Metallica and Avenged Sevenfold at CenturyLink Field

It’s hard for me to give an objective review on last night’s show in Seattle. Instead of a review, I want to give a write up of my experience. My brother and I (the Deify collective) got to the stadium at 10am to camp out for the show. Fast forward six hours and we were standing front row with some friends we made in line.

At 5pm, Mix Master Mike from the Beastie Boys had a surprise set. To be honest, it was a bit lackluster. I don’t envy a DJ trying to throw hip hop beats under hard rock and heavy metal instrumentals to a crowd of what turned out to be approximately 50,000 metal heads.

First Up: Gojira

The French heavy-metal scene isn’t something I’ve paid much attention (have you?) but these guys brought raw intensity. While not my cup of tea, they were a fun band to watch. The highlight for me was that their drummer looked like a French Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

Avenged Sevenfold

I’ve seen these guys four times now, all in a headlining role, so it was strange to see them come on at 7pm while it’s still light outside. The band opened with the title track from their new album “The Stage” – an eight-and-a-half minute epic that starts off with a droning organ before kicking into neo-classical metal riffs, yet ends with a flamenco-esque acoustic outro. Though not the headliners the band still delivered headliner-style pyro, with 30-foot flames erupting from stage throughout nearly every song. I was honestly surprised at how well-received the band was.

While they are my favorite band, I didn’t realize they had gotten to a point where nearly an entire stadium would be familiar enough with their material to sing along to hits like Afterlife, Almost Easy, Nightmare, and Hail to the King. This was incredibly exciting for me, as a long-time fan. Maybe these guys will be able to carry the torch for hard rock/heavy metal and fill arenas in 20 years like Metallica…?

On that note, the highlight (for me – and I’d assume the band) was “Hail to the King”. 50,000 people screaming “HAIL” and pumping their fists in unison was quite a sight to behold. “Unholy Confessions” was a close second with the stage being engulfed in flames 😉

Listen to Avenged Sevenfold’s setlist on Spotify

Note: Photo credit to Rafa Alcantara

Metallica

I’d read about the danger the band brought with them in their heyday. That wasn’t exactly the case at CenturyLink Field (not complaining). Sure, there was pushing and shoving – especially when the band played their earlier material – but it never felt out of control. James Hetfield stopped the show after its second to proclaim “Metallica does not give a shit”. In the late 80s/early 90s, this probably would have been followed by a call for a massive circle pit or mosh. Instead, James continued on to state they “did not give a shit” about what anyone’s race, gender, sexual orientation, or political stance and wanted everyone to come together as a family to celebrate music. A little bit different than “Kill ‘Em All,” eh?

Having sold over 58 million albums in the US and over 155 million worldwide, it’s no secret that Metallica is one of the biggest musical acts on the planet. All that being said, I never thought I’d be front row to see Metallica play to over 50,000 people screaming every riff, lyric, and drum beat of a two-and-a-half hour set. What I was most impressed by was the range of ages at the show. When my brother and I were camped out, most people were late teens and early twenties. Those same people were screaming the lyrics to Whiplish and Seek and Destroy from Metallica’s 1983 album “Kill ‘Em All” and “Halo on Fire” from 2016’s “Hardwired…to Self Destruct”.

Needless to say, Metallica did not disappoint. The scale of their show matched the size of the venue with five 100-foot screens that brought an intense visual experience to show, with pyro cannons on top, fireworks, and a complex laser/light show. Kirk Hammett flawlessly executed blistering guitar solos with James Hetfield flashing his incredible rhythm guitar chops (and some impressive lead pieces).

Robert Trujillo is also quite the spectacle on bass. What I enjoyed most about watching him was how seamlessly he played intensely technical riffs while finger-picking the whole show. Most hard/rock metal bassists these days stick to picking to keep up with the speed and technical nature of the genre.

Should Metallica make their way back around to your neck of the woods, this is not a show to be missed. Deep cuts are there to satisfy the hardcore fans, with plenty of massive hits for the casual listener.

Listen to Metallica’s setlist on Spotify

3 Things Artists Can Learn From Green Day

Tuesday night, Green Day kicked off the latest leg of the Revolution Radio Tour at the White River Amphitheatre. This was their first show in Washington since the 21st Century Breakdown tour in 2009. The setlist did feature a significant amount of material from the band’s latest release “Revolution Radio,” as well as most of “American Idiot”. Nonetheless, the setlist contained many gems for old-school Green Day fans, with five songs off Dookie, three from Nimrod, and even 2,000 Light Years from their pre-major label days (“Kerplunk”).

This was my second time seeing Green Day, the first being their show at Key Arena 8 years ago. After this show, there were a few things that stood out as fantastic points of reference for other artists/bands:

Get the Crowd Involved

Sure, this seems like a no-brainer. However, I can’t tell you how many shows I’ve gone to in the last few years where artists/bands simply play through their songs. It’s safe to say that every other song (if not every song) Billie Joe had the crowd clapping in unison and/or screaming “hey ooooooooooh”. Within the first 30 minutes of the show, Green Day had turned the crowd into a community. As far as I could tell, no one was holding back – from jumping up and down to singing along at the top of their lungs.

When it came to the encore, 16,000 people were screaming “hey ooooooooooooh” in unison and pounding the chairs of the amphitheater to get the band back on stage. Sure enough, this was met by the band running out bowing to the crowd and a very excited Billie Joe fist pumping and screaming “YES”!

Repetition in Your Live Routine is Okay, If It’s Genuine

On three separate occasions, Billie Joe Armstrong (lead singer/guitarist) brought members on the crowd on stage. The first was to have a young boy to sing the final verse/chorus of Know Your Enemy, the second being a teenager to sing the final verse/chorus of Longview, and the third bringing a birthday-girl on-stage to play guitar for the end of “King for a Day”.

He did the exact same thing in 2009 at Key Arena (except the guy he brought up to play guitar was not celebrating his birthday). Yet, it still worked. The band has found a way to bring the intimacy of a club show to their arena/amphitheater shows.

This also ties into the former point about getting the crowd involved. Having a crowd repeat the same action over-and-over again makes it easy to get involved. This is especially true for people seeing you for the first time, or those who aren’t familiar with you at all. Having a simple phrase repeated across your setlist makes your show accessible to newbies – the point is to keep gaining new fans, right?

Don’t be Afraid to Make a Statement

It’s not a secret that “American Idiot” was Green Day’s response to the Bush Administration back in 2004. Tuesday night Billie Joe made it pretty clear that he’s not terribly content with the current administration either – which may be a deeper reason for the inclusion of so many “American Idiot” tracks throughout the set. He certainly struck a chord with the majority of the crowd (no pun intended…okay kind of…) while avoiding any notion of a man sitting on a pedestal.

Now, I’m certainly not saying to spend your precious minutes on stage voicing your grievances. Further, your statement definitely does not have to be political. The bottom line is people are drawn music that speaks to them on a personal level, and therefore artists who stand for something. This ranges from deep socio-cultural beliefs to how people choose to spend their Friday nights, though the later tends to generate more long-term fans. Crafting your message goes back to how an artist/band brands itself (see my posts on artists becoming a media company and what I’ve learned since Deify’s first record), which can certainly change over time – Green Day being a perfect example: from high-school burnouts/stoners to vocal, socio-political artists.

Highlights from the Show

Billie Joe Armstrong

He may be one of the most playful front-man that I’ve ever witnessed. His ability to get the crowd involved yielded a great night of entertainment.

Boulevard of Broken Dreams

Dedicated the late Chester Bennington, the song packed an emotional punch. The first half of the song was stripped down to just a guitar and vocals and was delivered beautifully.

The Stage During Revolution Radio and Forever Now

I’m a sucker for great pyro.

Setlist:

  1. Know Your Enemy
  2. Bang Bang
  3. Revolution Radio
  4. Holiday
  5. Letterbomb
  6. Boulevard of Broken Dreams (dedicated to Chester Bennington)
  7. Longview
  8. Youngblood
  9. 2000 Light Years Away
  10. Hitchin’ a Ride
  11. When I Come Around
  12. Welcome to Paradise
  13. Minority
  14. Are We the Waiting
  15. Jimmy
  16. Knowledge (Operation Ivy cover)
  17. Basket Case
  18. She
  19. King for a Day (Saxophone solo w/ snippet of “Careless Whisper”)
  20. Shout/(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction/Hey Jude
  21. Still Breathing
  22. Forever Now

Encore

  1. American Idiot
  2. Jesus of Suburbia
  3. Ordinary World
  4. Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)