TRIVIUM / SABATON / HUNTRESS
Magic City Music Hall
(A face-melting good time!)
Underground darlings Huntress started the evening with a high energy performance that only reinforces how incredible of a live act they are. Jill Janus’ Upstate New York roots gave a hometown advantage, and I couldn’t think of a better band to get the crowd warmed up. I was happy to see her family got to come see her perform so close to home as well!
It was an excellent set, but I wouldn’t expect any less from these guys. They had already won me over as a fan when I saw them on the Arch Enemy/Kreator/Starkill/Huntress tour in 2014 (so I’m admittedly a little biased here).
The material from their latest album, Sorrow, really rounds out the set well. And I think the fact that they took the pagan concept of the maiden/mother/crone cycle and applied it to a 3 album creative cycle is a work of conceptual genius that is often overlooked (or misunderstood, as when Jill posted that the cycle was complete from her Facebook page and people mistook it as a sign the band was breaking up). I guess real genius is never understood until well after the fact.
Also, the very human connection the band has with their fans (as evidenced by their meet and greet sessions between sets) is always a treat for fans.
(p.s. Jill, if you’re reading this, my girlfriend loves her Heshette necklace!)
(Swedish pagans take Binghamton by storm!)
Good god. I’m still not sure how these guys didn’t end up the headliners for this tour. Sabaton was an unexpected, explosive, and very pleasant surprise. Sabaton managed to bring the atmosphere of a European outdoor metal festival to rural Upstate New York. People traveled from neighboring states just for the chance to catch their set.
The sound was perfect, and the bands stage presence stole the show. These guys sweat charisma. As it was Tommy Johansen’s first American tour, he was drafted to help frontman Joakim Broden announce the song “Swedish Pagans” – a turning point in the show. The crowd went wild and didn’t simmer down for the rest of the set.
I don’t think anyone was more surprised by the warm reception than Sabaton themselves. Broden vocalized how pleased and surprised he was at the enthusiasm from the crowd. The entire set was palpably energetic, both from the bands and the reciprocating audience. Crowd participation was enthusiastic for every single song. I can honestly say it’s the most fun I’ve had at a metal show in years.
To top everything off, the band called a 9-year-old audience member onto the stage to help them perform a song during the encore. They even made sure he had ear-plugs. I cannot stress how much of a class act these guys are.
I guess it makes sense that a metal band singing war-themed music in the United States would go over well, but even a week later I am still surprised by how much energy they were able to draw out of the crowd. I still contend that, based on their sets in Binghamton it would have made a lot more sense for Sabaton to be headlining this tour. But it’s a funny thing – I remember being a fan of these guys when I was street teaming for Nuclear Blast in the early 2000’s, and it seemed like nobody knew who these guys (or any power metal band, for that matter) were. Nowadays, it seems like Sabaton is the fastest rising band in metal (a position they have earned through years of consistently good albums coupled with a powerhouse live show).
(The gain is not a volume knob!)
I’m not sure what happened during the Trivium set. The first two songs sounded fantastic, but the next few the sound quality took a quick dive. I don’t think it was the sound guy (or the venue) because the previous two sets were fantastic. If I had to guess, I would say someone turned the volume up a little too much in an attempt to bring the energy level of the show to up for the headliner.
Not a bad move, but I think this was just a case where the diversity of Trivium’s musical catalog worked against them. Because material focusing a little bit more on the low-end (first two albums, new album) sounded great, while the mid-to-high-end material sounded grainy and was generally unpleasant.
I hate saying that. I’ve consistently tried to find a way to get around it, but bad sound dominated so much of the show it nearly ruined it for me. I’ve been a pretty consistent fan since they released Ascendancy back in 2005. But I wasn’t the only person who felt this way – I watched 15-20 people leave within Trivium’s first 4 songs. It sucks to see an awesome band have a less than awesome night.
There were high points – and it was still an excellent show. I just think the combination of less-than-ideal sound quality coupled with following (and having to top) two incredibly good bands made for a less than ideal situation for Trivium. I think the fact that they opted to tour with Sabaton and Huntress as openers at all speaks to the testicular fortitude of the band – because it means they have to bring their “A” game every fucking night (which they certainly did). Trivium’s performance was fantastic overall, and audience members got more than their money’s worth.
Overall, an excellent show. It certainly ranks right up there with the Killswitch and Lamb of God shows from earlier in the year, and as a touring package I would say it is a contender for one of the best tours this year.