Sunday, September 20, 2009

An Evening with Dragonforce

Alright, so last night was the Dragonforce concert in San Francisco. You're probably saying...."Dragonforce?!!?!? Seriously?". With which I would respond to "Yes....really". Let me explain. Dragonforce is a power metal band at it's core. Corny, uplifting lyrics and bombastic music but with a twist. That twist is break neck blazing speed and video game effects with the instruments. I don't take them seriously just as they don't take themselves seriously. It doesn't have to be "brootal" all the time. Alright enough of my self conscious defense of myself, on to the evening.

The event was held at the Grand Regency Ballroom where I had previously seen Opeth. Not a bad place to see a show if you like hot humid conditions. The bill included Taking Dawn and Sonata Arctica opening up. Let's start with Taking Dawn. All pictures and vids taken by my bud Draeden.


Apparently they're a band out of Las Vegas and it was an entertaining show. Chris Babbitt is the lead vocals and the lead guitarist and at times it seems he was channeling Ted Nugent and Sebastian Bach. Mikey Cross is the other guitarist and it was fitting that he wore a bandanna on his head because it was Talk like a Pirate Day. Yeah random what? anyways, I don't know how far these guys are going to get with the retro late 80's to early 90's sound but good luck to them.Go here to check out their My Space page.


Next we have Sonata Arctica. Let me preface this by saying I'm not a huge fan of the band before I went to the show. I've listened to some tracks and they really fell into the same category with me as Evergrey. I want to like them but there is always some element missing. I don't know if it's an identity search as they always seem to cross from rock to prog to power metal regularly.


Anyways back to the show. It was actually pretty good and I've come to realize what a great bunch of fans they do have. It's been a pretty long time since I've heard a crowd really get into a band without much provocation. There was much loud singing and clapping with minimimal prodding by lead singer Tony Kakko. The beginning of the set it appeared that Tony's vocals were having a hard time with pitch but as the set progressed his vocals seemed to improve. Honestly for a band that has such a great following in this area apparently I was surprised that their set wasn't longer. I'll need some help with what they played but I think it was only about 7 or 8 songs. I'll go into that more later.I would recommend checking them out if you can and have a taste for power metal/prog rock. Go here to check out some of their tunes.


Now for the main event. The lights dimmed and the strobes come on to the sounds of electronic sci-fi sounds. The guys immediately jump out and get into a Fury of the Storm. And it was pretty fun and though I've heard alot of criticisms of their live performance in the past they seemed pretty sharp across the board. But here is where things start to deteriorate. With every song each of the band members had 2 or 3 "schticks" they would do throughout. Best way I think to relay what I mean is to break it down by members. I'll exclude Dave Macintosh the drummer because the poor guy was in the corner of the stage just playing away so didn't really have any "schticks" to do that I could see.

Herman Li: Every solo interlude he would point at Sam and give the wank sign or the yawn sign and then alternate. He loves the taste of his fret board as he would constantly lick it up and down or tongue it. Kind of phallic in a way. Plus he would do this jumping knee thing with his guitar. Here is video evidence of that move.

Sam Totman: He would reciprocate Herman's solos with his own wanking motions or drink beer from a straw. Apparently Sam was sad all night because he would pooch his ass out and make the sign of a single tear down his face. He also apparently likes to have his butt kicked by other members of the band. Alot of butt pooching.

Here is some sychronized jumping by the both of them.

Frederic Leclercq: Basically plucked one bass string and chorded 3 other strings. I honestly still couldn't tell if he was truly playing bass as the bass is never really present on the albums nor was it here. He basically played off of the shenanigans from the other guys the whole night.


Vadim Pruzanov: This guy was dressed like something from the LA sleaze glam era. Think Poison meets Faster Pussycat. Vadim enjoys the keytar alot. He also enjoys laying on the ground and kicking like a baby having a temper tantrum. The highlight of the evening is when Henrik Klingenberg of Sonata crashed Vadim's solo and they had a battle. Check it out.

ZP Theart: Ah ZP. The consummate front man stuck in a band with a bunch of noodlers. His vocals were pretty strong but what the fuck do you do when you've got two sometimes three guys up there just ripping away and showboating. Make your own mark we say right ZP? Wow the crowd looks parched, let's fling water from water bottles at them. Because if you fling it at them they won't fire back. Oh and then have conversations like you're the crowds best buddy even though they can't hear you.

And these kind of things happened with every......godamn.... song. Three or four songs in and it got really tiring. Here's the setlist.

Fury of The Storm
Heroes of Our Time
Operation Ground and Pound
Reasons To Live
Where Dragons Rule
Fields of Despair
Keyboard Solo
Disciples of Babylon
Last Journey Home
Valley of The Damned
Strike of The Ninja
Through The Fire and Flames

So yeah. Anyways the show was definatly high energy and they did try to entertain but I can't help but think that this ship will run it's course soon. The albums sound the same and the concerts follow suit as well. I would recommend checking them out once but if I was going to see them again but it wouldn't be on purpose is the best way I could put it.

Let me turn back to Sonata if I could. One interesting note was when we got to the Grand Regency and the merch table, Dragonforce had as many people as Taking Dawn did which was a couple. Sonata had a pretty good line going on. Now after the show my friend Draeden wanted to hang by their bus because the last time he saw them they hung with the crowd and signed autographs and such. Therefore now that he knew the band better he wanted to do the same but get his cd's signed. So we did and waited probably a half hour by the bus.

Sure enough Henrik Klingenberg did come out and talked with the small crowd. About 20 minutes later the rest of the band came out and mingled. These dudes are very mellow and approachable and when I commented I wish they had played longer they agreed and I sensed some frustration as if elements out of their control prevented them from playing a full set. Anyways I wanted to give them some extra props because this is how bands and fans should interact. If there is to be any sort of repairing of the music industry more artists need to be like Sonata Arctica and be real regular dudes appreciating their fans. Because it will be returned.

Good luck Sonata Arctica on the rest of the tour and here's a toast to continued success. I shall endeavor to give it another go and listen to your music and be a complete fan:)

Here is me with Tony Kakko and drummer Tommy Portimo (who apparently was stunned by how awesome it was for Tony to be standing next to me or of Draeden's picture taking skill or something)


And here is Draeden with Marko Paasikoski(bass)



cable_zombie said...

Cool review :) I've seen them a few times, I know what you mean by the crappy stuff they do on stage. Overall their shows have been pretty fun tho.

Rob Liz said...

Thanks for checking in:)

Yeah it was a fun show I just don't see myself going to another. Kind of a been there done that sort of thing unless they start broadening their horizons down the road.

Guitar Hero won't be around forever:P

Draeden Wren said...

I feel the same. I don't plan on ever seeing them again (on purpose). The music wasn't bad, just all sounded the same to me.

Draeden Wren said...

Here is the setlist for Sonata Arctica courtesy of LastFm listener, jukkakhan.

In Black And White, Flag In The Ground, Paid In Full, 8th Commandment, FullMoon, Don't Say A Word, Vodka, Everything Fades To Gray