Friday, May 29, 2015

Amaranthe / I Prevail/ Santa Cruz @ The Trocadero 5/16/2015

I went up to Philly to see Amaranthe at the Trocadero ($28) because of their tour manager's horrible decision to play in Baltimore on the same day as Nightwish in Silver Spring. I heard that Baltimore had a decent turnout, actually- which was odd to me since I figured much of the audience for Amaranthe and Nightwish were crossovers. I did see William, Lyndsey and her friend, Xtina, Audrey, and Kerenda there. I think Mike was there but I didn't see him.

Amaranthe! Drummer is in the back, and MacBookPro to the side

After a crazy trip around bridges, Chinatown, and various streets in Philadelphia, we finally got to the venue and entered. There were more people than I thought that would be there, but the top balcony area was not opened- so it was only about half full- several hundred people.

I Prevail also has kind of generic merch

Santa Cruz

Amaranthe again goes with the kind of lame logos

Merchandise was kind of slim, but every band had at least a shirt and a CD. Amaranthe was selling theirs for $25 and $15, respectively. I thought their shirts were again pretty lame (mostly variations of the Massive Addictive album cover). I Prevail had shirts ($25), posters ($3), EPs ($7). Santa Cruz had some uninspired shirts and a CD. I didn't end up getting anything. One of these days, Amaranthe will have a better shirt, like The Nexus cover or something I hope.

Proof that not every band from Finland is great
Don't jump, bro, I was just kidding!

Finnish hair /glam band Santa Cruz was already playing when we got there. They sounded satisfyingly heavy, but their songs were just not there, IMO. They were kind of like Skid Row (with Engishy Loudness vocals), but with meh songs. Some very glam looking fans in front of me were eating it up, tho. But there was just something missing from most of their songs that I couldn't quite place. I wanted to like them more, but I just couldn't justify it. The lead guitarist Joonas "Johnny" Parkkonen was way too low on "Let Them Burn." On "We...Fall" the background vocals were way low and off key. I don't think I have anything overwhelmingly positive or negative about bassist Mitja "Middy" Toivonen or drummer Tapani "Taz" Fagerström. There were SO many whoa oh ohs for that song and "Wasted...," which made me think that both of them were too similar. At the end of their set, vocalist Arttu "Archie" Kuosmanen climbed up the speakers on the right side of the stage and up to the balcony.

Not sure what's up with I Prevail's name.
I Prevail, with 2 vocalists

"Post Hardcore" (which sounds like metalcore to me) band I Prevail was up next and basically reminded me of Atreyu, but with more rapping. There were 6 people on stage (2 vocalists, 2 guitars, bass, drummer). I think they had a lot of sampling, as well. Their bassist had a very Cure haircut, one vocalist had a tie dye shirt... it was certainly an odd looking band, crowded up on stage. Amaranthe would also be similarly crowded, later on. There were more than a few fans of this band, especially (or perhaps due to?) their cover of Taylor Swift's "Blank Space." The crowd on the floor seemed to enjoy them a lot, and were having a good time. I didn't really get into them, the breakdowns weren't as brutal as I wanted, and the songs were nothing impressive in my opinion. Also, the Limp Bizkit cover also is a strike against them as well. They also reminded me of Baltimore local band Sky Came Burning (not sure which name is worse), the only other band I can recall having 2 harsh vocalists.

We need a bigger stage or a smaller band for this Digital World

After a bit of a wait, Amaranthe came out in the dark to the intro of "Digital World." I was pretty close (about 3 rows back from the front!), def closer than last time with Within Temptation, and the first time, at The Note, so I got some good pics. It was certainly more exhilarating up close, but I'm not sure if it sounded better further back. I certainly enjoyed more of the sweat and unfortunately a ton of video takers.

Serendipity, truly

Elize Ryd, clean vocals, was a cute angel, and seemed more confident than the other times. She, of course, was the center of attention for most of the concert goers. She had about the same number of costume changes (leatherish skirt w/ jacket, w/out jacket, w/out jacket, gown with bra top) as their last headline show. She sounded pretty great except maybe one note on one of the later songs. And of course her slight dancing on the crowded stage was also very attention holding. And her headbanging with the rest of the band, too!

Not a Romper, just an Ordinary Abnormality
A point I must make clear is that Elize's outfit above was NOT a romper and was two pieces -(p)leather sleeveless top and (p)leather shorts. Previously, a skirt was over it, until her Rob Halford sense kicked in and demanded she have a costume change! If this were a romper, we would have to petition her and her fan club to discontinue its use immediately and perhaps initiate a kickstarter to fund a new outfit less embarrassing (perhaps overalls).

Let's just say Trinity is the key

Jake E, clean vocals, had some odd looking red dye job for his hair, which wasn't very becoming. He still looked a bit brooding, maybe still a little jealous of the attention given to Elize. But the majority of the songs were written by Olof, Elize, and Jake E (The latter two for the first album). Either way, his energy was a bit more subdued.
Olof perhaps with some sort of Mechanical Illusion
Olof looking pretty Invincible

Guitarist Olof Mörck was in good spirits this evening, but still pretty ignored by the crowd for some reason. I don't know how they didn't appreciate his decent solos. He was pretty silent as usual as well. I suppose the pop crowd is a bit less concerned about technical ability and more about the hooks. 

Olle on the left, Leaving Everything Behind

Harsh vocalist Henrik Englund would miss out due to a birth in the family, being temporarily replaced by Olle Ekman (Deals Death) for this 2015 tour. I really couldn't tell much difference, as they sounded similar and even look very reminiscent with his facial hair grown out a little. He seemed to do a serviceable job, and the crowd was pretty receptive to him (moreso than Jake E for some reason- I personally dig the clean vocals more than the harsh...).

Johan on the left, used a Razorblade since last time

Johan Andreassen on bass seemed to have sheared his locks for this go around. He had some off colour remark about fingers and butts or the like when he was trying to get some sort of crowd participation going. I don't think I have any complaints about him otherwise.

The Drummer you can kind of see... but it is also 1,000,000 Lightyears Away

Drummer Morten Løwe Sørensen got a stupid drum solo after the amazing "Electroheart." The price we pay. The crowd, for some reason also liked it. I think I don't trust the crowd with all these irregularities. He was not a bad drummer at all, but I just don't think we ever need a drum solo (unless you're Mike Portnoy, Neil Peart, Alex Van Halen, or Cozy Powell).

Didn't get any pics of MacBook Pro, so here's the Director's Cut

Macbook Pro was on synth/samples/etc. He was off stage, but we could fully hear him during most if not all songs. I read some reports from the Baltimore show wondering just HOW much is being piped in thru the samples. I was trying to observe in between headbanging, and it seemed as if all the instruments were being played live. But with a band with this much reliance on effects, I think there will always be a ton of speculation. Despite being the loudest member, he was not introduced during the band introductions near the end of the show. I suspect that he'll still be a strong member going into their 4th album, make no mistake!

An enthusiastic /intoxicated fan during #1 dance metal hit "Electroheart", in some sort of Act of Desperation

During the dance pop metal hit "Electroheart," an enthusiastic female fan (also perhaps intoxicated) got up on stage and approached Elize, who was oblivious. Olle noticed this, and was clearly like "WTF" and grabbed her by the shoulder and locked her down for some headbanging with Elize on her other side. After a little bit, he herded her off stage. Pretty professional. Even if she didn't mean any harm, I always think back to what happened to Dimebag (RIP), or even Randy Blythe's issues in Prague. I don't think I saw venue security do anything at that point.

They were simply Dynamite

The crowd was rather energetic - singing along, fists pumping, jumping, headbanging, but no pits tho. At least the people in the front were. I had a ball because I was sweating and moving like a maniac! There was also a massive sing along for "Amaranthine." Setlist wise I think we got a good mix of stuff, especially finally getting to hear "Electroheart" and "Razorblade" live! Of course I'd like to have heard "Stardust, "Mechanical Illusion," "Danger Zone," and/or "Exhale." 8/12 of their latest Massive Addictive was fine as the album certainly has grown on me since the initial dislike of the cheerleaderish "Drop Dead Cynical."  But at least we got an hour and 20 minute set this time! throw 10 more minutes and we're even better! The show seemed like it was going very fast as many of their songs are rather short.

Yes we would like to Burn With You

Overall . Also I think if I Prevail/Santa Cruz did a song like THIS, I would have enjoyed their sets way more. But once Amaranthe started, I got completely into the show and it was well worth the trip. If you're into this sort of thing.

That is NOT a romper, but we are Over and Done

Next show: Korpiklaani / Ensiferum!

Bonus pic. OK now you can Exhale

Santa Cruz (7:35?- 8:07)
  • Bonafide Heroes
  • My Remedy
  • Let Them Burn
  • Bye Bye Babylon
  • We Are the Ones to Fall
  • Wasted & Wounded
  • Aiming High
I Prevail (8:30- 9:06)
Amaranthe (9:44- 11:06)