Apocalyptica @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US)

APOCALYPTICA / 10 YEARS / FAILURE ANTHEM

Date: 26th April, 2016
Venue: House Of Blues Chicago
Ticket: $25 / €23
Promoter: n/a


APOCALYPTICA found their way inside the metalheads’ heart, the moment they released their debut “Plays Metallica By Four Cellos”, released two decades ago. The METALLICA covers were most interesting and, on top of this, sounded heavier than one would expect coming from four Classical instruments. But no band can survive by just playing cover songs, so the Finnish band started producing original tracks and since then, has constantly evolving its musical style. One can say that with every album APOCALYPTICA kind of drifted away from the Metal environment, something that is evident in their latest LP “Shadowmaker” which I think is their most modern and US-sounding album to date. Still, we couldn’t let this show slip through the cracks, since their shows are always full of energy and fun, so getting at House Of Blues on a Tuesday night was really a no brainer.

The show had a later than usual start (I guess there was different age restriction), so we managed to get there just before the 10 YEARS set. HoB was tightly packed with what it seemed to me a really young audience (around their 20s) with scattered grey-haired metalheads who had not severed the bonds with APOCALYPTICA. Thinking about this, I can safely say that inside the venue there were three decades of fans and that’s a plus in a band’s history, even if the majority belongs to the younger age spectrum.

I have to excuse myself for being uneducated as far as 10 YEARS are concerned and I can only claim the ‘alternative Metal’ tag as the sole reason that no matter how I try, it still sounds unappealing to me. Contrary to what I think, there were many who had come to see 10 YEARS (ok, the guy next to me claiming “who are these APOCALYPTICA was annoyingly ignorant), so there had to be good, right?

Ten minutes before 9pm, the lights went out and under loud cheers the curtain was lifted revealing 10 YEARS and their frontman who was wearing a white bird-looking mask. The electronic intro of “From Birth To Burial” was more than enough to get the excitement going and being inside the photo-pit I’d be a liar if I’d say that I was left unaffected. Yeah, this is the beauty of live music; if there is energy coming from the audience, then the music becomes ten times better, no matter the genre. Soon enough, the guitar distortion added some heaviness to the band’s A PERFECT CIRCLE-meets-TOOL kind of Metal (don’t expect to get more references from me). Frontman Jesse Hasek and guitarist Ryan "Tater" Johnson were the driving forces of the show and it was really cool hearing Ryan shouting to get the audience even more pumped up. I have to admit that “Miscellanea” did come out great, even though the mellower breaks with the pre-recorded electronic sounds are not my cup of tea but the riff-driven groove was enough to offer me some compensation. The mix of melodic breaks with heavier outbursts along with the strange timing and the multi-character vocals make the music of 10 YEARS pretty interesting and, honestly, I did enjoy the singing-along during “Fix Me”. Like I said, the audience’s participation plays a huge role in concerts, so extra kudos to the young audience for getting this much involved.

When he was not moving around, Jess was singing as close as possible to the front rows, giving back some of the energy and love he and the rest of the band were getting from the crowd. After “Knives” (again, the mellow start created a nice antithesis with the heavier burst), the frontman sipped some water and joked a bit saying something like this; “This is water from Tennessee which in reality has a bit of moonshine in it”. On a more serious note, he thanked everyone for giving the band the chance to do its work (he used air-quotes on this word) that is not actually work but doing the thing that these guys love the most. During this one, guitarist Ryan stepped off the stage and into the photo-pit to deliver the goods at a spitting distance from the fans. But this was not the craziest moment of the night because after the setlist closer Shoot It Out, Jess climbed on the PAs on stage right and then on the venue’s balcony and waved to the people below because it was time for him to stagedive (well, actually it was balcony dive)... Fortunately, he landed safely and then thanked everyone by saying “thank you for letting me be stupid”. Yep, 10 YEARS did a great job warming us up and everything was at the right temperature for some Cello / Metal fun.

10 YEARS setlist:

01. “From Birth To Burial”
02. “Miscellanea”
03. “Waking Up”
04. “Fix Me”
05. “...And All The Other Colors”
06. Russian Roulette
07. Wasteland
08. “Knives”
09. “Shoot It Out”

10 YEARS

10 Years @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) 10 Years @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) 10 Years @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) 10 Years @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) 10 Years @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
10 Years @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) 10 Years @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) 10 Years @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) 10 Years @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

10 Years @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)


Everything had to be meticulously planned because APOCALYPTICA’s set would be broadcasted live through the internet, so there was zero delay from the announced time. The moment the clock stroke five minutes past 10pm, the lights went out and the intro of “Reign Of Fear” saw the three cellists and the drummer being greeted with a loud cheer from the audience inside HoB. Paavo was the first to quickly establish a connection with the crowd, wearing the biggest of smiles, while Perttu was already banging hard his cello. One can say that Eicca was the serious one, standing at the center of the stage but soon enough he broke and started having fun with the other crazy Finns. If my memory serves me well, in the previous APOCALYPTICA shows (the first one goes back in the late '90s), there was no drummer, something that took away part of the heaviness the cellos and the pedals are trying to bring. Yes, the drums had a huge impact on delivering the tribal feel of “Refuse / Resist”. However, the SEPULTURA cover did not move the young fans as I was expecting but at the same time confirmed what I was saying about APOCALYPTICA having three generations inside HoB. This was absolutely confirmed by the loud and singing-along response the first song of the set got. “I’m Not Jesus” got everyone going with Franky Perez handling the singing duties. Ok, “House Of Chains” may be too modern for me but as it happened during the 10 YEARS, it got way better live with the added bonus coming from the audience. Before this one, Franky greeted us and got a loud cheer when he asked “How are you feeling Blackhawks fans?”

The energized singer left the stage and during the short break, Perttu soloed a bit and I think he played the intro of RAINBOW’s “Gates Of Babylon” that would have been awesome to cover with the cellos. Anyway, “Master Of Puppets” came next but without the response I was expecting because the previous time APOCALYPTICA were in HoB it was singing all the lyrics from start to finish; I guess, I will blame again the generation gap, although I do understand that there is no way to get the best of each age group, right? Ok, during the end of this, the crowd got a little bit louder, so I shouldn’t be complaining much.

Eicca broke the radio silence and said: “I see there are some Metal people here” and then rhetorically asked “are you ready for some real Metal?” referring to another SEPULTURA cover straight from the Brazilians’ “Schizophrenia” days and I hope there will be some fans trying a bit the original recording. The Metal suite ended with “Bittersweet” that judging by how everyone reacted is a huge hit here in the States, so there was more singing along. For this one, drummer Mikko left the stage to the three cellists who sat on chairs and gave a different look to the song’s performance. Part of the enthusiasm bled to another METALLICA cover that was “The Unforgiven” and before getting into this, Eicca mentioned the 20-year anniversary of the APOCALYPTICA debut and then revealed that there will be some most interesting news breaking on May 10th which I’m sure will have to do with a new set of US live dates. I am also speculating something like playing the entire album event. Who knows? Soon everything will be revealed.

The chairs were removed from the stage and it was time to revisit the latest APOCALYPTICA LP with the album’s title track. “Welcome to America boys” said Franky to his bandmates and it was clear that the band is on a great place right now, so I definitely see them touring the States for another run pretty soon. The amazing “Not Strong Enough” kept the enthusiasm going, although I am quite sure it’s a good fit to Franky’s singing style, so the loud singing-along did help a lot.

Perttu took the mic and joked a bit: Google actually paid me to not talk too much” and then took the opportunity to introduce the band members one by one, leaving last but not least the riff cellist, Eicca. “Seek And Destroy” hit us hard, and man, it is amazing seeing the guitar solo being performed with the thicker cello strings while – excuse my ignorance – it made me wonder how the hell do they know where to place their fingers without the equivalent to the guitar frets spaces / markings...

“Fantastic! You seem to have a good time and for this, we will punish you with some Classical shit”, said Eicca but I don’t think hearing the awesome “In The Hall Of The Mountain King” delivered by APOCALYPTICA was any close to a punishment. With this, the Finns left the stage that was now painted red by the lights and I didn’t see someone moving an inch and, in fact, the chanting “one more song” started, got the band back. I love when this happens because it gives the true meaning to doing an encore; this has to be earned not expected... METALLICA's “One” and the extremely catchy “I Don’t Care” were the final tracks of the night that I believe ended on a high note, underlining that APOCALYPTICA is a still growing force in this side of the Atlantic.

The band’s onstage low-key attitude, the full energy performance (actually, there were moments where I was thinking that the three cellists had more fun while playing the older, Metal stuff) and overall good health means having tons of concert fun, so if you get the chance to experience first-hand this tour package, go and check them out. In case you’re (still) wondering, cellos can sound as heavy as the real thing.

APOCALYPTICA setlist:

01. “Reign Of Fear”
02. “Refuse / Resist”
03. “Grace”
04. “I'm Not Jesus”
05. “House Of Chains”
06. “Master Of Puppets”
07. “Inquisition Symphony”
08. “Bittersweet”
09. “The Unforgiven”
10. “Shadowmaker”
11. “Not Strong Enough”
12. “Seek And Destroy”
13. “In The Hall Of The Mountain King”
14. “One”
15. “I Don't Care”

APOCALYPTICA

Apocalyptica @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Apocalyptica @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Apocalyptica @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Apocalyptica @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Apocalyptica @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Apocalyptica @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Apocalyptica @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Apocalyptica @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Apocalyptica @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Apocalyptica @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Apocalyptica @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Apocalyptica @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Apocalyptica @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Apocalyptica @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Apocalyptica @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Apocalyptica @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Apocalyptica @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Apocalyptica @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Apocalyptica @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Apocalyptica @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)