Friday, April 18, 2008
Taste of Chaos at the Long Beach Arena
My first ever concert was in 1984 at the Long Beach Arena. It was the second night of the Defenders of The Faith tour with Judas Priest and Great White. I was a young impressionable music fan and still to this day can remember the soaring guitar solos and pyrotechnics. The Long Beach Arena would later be etched into heavy metal lore with Iron Maiden's Live After Death video where Bruce Dickinson (Vocals) repeatedly implores the audience,"Scream For Me Long Beach!". A phrase that I was willing to bet my life that would be echoed at the Taste of Chaos tour.
Idiot Pilot has come a long way since I saw them open for the Smashing Pumpkins at the Fillmore. They did provide the funniest moment of the entire show when one of the singers of the band retaliated against a heckler in the audience. I remember during Ozzfest many years ago, Josh Homme from Queens of The Stone Age said, "Never heckle the guy with a microphone because you won't win". The heckler did not win.
Taste of Chaos was well represented by some bands from Japan. One of those bands, MUCC had an atmospheric heavy Korn inspired sound. Tatsuro (Vocals) was a charismatic front man wildly jumping around the stage and flailing his arms. Miya (Guitars) had some sharp guitar riffs that kept the kids entertained. I didn't understand one word but I can't understand Meshuggah either.
The Underneath rolled out their brand of rock from Japan. I would compare them to a Japanese version of Stone Temple Pilots crossed with AFI. Taka (Vocals) had an impressive vocal range and would frequently jump on the speaker in front of the stage to get closer to the screaming fans. The Underneath have English titled songs, but I still couldn't understand them.
Bless The Fall
Bless The Fall were crammed on the side stage but that would not contain them as took their music to the people. I mean this literally as Jared Warth (Vocals) launched into the crowd to the general dismay of the yellow jackets. Mike Frisby (Guitars) was pounding on his Schecter guitar while blasts of screams and noise came from his band members. The crowd reaction was quite fervent in the front rows. I was quickly scurried from the photo pit after one song due to the concerns of the security guards.
Bullet For My Valentine
I quickly realized why Bullet For My Valentine was recently featured in Guitar World. They quickly proved shred isn't dead with a pulverizing set that would have made Iron Maiden proud. It didn't take long for Matthew Tuck (Guitars/Vocals) to say, "Scream for me Long Beach!". I had to throw up the metal horns to show some support and let them know I got the reference. Michael Padget (Guitars) was shredding on his ESP guitar and peeling off scorching solos. "Waking The Demon" conjured up the demons of circle pits from the '80s as the kids swirled in circles. Security guards were exasperated when Matthew directed the crowd to crash the barriers in a wave of crowd surfers. "Scream Aim Fire" was killer with double bass blasts and palm muted machine gun power chords. The influences of old Anthrax and Metallica were clearly evident at this point. I will refrain from making any analogies with bullets and how hard they rocked.
Having home court advantage can work wonders for sports teams and bands alike. Atreyu had home court advantage as the crowd turned up the energy level a few notches. Atreyu are one of the few bands in their genre that understand melody and song structure. Dan Jacobs (Guitars) and Travis Miguel (Guitars) make an impressive shred duo and always have deep autograph lines at the NAMM show. It is no surprise that they are sponsored by ESP guitars. I remember seeing Atreyu at the Troubadour during their first album "Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses". I also remember thinking that Alex Varkatzas (Vocals) wouldn't have much of a voice if he continued to shred his vocal chords on a nightly basis. One of the other aspects of Atreyu is Brandon Saller's (Drums/Vocals) contrasting melodic vocals that differentiate their songs from their peers. I was hoping they would play "Ain't Love Grand" or "At Least I Know I'm A Sinner" but still immensely enjoyed "Lip Gloss and Black". The kids in the crowd were eating it up as they worked through such favorites as "Bleeding Mascara" and "Right Side Of The Bed". Alex asked the audience for some large circle pits and was genuinely surprised when he witnessed four pits break out. Atreyu will continue their festival circuit by appearing on the Projekt Revolution tour.
Avenged Sevenfold has come a long way since their early days at the Chain Reaction. I have to root for the home town heroes as they proudly represent Huntington Beach. The show was being filmed for a DVD so I knew it was going to be immensely over the top. Avenged Sevenfold pulled out all the stops and every play in the heavy metal playbook as they delighted the audience of the Long Beach Arena. I had to duck to avoid the swooping camera cranes and cover my eyes from all the exploding pyrotechnics.
M. Shadows (Vocals) has disposed of his screaming vocal style and can actually sing these days as he belted out song after song without sounding winded. Zacky Vengeance (Guitars)and Synyster Gates (Guitars) wielded their custom Schecter guitars like Thor's Hammer as they bashed the audience with their skull crushing riffs. The fact that Zacky is a lefty and Synyster plays righty amplifies the visual impact of their duel guitar solos. It is difficult not to think of Iron Maiden as they recklessly shredded throughout the night.
Avenged Sevenfold melted the faces off the kids with searing renditions of "Bat Country", "Critical Acclaim" and "Waken The Fallen". I did get flashbacks when Avenged Sevenfold covered Pantera's "Walk" with the help of an audience member. One of the few times I feared for my life at a concert was when I saw Pantera and Slayer at the Long Beach Arena on the floor.
A tribute to the U.S. troops was made as the band displayed various patriotic images during "Gunslinger". "Almost Easy" was insane as the pyrotechnic effects were synced with the guitar riffs as upside down crosses flashed on the screen. It is safe to say a lot of the fans got more then they bargained for as all the chaos was captured on film and will probably be in stores this Christmas.