Quite honestly, I had never heard of Apocalyptica or Dir En Grey prior to the show announcement, but their names alone intrigued me. After doing a little research, I was so impressed, I could not wait to see this show. Dir En Grey is an extremely popular Japanese metal band and "Apocalyptica is a Finnish cello metal band from Helsinki" made famous doing Metallica covers. Both have over 10 years making music in a specifically unique metal niche. Not knowing what to expect I walked into The House of Blues anxious and looking forward to a one of a kind show.
Dir En Grey had a massive fan base, many of which were Japanese girls. As the curtains opened to a dim foggy stage, a shriek of screaming girls filled the room, as the lead singer (Kyo) taunted them with his moves. While amazed by the loud audience, Dir En Grey played their music even louder. During a few songs, I was surprised by how heavy and loud they were, reminding me of Norma Jean, largely bass and drum driven hardcore. Each member was very talented, the bassist played nearly upright and Kyo did a few a’capella screamo bits, truly a first for me. Image is a high priority to their performance, the singer was showcased on his own raised stage and the guitarist had a fan blowing his long hair. Although I didn't know what to think for a minute, their "look" and attitude made their set fun to watch and kept the girls screaming.
After an hour had passed and Dir En Grey was still going strong. Since I had never seen an opening act complete a full set, I became concerned that Apocalyptica may have cancelled. After their ninth song, Kyo sat Buddha-style, alone on his raised stage covered in blue light, and performed a several minute echoing scream that he pulled from within, entitled Inward Scream. Since I had never seen an opening act complete a full set, I became concerned that Apocalyptica may have canceled. As that was not the case, fans were treated to an immense setlist and with a few experimental transitions: Sa Bir, Red Soil, Agitated Screams of Maggots, Gaika, Chinmoku ga Nemuru Koro, Hageshisa To, Kono Mune No Naka De Karamitsuita Shekunetsu No Yami, Rotting Root, Vinushka, Shokubeni, Obscure, Inward Scream, Dozing Green, Reiketsu Nariseba, The Final, and Rasetsukoku. Encore: Inconvenient Ideal. (setlist courtesy of @trentskers)
After a prolonged break, I was surprised to find that much of the audience had left prior to Apocalyptica taking the stage. Apocalyptica wasted no time showing off their talent by opening with an intricate cello version of Metallica’s Wherever I May Roam, immediately followed by Sepultura’s Refuse/Resist. My guest and I were floored by how much sound their three acoustic cellos produced and how amazing the “guitar solos” sounded. Not only was their instrumental metal totally on point, but it was also as beautiful as a symphony.
Apocalyptica burned through an energetic performance of their music and numerous covers. Whether they were playing sweet melodies or jamming through a metal solo, they captured the audience’s adoration. Although most of the songs were completely cello and drums (no vocals), guest vocalist Tipe Johnson from Leningrad Cowboys, joined in on a few songs. The band interacted with the crowd between songs, and once mistakenly exclaiming, “Thank you Los Angeles!” The setlist included: Grace, At the Gates of Manala, End Of Me (w/ vocals), I'm Not Jesus (w/ vocals), Master of Puppets (Metallica cover), Beautiful, Sacra, Last Hope, Bring Them to Light, Seek & Destroy (Metallica cover), Inquisition Symphony (Sepultura cover), Life Burns! (w/ vocals) Encore: I Don't Care (w/ vocals) and an epic performance of the classic symphony The Hall of the Mountain King.
I came to this show with a blank slate and left with two exceptional masterpieces. After all the live music I have seen, both Dir En Grey and Apocalyptica put on incredible performances and showed me music/style like nothing I have previously experienced. If you have not yet experienced either of these bands and you love metal, it is a must.
Check out an acoustic performance Apocalyptica did on local radio station KOMP earlier that day.