Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Gigantour Review 5/6/2008 Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL - The Good, The Bad, & the Ugly

by Wayne Graham

Last night, Gigantour rolled through Chicago's Aragon Ballroom, and I was there to take it all in. Well, almost all of it. I had to leave halfway through Megadeth's set due to a number of factors, a few of which I'll get into in a bit.

Here's a recap:


Megadeth - Don't let my hasty retreat fool you, they were GREAT! Mustaine was badass and whoever the guys that make up the rest of Megadeth are kept up wonderfully. Due to some factors I'll soon discuss, it was hard for me to enjoy the material I wasn't as familiar with, but that's not on the band. I've seen 'Deth twice in the span of a year, and they rocked both times. "Wake Up Dead" ruled last night. Wish I had gotten to see the rest of the set.

High on Fire - I was eavesdropping on some guys who were talking about "what's up first", and when asked who High on Fire is, one young man flippantly replied, whilst rolling his eyes, "It's stoner rock." Halfway through HonF's first song, this chode was throwing horns like the rest of us. Matt Pike and company had a tough job...going up first at 4:30 in the afternoon as everyone is just trickling into the building and getting settled, but they tore it the fuck up. Just like they always do. 30 perfect minutes. Pike played like a man possessed. Jeff Metz' bass and Des Kensel's tribal thunderdrums were the rare examples of when the cavernous acoustics of the Aragon worked in everyone's favor. HUUUUGE.

In Flames - They were one of the biggest casualties of the crappy Aragon sound, but they were still absolutely fantastic. This was a very In Flames friendly crowd, and the band gave it back to us 1,000 fold. They played quite a bit of stuff off their newer album, which I'm not 100% crazy about, but they selected the better ones from that platter. Great live band.

Alexi Laiho - Not to say that Children of Bodom on the whole weren't good, they very much were. But they had some slight tempo issues here and there, and were sloppy in spots. Frontman Alexi, though, gave one of the evening's best rockstar performances. The guy was great at getting an already riled up crowd pumped up. His vocals, while not his strongest feature, sounded great, and his guitar work was damn impressive. The reason for the ever-growing popularity of Bodom begins and ends with this guy.


Job for a Cowboy - These guys are to progressive death metal what Black Tide and Trivium are to thrash......little boys playing with big toys. Big congrats to them for being as young as they are and pulling off a good following, especially for this type of music. And they definitely know how to play their instruments and be br00tal and what not. But the songs....are not there. Very dull, repetitious set.

Janne Warman - I'm already reluctant to listen to bands that feature cheeseball-sounding keyboards as it is, Children of Bodom's keyboardist Warman really made it hard for anyone to make much of a convincing case to the contrary. When he played solos and doubled Alexi Laiho's runs, he sounded great, but when he didn't have anything to play, he just......STOOD THERE. Staring off into space. Waiting for his turn to play. Buddy, DO SOMETHING. Double the bass line. Act like you're playing but keep the volume off. No one would notice, I swear. We do notice when you're on the nod. Ask Alexi to give you more to do. If he says "no" then just concentrate on staying awake.

The "Fuck Metallica" Guy - At one point during Megadeth's set, this older guy who appears to only come out of the crypt when Ozzy, Slayer, or 'Deth comes to town, blurts out at the top of lungs "Fuck Metallica! The bitches!" Groan. I imagine this is a show of solidarity for Mustaine, who, as we all know by now, was ousted from Metallica way back when. Nice show of loyalty, guy, but that happened DECADES ago. I'm sure Dave is over by now. If he's not, I don't imagine he wants reminders of it, particularly in the middle of a barnburning Megadeth set. Oh, also, he can't hear you! Shut the fuck up! And while you're at it, stop getting down on bended knee and putting a triumphant fist in the air. That takes up way more space than you think it does.

Fat Pit Guys Who Decide They Want to Take a Breather Right Next to Me, Rubbing Their Sweaty Bare Arms Against My Mastodon T-Shirt - Oh no you don't, tubby. Back into the pit with you.


The Aragon Ballroom - For a venue that LOOKS like it would be a great place for a rock show, it sure is a terrible place for a rock show. Where to begin......well, for starters, not sure if I've made this clear, but the sound in this place SUUUUUUCKS. Bass and drums ring through the place, but guitar work is often hard to hear. Not a good thing when we're talking about so many guitar-centric bands, huh? It was hard enough to properly recognize songs that I KNOW, much less enjoy songs that I wasn't familiar with yet. On top of that, crowd control sucks there, the staff includes some of the biggest bunch of retards I've ever had the displeasure of wishing I had never met, and a big reason why I left early is because I know all too well how long it takes to shuffle out of that place once a show is over. (Don't plan any meetings immediately outside the venue for at least an hour has been my experience)

So, anyway, all in all. A good time at a somewhat reasonable price. It was my first Gigantour excursion, and, provided it's not at the Aragon, I intend to make it a yearly thing.

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