MAPLE GROVE, Minn. — Where does 23-year-old Mason McDeid prefer to be? Between rock and an even harder place. Metal is where his heart desires to be.
"It was Judas Priest back in the day and AC/DC back in the day," Richard McDeid said, tending to his son Mason's feeding tube. "Then Metallica came along. It's Mason's favorite. He's seen them eight times in the front row."
Honestly, eight times doesn't even begin to shed light on the number of bands and concerts the father and son duo have gone to see.
"Him and me together? 1,280 is what I've counted," McDeid said. "And it's not concerts. Bands."
Traveling to concerts with Cerebral Palsy is tough, but thrash metal is tougher. After dozens of surgeries and recovery at the Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, Mason is able to attend metal concerts with his father. Mason's room is plastered with framed Metallica posters, set lists and wristbands from shows.
Metal really isn't the kind of music you shut your eyes to, but for Mason, it's exactly what he needs. McDeid says it's been that way ever since Mason was a baby. He wouldn't stop crying unless Metallica was on.
"Really that was the first time he had fallen asleep to music," McDeid described. He said when Mason was around three years old, he would cry for hours. Tired from a long day of work, McDeid said he decided to put Metallica on while he did dishes with Mason in a chair hoping he could get away from the cries a bit. He said after a while, he didn't hear Mason cry anymore. When he went out to check, Mason had stopped crying.
"I had tried classical music-- everything you can imagine," McDeid said. Metallica had done the trick.
Even now in car rides, it's pedal to the metal-- literally-- and it's Enter Sandman for Mason.
The truth is McDeid has done his fair share of worrying.
"I didn't know if Mason would ever...he doesn't talk, how is he ever going to have friends?" McDeid said. "But everyone loves mucia dn everybody in the metal family is family."
Among the icons of hardcore, the McDeids had found warm embrace at every concert.
"[People were] courteous, helpful, and it was that way all night long," McDeid said. "Walking down the highway, people are getting out of the way, giving Mason high fives. Saying 'we're glad you're here bud.' That's pretty exciting for a parent with a special needs child."
The McDeids now want to share that love and acceptance with the whole world through Mason MetalFest 2. As the name shows, this is the second year of Mason MetalFest. It's the first ever special needs metal festival happening in Metal-sota.
"That we can show other parents that are going through the same thing you guys are going through to encourage them to go out more," McDeid described.
They're envisioning an outing for everyone metal heaads or not. Because Nothing Else Matters when there's music involved.
"If he's smiling I know the world is good," McDeid said. "If Mason doesn't smile when I say music, then I want to know what's going on because something is blocking that smile from coming. We're looking forward to showing the world Mason's smile."
Mason MetalFest 2 is happening this Saturday at Lee's Liquor Lounge in Minneapolis. Doors open at 3 p.m.