Monday, September 18th – Echo Beach, Toronto
On paper, a Dethklok/Babymetal tour seems like a no-brainer. Both acts are viewed as metal interacting with more mainstream culture, while simultaneously eliciting extremely positive and negative reactions from the metal community itself. It’s also been a relatively long time since they both debuted, with Dethklok’s animated show Metalocalypse first releasing in 2006, while Babymetal’s self-titled first album is nearly 10-years-old, with the band all now in their 20’s.
But before I talk about the Toronto stop of the tour, I need to address one item that affected the evening beyond either act’s control, and that’s the choice of Echo Beach as a venue for a show in late September. By the time Babymetal hit the stage, the wind blowing off the lake made for an extremely uncomfortable viewing experience. Younger children wearing coats and jackets were shivering in their parents’ arms. It also makes for a more detached feeling while watching the show, with the intense wind sometimes dulling the sound itself. I feel that this venue should not be booked after August, for the general health and safely of the patrons.
Moving on… The trio of Babymetal took to the stage in dazzling holographic outfits that reflected their stage lighting and video backdrop, at times causing them to be surrounded by rainbow-coloured shards of light. Original members Su-metal and Moametal, along with new-ish member Momometal, danced and sang through a roughly hour-long set made up of mostly newer material. The progressive and eclectic vibes of their latest work allowed for more diverse choreography than I’ve seen from them before, as well as an impeccable lead vocal performance from Su-metal. Their backing band was on point as usual, but they seemed to take a more physically subdued approach, letting their three front-women take the lead, which they certainly did, motivating clap-alongs and even convincing nearly 90% of the crowd to crouch down and jump up on command with more ease than Slipknot ever has. Although their more recent songs are a bit more musically advanced, the highlight was the late-set first-album pair of “Megitsune” and “Headbangeeeeerrrrr!!!!!” which drew the biggest reactions. The amount of effort put forth each night by these three should not be under-sold.
Compared to the spectacle of Babymetal, Dethklok came across as rather tame. Right before they hit the stage I heard one fan remark, “Well, it is a show from 2007 so we’ll see if the humour still lands.” Unfortunately we really didn’t get to find out. Dethklok shows in the past had multiple animated interludes featuring the Metalocalypse characters. But this time around aside from a brief intro from the band’s lawyer and the now well-publicized PSA about bathing before you come to the show by the band’s mascot Facebones, fans were mostly treated to montages while the band was shrouded in darkness. Although they played flawlessly, with iconic metal drummer Gene Hoglan being a particular standout, after the bombardment of light and sound that was Babymetal, Dethklok seemed to have a far more difficult time connecting with the audience. Aside from the kids who came to see Babymetal, there were a number of people there in their early-mid-twenties. So without the extra animated interludes, getting the jokes in the Dethklok songs almost entirely depends on having watched Metalocalypse at some point in your life. For those who hadn’t, there was no way in. This sentiment was echoed by some of the people I spoke with after, who said that they enjoyed Dethklok in a general musical way, but felt they didn’t fully understand it because it was new to them. It occurred to me that perhaps the actors/writers strike was a reason for the lack of visual material, but Metalocalypse creator/Dethklok front-man Brendan Small has been discussing the band’s new album/film in interviews, so that’s unclear. In the past Small has made no secret that the show/band is both a love-letter and critique of the metal community. My thought is that if the band is going to be playing to younger crowds, they should lean on the former, or at least go on first.
The Babyklok North American Tour has one more Canadian stop, October 3rd in Vancouver, and wraps up October 11th in Los Angeles.
Thank you to Adrenaline PR.