September 27th I took a break from quarter end at my day job to go see one of my favorite melodic death metal bands play at House of Blues. This show was particularly important for me to attend for two of reasons. One, I really love Dark Tranquility, and two, the last time I saw them was on October 1st, 2017. That fateful day of the Route 91 shooting here in Las Vegas that no one likes to bring up but we all know exactly where we were and what we were doing.
Some will say this is a morbid way to start a show review but for me this is 100% necessary to put out there and talk about. We all bottle up things and keep them inside. It isn’t a healthy thing to do and I refuse to be that person that just doesn’t talk about something because it makes me emotional.
A year ago….
Upon leaving the show at Slim’s in San Francisco, the joy that was had from seeing Dark Tranquility play for the first time was overshadowed by my buddy’s car having been broken into. Only to be followed by the even more horrifying flood of phone calls and messages asking if I was okay from co-workers, friends and family from other states. I was frantic. My heart was racing. I was doing everything I could to scrape together every shred of news I could find from the internet and messaging friends and feeds on Facebook while trying not to break down in tears in front of my buddy (I don’t like to cry in front of other people, who the fuck does?).
I didn’t know how big or small this thing was. I didn’t know if all of my friends were safe. All I knew was that my home was attacked and it wasn’t safe and people I loved and cared about were possibly hurt or worse. I felt so helpless in finding out any information. I cried myself to sleep for what little I was able to get from sheer emotional and physical exhaustion. I had to call the airline the next day to make sure I was still going to be able to fly back home.
At the airport I broke down as soon as I got through security. I rushed to the bathroom and bawled my eyes out for a good half hour in one of the stalls before trying to wash my face and regain some composure only to lose it again at the gate. While waiting to board my flight I couldn’t help but keep digging and trying to find something anything that would make this all out to be a hoax or a really bad dream. News story after news story the body count kept rising as I watched and read updates. How on earth could this happen?
It was there at that gate I met Stacee’s parents, Greg and Linda. At the time I met them she was still missing. Linda was worry stricken and I don’t know at what moment exactly we stopped talking and physically connected but I knew she needed a hug and so I gave her one and we both just stood there hugging and crying in the middle of the airport. They were hopping on the plane to meet their son in law to try to find her. I gave them my contact information and let them know if they needed anything I would do whatever I could to help them find their daughter. I shared Facebook posts and contacted local volunteers as well as friends who worked in hospitals in an effort to help find her with no luck.
Stacee Etcheber was among the 58 victims that lost their lives during the Route 91 shooting. She was a daughter, a wife and mother of 2. My heart will always bleed for her family for their loss along with so many others. Through their pain and grieving in the days to follow, Linda reached out to me to thank me and let me know the news. I instantly broke down into an inconsolable puddle of anguish. These complete strangers and I are forever connected in a way I can’t ever fully explain. I am happy that I could give them at least one moment of comfort in all of the turmoil. I still have the texts saved on my phone and look at them from time to time when I think of that day.
My story is like so many others from that night in so many ways and in a lot of ways differs from others. I was not there but it still had an immense impact on me. Part of me wants to reach out but the words don’t find their way to my mouth or finger tips. How do I text or call without resurfacing their grief. So instead I will share this story.
This show, a year later, with the same band playing in the town that I call home brought some meaningful closure of sorts in addition to the soothing melodic waves of their music.
When I arrived in front of the House of Blues in Mandalay Bay for the show I was greeted by Bobby D (the D stands for dangerous ladies) who called me by the band on my T-shirt for the night “Trivium”. I made sure to point out my name and introduce myself before getting in line to get my fancy “you are of drinking age” wrist band from the viking looking security guy before getting the wand and securing some ice water.
Although I came to this event solo I was met with many familiar faces from around the
scene. Bouncing from one group to the other, wandering through-out the crowd as is my usual style. There wasn’t much room for a big floor crowd. Thanks to the VIP tables set out on a platform on the floor. Santana…you are a talented man but dude …you are killing the mosh game… (dude is also a massive cock block but that’s a story for another day). I wasn’t drinking Santana Champagne cuz its so crisp . (if you don’t get this lonely islands reference you are dead to me )
Omnium Gatherum from Finland opened up the show. I’ve had a few of their songs on some of my playlists before. They were playing a few off their new album “The Burning Cold” Refining Fire , The Burning and Gods Go First . They definitely take a softer less gritty approach with their music than most melodic metal that I have a tendency to listen to. Most of their songs would start off strong and then taper off into the same softer sound to me.
They were overall enjoyable to watch. Lots of energy and the head banging with all of the hair… One of the the things I love about foreign metal bands is that they have so much hair! weird … maybe… whatever…its a thing… makes the headbanging in tandem more memorable and epic on stage. I do think the sound for the vocals was off in the front monitors. Perhaps it was the band’s preference, but I could hear it better back at the bar than down on the floor. Perhaps if it weren’t for that it would have hit me harder and been more my cup of exuberant and zeally tea.
Next up was Moonspell from Portugal. They brought such a gritty great performance in Portuguese. I loved every second of it. Before this show I hadn’t really heard too much about them. Vocalist Fernando Ribeiro started the set coming on stage in an undertakers hat and trench coat with a lantern followed by the rest of the band members Ricardo Amorim, Pedro Paixão, Aires Pereira, Mike Gaspar. Their whole set had me in awe.
The small changes to Fernando’s costumes, to just the overall energy of the crowd. I loved the Gothic appeal coupled with the historical value of their lyrics. To the point where I made sure to immediately buy their latest released album “1755” that details the story of the Lisbon Earthquake in 1755 and a t-shirt following their set. And yes … it is completely in Portuguese … but the internet is a beautiful thing and why do you need to know exactly what the words are to feel what they are saying? the answer is you don’t…. so shut your close minded mouth hole.
Side note to add here …. people… STOP BEING THIS GUY…. watching a concert through your phone screen at the actually fucking concert is 1 rude to the bands, 2 unfair to the short person in back of you that you are blocking from seeing anything that also paid to be there 3 are you really going to post 5 hours of video on social media let alone 1 of an entire set? If your answer is yes get a fucking media pass and get the fuck out of the regular crowd. #SorryNotSorry #ISaidIt #FuckingDealWithIt
Dark Tranquility put’s on a memorable show every time. When they began, I was on stage left towards the back of the floor just trying to soak things in.
About 2 to 3 songs in I ended up helping break up a fist fight between some drunk kid and another guy who turned out to be my acquaintance Ben whom thanked me the next day. The aggressor tried to jump back in and of course I’m not about that life its one thing to be in the mosh pit it’s another to be an asshole. I got in his face and got him back the fuck up and scram.
The other dude near by threw his hands up and said he didn’t want to be a part of any of it when security came around. Which is half the problem. Security doesn’t want to have to deal with the drunk asshole later when they are more drunk and cause more damage but of course it happened so quickly I forgot the color of the stupid guys shirt …i thought it was red turns out it was black but the asshole who didn’t want to be a part of it didn’t feel like correcting me until security walked away. So to that guy… and the guy who started the fight… Fuck both of you.
After that whole ordeal I was kind of in the fuck this shit with being on the floor type of mood. I went up to stand by the back bar for pretty much the rest of their set. I decided I was going to stop being all doom and gloom with self reflection and finally caved to have a double Captain (which i’m pretty sure was at least a triple after he was done pouring it) with Coke to loosen up and start letting go … find that off switch so to speak. I was able to smile and soak in the rifts and enjoy the splendor after the rum started to hit my blood stream for at least a little while.
They played through their discography beautifully as always. From Projector (1999) with There In , to The Wonders at Your Feet from Haven (2000) , The Treason Wall & Monochromatic Stains from Damage Done(2002), Lost to Apathy from Character (2005) , Inside the Particle Storm , Terminus , & Misery’s Crown (my favesies) from Fiction (2007) , The Science of Noise from Construct (2013) and of course Encircled, Atoma, Force of Hand and Clearing Skies (another favorite) from their latest album Atoma (2016) .
When you look at their lyrics they are very forward thinking. This is a band I can continue to get behind that is about Atheism, equality and sensible, intelligent, forward driven conversations (check out their documentary “Out of Nothing” circa 2009 on YouTube). That and their music doesn’t suck.
Amorphis closed out the night. To be honest I have literally only had one of their songs on any of my playlists and hadn’t really explored everything they had to offer since they were another band that’s a bit softer than what my ear drums normally like. Live though, they put on a pretty great show. And after looking through some of their other albums I would have to say I have more songs to add to my playlists. That being said their act wasn’t enough to follow the bliss of DT for me. I ended up leaving early after some drunk guy got a little too in my space. It was already past midnight and I had to be up in the morning for work.
In summary , it was a night of reflection and great music that met most of my expectations (minus the lack of an epic mosh pit to match the last show.) I left the venue fulfilled. The drive home was peaceful. Not too many racing thoughts. Just music and streetlights before another day on the grind.