Avenged Sevenfold & Deftones at The Woodlands, 10/18/2013
Showmanship is a big part of live music, and if there's one area in which Avenged Sevenfold truly shines, that's where.
On a dark and stormy Friday night at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, the amphitheater was packed to the brim. Fans huddled together to keep warm, assisted by plenty of fire courtesy of A7X's pyrotechnics. The night was filled with plenty of energy, hit songs, flames and even a gigantic, animatronic skeleton king, which must have sat at least 30 feet tall.
Beginning their set list with the first track off the band's just-released Hail to the King, bells rang ominously throughout the pavilion, followed by Synyster Gates' signature guitar riffs and finally percussion from the band's new drummer, Arin Ilejay, who does not yet have a menacing moniker.
Ilejay has replaced James "The Rev" Sullivan, who died in late 2009. But A7X held The Rev's memory in high esteem, dedicating the last song their fallen bandmate helped write, "Fiction," to his memory.
Apart from "Fiction," by far the softest song played all evening, the California-based quintet put on an unceasingly heavy performance. They welcomed first-time concertgoers to the A7X family with "Welcome to the Family"; paid homage to late quirky journalist Hunter S. Thompson with "Bat Country"; they incited the crowd into an all-out frenzy, with screams so loud that everyone's ears are likely still ringing.
"Critical Acclaim," "Hail to the King" and "Nightmare" were just a few numbers in the 15-song set list that the band executed with true professionalism, melding their music and backdrop into a theater of fire and screams.
By comparison, the Deftones took a more pragmatic approach, without all the bells, whistles and fire. The road-seasoned '90s alt-rockers offered a different kind of concert experience altogether, much more straightforward but with just as much energy as their younger tour companions.
They had a dedication of their own as well, performing "Change" in honor of former bassist Chi Cheng, who died earlier this year after a 2008 car accident had put him into a coma.
Heavy rock and metal fans may often feel adrift in 2013, the age of Miley Cyrus and hashtags, but Friday night was a testament that the genre is not only alive and well but flourishing in its own corner.
Personal Bias: Friday marked the third time I've seen A7X live. Those guys never disappoint.
Overseen in the Crowd: What were with all the glowing devil horns? I must have missed the memo.
Random Notebook Dump: What's with the mullet, dude?