Live photos of Arch Enemy and Kreator

Thursday of last week, October 23rd, I headed up to the Baltimore SoundStage in, you guessed it, Baltimore, Maryland to catch Arch Enemy and Kreator. Starkill and Huntress also opened the show, but I couldn’t get up there in time to see them. In fact, German thrashers Kreator were already two songs into their set when I walked in. I did get a few shots during their third song though. Their set wasn’t bad, pretty typical for Kreator really. A mix of older classics with more popular modern songs thrown in. They had a ton of fog up there and their light show was very bright as usual. I ended up buying a Kreator bottle opener but the merch girl didn’t give me any change back so I ended up paying $10 for something that should have cost $3. After arguing with her about it for a few minutes (and failing to get my change back) the negative experience took me out of their show. They didn’t play their song “Flag Of Hate” either, which was a bummer, but otherwise the set was good overall.

Next up was Arch Enemy. This was the Swedish death metal band’s first US tour with new vocalist Alissa White-Gluz fronting the band, and not only that, the Baltimore show was the first date of the tour. I wasn’t sure what to expect, the band’s previous vocalist, Angela Gossow, left some pretty big shoes to fill. Arch Enemy was around before Angela joined in 2000, but they really rose to prominence once she joined the band. She was one of the first women to front any kind of death metal band, and she wasn’t just up there as eye candy either, she was really good at it. She could growl and had great stage presence and it earned the band many fans over the years. I didn’t love Alissa’s performance on the new Arch Enemy record, War Eternal, her voice seemed very flat and digitally tinkered with in the studio. However this night she really was incredible live. She had excellent stage presence and great energy, fans reacted immediately to her charisma, and her voice held up really well throughout the entire set. While she is certainly the main focus while the band is on stage she still made sure to step back and let guitarists Michael Amott (of Carcass fame) and Nick Cordle (a Virginia native) draw the audience’s attention from time to time. You could tell she had studied old Arch Enemy live footage as she used many of the same moves that Angela did, but Alissa had plenty of her own too. It was really fun photographing her not only because of her model-like looks but because she was always doing something on stage and I never felt like I was getting the same shot twice. The one thing I really didn’t enjoy much was when she instructed the audience to start pogo hopping in place, something you usually see at a pop punk show, not a metal show. I have to admit I was impressed overall though, and I think Arch Enemy fans are going to love seeing Alissa front the band for some time.

Below are some of my photos from the show. You can see these photos much larger, and many I didn’t even use here including both bands’ set lists, on Flickr by going here.

Kreator:

Kreator at the Baltimore SoundStage

Kreator at the Baltimore SoundStage

Kreator at the Baltimore SoundStage

Kreator at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy:

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Arch Enemy at the Baltimore SoundStage

Review Of Kreator and Accept at the Howard Theatre

North American Teutonic Terror Attack Tour
Wednesday the 5th of September 2012 was a night of firsts at the newly renovated Howard Theatre in Washington DC. German metal bands Kreator and Accept, along with Finnish opening act Swallow The Sun, were kicking off their North American Teutonic Terror Attack tour that night. This was also the first real metal show at the Howard Theatre since reopening in April. I say that it was their first “real” metal show because Animals As Leaders opened for indie rock band Thrice there back in May, but that wasn’t a metal show really. The Kreator and Accept show brought out the long hair, tattoos and band logo patch covered battle jackets to the fancy Howard Theatre.

The venue originally opened in 1910 and eventually became DC’s version of the Apollo Theater by catering to a mostly black audience by booking top blues, soul, motown and gogo acts. It closed in the early 1980’s but has been reopened after about $30 million worth of renovations which completely overhauled the exterior and interior. It is located just off of the U Street corridor near both the 9:30 Club and the Howard University campus. The classic styling of the exterior really stands out in this area of the city. The interior is very clean and modern looking Howard Theatre interiorwith the walls adorned with photos of various black performers (such as James Brown and Diana Ross) who, I’d guess, have played there in the venue’s historic past. The staff at the Howard were extremely nice. They were all wearing black suits and were very helpful with any questions one might have. In all honestly, the Howard Theatre seemed like it might be a little too nice for a metal show. You could tell they were new at this whole hosting a metal show thing. For example they brought water down to people in the front rows between bands on a serving tray, which is really kind, but just leaving a couple of pitchers on the bar with some cups would have worked too. They also didn’t have a barrier between the stage and the band, just a couple of bouncers standing where there were gaps in the monitors presumably to prevent people from climbing on stage. They were pretty big guys and it definitely affected the sight lines. There are large screens on either side of the stage that you could watch the show on and there was an upstairs mezzanine with seating, however, that section was closed for this show. The sound at the venue was pretty good and the lighting wasn’t as fancy as the set up at the 9:30 Club but it was pretty bright and made the bands look good. I did have a few gripes with the venue, though nothing too major. The flooring in places was a bit off and had what seemed like air bubbles under it that were a bit awkward to walk on, Beers on tap at the Howard Theatreparticularly in the mosh pit area. They didn’t have a lot of beers on tap, and certainly nothing that could be called a micro brew or local beer. Again, the lack of a photo pit was annoying to me, but I suppose that’s more of an issue for me than most people. Also, they shooed everyone out of the venue after the show very quickly. Did you want to hang out with your friends over a few beers after the show? Too bad, get out. Everyone was out the doors and the bars were down within about 10 to 15 minutes after the show ended. It seemed a bit rude after an evening where the staff was very hospitable the rest of the night. The biggest problem I had was that the show wasn’t very well attended and I really didn’t see the venue do any kind of promotion for this show aside from posting it on their website. Throughout the night people were coming up to me thanking me that my site had told them about this show, which is cool and all but really the venue should have gotten the word out better. This was their first metal show and with several more coming up on the calendar (Morbid Angel, Symphony X, Epica) I was hoping they’d have worked more to get the word out. But hey, I guess that’s my job too. Well, that’s my take on the new Howard Theatre, let’s move on to the bands that played that night.

I completely missed the opening act, Swallow The Sun, because the show started so damn early. 6pm doors, really?!?! They’re a good band but I saw them two years ago with Katatonia and Orphaned Land so I Accept at the Howard Theatrewasn’t too upset I had to miss them. I got there as the classic German metal band Accept was setting up and they took a while to do so. As I mentioned before, this was the first night of the tour and so there are bound to be some issues. On one side of the stage the band’s stacks toppled over, almost into the audience, and they had to put them back up. Technical issues caused the band to take quite a while to set up and the show ended up being delayed considerably. Regardless of all those set backs Accept still put on a really fun show. They formed in the 1970’s and are a bit corny, their most famous song is Balls To The Wall after all, but they sure get the crowd going with their catchy riffs and sing along chorus lines. Udo Dirkschneider, the band’s famous ex-vocalist, hasn’t been in the band Mark Tornillo of Acceptfor several years but Mark Tornillo did a great job fronting for those classic songs and his stage presence kept everything entertaining. Of course lead guitarist Wolf Hoffmann was in peak form showing off his ability to make all kinds of wild eyed facial expressions while soloing without looking at his hands. Their set list was a good mix of old and new, and you can view that here. The band really did a great job getting everyone pumped and set the stage for the final band of the night, Kreator.

Kreator is one of the big three of German thrash bands from the 1980’s, and my favorite of the three as well. They’ve had a long career with 13 Mille Petrozza of Kreatorstudio albums to date. That’s a lot of material to try to cover in one set and no matter what they play they’re going to leave some favorites out of the set list (which you can see here). They took a while to take the stage due to more technical difficulties but once they did the shredfest really began. They started off with a few songs from their latest album, Phantom Antichrist, and ended up playing a total of five songs from it. The rest of the set was filled with classic Kreator songs, older and more modern, and their mosh friendly riffs kept the energy level high for most of their set. The band had so much artwork on stage with them it almost looked like a maze, but it did look pretty cool, especially the massive banner in back with the zombie horses. Kreator wasn’t as charismatic on stage as Accept though frontman/guitarist Mille Petrozza did a good job of of keeping people excited between songs. Guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö walked off stage during a song at one point, presumably for technical problems, and came back. His guitar sounded muddy in the mix for most of the set and Kreator’s overall sound didn’t sound as good as Accept had. That’s all probably due to more technical problems that can’t really be blamed on the band. Still it was a hell of a lot of fun as Kreator always brings it to their shows and this night was no exception. It is a shame that the delays made several in the already sparse crowd leave early to be able to make the metro before the trains stopped running. In the end Kreator is still one of the best thrash bands to see live and their performance at the Howard Theatre proved they’ve still got it.

Kreator at the Howard Theatre

After the show I hung outside the venue for a little while talking to people, including a guy I met named Will. He’s the assistant brewer at Port City Brewery which is based in Alexandria, Virginia, and he was handing out flyers for a metal night he’s trying to get started there on September 19th. He seemed cool and you can tell he’s got a real passion for metal. Will said he has been frustrated by the lack of places for metal heads to hang out in the area when there isn’t a concert going on so he figured he’d try to start something up at the brewery he works at. Since he brews the beer while listening to heavy metal it only makes sense that he’d invite people to come out and drink the beer while doing the same! It sounds cool and you can check out the details about the event, including how to submit song suggestions, here. If you’re reading this somewhere else and planning on catching this tour, I shot photos of the merch booth that you can see here and here, which should give you an idea of what the bands will be selling and for how much. Well, I hope you enjoyed this review. You can check out the videos below that I shot, one of Accept and the other of Kreator and if you’d like to see more of my photos from this concert you can see the rest of my shots of Accept here and Kreator here. Stay metal everyone and support the scene you’re a part of!

Review of Kreator gig at Jaxx

Wednesday the 3rd of March 2010 I headed over to Jaxx in Springfield, Virginia to go catch Kreator. It had been over a month since I’d been to a metal show, far too long! This was the first show of Kreator’s 2010 North American tour and I was pretty excited. Back in early January Kreator posted a message on their MySpace blog saying they would play a special “old school” set list on this tour since 2010 is Kreator’s 25th anniversary. This being the first show of that tour those of us at Jaxx were going to be the first to hear it. Also, the last time Kreator played Jaxx, back on the 17th of May 2009, it was the final concert of that tour and the guys from Exodus dressed up in drag as cheerleaders during Kreator’s final song of the night. The 300+ lbs singer for Exodus, Rob Dukes, did a stage dive on my head during the fiasco and I was shooting video at the time, which you can see on YouTube here. So all that stuff meant I was pretty pumped to see Kreator play!

When I got to the venue I was told opener Voivod had just started their first song. I’ve never been a huge Voivod fan, though I was curious to see them play live. I was surprised to find that they did not have Jason Newstead (of Metallica fame) playing bass for them. He’s been a member of the band since 2003. I guess he doesn’t tour with them though. Their set wasn’t bad, but the mix was a bit rough and it was hard to hear much over the drums and vocals. They put on a good show and the crowd’s energy wasn’t bad considering they were a support act. Still, you could tell everyone was waiting for Kreator to hit the stage and by the time Voivod announced the start of their final song, I was heading to the bar to beat the rush.

Kreator took what seemed like a very long time to set up the stage. They had a lot of banners hanging on all kinds of scaffolding style metal piping and they brought their own lighting rig too. The lights went down and a recording of Choir of the Damned started playing. When the band finally took the stage the crowd was ready. They opened with The Pestilence and people were going crazy. The rather thin mosh pit for Voivod was now most of the dance floor area, and it was getting hard to keep my camera shooting straight with all the bodies flying around. The show had a lot of energy, as is to be expected from a Kreator show, and of course the lights were intense. The “old school” set list there had been so much talk of wasn’t that different than the last time I saw them. They did only play a couple songs off their latest album, Hordes Of Chaos and Demon Prince, and they threw in a few older songs like Endless Pain, but overall the setlist wasn’t much different than the one they played last time. I took a picture of the setlist from a guy who pulled it off the stage at the end of the show, and you can see it here and if you want to compare it to the picture I took of the setlist from May 09 you can by going here. I don’t want to say the show wasn’t fun, it certainly was, but I had been hoping for more older songs to be thrown in and less of the same staple songs you kind of expect them to play. I guess that was a bit of a let down, but still, it’s always a blast to see Kreator. Oh, and in case you were wondering they didn’t have any guys in drag dressed as cheerleaders on stage this time either, haha. Overall I’d say the show was a lot of fun but still, the let down of the set list sort of left a bad aftertaste in my mouth. I still recommend seeing them if you get a chance, especially if you never have before. They really get every bit of energy out of the crowd they can. Oh, also of note, got my videos from this show posted in a Blabbermouth article, which is always pretty cool when they do that. You can check that out here. I’ve also posted one of them below.