Trivium and Arch Enemy: In Your Face Metal Showcase
Only one word is needed for the show at The Fillmore Charlotte on Sunday night: METAL! You can add a nice descriptor like FREAKING METAL if you want, but I like to keep it simple. I will say it one more time… METAL!! I know when a show like this comes to town that there will be a lot of people I know out and about, even on a Sunday night. As I walked up, I heard some people calling my name. Some photographers, some new friends, some local band members, and some old friends from elementary school. What a great welcome. Metal and friends is a recipe for an awesome night, and this lineup proved to be one of the hottest shows all year.
Expecting the show to start at 7 PM, I was taking my time talking to some people before the show. Local metal veteran, and one of my new friends, John Jarrell gave me the scoop on all the upcoming shows. There isn’t much that DoubleJ hasn’t seen at this point, and I am always glad to see him with his fist raised and hear his metal battle cries at the shows. I had the chance to chat with one of our own team members Aleshia Jenkins as well, another veteran of the local music scene and fellow staffer at Shutter 16. Some of our own top local metal band members of Blackwater Drowning and Auxillia were also spotted roaming the venue. If you weren’t there and you are a metal fan, I am not sure what you were thinking. We were all there. METAL!!
Just when you expect one thing, you must always be prepared for the unexpected. The lights dropped and I could see movement in the shadows on the stage. “Ok, I think the show is going to start,” I said to some of the other photographers. Sure enough. The band bounded onto the stage, and my gear is still packed up in my bag. Seriously, I was unprepared. I ran over to the side trying to put on my double camera strap and lock my cameras into the rig. Too much pressure for that, so I ran into the put a loose cameras in each hand, 24-70mm lense on one and 80-200 lense on the other. Not a light load, but had to get in there and get to work.
First band up, Fit for an Autopsy. OK, these Jersey boys came out hard from the get go. This crowd was already amped up and didn’t waste any time to join in with the Deathcore band’s smash mouth style. I was living dangerously in the pit shooting this band as I was taking turns dropping my precious cameras on the stage as I alternated between my wide and zoom lenses. Not sure that was the smartest thing I have ever done, but hey you have to get the shot at all costs. Having been out on the road this year supporting their fourth studio album, The Great Collapse, it looked like these guys were still enjoying playing their music. The crowd was right there with them and they set the tone for the night with what was going to be an onslaught of, yes you guessed it. METAL!
As I walked to the back of the venue to get a look at the merch, I felt a tap tap tap on my shoulder. I turned around and it was a guy asking me to take his picture. I tried to let him know that it was pretty dark back there, so we might have some issues. He was insistent, so I laughed and said, “Sure. Let me grab my flash.” I dug around in my bag and grabbed my flash and had Kevin and his girlfriend Chelsea stand up against the red plush velvet curtain in the back. It turns out that it was Chelsea’s first metal show. When I asked her how she liked it, she said, “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.” After a few test shots, we got them a nice shot. Chelsea is now a new metalhead, and this was Kevin’s 5th time seeing Trivium, and he said, “it was going to be the best Trivium show ever.”
So as not to have to throw my cameras out there on the stage and open myself up to unnecessary heartache and expense, I went ahead and geared up. Now strapped up with my gear hanging from both sides, I headed into the pit earlier this time. I didn’t want to miss anything from the next band. Straight out of Sheffield, UK, While She Sleeps definitely was ready to bring the energy.
The photo pit was getting really crowded at this point so I was stuck down in the left side of the pit. A guy in the crowd said you are on the right side of the stage because this guitar player goes crazy. Now I was getting excited. I love to see some sick guitarists going nuts when they play. He was referring to Mat Welsh. Now Mat looked pretty laid back as they were tuning up and doing a mini-sound check, but when it was go time, he hardly stopped bouncing around the stage and banging his head to the sounds. The rest of the gang didn’t lag behind him either. While She Sleeps really pulled the crowd into their show with them, and Aaran McKenzie spent most of his time on the edge of the stage getting that crowd facetime. It didn’t take long until it looked like the North Shore of Oahu. Surf was up and so were the feet sticking up in the air as the metal heads were riding on a human wave up to the front of the stage. All smiles and some fists in the air as the top notch staff at the Fillmore did their best to make sure their entry down into the pit was as smooth as possible and of course showing them the way out. “Loz” Taylor was right behind them, and he threw his mic down and jumped onto the guardrail and dove out into the crowd as well.
He spent a little time out there floating around as they band continued to destroy the stage. “Loz” got dropped back off and lept with one bound back to the stage, head on a swivel, he was looking for his mic. He lost it for a second, but again, the security guys grabbed it up for him and he was right back in the mix like he never stopped. The crowd was shambolic and were gobsmacked by the English lads who gave them bloody good show. I think I heard one of the English guys mention something about the dog’s bollocks, but don’t quote me on that.
The night was set up to keep getting better and better. Will to Power, Arch Enemy’s 10th album was just released in September. The self described, progressive death metal band, came onto the stage and didn’t stop until they ended their set. Clad in a skin tight, black, strategically cut up body suit, Alissa White-Gluz took center stage on her riser. He blonde hair, streaked in blue spun round and round and she worked her head in a windmill fashion. At one point, she slapped me across the face as I got caught up in the helicopter motion of her hair. That’s up close and personal for sure. Alissa hails from Canada and fronts the guys from Sweden.
Interesting combination, but it works well. Her vocals stand up to any man in the genre. Strong and beautiful, there were many men in the front row who were in awe of her. The rest of the guys are very experienced musicians who have played in a number of bands over the years, and it was obvious by how tight their sound was. Not one missed step all night from Arch Enemy. While We Sleep got the crowd riled up earlier and started the surfing. The surf was up again, as they started streaming over the top, down the front then out the side. One after another and some more than once, the dance began again. It goes without saying, but Arch Enemy kicked some serious ass.
I forgot how much I like Trivium. I am not sure how that happened, but I haven’t pulled out my copy of Ascendency in a few years. That was my mistake. I can still remember buying that cd and popping it into my cd player (for you younger folks back in the day we had a thing called a CD player) and jamming out to their songs. These guys guys are still on top of their game as they have released their latest record, The Sin and the Sentence. Lyrics and guitar make up the core of the band. Matt Heafy is one serious dude. Most of the night there was a red light cast on the band, but the lights switched to a green that covered Matt’s entire body in a wash of fluorescent hues. He looked like the Incredible Hulk. At one point a took a picture of him with his black Epiphone and the veins in his left arm look like they are about to explode out of his skin from the intensity of his playing. I have never seen anything like that before. Do not enter an arm wrestling challenge with him, he will smash you!
They gave us 12 songs covering old and new. As they progressed, Matt gave the circle sign and the crowd looked like a swirling black hole sucking people up and spitting them back out mostly unharmed except for their pride. I noticed one of my friends, who shall remain nameless for the print version of this, who was down front at the beginning took shelter and got out of the way of the upcoming tide of viciousness in the pit. The band brought out the best in everyone as shirts came off and sweat flew across the floor. Participation was not optional for those who braved the circle pit, either you were in or you better move out of the way. Trivium doesn’t slow down for those who need a break and the crowd didn’t either. The guitar sounds were nothing less than a buzz saw of greatness that punched you square in the face. I saw the security guys trying to give water to those who made it the whole show down front. The waterfall method isn’t easy when you could have incoming bodies overhead smashing into the back of your neck without warning. I don’t often say this, but I am going to revisit the Trivium collection and get their new record. These guys are one of the best bands of this genre I have seen. The entire lineup for the evening was one of the best I Have seen in some time.
On my way out to my car, there were a couple of guys outside, one shirtless and tattooed on his entire torso, one in a golf shirt hugging it out. “Bro it was a pleasure sharing a pit with you tonight,” the shirtless guy said. Two strangers enter a pit, two friends walk out. Nothing brings people closer than experiencing life together regardless of how different you may be. That thin line between brutality and generosity, harshness and compassion sums up the metal community and the evening. This is a must see tour for anyone who likes heavy music. METAL!
Trivium and Arch Enemy Tour Dates