Everyone wants to go to a memorable concert. No matter what the genre, fans always want to see a larger-than-life representation of the music and bands they know and love. While you can certainly find success with a stripped-down set of your fan’s favorite tracks, putting on a unique show can leave lasting memories. Bands like KISS and Alice Cooper embodied this sort of stage presence for years. Both groups are still going strong to this day. Over the years, there have been acts such as In This Moment and Marilyn Manson to continue the trend. Of course, you can’t be all sizzle with no steak. No band can ever truly succeed if their music is subpar. Luckily, that’s where both Avatar and Babymetal come through, and that’s why a tour featuring the two attractions seemed inevitable and exciting.
For the tour’s supporting act of Sweden’s Avatar, U.S. fans started taking notice in 2014. The group certainly had its following before it’s release. However, the band’s fifth album, Hail the Apocalypse, took over America airwaves and became the first of their releases to chart in the states. Just like that, the U.S. became taken over by Avatar Country. Since then, the band’s circus freakshow-style stage show has continued to attract larger and larger crowds. Meanwhiles, their albums have continued to build in intensity while the band tours relentlessly year in and year out.
Over in the land of the rising sun, Japan’s Babymetal is burning on all cylinders. The female-fronted metal band is preparing to unleash their newest album, Metal Galaxy, next month. Part J-Pop, part pure Metal in its presentation, the three leads work in perfect unison bringing the band’s story to life in synchronized harmony. What started as sub-unit of the Japanese group Sakura Gakuin at a time when the girls hadn’t even reached their teens has blossomed into a powerhouse a near-decade later. With vocalist Yuimetal leaving the trio last year, members Su-Metal and Moametal have called upon various dancers to take the role of the third Avenger. While the three girls are certainly the stars of the show, musicians Takayoshi Ohmura (Guitar), Leda Cygnus (Guitar), Isao Fujita (Guitar), Boh (Bass) and Hideki Aoyama (Drums), collectively refered to as The KamiBand provide the blistering beat to keep the dancers moving.
The tour featuring the two groups was a little over a week underway when they set their eyes on New York City’s Terminal 5 on Sunday, September 15th. As summer turned to fall outside, the Hell’s Kitchen based venue was set to heat things up inside. The place was jam-packed with rabid metal fans ready to be taken on a journey. While not advertised as a sellout, the venue was packed wall-to-wall long before even sound checks for the opening act had been completed.
Fans entering Terminal 5 found themselves face-to-face with Avatar’s extravagant stage set-up featuring oversized light-up letters spelling the group’s name looming high over the stage. With fifteen minutes remaining before show-time, the loudspeakers set the scene with an assortment of creepy carnival jingles. At 8 PM, the lights went down; signaling Avatar had arrived. Drummer John Alfredsson joined the New York crowd first, sitting in his drum throne with all lights displayed on him. Guitarists Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby and Tim Öhrström along with bassist Henrik Sandelin approached their spots on stage before the group’s ring leader, vocalist Johannes Eckerström, soon followed. With the crowd geared up, the group opened up with “Hail the Apocalypse” to an eager crowd.
The vaudeville act their heads in unison to tracks cuts of “Let it Burn” and “A Statue of the King.” With Eckerström entirely ruling over the stage, he pumped up the crowd with antics including drinking from a gas can, playing the trumpet and swinging his skull-tipped cane with reckless abandon. Between tracks, the leader promised the New York crowd that they will return with an even longer set. After thanking the audience, Avatar closed out their strong set with the hit “Smells Like A Freakshow.” The track’s heavy portions interspersed with it’s slower mood-setting chorus created the perfect rollercoaster ride for the band’s finale. Satisfied with the night, the five men joined the center stage for a final bow, a perfectly fitting way for the act to salute the audience.
A quick dismantling of the Avatar’s set led the way to Babymetal’s time on stage. Quite the opposite to the grand nature of the previous act, aside from the instruments and one large LED screen, the stage was left bare for the trio to take over. The lights once again darkened as The KamiBand took to their positions, dressed in robes and shrouded in large matching masks that wouldn’t look out of place on a Slipknot stage. Drawing inspiration from another epic story, the screen displayed in the back cleverly opening with the phrase: “A long time ago in a METAL GALAXY far far away…” before encouraging fans to bang their heads. It was evident that the group were promoting their new album Metal Galaxy. Fans didn’t need much more persuasion as lead vocalist Su-Metal, Moametal, and a third Avenger took center stage.
Within seconds of the opening track, “Megitsune,” the dance floor became a warzone. For those unfamiliar with the band’s hardcore following, the energy level may have come as a surprise. They undeniably created an energy that threatened the very foundation of Terminal 5’s structure. Those in attendance played as important a role to the night as the Avengers themselves. Crowd surfers soon joined the mix as the band continued on the English version of the new featured track “Elevator Girl.” Cuts of “Shanti Shanti Shanti,” a trio performance of “Kagerou” and “Starlight” continued to elevate the experience. A pre-taped video of “FUTURE METAL” provided a breather for the Avengers while keeping fans invested in the show before the group returned to the stage with “Gimme Chocolate!!”.
Only halfway through their set, fans were treated with “PA PA YA!!,” “Distortion,” and “KARATE.” Not that the crowd needed more inspiration to move their bodies, but “Headbangeeeeerrrrr!!!!!!!” Encouraged them to do just that. Security were busy as bodies were brought out to the front while the track’s blistering guitars rung through the venue. “THE ONE” gave lead vocalist Su-Metal a chance to fully display her vocal chops as she sang with no instrumental backing. The KamiBand joined in halfway through the song. Giving fans one last track to rock along with, “Road to Resistance” to show what they were made of. Twelve tracks expertly chosen to wow the New York crowd, the night came to an end.
Babymetal’s Metal Galaxy Tour continues to set the U.S. aflame through mid-October with Avatar’s support providing a one-two punch sure to knock fans out. The two split ways after their October 4th showing. Babymetal are scheduled to make an appearance in California’s Aftershock festival on a day headlined by Tool and KoRn before closing out the tour with Hu for the last two stops. Metal Galaxy is set to be released to fans on October 11th and continues to build on the band’s storied career.