Avenged Sevenfold w/ Deftones and Ghost – 10/23/13
Chesapeake Energy Arena – Oklahoma City, OK
Words/Photos by Steven Anthony
Everyone’s got an opinion regarding Avenged Sevenfold. Lots of people hate them, calling them derivative/wannabe rock stars. At the other end of the spectrum, you have the band’s fans, eating up everything the band releases including their latest album Hail to the King which recently topped the Billboard’s Top 100. Touring in support of that record, Avenged Sevenfold stopped at Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena last night bringing along Deftones and Ghost as support. Surely one of the strangest mainstream bills to hit arenas this year, the three bands played to a small yet hugely passionate crowd.
Sweden’s Ghost kicked things off for the evening, running through a bizarre 45-minute set that seemed to captivate the audience. While it reeked of gimmickry (Anonymous band members? A Satan-worshipping Cardinal figure?), the band was certainly entertaining. Heavy music fronted by a pop-sounding Satan-loving freak? If it works, it works, I guess, and judging by the number of Ghost shirts on the front row (a concert sin), the Swedes have developed a nice little underground following here in America. The band’s set included performances of Per Aspera ad Inferi, Year Zero and Ritual, sadly leaving out their intense Here Comes the Sun cover.
Deftones were up next, still riding on the heels of last year’s critically successful Koi no Yokan. Chino Moreno still bounces around like an insane person, constantly climbing up on his riser before jumping of or running across the stage twirling is microphone. He’s an engaging performer, to be sure, but last night he seemed to be having a bit of trouble balancing his on stage acrobatics with singing, sounding short of breath more than a few times. After tripping on a platform mid set, it became clear that perhaps he was just having an off night. Luckily he picked himself back up and recovered nicely, smiling before resuming his nonstop dancing center stage. Musically the band sounded tight, delivering solid takes on Rosemary, My Own Summer (Shove It) and Swerve City. Deftones are certainly a different style of music than either Ghost or Avenged Sevenfold, but they seemed to have just as many fans out in the crowd. It seemed odd to have a band so critically respected sandwiched between some Satan-worshipping, relative newcomers and one of the most polarizing bands in American rock, but they made it work.
After the Deftones wrapped up their set, the crowd’s anticipation for Avenged Sevenfold seemed to reach a breaking point. Soon enough, fire erupted from the stage as the band took their places on stage. Opening up with Shepherd of Fire, the band heated up the arena — quite literally — with insane amounts of pyro coming from seemingly every direction on stage. Critical Acclaim was next, finding vocalist M. Shadows growling over the fairly typical guitar riffs going on behind him. Guitarists Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates played their first of many dual-guitar solos of the evening during the track, throwing out shades of Judas Priest while the crowd pumped their fists in response. The band’s music may come across as inauthentic to some, but for the thousands of smiling faces at last night’s show, it’s clear they have a connection with a large number of people.
The band’s stage, a huge castle facade with a giant skeleton king centered behind the drum riser, served as a great backdrop for all of the pyro and spectacle happening towards the front. M. Shadows and both guitarists all had their own mini-risers at the front of the stage, climbing up anytime they wanted to solo or pop off whatever rock pose they were feeling at that moment. There were so many solos peppering nearly every song that for every vocal hook present during the show, I’d say there were approximately 12 guitar solos. It was a little excessive, but both guitarists are more than proficient so it was never painful.
The band sounded at their best when things were speedy and had a sharper edge — when they slowed down the show for a heartfelt tribute to their late drummer The Rev, things became a bit rough. While Fiction was a nice way to keep The Rev’s memory alive, M. Shadow’s vocals really seem to have trouble when he lets off his distinctive growl and the multi-layered synth work was a bit over the top. It was a weak point in an otherwise strong and engaging show, and really seemed to throw off the flow of their 90-minute set. It certainly can’t be all solos and all growling for the entire show, but the song sounded incredibly out of place.
The remainder of the night was solid, featuring performances of Nightmare, Afterlife and Bat Country. Shadows thanked the audience for coming out on a Wednesday night before leaving the stage. After a few minutes of “Sevenfold” chants rising out of the audience, the band came back out for a quick two-song encore, rounding out their set with Chapter Four and Unholy Confessions. All in all, not a bad show.
While these three bands have very little common, least of all fanbases, each band delivered in its own unique way. Judging by the size of the crowd, it’s not clear that any of these bands have the draw to fill arenas, but it was obvious that the people who did come out had a great time.
Check out a few more selected shots, followed by a full gallery of all three bands: