirt guy holds up the flag proudly. Manson raises his right arm and points down at him in a ‘this guy should be really proud of himself’ motion.

Tie-dye woman and pink bra lady are now engaged in conversation. About what, we do not know. It’s possible that one is saying: “That guy should be really proud of himself”. It may be that the other is replying: “I know, he totally took his shirt off eventually. I am proud for him”. Equally, they may both just being saying, “what the fuck is going on” over and over again to each other.

[00:00:56] Manson turns to the audience, hand raised in the air, with the body language of a man who has just achieved something important and worthy of wider recognition.

[00:00:58] Manson turns and begins to walk away towards the right side of the stage (stage left). Tie-dye woman again looks back towards the left side of the stage (stage right). It is still not clear what it is over there that has caught her attention. Perhaps a loved one or a close friend. We do not know. Black t-shirt guy continues to stand proud, now pointing his index fingers toward the audience, while still gripping the flag, which now partially obscures his face. The woman with the Manson flag and pink bra lady both look up at him like something has just happened.

[00:01:02] Sharone introduces the next song with two hits of the hi-hat, before the rest of the band begin playing. Manson, now on the opposite side of the drum kit, points back towards black t-shirt guy, who has now begun to lower his flag and has taken a step forward.

[00:01:03] Video ends.

At the beginning of this I said I felt some full-on forensic analysis of the video might bring us some clarity and answers as to what was going on here. Sadly, I was wrong.