I went to my first heavy metal concert last Sunday evening, and I’m very pleased with my decision to go. When I say my first heavy metal concert, by the way, I mean the first concert I’ve ever gone to on my own as well, which is a big step for someone who grew up hating loud noises and crowds almost equally.
A friend and I went to Station 4 in Saint Paul Minnesota to see Katatonia and the Devin Townsend Project (Paradise Lost was also a featured band, but I didn’t know it at the time). There was also an opening act in the form of Stolen Babies, which I’d never heard of before. I was there to see the Devin Townsend Project, one of my favorite bands currently operating. What I got was a lot more than them, which really rocked. The first set was Stolen Babies opening. Paradise Lost followed them. Katatonia came out after that. Then the Devin Townsend Project put the final nail in the thunderous musical coffin.
Let me say this first about Stolen Babies–I first thought they might be Katatonia. I was so punch-drunk from the bass I had the vague sense they might actually be Katatonia even through the first song despite the lead vocalist being a woman playing an accordion who didn’t look anything like the images I’d seen in Katatonia’s Wikipedia entry. In my defense, they never did say the band name on stage and the Paradise Lost backdrop was already up so I (having never listened to Paradise Lost before either)_even went so far as to think Stolen Babies were actually Paradise Lost. When I finally recovered from the initial shock of volume and bass and got past the confusion of who I was listening to, I really enjoyed their dark style of rock. I love the right kind of vocals, and their frontwoman nailed those, from the screams to the actual singing. They played for about twenty or thirty minutes and really set things off right. Great stuff–I will definitely be scraping up some dough to get one or both of their albums in the future.
The next act also surprised me, but in a less stellar way. Paradise Lost came out and started by complaining about the quality of the equipment, and the heat of the stage. When they launched into their first song the lead guitar was unplugged (though I was again too floored by the volume at that point to notice, my friend told me after the fact). I thought they had a neat overall sound, but vocals let me down. I must say, I’m glad I take the positive outlook more than I used to, because I could have been seriously frustrated as I really was looking forward to the later acts, and at this point my feet started really hurting me. I have flat feet and am a bit on the heavy side, so the amount of standing really got to me after the first two hours.
Now, I hadn’t listened to that much Katatonia going into this. I have two albums of theirs and also enjoyed the wonderful work their lead vocalist Jonas Renske did on the last Ayreon album to go off;. They blew me away even though I had to sit down and drink some water during their set due to horrific foot pains from the previous two and a half hours of standing–and a few beers in my system (That’s me, mister low-tolerance). I was also pleasantly surprised by Katatonia because of I’d heard Jonas no longer did the impressive roaring screams I’d heard on 01011001 (Ayreon), but he loosed a few of them at the show. Normally I don’t go for the metal roar in such a big way–This guy’s particular roar is quite special to my ears. Again, I have to consider how much I’ve changed, because three years ago I was just starting to understand the growls from other bands. Now I actually like them. So, yes, Katatonia nailed there performance. No disappointment here.
After Katatonia I went back to the bar adjoining the garage-like hall where the bands played and picked up the CD I’d preordered with the tickets. It had been making me unnecessarily anxious at times throughout the night, and I figured it would help us leave faster to have it before the end. With that grabbed, I went back and
Finally, the Devin Townsend Project took the stage a bit after 10:30. This was the band I’d come to see, and they delivered! I have all their albums, and almost all of Townsend’s prior works, so I had an idea of what to expect and knew most of the songs they played. During sound-check the projector behind the stage played ZTV, a series of bizarre filler animations and video “hosted” by the puppet alien Ziltoid (From Devin’s solo Ziltoid the Omniscient Album). It had me laughing and shaking my head at how ridiculous it was at the same time. When the show actually started the crowd gave it all they had. Lots of horns in the air and the loudest applause of the night went up for this show. I was floored again by the sheer craziness of the imagery on the projector and the wonderful performance the band gave. Later, my friend pointed out how professional Devin was in regards to things like the carry of his guitar–I don’t catch these kind of things as I don’t have much of a musical background. It was an odd experience to be in the same place as this group I admired so much and listened to so frequently. I still can’t really put my finger on the feeling I got from that. I enjoyed them a great deal, AT LEAST as much as I’d expected to enjoy the show.
The whole show lasted almost five hours, and when I left I was still wondering if my hearing would ever recover–I’ve never been to anything so loud before. I’m happy to say that not only have I recovered, but I regret nothing in regards to the concert. Another thrilling experience I’m glad I had.