In 1986 two cable channel filmmakers went out to the Capital Center in Landover, Maryland because there was a Judas Priest concert being staged there. But they were not interested in getting interviews with the band or footage of them playing, or if they were they didn't get very far, so they captured the fans hanging out in the parking lot outside the building. In practice, this meant just over a quarter of an hour of aficionados getting drunker and drunker as they played up to the camera and opined on various music-related subjects...
If ever there was a time capsule of what heavy metal fandom was like in the eighties, it was this short video which was circulated as a bootleg for years, gradually growing more and more notorious, until its cult could not be denied and it was given an official release. Mostly the reaction was one of laughter, but it was affectionate laughter as the concertgoers we see here are in the main an endearing bunch, and listening to their beer-fuelled pronouncements on their loves and hates was undeniably funny, but there were plenty who, as time went on, looked back on this with a wave of nostalgia.
It became so well-known that the people we saw were assigned character names, usually based on what they were wearing, thus Zebraman became so called thanks to his distinctive spandex outfit, and slurring his way through a diatribe about how heavy metal was so much better than punk or the dreaded Madonna (and also managing to painfully bump his mouth with the microphone). Mostly the fans want to yell "Judas Priest!" - some have brought banners - and consume more alcohol, though there are signs other intoxicants have been taken; there is a minor police presence but they don't seem to need to do much.
One likely lad calls himself Gram, "As in Gram o' Dope!", and looks like a stereotype stoner except he wasn't some comedy character, he was a real person who really did want to see America get high on legalised drugs. Then there's the girl who when asked what she would do if she met lead singer Rob Halford informs us in a strong Maryland accent "Ah would jump his bones..." apparently unaware of metal's worst kept secret of the eighties. More poignantly, we see another girl who tells the camera that she and her friends have backstage passes because their friend died in a car accident last month and the band wanted to give them a treat seeing as how the deceased was such a big Judas Priest fan.
There's something about their ingenuousness and wholehearted endorsement of having a good time that speaks down the decades, so while music has moved on a universal quality to the documentary is present, even if you are laughing at the lines they come out with - apparently the tape was a big favourite on many a band's tour bus, including Nirvana's. The filmmakers got such sights as a twenty-year-old French kissing his thirteen-year-old girlfriend, which doesn't say too much for standards in that community, to the shellshocked Jamaican janitor who has never seen anything like this when asked, to a man with an apparently home made "Fuck Off" T-shirt, to the enormous black guy whose response to the director's claim that this is for MTV is a canny "Bullshit!" They made follow-ups, including a Neil Diamond Parking Lot short shot ten years later, but now the Capital Center has been knocked down, it endures in bootleg legend thanks to this and the folks out to party before the show.