An Open Letter to Heavy Metal from Scottsdale

Hey, heavy metal, we need to chat.

As a musical entity that is no stranger to bad press and debauchery — but rocks its true colors loud and proud — I, the city of Scottsdale, would like to propose a partnership.

Look, I know that the words “Scottsdale” and “heavy metal” are seldom seen in the same conversation. But in case you haven’t noticed, a few Scottsdale bars and venues have been hosting heavy metal bands, including spots like the Rogue Bar, Wasted Grain, and Pub Rock.

Hell, we just had Billy Bob Thornton at Livewire (Hello? What’s more badass than a guy who rocks and used to wear vials of blood? Isn’t that like one of your requirements?) which is no stranger to metal bands, considering its featured gigs by Testament, Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock, In This Moment, and KMFDM. And then there's Talking Stick Resort, which – despite its posh milieu – has hosted Queensryche and Winger, among others.

This weekend, Rockbar – a spot that's familiar with metal – will host the Scottsdale Metal Invasion on Saturday, September 19. The point of the event is to bring in hordes of metalheads into the midst of Scottsdale for a killer lineup including bands like (sic)monic, Soundmankillz, Lost in Lies, Concertina, and Desecrate. Needless to say, homeslice, I’m repping some true Arizona metal. 

And here’s why I’m pushing for this metal invasion: we need more of your kind here. When an episode of South Park features a bunch goth kids deciding on the most horrible, miserable place on earth to send a poser is Scottsdale, you know you gotta change your image. 

While I may be known for being a mecca for douche-baggery, I never set out with that intention. But somewhere between the EDM craze, cadres of plastic surgeons, a 30k millionaire infestation, and overwhelming stench of Axe body spray, and a rampant “I-can’t-afford-LA-so-I’ll-stay-here” attitude, this is where we’re at. 

The emo kids switched out their black side-swept hair and tight pants for groomed beards and even tighter jeans. They upgraded to the “hipster” label, somehow thinking that by throwing some boho and flannel elements into the mix, it made them appear more wordly. So I need you to help me with an experiment. Maybe if we get more metalheads in Scottsdale, people won’t only think “douchebag” when they hear my name. 

Now, I know you don’t owe me any favors. I’ve stood by and observed the mockery of metalheads within my bars and music venues. The leather, studs, spikes, and multi-hued hair that heavy metal and punk have represented proudly for decades is all but a new trend to the people who worship me. And I know every time one of my salmon-shirted and popped collared, beautifully sculpted sons rocks Shinedown and throws up the devil horns, or one of my ladies, teetering on stilettos in a top heavy mini dress, starts to wear tiny tees bedecked with Lamb of God because it’s so “hot” right now – a little part of you dies inside. 

But please. Consider this a peace offering. I believe that metal and Scottsdale can be a match made in – one of your preferred locations – Hell. Pretty clever if I do say so myself. So give me a chance. I promise I won’t call you bro. 

Love and kisses,


The Scottsdale Metal Invasion is scheduled to take place on Saturday, September 19, at Rockbar. 
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Lauren Wise has worked as a rock/heavy metal journalist for 15 years. She contributes to Noisey and LA Weekly, edits books, and drinks whiskey.
Contact: Lauren Wise