Taste Of Chaos International 2008

author TL date 18/10/08

"The Rockstar Taste Of Chaos Tour", commonly known merely as Taste Of Chaos, is a concept that has been running for three years now, since it was founded by Kevin Lyman, the man behind the famous Warped Tour. For these three years, the Taste Of Chaos has equaled a vigorous tour of indoor venues, and as its bands tend to cater to the same scenes as the Warped Tour, it has also been called "The Winter Warped Tour" because of its positioning in the opposite end of the calendar. During the first years, TOC's 'European' part had consisted solely of shows in England, but subsequently, the organizers decided to take a chance on the mainland, now on the fourth installment of the tour finally giving Denmark a chance as well. Granted, the lineup of the international shows isn't as impressive on paper as that of their American counterparts, but I for one was happier with the bands on our bill. For good measure, here are the lineups for you to draw your own conclusion:

American Lineup:

Avenged Sevenfold

Atreyu

Bullet For My Valentine

Bless The Fall

Idiot Pilot

MUCC

D'espairsRay

The Underneath

International Lineup:

Atreyu

As I Lay Dying*

Story Of The Year

MUCC

HORSE The Band

* = Actually, I've seen Story Of The Year located higher on the poster in most places, but at the Danish show they at least played before As I Lay Dying, so I'm sticking with this order.

Location and Set-up

The Danish episode of TOC had been scheduled to take place in KB Hallen, which is one of the largest concert venues the capital can muster, only surpassed (to my knowledge) by Forum, Valby Hallen and of course Parken Stadium when the roof is on. For the majority of the time, KB Hallen is an old indoor sports arena that mainly shelters matches in Handball, Volleyball, Basketball and Tennis. As you might imagine, the acoustics of such a place aren't the best for concerts, but this hasn't stopped many a good band from playing here, and it seems that it won't stop here either, considering that both The Unholy Alliance and the Slipknot + Machine Head + Children Of Bodom tours are scheduled for playtime here later this year.

As for the organization, the past has seen many opportunities for people to criticize the low speed and capacity of the entryways compared to the size of shows mostly played here, as well as the lack of opportunities for smokers to exit into designated smoking areas between sets. Trust me, half a concert-crowd hiding in the bathroom with their cigarettes will make your need to relieve yourself somewhat less urgent. Other than that though, only the usual small problems, like high beer prices and slow wardrobes are present, but then, at gigs this size they seem to be everywhere, so I see no need to elaborate on them.

The arrival experience

My friends and I make it to the venue about five to ten minutes before doors (19:00), and to my delight, the schedule is holding, the doors are still shut and no sounds of bands playing early are coming from the venue. I wonder if they can manage that here, why can't they in England? As for the turnout however, things are looking bleaker. Remembering how the line the last time My Chemical Romance played here stretched down the streets for a good 100 meters, the hundred-and-something (at best) crowd in front of the doors makes me think that this just might be the only time TOC will ever take place in Denmark.

Ah well, at least it makes getting to the doors fairly easy, and the press desk have their stuff under control so Jill and I are allowed in and given a photo pass without a fuss. Being ahead of the mainstay of the queue, we have good time to make it to the wardrobe and merch stands before rush hour. The merch tables offer a good variety of stuff at prices that are surprisingly good, again compared to what they would've been in England. I hog myself an As I Lay Dying t-shirt while noticing that J-rockers MUCC are apparently giving out autographs over at the Rockstar Energy Drink sponsor table. Aside for the lack of people attending, everything is looking like tonight's going to be a good time.

Ernie Ball International Battle Of The Bands

While sitting around talking to people, someone mentions to me that there's actually a sixth band on the poster, the alleged "Battle Of The Bands Winner". What I didn't actually realize prior to the show, was that Ernie Ball are actually hosting a competition where a combination of fan votes and a board of judges decide upon worthy local bands to play before the actual tour lineup comes on stage. People can vote for bands on the competition website and the bands with the most votes are then presented to the judges who evaluate them and decide who gets to play what show.

The show

Social Surplus

As I've come to learn later, this date's Ernie Ball-representative was the Italian metal/post-hardcore ensemble Social Surplus, who, with barely a demo to their name, was certainly unknown to most attendees (also given the fact that their name wasn't featured anywhere on any promotional material.. strangely). As for their sound though, few should be left in doubt over whether or not they deserved their winning stuff. Their crunchy riffs bear down on the crowd at heavy weight while vocalist Filippo unleashes growls and screams that would seem more fitting of a man twice his size. In between beat downs the band installs passages of tranquil melodies that fans of Misery Signals and Eternal Lord will find familiar, and all in all, the show is a good listen. Like I mentioned earlier though, this venue is infamous for its shit acoustics, and at this early point, the sound guy doesn't have it under control yet. The result is that the heavier passages are a blur of bass and vocals and little else, and as such, it's hard for one to extract the full quality of the band's set. Effectively I'll award them a grade that reflects a show that was fine, but not overly impressive. [6½]

HORSE The Band

While many of the young scenesters tonight might have come unaware of the qualities of HORSE The Band, I for one considered them one of the night's main attractions. Having been forced to bail out early from their last show in Denmark (at Stengade30, damn trains!), I was well aware of the band's capability for unleashing entertaining madness in a live environment, and to some extent, HORSE do not fail to deliver tonight. The way they tear through their material with manic insanity makes their short set seem even shorter, and I'm sure that people new to the band must've felt their jaw drop at numerous times upon seeing keyboardist Erik initiate his parts by coming out of jumps and hammering down on his keys. As for vocalist Nathan, he seems to be in his usual weird mood, mumbling retarded sentences into the mic between songs. Too bad the sound's still having problems so that we can neither hear him in or between songs. Only the highest pitched screams seem audible, which I'm sure must have given new listeners an even crazier impression of what the band sounds like. So while the performance doesn't seem to lack much compared to what one has come to expect from HORSE The Band, the poor sound and the vast amount of unoccupied space still present in most of the venue does subtract from the experience and thus from the grade. [7]

MUCC

I've never been a fan of J-rock, and hence I didn't expect much from MUCC, maybe also partly because I didn't know what to expect except layers and eyeliner and ridiculous clothing for the wapanese teen girls to moan over. To some extent, my preconceptions were dead on, as no piece of clothing seems to be to ridiculous for MUCC, considering their bassist is wearing a knee-long cardigan, their guitarist sports a sparkling T and their singer has covered himself in some kind of.. dress?! Obviously, in this day and age dressing like a woman makes the girls scream louder than they do at Panic At The Disco, and effectively the stage is set for MUCC to deliver one giant load of pretentious artistic fail - surprisingly that's not what happens. Stylistically, MUCC seem to do what Japanese culture usually does to western culture; Take a whole lot of its elements, tear them up and put them back together in a completely random and seemingly ridiculous manner. Effectively they sound at one point like some industrial kind of KoRn, and at another like an operatic Dragonforce. The strange thing is that it works. By blending together a multitude of elements and delivering them with a conviction and enthusiasm you don't see in many westerners, MUCC are consistently interesting to see and hear live. Their expression may very well be some perverted conception of rock'n'roll but they sure do entertain, and you can't take anything away from their performance, especially not that of singer Tatsuro, who seems beyond capable at a wide range of vocal expressions. The growing crowd seems to be digging it too, albeit in a somewhat beweirded way. The final verdict has to be that I'd recommend everyone who considers themselves musically open-minded to go see MUCC if they can, because trust me, the mere novelty of it will easily make them interesting for the duration of a show. [7]

Story Of The Year

Now Story Of The Year's show is an entirely different one, because the crowd and me both know exactly what to expect from them. With at least a handful of hits, a trio of respectable albums and a great live reputation to their name, the crowd, that by now covers almost half the venue, is ready to go, and as soon as SOTY come on stage, they're taking us where we want to be. With highly energetic and charismatic delivery, the band take us through an even share of songs from all three albums, instigating massive sing-along's to old classics like "Until My Dying Day" and "And The Hero Will Drown", and the previously mostly calm and restrained crowd response is torn into frantic mosh pits to the sound of rockers like "Choose Your Fate". While one of their guitarists is hindered from playing the show today and they're playing without a replacement, it still takes little effort for them to instigate one of the larger circle pits I've seen in this venue. The amount of sweat-drenched crowd members (counting yours truly) that emerge once their set is over is a testimony to how the band's top quality live show would suggest a career that's building faster than what is the case for Story Of The Year. Easily the most consistent and entertaining set of the night. [8]

As I Lay Dying

After such a warm-up, As I Lay Dying really would have to do something very very wrong for them to bring the mood down again, and those who know their live abilities also know that's not going to happen. Increasing the weight of the musical expression is exactly what the crowd is ready for now, and as such, the frenzied mosh pit activity that Story Of The Year cooked up is maintained throughout As I Lay Dying's set. Sound-problems have been minimized ever since MUCC's set, and thus we're free to enjoy the riffs and growls from the band while mutilating each other on the floor. Not a bad situation to be in if you ask me, especially not when AILD have been so nice as to also incorporate material from their entire catalogue, obviously exciting the crowd with both classics like "Forever" and newer favorites like "The Sound Of Truth". As always, it's hard to put a finger on anything As I Lay Dying do live, and when they end the show with "94 Hours", dedicated to their old fans, few should be left unsatisfied. [8]

Atreyu

After As I Lay Dying leave the stage, it becomes apparent that I'm not the only one who doubts Atreyu's ability to top off tonight's show, as the crowd seems to thin out a bit. Watching from the seats at the side of the hall, it's far from a massive exodus though, and when Atreyu come on there are still plenty of eager fans to appreciate their show, and much to my delight, the guys don't seem to want to disappoint them. That is some of the guys at least, because while their guitarists seem to be dressed up (retardedly in Dan's case), their manner is rather casual on stage, an attitude shared by singer Alex who seems satisfied to walk around stage, delivering his screams without much further bravado. The impression they give is mirrored by the behavior of especially by Marc on bass, who displays an almost Dillinger Escape Plan-ish will to throw himself and his instrument around recklessly, only barely making it back to his microphone in time for his backing screams. Behind the drum kit, Brandon is nailing everything with a passion, while delivering clean vocals that are light-years more impressive than what Alex seems capable of, and personally, I wonder what the band was thinking putting him behind the drums rather than in front of the stage. As for the music, you might know that Atreyu is one of those bands that have deemed it to be a good idea to introduce 80's party metal attitude into modern metalcore, effectively making groovy and over-the-top pedal-to-the-metal party music. My problem with them is that they don't seem to ever vary the chosen expression much. It's like they have only one gear, and as such, listening to them for an extended period leaves you wishing for more dynamics in the music. This is also displayed in tonight's show, but fortunately, the antics of the bassist and clean vocals of the drummer are more than enough to keep you somewhat interested - And when things actually do start to slow a bit down, Marc leaps from the stage, takes a run around the venue, still playing, before sitting down right next to me and my friends, still playing, then returns to the stage, still playing. Pretty funny. For the grand finale, he hands his bass over to Yukke of MUCC in order to focus on screaming along to the lyrics, while the two guitarists climb the drum kit and deliver a dual-guitar solo played with guitars behind their heads. It's over the top rockstardom, and cheesy as it is, it's this kind of entertainment that saves Atreyu from being a boring presence, given how their music does get a bit boring after a while. [7½]

Leaving the show goes rather smoothly (protip: pick up stuff from the wardrobe while the final band is playing), and at the mercy of Rockstar Energy Drink, we get to try some samples of their brand for free. It tastes like every other energy drink, but hey, it says Rockstar on the side, and that's got to count for something right?

Event in conclusion

I have to admit that my overall impression of this Taste Of Chaos show ended up being much better than my initial one. Despite my previous experiences with KB Hallen as a venue, and the low attendance, it ended up being a very fun night, mostly courtesy of the fact that all the bands played good sets and got the crowd going, but also credible to the fact that everything went smoothly on the organizational side of things. Short waits between bands, accompanied by fitting soft music (Conor Oberst and Band Of Horses) made sure that you had time to talk to your friends in the breaks without having to wait for too long and get bored. The seats in the side and back of the venue provided a welcome place to rest your legs between sets as well. All in all, I hope the organizers left the show with as positive an impression as I did, looking at how positive the reaction of the people present was, rather than the slightly disappointing attendance, because if they do, we might just see TOC return to Denmark next year, and that's something I see no reason not to welcome.

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