"Life is But a Dream" Tour Part 1 & 2
Feat: Avenged Sevenfold, Falling In Reverse and Kim Dracula(but also, Atreyu)!
Photos by: Samantha Madnick
Words by: Rudy Flores
As "Even Flow" faded from the house speakers and the lights went dim everyone knew its was time for Kim Dracula, the opening act for the Avenged Sevenfold featuring Falling in Reverse tour. Blood red light shown down as the 25 year old out Hobart, Tasmania, Australia hit the stage. I'm gonna be honest I really didn't know what to expect as this is my first time seeing him. He's and interesting mix of a few different bands. Something you kind of have to see live to understand. There were elements of Ghost, Slipknot, and Korn just to name a few both in sound and look. I don't necessarily mean this in a bad way because the overall sound was listenable and I saw many a phone in the air videoing so he definitely has a place in the scene. There was plenty of genre switching from Screemo to rap to even Ska with trumpets on the final song of the set. Kim Dracula is definitely a little all over the place but at the same time has something for everyone.
Up next was Falling In Reverse! As the band made their way to the stage one by one, the crowd cheered louder and louder until lead singer Ronnie Radke took the mic to open the set with "Zombified" from their 2022 release of the same name. The crowd at the North Island Credit Union Amphitheater in San Diego was now almost fully packed and absolutely foaming at the mouth for these guys to put on a show and that just what they did! A favorite of mine from their set was "Just Like You", where to intro the song Ronnie asked the audience to raise their hands if they new an asshole and then again if YOU were in fact the asshole. Well, you would've sworn some people (ahem... me) were trying to reach the clouds because yeah... that's would be me! There was also the amazingly titled "Fuck You And All Your Friends", a sweet song really... just kidding. Quite the opposite... that... was sarcasm. The entire crowd got into the mix when they covered "All-Star" by none other than Smashmouth! Definitely a fun addition to the set. During "Watch the World Burn" Ronnie and bassist Tyler Burgess split a VERY impressive speed rap verse and hit it out of the amphitheater too. Special shout out to the camera man on that one for doing an EXTREME close-up on Ronnie's mouth to further show us he was indeed "spitting da hot fire"! They ended the set with "Popular Monster" but not before thanking Avenged Sevenfold for allowing him and the band to stay on the tour amidst all the hate he gets on a regular for things he may or may not have done. Which honestly I'm not a gossip writer so if you want to know about all that, you can Google it. All I'll say is "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" would be a killer album name Ronnie old boy... think about it and get back to me. That being said, they put on a kick ass set.
Unfortunately, that's where the review is going end. Lead singer M. Shadows was feeling under the weather and had severe vocal issues to the point where the only thing he could do was regretfully cancel this evenings performance. They were supposed to hit the stage at around 9:15 but about ten minutes later the photographers (including my wife) were pulled. I recieved a message from her saying to meet her out in the lobby area. When I got there she told me that the show was canceled. We made like babies and headed out before the announcement came over the loud speakers. The good thing is that they weren't canceling per se but postponing until M. Shadows was feeling better and more able to give the audience the show they deserve. Hopefully we can make our way back to actually cover Avenged Sevenfold... for real this time.
Before I get too far into in I'm gonna name this one "Avenged Sevenfold....ROUND 2" !
So, in case you were unaware, the last time Avenged Sevenfold came to San Diego... they kinda didn't. Lead singer M. Shadows had to make the call no band wants to, especially last minute and with a full arena, to cancel the performance due to health issues. It was unfortunate but sometimes it happens. Hey, at least he wasn't being a diva or... divo? I'm not sure that's a word but whatever! All that mattered was they were back and ready give the fans a killer show...
But first... ATREYU!!
Atreyu is a damn good band, it has to be said first and foremost because WOW! Every single time I've had the absolute pleasure of seeing them perform, it's better than the last! Brought on as the opener this go around for A7X made tonight feel like we were getting something kind of special and not just a contractual obligation. Brandon, Dan, Porter, Travis and Kyle were on their game for this one, and the crowd was eating it up! Describing the set as "well received" would be an understatement to say the least.
Lead singer Brandon Saller got the audience involved during "Save Us" from the 2021 realease Baptize by having us all scream the name of the track whenever he pointed the mic in our direction. Something we all did gladly because who doesn't like being a part of the show like that?! During "The Time Is Now" from 2018's In Our Wake, Brandon decided he was going to come see everyone as he started making his way through the crowd, while Porter, being ever the prankster, told people to go ahead and give him a big smootch and SLIP HIM SOME TONGUE if they had a chance! When Brandon got back on stage he touched on the events of his stroll through the crowd. Apparently, someone in the audience took Porter up on his dare and gave Brandon one of the and wettest kisses he's ever had in his life and that guy or girl he enjoyed it and would remember it for the rest of his life!
(This is something that Porter has been trying to make happen for a very long time, so not only did a lucky fan make a memory for Brandon but also made Porter's dream come true! Hilarious!)
Porter grabbed a mic to accompany Brandon as they got everyone hyped and moshy during "Battle Drums". They screamed through the track which everytime I hear/see just floors me because how they pull that off night after night is beyond me. My voice would be thrashed... I guess that's why they're up on the stage and I'm not though, huh? Porter also took a minute, while he didn't have a bass in his hands, to thank AX7 and all of their fans for being amazing. Which is always a classy touch if you ask me.
What happened next was PURE GOLD!!
The 13 song set ended with "Blow" from "Lead Sails Paper Anchor" to a sea of middle fingers (including the one that Porter used to play his bass for bit when he wasn't flipping the people in the pit off), but not before teasing the crowd with an intriguing yet awesome beginning to a cover of the late great Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody". They only played a quick snippet of the late 80's banger before quickly shutting it down declaring that "THIS IS A FUCKING HEAVY METAL SHOW DAMMIT!" So funny!
As per the usual, Atreyu freaking killed it and I can't wait to see them again! SUCH A GOOD SHOW!!
Now the moment that everyone was waiting for... AVENGED SEVENFOLD!!!
As "Nightcall" by Kavinsky played over the house speakers and the lights went out, everyone in attendance started to cheer because they new the moment had come for M. Shadows (lead vocals), Zacky Vengeance (Rhythem Guitar), Synyster Gates (Lead Guitar), Johnny Christ (Bass), and Brooks Wackerman (Drums) took to the stage with the first of their 17 song set, "Game Over" from their newest release "Life Is But A Dream" which dropped back in June. The backdrop was a scene of ink blots as the familiar intro notes were both beautifully yet cryptically plucked before all hell broke loose as an onslaught of power chords and pounding drums took over. The pit immediately went went insane as M. Shadows appeared dawning a black ski mask with the word "NOBODY" across the neckline while sitting in a lawn chair looking rather comfy as he shouted
"The bestest part of waking up
This dark roast got me (so fucked up)"
They followed that with "Mattel", which if you haven't seen the video for that definitely check it out and "Afterlife". M. Shadows took a moment before getting into 2013's "Hail to the King" from the album of the same name, to thank those of us that were able to make it back for this performance and acknowledged that even though not everyone was able to make it (because this was a Thursday night show and not a Saturday like before) they were going to give those of us that did a show to remember. They also thanked Atreyu for coming down from Orange County to play as well as their crew for staying on the extra week to make this show happen.
They reminisced briefly on their time playing with Atreyu to crowds of 4 people in El Segundo (could you even imagine?!) And even dedicated the song to them, which was pretty damn cool. Almost instinctively the crowd turned into background singers as they chanted "HAIL! HAIL! HAIL!" and sang the choruses as if they were on stage with them, an awesome sight to see and hear!
About halfway through the set, Synyster took the spotlight for a bit to solo and as he finished M. Shadows began to joke about how if he played like that at the Grammys they might have beaten the Foo Fighters (I'm gonna keep my mouth shut on that one and just move on lol). He also took a moment to talk about how short life can be sometimes and how important it is to tell the people you love how you feel about them while you can. An unfortunate truth. He talked about losing their bandmate Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan before asking the crowd to think of someone they lost and what they meant to them as well as someone still here that does the same. He then dedicated "So Far Away" from their 2010 album Nightmare to him and the crowd lifted their phones in the place of the old school lighters for the touching tribute.
AX7 brought us all back in time to 2005 and "The SOMA" as M. Shadows called it with "Bat Country" from City of Evil, before hitting us with 2003's "Unholy Confessions". They covered of The Misfits classic hit "Astro Zombies" and the 42 year old track still had the crowd going absolutely nuts! They ended their initial set with "A Little Piece Of Heaven" as a graphic love story played out on the big screens behind them, complete with violin playing skeletons, chainsaws, and Psyco-esque Chef's knives.
They walked off stage for a bit as the crowd continued to cheer, waiting for the encore to begin. M. Shadows reappeared wearing a white ski mask this time, with tiny chains hanging from the eyes as to make it look like he was crying. They played a 3 song encore of (G) + (O)rdinary + (D)eath with an amazing, almost psychedelic light show going on behind them. A scene of fire roaring on the screen behind the stage as nothing but Brooks' drum set remained and the beautiful piano track from Life Is But A Dream is how the night ended and as the lights came back on you could tell by the volume of the crowd that everyone left beyond satisfied!