“Look into my eyes
Do you see any love?
The only thing is agony
Now I can’t wait to give you the good pain
Die now and be free”
~”Pleasure to Kill”, Kreator
I was able to walk from my Hollywood hideaway to the Avalon. As cars full of metalheads circled around looking for parking, I wished their heckling actually did something for my bruised ego. The last time I was at The Avalon was for three amazing A Perfect Circle shows; the venue is normally a dance club, and the early start time of this show meant that as soon as this night of metal wrapped, it would be transformed back into a DJ and dance haven for the young and upwardly mobile Hollywood types.
Once inside, I caught the end of Swallow the Sun, who were a perfect band to bridge the gap of what I had seen for my last few shows and what I would see tonight. Actually, Swallow the Sun felt like it had nothing to do with the next two bands. Doomy, progressive death metal in the vein of Katatonia, it started the night off on a contemplative note that would quickly be shattered.
Being perfectly honest, I went into this show not knowing a ton about Accept or Kreator. I know…people expect that because I write a music blog and listen to a lot of metal that I know everything about everything….and that’s just not the case. I’m a marginal metalhead at best. There are gaping holes in my taste schematic; I like bands I shouldn’t like and don’t like bands I should like and flat out don’t know a lot about some bands that people think I should know. I realize a lot of people synthesize this as my being “not authentic”…I look at it as being honest. I’m not a purist, and I make no apologies about what I’m into.
That said, it did not prevent me from enjoying the next three hours of classic metal. As soon as the Accept set began, the pit opened up and many generations of metalheads began their forceful bonding experience. In typical fashion for me, when something goes flying in a room it will ultimately find my head to hit, and on this night I got clocked in the cheekbone so hard by something that I thought for sure I was going to have a black eye. And I didn’t even think I was standing close to the action! Accept’s stage set up screamed classic band…a high drum riser and ramps, a large banner, speakers labeled with their name….bands from the decades of excess still echo that sentiment in their production. The band had great energy and put on a really fun show…it felt bigger than the theater that held it. And singing along to “Balls to the Wall” felt like the perfect, over the top culmination of a set to take me out of the doom that I’ve been seeing for the past week.
I was dragged up to the front for Kreator, amidst the hardcore fans that were on another level as the band took the stage after seemingly forever. As their darker demeanor settled in, I worked on remaining upright. Their ominous red lighting and pile of skulls and bones decor screamed evil as much as they did. A post-show debrief would reveal that many people felt that Accept stole the show; I actually think that they were equally good, Kreator’s set just had a much different vibe, as it should have. Right before my eyes I saw the DNA of several of “my” bands playing. But my focus on this was swiftly interrupted when an unexpected thing occurred: Kreator called for a Wall of Death. That was my cue to leave the pit area. I watched the rest of the show, a sea of denim, patches, hair, foreign flags and fists, from the back.
After the show I met someone who this was their first (!) metal show! Perhaps I am not such a marginal metalhead after all.