Anticipation for this show had come to a geyser-like boiling point, with all signs pointing to absolute destruction. With pop metal of this magnitude having been banned from the city ever since the great Baby Metal Riots of ’76, only now have the seething wounds healed enough for the city to have another go at staring annihilation in the face and promptly tempting fate by spitting right at it.
The first of the three doom bringers for tonight’s three-course apocalyptic meal were Santa Cruz. Born in Finland, they were musically raised on the sunset strip replete with looks that kill, caught in November rain. Someone obviously didn’t tell these guys that to be in a glam band, tradition dictates that you possess only the most rudimentary of musical skills; these guys are probably the most technically gifted glam band since Steel Panther. Let that sink in a bit.
Both (singer/guitarist) Archie and (not-singer/guitarist) Johnny showed great skill by trading tasteful solos throughout the night over a solid rhythm section consisting of Middy (bass) and Taz (drums). The group blazed through classic hits like “We are the ones to fall.” The goddamn repeating chorus got stuck in my head for this one. What caught my eye the most was the overall energy and attitude each member gave to the show, what I like to call ‘effective minimalism.’ The show was far from over the top (as it very well could have been), but everyone did what they needed to do: banged their head, tossed their hair, looked happy to be there, and rock-stanced like champs. The crowd seemed to thoroughly enjoy show, basking in the solid tunes, the ‘Fuck Ya!’ attitude, and the glorious hair, leaving everyone wondering if “Maybe they’re born with it.”
I’d like to take this time in my review to point out that this might be one of the most A.D.D line-ups I’ve ever seen on tour together. Musically, it shifted so hard it’d make Mario Andretti cringe. But I digress…
The second wave of the pop-pocalypse came in the form of I Prevail. Casually walking by their merch stand and seeing their band photos sent a cold chill down my spine. I knew exactly what was going to go down in a few minutes without even having heard them before, but did the crowd? I Prevail are far from my cup of shroom tea, but at least their light show made me feel like I was riding the Psilocybin train for brief periods during their show, which for me was the highlight of their set.
Their brand of pop-punk-core isn’t without it’s charm, and I’m sure in front of the right audience they would have gone over great. But what charm they may have was lost on me and most of the crowd. The energy from the band themselves seemed reserved for breakdowns and not much more. Mid-song banter provided by both singers proved hilariously awkward at times, coupled with the expected Montreal Canadiens shout-outs that had me rolling my eyes. Hey- they meant well. 300 points to Gryffindor for the effort.
Anyone who’s ever been to an Amaranthe show knows all too well that such an experience can only be summarized by two words: blood sport. Everywhere crowd members were either ‘putting on the foil’ or meticulously going through Tai-Bo moves to make sure they’d inflict the most damage against opponents. The stage is set. Let the mayhem begin!
Amaranthe are an anomaly, a group that has somehow managed to perfectly produce the perfect blend of Metallic/Industrial/EDM/Pop elements to a cohesive sound that makes you hate yourself to the point of masochistic beatings for loving it.
Their live show is a force all of it’s own. Juggling three singers on one stage is without a doubt a daunting task, yet the fluidity and pacing was precise, with enough natural and choreographed moves to keep everything interesting. Vocal performances from all three were spot on, and provided all the toe-tapping hooks and aggressive breaks to encourage at least four missile-toe drop kicks to unsuspecting concert goers (who clearly missed blocking class during their Tai Bo lessons.)
The rhythm section composed of Morten (drums) and Johan (bass) delivered solid performances, while guitarist Olof continued to prove why he’s one of the most underrated players in terms of writing and creative guitar phrasing, solos, and leads. In short, see this band live! Love it, hate yourself (if you think you’re too tough for this shit), get over it, and enjoy.
To summarize: three cop cars lit on fire; five ambulances; six broken arms. The show gets 8.5 missile-toe drop kicks out of 10.
Written by Paul Ablaze
Photography by Isa Hoyos Ishca Fotografía