You really get a feel for a place when you visit it multiple times in a short period of time. This was the situation for me and Gas Monkey Live- just two days prior to this show I’d been standing within the impressive and inviting walls of GML in order to catch a progressive/djent metal show. So while a few of my uncertainties about the venue itself had already been somewhat assuaged, I was still not 100% certain how to feel about the place or how other shows would go down. Not to mention, Chantelle managed to arrange for me to do my first on-camera interview with Bjorn Gelotte from In Flames prior to the evening’s show, which meant I was exhausted, nervous, and feeling a wee twinge of grief owing to this being our final concert up for review in 2014. Fortunately, our interview could not have gone better, which naturally cleared my mind exponentially, allowing me to focus on the true task at hand: finding the perfect view to witness people collapsing on top of themselves for In Flames and ingesting the modern metal masterpieces put forth by the messianic Opeth.
The first thing you’ll notice about In Flames as their set begins is the massive lighting rigs accompanying them onstage. Two massive towers of rotating, almost conscious, multi-colored lights shoot upward and outward from either side of the drum risers. Just seeing the rigs themselves is mesmerizing, then the band begins to perform and your mind and vision becomes pulverized by the pulsating magnitude erupting from both the speakers and light rigs alike. In Flames put on a damn good set- I mean come on! 20 years and eleven albums into their careers and these guys are still just as magnetic as ever. Their crushing, larger-than-life set kept hitting ridiculous highs and heart-pumping lows. The age-diverse audience had come to witness face-ripping metal, and no one was disappointed. Front man Anders Friden really whipped the place into a frenzy, and really showed his skills at connecting with the crowd. At one point he went as far as to speak out against concert-goers who spend their whole evening watching and filming shows on their smart phones. He encouraged them to pocket their technology and truly connect with the various acts that might appear before them on any given night. However, two songs later he showed his love and support of any and everyone by inviting a random audience member onstage to take a selfie with him and to shoot a short video of the crowd going wild. The performers that comprise this band have clearly had numerous years to mold and perfect their craft, and by the end of their set I was reminded of something Bjorn had told me during our interview– music isn’t about work, it’s all about play. You could feel the fun and excitement in the room, so much so that I almost forgot that In Flames wasn’t the headliner. Opeth was on top of this bill, and before I could truly ready myself for it they had taken the stage.
Their epic and ominous intro music brought a massive uproar from the audience, and my frame of mind shifted from the grandiose to the groovy, organic sound that permeates the Opeth ethos. Mikael Akerfeldt, Opeth’s perennial sage and mastermind, had people swaying like trees in the breeze thanks to the grooves he and his fellow musicians provided. Their set was simple, and yet exceedingly elegant- a nod to the early days of progressive music. This band, like the one before it, utilized pulsating and mesmerizing lights to help intensify an already overwhelming sensory experience. Whether it was the persistent mysticism strung throughout their lyrics, or the conjuring of ethereal majesty from flamboyant guitar picking, Opeth truly reigned supreme on this evening. And they have the nicest fans! Unlike “hipster metal,” everyone at this show was warm and inviting. I had a million polite, positive conversations with strangers this evening, and the real recurring theme seemed to be a genuine excitement to be able to witness the glory and majesty of two of the greatest European bands of the last 25 years. Soon the show was ending, and as I left Gas Monkey Live I began reflecting on the good fortunes of my entire year. I’ve seen and reviewed bands I’ve idolized for years, I’ve interviewed some of my current heroes, and I’ve had opportunities most music fans can only dream of. I can’t thank Static Magazine, our readers, and our phenomenal figurehead Chantelle Prejean enough for everything they’ve done for me this year. Opeth was the cherry on top of the delicious hot fudge sundae that encompassed the year 2014- a hot fudge sundae I devoured with patience, precision and pride.
[ P H O T O G A L L E R Y ]
Photographs taken at Gas Monkey Live on December 13 of 2014 – Opeth, In Flames
Disclaimer: All photographs are copyright Chantelle Renee Photography and cannot be used/cropped/printed without the consent of the owner.
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