9.27.11: Chthonic x Skeletonwitch x Devil Driver x Arch Enemy

“It’s 25.”

“What? I’m just going to the concert.”

“It’s still 25.”

It was the fastest u-turn I’ve ever done in my life. I didn’t even check my mirrors to see if I was clear of strollers or transvestites patrolling the area. I was cutting it close to Skeletonwitch’s set time. Eventually I found a cheap, skeezy 5 dollar parking spot about 6 miles from Club Nokia at L.A. Live. I figured a brisk jog through the unlit side streets to the venue would do me well. Already sweaty, and wading through the hoards of cornballs waiting in line for the Neon Trees album at Nokia Theater, I made it to Club Nokia, out of breath and just as Skeletonwitch were taking the stage. No time for 1o dollar beers, only time to stand at a distance and bicker at the price I paid to get in and not be allowed access into the pit area.

So there I am, arms folded, slightly nervous as is the case when I’m excited about anything. The bit of anxiety I have is quelled when the drums of “Upon Wings of Black” begin the band’s set. Still slightly annoyed that I can’t get any closer, though. I want to be pushing and shoving strangers while growling along with Chance Garnette, but a mere 20 dollars and an undersized security guard are what stood in my way. Just as ‘Wings’ ended, and those poor, unaware souls that thought they’d catch their breath for a minute, “Submit to the Suffering” hits. Is there any one-two combo at a metal show that is better? It’s the perfect way to get acquainted with the crowd. It’s their way of saying, “Hello, we are Skeletonwitch. We’re not here to fuck around. You’re going to get destroyed tonight. Please enjoy!” No gimmicks, no bullshit, just heavy metal that bashes your skull in. The guys dipped into songs from Beyond the Permafrost (“Beyond the Permafrost,” “Sacrifice to the Slaughtergod”) and Breathing the Fire (“Crushed Beyond Dust,” “Longing for Domination”), but we also heard the two new songs “Reduced to the Failure of Prayer,” and “The Infernal Resurrection” from the upcoming album Forever Abomination. I didn’t mind that they left out “Repulsion Salvation” or that they once again didn’t play “…And into the Flame.” The new stuff sounded incredible, and the sound system at Club Nokia made my lungs collapse. They finally ended their set with the always fantastic “Within My Blood.” Overall, a great set despite it being a little sloppy at times due to the consumption of alcohol, but I should be praising them for being able to play so well while being loaded. I guess my only real complaint is the absense of Garnette’s signature set-closing quote: “We are Skeletonwitch from Athens, Ohio. Drink beer, smoke weed and eat some fucking pussy!!”

Finally, I could spend money on overpriced, shitty tasting beer for my friends and I while waiting for Devil Driver to get their shit together. My bias would ensure I wouldn’t really give Devil Driver a fair shake. They had a shitload of fans at the show, though. My lack of caring would hardly be noticed. There were pits going off around the entire venue, not just in the designated pit area. Some folks were even bloodied and kicked out for violating the unwritten rules of the pit. Look, I don’t know a thing about these guys, so I can’t really speak on their set. I thought what I caught of it was fun, and it sounded great, especially the opening song “End of the Line.” These dudes are way bigger than I imagined (based off of youtube view counts) and I should probably check out their music because it sounded like something I’d really enjoy.

I was back at the bar before Arch Enemy came on, buying Newcastle in a can!! The place was pretty jam packed waiting for Arch Enemy to storm out on stage. Even the balcony had a ton of people. Finally, they came out to a pretty pumped crowd and wasted no time. They opened with “Yesterday is Dead and Gone,” a cut from their new album Khaos Legions. People went nuts. I didn’t expect Arch Enemy to get that much props on a Tuesday night in Los Angeles, but I was wrong. The band is clearly massive, and I don’t know how I went so long without listening to them. I head banged all through their set, and occasionally had to throw people back into the smaller pits that were forming directly behind me. Everything about them was killer. They had an almost seizure-inducing light show, accompanied by a screen showing visuals that played throughout the music. I enjoyed it way more than I wanted to, I’ll admit it. I didn’t think I’d enjoy Angela Gossow’s vocals, but she killed it, as did every other member in the group. At one point, though, I was really just annoyed with a speech about Amnesty International. I’ve got nothing against the organization, but this is a show. Play the damn music I want to hear. When it ended, I was tragically disappointed. I think I let out an “Aww! That’s it?!” I guess that sums up how I felt about AE, right?

I had a great time, and it was probably one of the better shows I’d been to in 2011. Sadly, I missed Chthonic but did get to say hello to the members as they were heading outside to their merch table. I became an Arch Enemy fan when the night ended, and I was turned onto Devil Driver by their ability to get the crowd super rowdy, and Skeletonwitch once again proved why I am a diehard fan.

Evil demons now control my liiiiiiiiiife!

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