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Last Night: Atreyu, Avenged Sevenfold at Nokia Theatre

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Taste of Chaos 2008 featuring Atreyu and Avenged Sevenfold April 1, 2008 Nokia Theatre

Better Than: This week's Rob & Big. (Oh, we TiVo'd it.) Download: Avenged Sevenfold live photos.

Avenged Sevenfold live at Nokia. (Matt Mueller)

After a handful of hassles trying to get into the Taste of Chaos show at Nokia last night, I left feeling old. In my mid-20s this one night made me feel really old. The sold-out crowd was mostly the high school set with parents in tow (or taking advantage of the “drop off” area in front of the Grand Prairie venue).

Each time I've seen Atreyu in the last five years (the first being in this small venue in Lawrence, Kan., following the release of Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses), the band has upped its intensity. It's not just lead vocalist Alex Varkatzas encouraging the crowd, but the entire band stepping up to keep things going. Hell, drummer Brandon Saller actually ran laps for a bit while Varkatzas was setting the crowd up for some participation. Though, set-up wasn't really required with the packed Nokia crowd: By the second chord of “The Crimson,” the room was already clapping to the beat.

Unfortunately, the sound mix for Atreyu's set was poor. The guitars masked Varkatzas' screaming, but not the melodic vocals of Saller. When parts of the soundscape are missing it's easy to dismiss the act as the poor man's Killswitch Engage, but Atreyu is more than that.

More Avenged Sevenfold. (Matt Mueller)

During the set change, I spent quality time alone next to 15 year-olds ... and their moms. Yeah. Two girls were particularly pleased to have met opening band BlessTheFall and gotten autographs on promo flats. One band member even drew a heart on one girl's flat. Seriously, I think I aged 10 years in that moment. Was I like that at 15? Probably. Ew.

During the down-time, the two screens in the venue lit up with a guy informing the crowd that Avenged Sevenfold had gotten food poisoning earlier in the day and would not play. Then we saw the band stop the guy, say it was an April Fool's Day joke (duh), espouse love for Dallas and say they'd be on stage in 15 minutes. Then a clock counting down 10 minutes appeared on the screen. Yes, the band went on in 10, not 15 minutes. Well, you can't expect rockers to be all about clocks, right?

Ten minutes later, the screens showcased a montage of war images, the black curtain in front of the stage fell and Avenged Sevenfold appeared amid lots of fog, purple lights and... oh yeah... flames! The band members were all over the place working their signature layered squealing guitars and goth-meets-metalcore sound with the eight flame throwers toward the back of the stage igniting throughout the first song. It was impressive. Though, after the first song there was a longer lag before they kicked into “Second Heartbeat,” and it couldn't help feeling that the band had peaked after the first song as those flame throwers didn't get a whole lot of use in the rest of the set. -- Chelsea Ide

Critic's Notebook Personal Bias: When I was 19 and working in an indie record store, Avenged Sevenfold's Waking the Fallen was my “employee pick” for six weeks.

Random Detail: Avenged Sevenfold vocalist M. Shadows told the audience that Dallas is “like our own little personal city of evil.”

By the Way: Atreyu's Alex Varkatzas' thank you to the Dallas crowd was pretty priceless: “If it wasn't for you, we'd be unemployed douchebags instead of just douchebags.”

One More Thing: Due to some issues at the door, I was unable to get good video from the show.

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