Taste of Chaos 2008
Taste of Chaos
Avenged Sevenfold, Atreyu, Blessthefall, Bullet For My Valentine & More
March 21, 2008
Tsongas Arena, Lowell, MA
Reviewed by: Mary Ouellette
On Friday March 21st, Taste of Chaos rolled into The Tsongas Arena in Lowell, MA for what has become an annual rock n’ roll pilgrimage. As I rounded the corner of the venue an hour after doors had opened and the line was still wrapped around the venue, it was proof enough that these kids were not messin’ around. Taste of Chaos is pretty much the all you can eat buffet of rock n’ roll, blending the best of different genres from metal to melodic rock to put on one amazing night of live music. On this particular night the crowd would see eight bands, talk about some bang for your buck.
Starting out the evening was a trio of Japanese bands: D’espairsRay, MUCC, and The Underneath, each treating the crowd to a diverse style of rock sounds, it was clear they were proud to be there and left everything they had on stage. All three bands performed with high energy and looked quite comfortable on stage, engaging in some crowd interaction between songs and communicating via the one true international language…music.
Between set changes, where Idiot Pilot would normally take the stage, one of the Ernie Ball finalist bands Vallon played. Not sure why Idiot Pilot couldn’t make the gig but Vallon was happy to take their slot playing to a almost full venue at this point and probably the largest crowd they’ve ever faced. It was probably the most exciting night of their life.
It was about this time that the crowd surfing began. While most venues in New England have put the kibosh on crowd surfing, The Tsongas Arena kicks it old school and allows kids to surf the crowd until their hearts are content (or smothered!). Some people dig this, and obviously some don’t. Music purists would say that it’s part of the experience, however, the kids that waited outside in the cold for hours and hours to be in the front only to be kicked in the head by a passing surfer might see it differently. Crowd surfing isn’t really an integral part of the experience for all music fans so this is one that we’ll have to call a draw on. By this point, kids were already being feverishly pulled out of the general admission pit in desperate need of a breathe of air, a gallon of water, and on occasion, a medic.
Next up, hailing from the UK, metalcore badasses Bullet For My Valentine. Undoubtedly a lot of the crowd had come for one band and one band only – and this was them. Their stage show was bare bones, letting their music and attitude do the talking for them. Lead singer Matt Tuck did take a few opportunities to flash the dual bird to the crowd, but hey, it was all in the name of rock. With rock star poses and the chops to back it up their set was among the best of the night.
One thing that was a bit different this year and years past was the disappearance of the revolving stage which made for a smooth transition between each act. Instead, the bands that drew the short end of the stick were stuck on a shortened part of the stage coined “stage 2” playing to half of the crowd while the other side of the crowd looked on, left wondering what was going on.
Following a band like Bullet For My Valentine isn’t easy but Screamo Christian metal kings Blessthefall weren’t worried about it, they played through their set with reckless abandon with lead singer Mike Frisby playing to the masses. He was settled high on the speakers using every inch of the shortened second stage to unleash their madness. Shortly into the set he would become one with the audience egging the crowd to participate in what has become Blessthefall’s staple – the “wall of death” mosh pit. High energy from song to song made their set pass in an instant, it’s no wonder these guys were a quick favorite on last years Warped tour, their energy is infectious and overwhelming at the same time.
When Atreyu hit the stage, the crowd was at full capacity and the band was bouncing off the walls with their energy. Bringing to the tour a bit more melodic rock than the metal parade that preceded them they certainly weren’t holding anything back. When it comes to crowd participation, it was clear which side of the argument Atreyu was on, some of the first words out of lead singer Alex Varkatzas mouth was…”let’s see how many of you can surf the crowd during this song.” What would follow was nothing short of amazing, kid after kid after kid came flying towards the stage, the security staff was on fire pulling them out one after the other, some kids probably over and over again. After that it was a sea of fists pumping in unison as Atreyu rocked through a collection of songs from their latest album “Lead Sails Paper Anchor.” and tossing in some older hits for good measure.
As the big screen counted down the seconds until Avenged Sevenfold would take the stage, the energy was permeable. While this was probably not one of the easiest shows to photograph in terms of kids flying overhead left and right, it was definitely an interesting one to watch from the sidelines. As we stood underneath the black curtain up against the stage right before it dropped the stage started to fill with smoke. Avenged Sevenfold had entered the building. Smoke..check. Pyro…check. Skull and crossbones…check. Opening with lead singer M. Shadows at the piano, it would be the one and only time all evening that he would stay still for that long, the rest of the evening would have him bouncing to every corner of the stage only giving up center stage long enough for guitar duo Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance to win over the crowd with their signature dueling guitars. The rhythm section of bassist Johnny Christ and Drummer “The Reverend” were the most enigmatic members of the band, Christ swaggering around the stage but keeping a comfy distance from the front and the Rev fulling immersed in his massive kit.
Known for their rabid fanbase and grassroots rise to success Avenged Sevenfold performed a solid set of tunes new and old and mixed and mingled with the crowd between songs. The personal interaction gave the feeling of a much more intimate setting.
At the end of the night I’m pretty sure every one left the Tsongas Arena feeling as if they just got their ass handed to them by a rock and roll army, and really, would they want it any other way?