My night with monsters

Monster Jam rolls into Minneapolis.

Rammunition! Photo courtesy John Brown

Ashley Goetz

Rammunition! Photo courtesy John Brown

WHAT: Monster Jam WHEN: Jan. 17, 2009 WHERE: The Metrodome Every year, one show comes to town that is so powerful, so monstrous and so overwhelmingly masculine that advertisers have no choice but to have their commercials voiced over by a guy that sounds like the Macho Man after heâÄôs smoked a pack of unfiltered heaters. It is an affair rooted in raw animalistic intensity, where the masters of mechanical behemoths like El Matador , King Krunch and the legendary Grave Digger can transcend the level of âÄúmodest proletarianâÄù and attain the hallowed rank of âÄúhero.âÄù Here, they soar through the heavens at 40 miles per hour âÄî or at least thatâÄôs how it feels when youâÄôre caught inside the swirling maelstrom known simply as Monster Jam. IâÄôll be honest; at first I was skeptical about going to the sacred grounds of the redneck Mecca. IâÄôm a 20-year-old with all my original teeth. Monster Jam isnâÄôt for people like me âÄî or so I thought. Arriving at the Metrodome fashionably late, I meandered up to the ticket booth while the roar of engines and the groan of Nickelback echoed from inside. I politely asked for a ticket and the woman behind the counter said, âÄú20 bucks.âÄù Now, I distinctly remember the guy from the commercial stating, âÄúSuper seats are still just 10 bucks!âÄù Nonetheless, I ended up paying $20 for nosebleed tickets. Things were not looking promising as I passed through the turnstile and had my giant cardboard sign confiscated. But once inside that battered old arena, I lost myself in Monster Jam madness. After buying an ill-fitting Grave Digger T-shirt, I forced my way through the surprisingly packed stadium and situated myself behind a large group of drunken yahoos near the very top of the Dome. It was there that I saw the true face of Monster Jam. As it turns out, the event has taken on a new life à la Rocky Horror , where hipsters dress up in sleeveless flannels, John Deere hats and fake mullets, get hammered and scream the names of their favorite trucks as they come barreling onto the track. IâÄôm not sure at what point it became cool to ironically go to Monster Jam, but those attending earnestly were greatly outnumbered. All irony aside, there was something oddly endearing about watching giant cars fly through the air. The initial wave of tongue-in-cheek elation turned into actual euphoria as the racing event began. For those unfamiliar with the Monster Jam format, it consists of a few minor spectacles (back-flipping four-wheelers and a trailer race) and two main events: racing and freestyle. Freestyle is where things get saucy as the trucks hit ramps and roll over full-size trailers in order to gain outrageous height and earn arbitrary points. Bounty Hunter won the relatively tame racing competition before the stage was set for the glorious main event. As rampant alcohol intoxication took effect and the crowd grew restless, Air Force Afterburner took to the course, revving his engine and hitting random dirt jumps and plowing over cars in the name of liberty. IâÄôm not sure if anyone really understood the point system but, at one time, there were big air cameras flashing from around the Dome and, all together, fans would shout out, âÄúU-S-A!âÄù It was a moment of pure jingoistic delight. The real highlight of the night came toward the very end, when the infamous Grave Digger graced the crowd with its shadowy presence. The truck made its way out from the starting block like a magnificent black stallion, its pirate flag waving in the stale Metrodome air. The run to follow validated every Monster Jam commercial IâÄôve ever seen and made the entire night worthwhile. Grave Digger hit every jump with devil-may-care speed, obtained Icarus-esque height and destroyed everything in its path. In the end, Grave Digger was victorious, winning the freestyle event and the hearts of everyone in attendance. I left the Metrodome jubilant and exhausted, finally understanding the wonder that is Monster Jam. I strongly encourage everyone to make the pilgrimage once in their life. Whether your intent is ironic or your love is pure, everyone will find enjoyment in this dazzling spectacle. Editor’s note: All apologies to Monster Jam fans. The pictured car is actually Rammunition.