Five Finger Death Punch, All That Remains, Hatebreed, Rains The Palladium Ballroom November 12th, 2011
Better than: the Cain Velasquez/Junior Dos Santos heavyweight title fight.
Even though getting to the Palladium Ballroom was difficult around 7 o'clock on Saturday night, mainly because of the sold-out Zac Brown Band show at the old Starplex, 75 percent of the venue was full.
By the time Five Finger Death Punch got onstage a little after 10:30 p.m., the place was close to capacity.
With call-and-response chants throughout the night of "Five Finger . . . Death Punch!" it was obvious who the audience wanted to see the most. And Five Finger gave fans exactly what they wanted.
The Los Angeles five-piece was backed by a dazzling light show and videos throughout its 70-minute set. Featuring footage from their time in Iraq, brands the band endorses, Halo cut scenes and MMA fights on giant video screens close to the ceiling, this was a great complement to the band's 12 songs.
Frontman Ivan Moody has the kind of voice that can be brutal and vibrant without any nasal strain. Crushing through "No One Gets Left Behind," "White Knuckles" and "Burn it Down," Moody and his bandmates never seemed to tire or play for too long. When they played, it was full on, yet when the opportunity arose to improvise, they had some fun too.
Acknowledging the presence of Vinnie Paul and members of Drowning Pool on the side of the stage, Moody tried to get his bandmates to play some covers. Piss takes of "Walk," "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Crazy Train" were done before they launched into their rendition of "Bad Company."
Another moment was when Moody brought a father and his young daughter up on stage. Moments later, drummer Jeremy Spencer had a chance to solo, and he sounded like Neil Peart hopped up on caffeine.
As their encore of "The Bleeding" ended and the band thanked the audience, a "Game Over" message played over and over on the video screens. Slowly, the venue emptied out.
The three bands leading up to this point definitely primed the audience without tiring them.
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Unbilled opener Rains gave 25 minutes of mopey alterna/hard rock, but Hatebreed whipped the crowd into action. With their blend of Sepultura and Agnostic Front, their 11 songs felt very, very apropos for the rest of the night. Lead vocalist Jamey Jasta knew exactly how to energize the floor, whether it was getting everyone to put their hands in the air during a breakdown section, hating on the St. Louis Cardinals or encouraging all the females to get on the shoulders of their boyfriends.
And a really nice touch? Before starting the second song, he saw a father and his very young son in the crowd and invited them to stand on the side of the stage.
All That Remains also did 11 songs, and their American metalcore by way of '90s Euro-metal met with the audience's approval. Finishing their first song and awaiting their second song, frontman Phil Labonte stared into the darkness for a few dozen seconds before belting out the opening shriek of "This Calling."
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On an impromptu moment, Labonte spotted a waitress walking through the crowd with a whole tray of sugary liquids. He wanted her to get out of the way of forthcoming moshpits, so he bought the whole tray. He later regretted drinking the stuff because of its taste and high level of sugar. Yet the band played on and played well, finishing with "Two Weeks."
Personal bias: First time seeing all of the bands, save for Hatebreed, whom I saw back in the late '90s. They were promoting Satisfaction is the Death of Desire, which is still a great album title.
By the way: The selections for intro music for all four acts were great: "When the Levee Breaks" by Led Zeppelin for Rains, the Fox football theme music for Hatebreed, "Poundcake" by Van Halen for All That Remains, and Hugo's version of "99 Problems" for Five Finger Death Punch.