[dropcap]I [/dropcap]am getting old. No matter how much my girlfriend tries to convince me otherwise (I date younger women in order to steal their youth and energy, eventually leaving them as nothing but an empty shell devoid of any of its former charm) the truth is that, little by little, the age difference between myself and the rest of the crowd is becoming bigger and bigger. I am becoming that guy, the one who thinks (and says) stuff like “that’s not metal!” or “they’re just fucking posers”; and while I haven’t reached the snob levels of Jon, my dear co-editor, who uses phrases like “they suck now, but their demos were really good!”, I am definitely getting there. And while I’m not the kind of old creepy guy (I’m only 28 after all) the just stands in the corner wearing the same stuff that didn’t even look good in the 80s, coupled with the mandatory denim jacket full of patches, I do feel that there’s an increasing abyss between myself and the newer attendants to metal shows.

What, perhaps, bothers me the most is the obsession with looks. In my view, metal is supposed to be about rebellion, about giving the middle finger and a big “fuck you” to social conventions, choosing your own way. Recently, however, metal concerts are becoming increasingly polluted crowded by “scene” kids, the kind of assholes who use the cunty-flippy emo hair thing and wear more accessories than a transvestite dominatrix in the middle of a gay parade. There’s not a single soul who just woke up in the morning and individually decided that it’d look good to show up to a fucking metal concert wearing a wool cap, bit “Beats” headphones, a cut-off Nirvana shirt and hair so fucked up that it makes the hair of cast of Dragon Ball look like crew-cuts. It’s always about following a trend. And it’s not just the looks either; it’s the sheep mentality, the decision of the myspace generation to go beyond the already (occasionally) hilarious metal look, and attempt to show what a special little snow flake they are… by looking like every other asshole who got his fashion ideas from a My Chemical Romance video.

But, as usual, I digress.

You are here because you want to know about the concert and how good it was, so the ramblings of an old timer are the last thing you want to read. So, considering that I go full-gonzo on my reviews, I might as well give you the short version: despite some shortcomings, it was a very good show.

The show opened (and right on schedule) with Kissin’ Dynamite, a German band that had become a bit of a joke for the Metal Blast staff because of how absolutely ridiculous (and punchable) they looked in some of their promo pictures. “Backpfeifengesicht” is a German word meaning “A face badly in need of a fist” and, boy, did they fit that in their promos for “Money, Sex and Power”.

MAD PHOTOSHOP SKILLZZZZZZ!!!!1

While I was expecting to see a band that rehashed the already annoying glam style of Motley Crue and Poison, trying to be sexist assholes on stage while focusing more on looks than in producing decent music, I was pleasantly surprised. The band had a great show, full of nice and light-hearted interactions with the crowd, focused on being entertaining for everyone. Sure, some of the members seem to be taking cues from Tokyo Hotel in terms of visuals, but they sure as hell put up a great show, despite the obvious limitations of being the “least important” band on the bill. After the show they even took the time to go meet their fans (or those who simply wanted to have a picture documenting their encounter with these fucked up hairstyles) while smiling and being nice to everyone.

Why do I mention their demeanor? Well, while some people can easily separate the music from the musicians, it is hard for me to do it. 1) My girlfriend does something similar when it comes to eating meat, refusing to acknowledge any relation between “meat” and cows or “ham” and piglets For me, if the band members are assholes to people, especially if they act as if they are above their fans, my enjoyment of their music suffers quite a bit. Thus, for example, meeting Iron Maiden only made me like them more, while meeting Slayer made me develop a certain degree of resentment that has polluted their music.

What I’m getting at here, believe it or not, is that my first impression was absolutely wrong. Sure, perhaps their music is not the kind of thing that I would listen to on a regular basis (although I could, and probably will, welcome their occasional pop-up on my shuffle playlist) but that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy the show they put up.

Huntress was a band that I had only recently become familiar with. As a female fronted band (Jill Janus would kill me if she knew I’m using that term) that used a lot of sexual imagery, I had expected them to suck, since they might have been using it to cover an utter lack of talent and musical skills (while this might seem misogynistic, please re-read my comments about Motley Crue and glam in general). 2) I was not alone in this impression since, and surpassing me in terms of being a smartass, Aesop Dekker, the drummer of Agalloch claimed that their album should have been called “Fake Tits, False Metal”. As part of my preparation for the interview (that’s right, I actually prepare them) I had with their singer, I had obtained a copy of their album, really expecting it to suck… and since today seems to be the day for acknowledging bias and prejudice, I must confess that I was proven wrong.

I can honestly say that Jill is, without a doubt, one of the best female singers out there right now. Despite a classic vocal training (although the stories about her past are legion, so it’s hard to separate fact from rumor) her musical style couldn’t be farther from the likes of Nightwish, using instead a penetrating deep voice, occasionally approaching growls, in a truly flawless manner.

Huntress performed a show that proved to be entertaining (and energetic as fuck) for everyone involved, even for the crowd that was, obviously, present exclusively for Dragonforce (the fans of which, according to Jill, said are sometimes scared of her). Just like Kissin’ Dynamite, Huntress had to deal with the limitations that are inherent to being an opening band, such as a more limited stage show and shorter sets; and yet, they really rocked.

As for their imagery, during our interview Jill Janus told me her philosophy: “If you’ve got it, flaunt it”. And what the hell, I’m not complaining; it sure as hell beats naked hairy Finnish guys.

I was bothered, of course, by the occasional teenage asshole who would do catcalls to Jill, something that I consider both disrespectful and annoying. While it is OK, and really understandable in this case, to admire a woman’s figure and looks, to act like the wolf in a Tex Avery cartoon is not.

[quote]“I love it when men yell that they want to fuck me when I’m trying to be a musician”.
– No woman, ever.[/quote]

Anyway, if you’ve come this far I assume that you want to know about Dragonforce. 

As I’ve said in other occasions, an important element in a concert is to feel that the band is having fun. If I get the feeling that they’re just there to do their job, then I can’t enjoy the show. Well, Dragonforce really fulfilled this requirement.

Other than from the occasional spin of their latest release, “The Power Within”, I was not very familiar with Marc Hudson, the new singer. As it always happens, when a band changes singers there is always the chance that they will lose something irreplaceable, a fear that is sometimes justified (Blaze Bayley replacing Bruce Dickinson) and others not (Bruce Dickinson replacing Paul Di’Anno). In the case of Dragonforce the change has been great. Perhaps it’s the youth of Marc Hudson that gives him the necessary energy to perform in this excellent way, or maybe it’s just that he knows how to appeal to the fans. In any case, he pulled it off.

As the founders and, let’s face it, the most memorable part of Dragonforce, guitarists Sam Totman and Herman Li were the most awaited part of the show. Anybody who has seen their videos knows that Dragonforce is characterized by truly amazing musicians, and that the kind of speed and virtuosity demonstrated by their guitar players is really mindblowing. Well, during the show they made sure to demonstrate, once again, why even those who dislike (or even mock) Dragonforce always have to admit that they are, indeed, extremely talented.

An interesting element of the show is that Dragonforce seems to be an “equal opportunity” band in terms of being on the spotlight. Thus, the elevated platform placed in the middle of the stage was used by every single member throughout the show (except the drummer, of course) showcasing everyone’s skills, instead of just focusing either on Marc or the guitars.

In terms of song selection, Dragonforce had something for everyone, from the mandatory “Through the Fire and Flames” and “Operation Ground and Pound” to the cuts from their new album, “Seasons” and “Cry Thunder”.

While I enjoyed the band’s constant desire to interact with the audience, there were two (“scene”) assholes who took advantage of this, staging a false marriage proposal on stage, because “OMG DATS S0 RANDOM!!!11111”….  This is why we can’t have nice things.

The show closed with an emotional moment, with members of every band getting on stage as Dragonforce finished their set. As this was their last night together, you could see the emotion in the guys from Kissin’ Dynamite and Huntress, who were saying goodbye to what seems to have been a great tour.

So, to conclude, a really satisfying concert and a night to remember. If you have the chance to see any of these bands live, you should not hesitate to just go and check them out; you will not be disappointed.

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References   [ + ]

1. My girlfriend does something similar when it comes to eating meat, refusing to acknowledge any relation between “meat” and cows or “ham” and piglets
2. I was not alone in this impression since, and surpassing me in terms of being a smartass, Aesop Dekker, the drummer of Agalloch claimed that their album should have been called “Fake Tits, False Metal”.
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Considered by his mother as the brightest and prettiest boy, J's interest in metal started in his early teens, listening to bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica (coupled with an embarrassing period in which Marilyn Manson "totally represents me, man") eventually moving into the realm of power, black, and death metal. He holds a PhD in law, trains martial arts, practices law, and enjoys coming up with excuses as to why he has to miss work after going to a concert. He also dabbles as a concert photographer, you can see his sub-par work on his instagram.