Jason Trom was dying to see his next live concert.
It was 2018, and Slayer had just announced their farewell tour. If you saw the 600 different Slayer T-shirts in Trom's collection, and the 168 different Slayer vinyl records, all sprinkled with skulls and pentagrams, you’d know it would be an understatement to call him a Slayer fanatic.
He made the show special.
“I treated myself to meet-and-greet tickets where I went backstage and was able to meet and get a picture with them,” he said. “As my all-time favorite band, this was an amazing experience.”
Though Trom clearly has an obsession with Slayer, he has an even bigger obsession with seeing concerts. A Rochester native, he remembers being exposed to live music when he accompanied his dad, who raced a 1970 Chevy Nova SS. “Most of the races, especially in Brainerd, would have live music,” Trom said.
He’s been working at Mayo Clinic for 20 years in environmental services and now has a 3-year-old daughter, Phoenix, with his wife, Sarah, but Trom still recalls his first real concert: Ratt at Mayo Civic Center on Oct. 10, 1984. That was 35 years ago.
“It would have been their ‘Out of the Cellar’ tour,” he said. Before the show, he ran into Robbin Crosby — Ratt's guitarist — when he went to the airport with his mom to pick up his aunt. “This guy was so tall I had to put my head so far back just to look up at him,” he says.
Since that first concert, Trom guesses he’s seen more than 500 concerts — everything from Ice T to the Oak Ridge Boys. He’s got the signed CDs, ticket stubs, and show posters to prove it.
“When I was younger, I would get down in the mosh pit and body surf during heavy shows,” says Trom. “It was a great way of getting out excess teenage angst and aggression.”
For 15 years in a row, Trom went to Milwaukee’s Metalfest. He remembers the 2003 concert, when Body Count was playing. In the middle of the show, the lights on the stage crashed into the audience. “No one was hurt,” Trom said. “Ice T then asks the crowd to help out and everyone came together and got the lights back up on stage and they finished the set.” Trom also remembers the 1,276-mile, 20-hour round trip he took for a concert doubleheader including Metalfest and a show in Pontiac, Mich. — just a short drive for some good live shows.
Trom loves how live concerts connect people. Once, after an Iron Maiden show, Trom was stranded in Chicago. After striking up a chance conversation about the concert with some strangers, who happened to live in Minneapolis, they offered him a ride back to Rochester from the Windy City. “That’s what I mean,” he said. “Music just connects certain people, so it ended up all right.”
Trom’s love of live shows is something that has had an impact on those around him. Jenny Ludescher Hines went to elementary school and junior high with Trom and remembers him from when both of their parents used to camp at Money Creek Campground. She says she looks forward to seeing his ticket stubs and signed CDs posted on social media, and admires his “love and passion for music from all genres.”
Though Trom has become a bit more selective in terms of which shows he sees, he’s nowhere near the end of following his love of concerts. He says he still sees about 12 shows a year. Right now, he has plans to attend Electric Light Orchestra, Queen (with Adam Lambert), Iron Maiden, Grim Reaper, Impaler, Dee Snider, Vince Neil, Quiet Riot, Autograph, Heart, and Joan Jett.
Trom’s love of Slayer and of seeing live concerts isn’t going to fade away. In his opinion, live music from bands like Slayer is something to live for.
“The thing about Slayer is they do it their way, have never let up, and have stayed true to their origin through all the years,” he said.
The same might be said of Trom’s dedication to attending live concerts.
“It’s not just a concert you’re paying for,” he said. “You’re paying for an experience.”