Black Voices – Nick Berry

On Tuesday June 2nd, I, like many others, posted a black square to my Instagram with the #BlackOutTuesday hashtag. Almost immediately I realized that this was not nearly doing enough and that if I truly feel Black Lives Matter then I have to do something more. I figure something I do have is my modest platform here at DC Heavy Metal. With that in mind I started reaching out to some of my black friends to ask them if they’d like to make a guest post on DCHM. The subject matter of each post is entirely up to them, it does not have to be related to metal or even the DMV area. This is the fifth of this series of posts I’m calling Black Voices and I hope you take the time to listen to them. You can find all the posts in this series using the Black Voices tag here.

In this installment of the Black Voices series my friend Nick Berry talks about his experiences booking metal shows at the now defunct So Addictive Lounge in Herndon and how his race played a factor in local media coverage, or the lack thereof, at the time. Nick lives in Colorado these days but he was a staple in the area’s DIY metal scene for some time and I felt he should be included if he wanted to be.

Hey everybody. Cheers from Colorado. Big shout out to Chris. Thank you again for letting me chime in considering I kind of dipped out on the dead of night. For those that don’t know me, my name is Nick Berry. I used to book some shows over at So Addictive a few years ago and many years ago I played in a band called High Five For Suicide. That was a fun enterprise for what it was. I’m going to try to keep things short and succinct but talk about my experiences booking shows over at So Addictive and wonderful people I met.

Actually I gotta say for the most part everyone was really wonderful. There weren’t too many “shit pickles” that I had to deal with. That being said, I stil have my fair share of very interesting, some would say sideways, interactions with people. Just starting out I fell into booking shows really by accident. An ex-girlfriend of mine called me up and she was working at a bar that was just doiong random things on a night to night basis. She was wondering if I might be able to bring in some metal bands for like a night and we could see how that went down but– yeah doing this shit outside is always fun haha– I said fuck it I’m gonna go ahead and do this. I hadn’t really wanted to talk to her but you know, an opportunity is an opportunity so I struck while the iron was hot and I got in there and I talked to the owner, this guy Dewey, and he was incredibly skeptical, mostly because of this [implying his skin color] which was a shame. He was like, “you book metal shows?” and I was like, “yeah man [I] used to do it for a long time. I’m sure I could bring in some people” and he was really skeptical but he took a risk and he said “go for it, I’ll give you a month to see what you can do” so I went ahead and called up some friends, booked a show and it kind of went from there. One show kind of lead to another and after a few months Dewey was like “hey, why don’t you go ahead and do this on a pretty regular basis, like every week” and at this point I was like, “aw man, heh heh.” I think I was going to school at the time. I needed some help in booking, trying to book at that level so I went ahead and called my buddies Steve Kerchner and Helena Goldberg and they went ahead and helped me out through the next year booking shows on a weekly basis and bringing in all sorts of wonderful talent. We saw So Addictive change from just a regular bar and becoming a gay night club, I think the first of its kind in Northern Virginia. That was really rad. It was so rad actually that we got interviewed by the Washington Post and that was an interesting experience in itself. They came in with a camera crew and everything and filmed the nightclub and filmed some bands playing and went ahead and interviewed me and I’m sure because I’m not the greatest speaker in the world I had a billion and one gaffs and I probably came off as like the worst scum bag on the planet but I’ll never know because my interview was never actually put into any of what the Washington Post did so you never heard about a black guy named Nick Berry who may have been booking metal shows but you did hear about So Addictive having metal shows on Monday nights because they filmed something else and decided to put that out there. You can say what it is or whatever, I don’t know, but I’m pretty frickin’ sure it was racism but eh, you know gotta throw that out there in the ether and whatever bygones. You move on but I do remember it pissing me off a lot because hey you know, you want to be recognized for the things you do and you should lay things out there as they are and not cover things up that’s kind of hokum, ya know? But that was very much an interesting thing.

Other little ramblings that have happened to me like, I’ve been bugged on the Metro about t-shirts and stuff that I’ve worn, and mostly because I understand the climate of today with metal being fashion but generally people don’t wear, as fashion items, clothing from bands you can’t exactly buy from Hot Topic so it’s always interesting when people come up to you and ask you about your more underground hoodies and whatnot. I guess you could talk about gatekeeping and everything else and how this is problematic and how people of color tend to have to deal with more gatekeepers than others. They’re not given just the benefit of the doubt and that’s sad. Thankfully that doesn’t happen that much in DC, home to Bad Brains, but you still see it. Definitely see it out in the burbs with the more elitist types. Generally I want to say probably elitism is used to be discriminatory in our scene and it’s something that we should go ahead and confront and say something about. You see something, say something. It’s not good to keep your mouth shut. None of us are perfect people. We should always be striving to be better. This is one of those moments that we could really go ahead and reflect on where we’ve been and where we can go and how we can improve on our lives, how we treat everyone, and not just in the metal scene but in a day to day level. Music is for everybody. There’s not much else to say there about that. Music is for everybody. We should all be out there sharing it and enjoying it together and if you have a problem with that fuck you, because that’s what should be said and honestly I hope everyone has had an awesome day today and it’s easy out there. That’s my two cents.

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