With In Flames coming to town, it was time to take a rare sick day off from work. I go to work sick as hell, never calling off because I’m sick, just so I can go to events just like these without anyone blinking an eye. Of course, I can’t call in too early. I would have to do it from the concert venue. Considering the line-up, it was going to be next to impossible to find a nook without a hundred obnoxious idiots banging their heads against the wall or one of the many super secret drug deals going down. So, anyway, off we go to the Roseland Theater in Portland Oregon. As of now, it is the premier concert venue to hear the bands that I like. It’s small, split leveled, and the acoustics are great for heavy metal music.
Upon arrival, me and my brother Shawn immediately noticed that this wasn’t going to be like any concert we have ever seen before, at least any that we’ve seen at the Roseland. This place was packed wall to wall and the first band hadn’t even taken the stage yet. This is unusual in itself, as we are used to missing the “surprise” first band that wasn’t listed on the bill. I immediately re-familiarized myself of all the exits not wanting a repeat of Great White. It was apparent to me, that this concert was overbooked. The Roseland, thankfully, has at least five well marked exits in the concert arena, and at least five downstairs, so I made my escape plan as we headed to the balcony where the beer sales were located. It is our custom to pound down a few before we hit the pit.
We got settled in and Zao hits the stage. I have to admit, I didn’t know who they were until they announced it. In this case, they should at the very least have kept where they were from secret, but they had to go and say they were from Pittsburgh. Portland is right here in the great northwest and this show was packed with Seattle Seahawk fans (The Seahawks were going to play the Pittsburgh Steelers in the upcoming Superbowl), so the insults, boos, and debris start flying directly toward the band. This started a war of words between two knuckleheads right in front of us. One guy wearing a Seahawk jersey (to a metal concert?), and the other was one of those skinny, shirtless, shaved headed guys who walks around with arms out like his lats are huge when they are actually non-existent. Zao took it well, a former Christian rock band that has turned into a metalcore band. They played a pretty good set; vocalist Daniel Weyandt was very active, most of the time singing from his knees. Although they are a professional, technically sound band, I can’t say I liked the songs all that much.
Next up was Devildriver. While we were there mainly to see In Flames, it was apparent that at least a third of the crowd (if not more) were there to see these guys. This is where things started to get really interesting. The crowd went ballistic, incited by former Coal Chamber vocalist Dez Fafara. He steered the crowd around these two giant pillars which stick up on the main floor, creating essentially a big circling mosh pit that actually stayed intact for at least a song before it broke down into a walk-in-circles session. I let out a laugh not only at that scene, but at everything Dez said, mostly about how you can’t let people tell you what to do, be an individual, blah, blah, blah. But the most interesting thing he said was a tirade on all emo/screamo bands. I thought it could actually be taken as an insult by the headliners, In Flames, who could easily be lumped into that broad definition, considering their recent plunge into Korn-like clean and whiny vocals. It must be sanctioned rhetoric, as I know bands usually say and do they same thing at every show during a tour. Devildriver was good, I didn’t expect that they would suck, but again, I wasn’t that impressed by their album or songs that they played, but they did create an electric atmosphere.
The mayhem continued as Trivium took the stage. At this point we were already down on the main floor ready to start squeezing our way toward the front. It was huge crowd to get through, you know. Almost immediately, lead singer Matt Heafy started in on the roadies or whoever set up the equipment, as he was getting feedback or something that was causing “his ears to bleed.”
He threatened to have their jobs if they couldn’t fix the problem ASAP. I have to give the band credit, they continued to play on through all the technical problems; they were gamers you might say. Although the crowd couldn’t hear what he was hearing, it sounded great to us. Finally he had his fill of the feedback and announced that due to the incompetence of the crew they were only going to do three more songs. At that point, someone threw a piece of hard plastic or something similar from mid-crowd (40-50 feet!), glancing off the microphone and appearing to hit him right in the mouth. Matt then wanted us (the pit) to “beat his face,” and he called for whoever threw it to come out of the crowd. Of course no one was going to step up and admit it after that. Anyway, the three songs that they were going to play suddenly turned into one last song and then they split. That actually sucked, because they kick some serious ass live. It made me want to pull out their last CD and hear it again from a different perspective. I will catch them again sometime in the future. That’s a no-brainer.
Next came the headliners, the band we were there to see and one my favorite bands on earth, In Flames. This was the 4th time I had seen them live and I knew to expect another great live performance. While they played all the crowd favorites from their albums Colony, Clayman, and Reroute To Remain, they did include more songs from Whoracle than they had before. I counted three instead of just the usual crowd pleaser “Espisode 666.”
I was extremely pleased with the song set, but one thing that really annoyed me was the difference in sound between the older songs and the ones from Soundtrack To Your Escape and their latest release, Come Clarity. The older songs sounded thin and extremely quiet, while the newer stuff sounded great. I think it may have something to do with the fact the last two album are so full of bass. The equipment was set up to play those songs, instead of the higher pitched guitar riffing earlier stuff. That was disappointing, plus I thought Anders was much less animated as he had been in the previous performances I saw. Maybe he was tired or something. Portland isn’t usually the big tour stop like L.A. or New York, so I expect they may have taken their performance down a notch for us.
So, in conclusion, it was a good show. It could have been better, this IS one of these biggest metal tours of the year after all, but I had a great time anyway. Just the mere entertainment of watching people biff it in the pit, or slipping on beer and face planting themselves, or even getting kicked in the head a couple dozen times from crowd surfers was worth it. Hell, I’ll admit it; I gave a few of them a knuckled punch as they passed, usually the really big fat guys who should never, ever crowd surf. I fought for my three inches of space more than I did anything else. Sure it got to be too much for us 30 somethings, the front is for the young and the in-shape, but we hung. I recommend you see In Flames on tour when it comes to/near your town, which is likely soon, they tour almost continuously. They are out at the moment with Nevermore and Evergrey. A superb bill to say the least, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.