Taste of Chaos chills in Vancouver
At the PNE Forum Thursday, April 17
Before the people who push the magical elixir known as Rockstar got involved, Taste of Chaos was better (if unofficially) known as the winter Warped Tour. Last night’s grey skies and cool temperatures were enough to make you glad you were inside the barn-like confines of the PNE Forum, as opposed to roasting under the summer sun at Thunderbird Stadium.
Photos by Adam PW Smith
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The lineup, however, was another matter. The Warped Tour may be about as underground as Hot Topic these days, but at least it offers some variety, with everyone from goth-punks A.F.I. to hardcore crusties Rancid to glam-pop vets like Joan Jett. Taste of Chaos, on the other hand, has turned into a showcase for all-things metalcore, a genre that has limited appeal unless you’re a perpetually enraged, baseball hat–sporting guy between the ages of 14 and 18.
Surprisingly, openers blessthefall weren’t all that wretched. The members did some neat things with their hair, and they carefully synchronized their headbanging and guitar-twirling. Lead singer Jared Warth was adept at the screamo thing, bellowing in that leather-lunged, from-the-depths-of-hell manner for most of the set. Guitarist Eric Lambert contributed melodic bits to offset Warth’s guttural growling, but the songs, although enthusiastically played, were a mostly forgettable, metallic blur. Blessthefall was exactly what you’d expect from a third-tier band on a hard-rock/metal blowout sponsored by an energy drink: a decent enough warm-up act, but nothing special. I’m guessing even CFOX wouldn’t touch this stuff.
Atreyu, however, proved to be a pleasant surprise, rocking the party from the moment they appeared. The contrast between the Orange County five-piece’s stage presence and that of blessthefall was like night and pitch-black night. Once again, there was a vocalist— Alex Varkatzas—who sounded more like the Cookie Monster in a malfunctioning trash compactor than a singer, only this time he looked like he could bench the dudes in blessthefall without breaking a sweat. Drummer-songwriter Brandon Saller sang the almost-catchy melodic parts, maintaining an impressive double duty throughout the set.
“The show was really good, Avenged Sevenfold were awesome. The first band wasn’t as good as all the others, but they will still good. The crowd was kinda wild though, people pushing and shoving. They needed to just enjoy the music and the bands.”
“I really liked Bless The Fall, the first band. The other bands were good too, but this one was really the best. Avenged rocked, but they weren’t quite as good at getting the crowd into it. That was a cool pit at the front of the stage.”
“I came down from Kelowna for the show because I’ve been a big fan of all the bands for a long time. Avenged Sevenfold was amazing, better than anything I’ve seen up in Kamloops. I thought it would be more full, but there was still a lot of people there and everyone was really into it. The mosh pit was crazy. I really liked it.”
“This was my first concert and it was so good. My favorite band was Avenged Sevenfold; they were so crazy. I didn’t have any problems at all, maybe just that it wasn’t quite full and sometimes the crowd was a little crazy.”
Atreyu’s other star was guitarist Dan Jacobs who, with his headband and muscle shirt, looked like he’d stepped out of a 1980s Joe Satriani video. He was in charge of the shredding portion of the evening, and dutifully peeled off a number of squealing solos. Overall, Atreyu put the songs first, and pulled off furious versions of air-punching rallying cries like “Right Side of the Bed”, “Lose It”, and “Bleeding Mascara”. In the middle of its set, the band really fell into a groove with both the AC/DC style rocker “Blow” and the party-time punk of “Falling Down”.
Headlining act Avenged Sevenfold was a little more problematic. Although it was clear most of the audience had come to see the Warped Tour vets, the Goth-metal quintet’s set wasn’t without its problems, overcompensating for a sometimes leaden performance with video footage, fireballs, explosions, and confetti. Perhaps if lead singer M. Shadows and the rest of his cohorts had segued from one song to another without extended pauses, the Huntington Beach act would have built some momentum. But too often Avenged Sevenfold seemed to be fucking the dog, coasting through its Iron Maiden–influenced aggro-metal rather than kicking into the material with full conviction.
Don’t get me wrong—A7X, as it’s known to its fans, has some pretty good tunes, including “Gunslinger”, a salute to U.S. soldiers overseas that is the flag-waving equivalent of “Wanted Dead or Alive”, and “Bat Country”, an ode to Hunter S. Thompson–style excess in Las Vegas. And how can you lose with a heartwarming ditty like “Beast and the Harlot”, which boasts the classic chorus of “She’s a dwelling place for demons”? Avenged Sevenfold certainly connected with the kids in the audience, who sang along for most of the night, but, of the bands that actually showed up for the show, Atreyu was the one that brought its A-game.
Too bad this edition of Taste of Chaos couldn’t say the same. It should be noted that, for this edition of the package tour, Vancouver did indeed get just a taste—Welsh act Bullet for My Valentine had to cancel a number of dates at the last minute. Other acts evidently didn’t bother trying to get across the border. That was just as well for the stoners nodding out in the Forum bleachers, but the moshers in the pit could probably have gone another round or two.