Tag Archives: Apocalyptica

Apocalyptica apmb4c Post-Show


It’s entirely possible that I may be getting too old for this, at least physically. Last night I was transported back twenty years, to when I went to see Metallica for the first time (technically, the only time, but as I bought tickets for the show in ’99, and was unable to attend through no fault of my own, I’m sticking with first time). I was singing, clapping, shouting, throwing the horns, and headbanging. But, even though we had seats (and amazing ones at that), and an intermission, I still feel completely wiped. I never used to need multiple days to recover from a show, and that was back when I was always itching to get in the pit.

This morning, I woke up to find that I had somehow become not only Batman, but the type of Batman to seriously injure his right pinky because he can’t ever seem to remember to take off his wedding ring before a show, and has the spatial awareness and coordination of intoxicated marmoset. At least I don’t have to try to make it through work today (one of the benefits of my schedule is that I can attend a Tuesday night show and still have a day to recover). On top of that, as I said in yesterday’s post, I’m still working through that bug which has been making the rounds, and last night gave it back a bit of hard-earned ground. Would have I rather stayed home last night, though? “Let me hear you say, ‘Fuck no, James!'”

Of the four Apocalyptica shows which I’ve attended, this was easily the best. Everyone was on their game, and, due to our seating (front row, center), we were spared from the massive output from the stacks of speakers hanging on either side of the stage. For the first time in my life, I went to an appropriately loud and heavy metal show, and walked away with perfect (or, more accurately, no net loss of) hearing. On top of that, in addition to it being the best Apocalyptica show I’ve seen, it’s a serious contender for having been the best Metallica show I’ve seen.

David and I left the venue last night around 10:30, and I was overwhelmed by just how much fun I’d had that night. David… well, David is David, and at least this time he managed to stay awake for the entire show (with a small resting of eyes during the intermission). When he’s at home, he can’t seem to get to sleep for shit, requiring a heavy dose of horse tranquilizer and a team of agitated rhinoceroses to put him down. Outside the apartment, however, he begins to tire around 5:30 in the evening, and wants to pass out no later than 8.

He’s only ten now, so I’m hoping by the next time we go to a show, he’s discovered how to store his energy for the show, as opposed to burning through it on the way there by fidgeting and whining more than a sommelier.

But enough of complaining about the inevitable. Here are some highlights from the show:

Hint: It was all highlights

For the first time since the mid-90’s, Enter Blandband sounded fresh and heavy. I know that A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica completely ruined that song for me, but, after last night, I can at least fight back the temptation to skip it or leave the room any time it comes on.

“Escape” was a pleasantly heavy surprise, with an enjoyable bit of introductory banter on how they’d never really played it live before the tour, but neither had Metallica…

I had a moment with Eicca as he was introducing “Battery” by explaining that he’d wanted to record it for their first album, but it was too hard for them to play. When I chuckled (in consolation, mind you, as I also find it too difficult to play), he looked right at me and said, “You can laugh, but it’s harder than it looks!”

When the second set started after intermission, Perttu discussed mentioned that they’d had no idea this genre would become popular, and if they’d known, they might have only looked for two cellists to play AC/DC covers. This was followed up at the end of “Seek and Destroy” when they broke into the intro to “Thunderstruck.”

They ended the night with “One”, dedicating it to the eradication of armed conflicts and a renewed interest in peace, especially in today’s geopolitical climate (a nice callback to Perttu explaining where Finland was, and how they were allies of the U.S., and not to worry about them). I wasn’t expecting political commentary at a metal show, at least not this metal show (or an amusing nod to North Korea), but it was well-played, and, I believe, resonated with the crowd.

During the Meet & Greet, I was able to chat a little with Paavo (my personal hero from the band- David’s, of course, is Perttu), and discovered that he has a daughter that’s David’s age. We joked that we were enjoying this time because it was still “easy” in the years before puberty.

This is the fourth Apocalyptica show that I’ve attended. The first two were at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco, and the third was at the Fillmore. After the first show (which I attended with Wildflower), I decided that they were totally worth seeing again. It took a few years, but we caught them twice (once on either end) on their Shadowmaker tour, and after the Meet & Greet last time, where they singled out David for a solo photo to commemorate his first show, I vowed that I would see them whenever they came to town.

They are consummate musicians, engaging entertainers, and masterful performers (I know that these are mostly synonymous, but trust me: The nuance matters). They have helped to redefine a genre, and have done it with passion and professionalism.

So, to Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lötjönen, Antero Manninen, Perttu Kivilaakso, and Mikko Sirén, I say thank you for a wonderful evening. Thank you on behalf of myself, my son, and everyone there. I look forward to your next stop back here (finances permitting, of course, as, much like flying in First Class, once you’ve had the VIP experience, it’s hard to go back).

I would also like to give a small measure of thanks to the other VIP ticket holders sitting near us (some of whom I remember from the last show). Your engagement with David helped to really make him feel involved, and I appreciate that. Here’s to the next time!

And now, as promised (or at least implied), the rest of the photos:

That’s his Metal Face (I guess).
Waiting to go in, after meeting the band.
We had some pretty kick-ass seats.
A little B&W Perttu, Eicca, and Paavo.
Perttu looking Metal AF (left, Antero, right, Eicca)
Perttu’s Hero Pose

As you can see, we were literally feet from the stage.

And from the Meet & Greet:

I suppose I have to get a print of this one now, for next time. (Pictured L-R: Mikko, Paavo, The Minkey, Tex Batmart, Eicca, and Perttu)
This is now up on David’s wall, waiting for a frame.

For comparison, here is the original:

“One with just him…” (Pictured L-R: Perttu, Eicca, The Minkey, Mikko, and Paavo)

Okay, I seriously need a nap. I’m going back to bed.


Apocalyptica apmb4c Pre-Show

There are times that I am jealous of my son. At the tender age of one decade, he’s got his own: TV, gaming console, computer, and full set of parents. And as of tonight, he will have gone to two metal shows. And met the band both times. Sure, I’ll have met them both times as well, but I’ve been to significantly more shows than he has.

His first show was the wrap-up of Apocalyptica’s Shadowmaker tour, and I decided to splurge on VIP tickets. That show was also the third time in which my wife and I had seen them (though it was our first VIP experience as well). The whole day, David was bouncing around, stoked that he was going to get to do something cool with mommy and daddy. And why shouldn’t he have been excited? At almost nine years of age, he was getting to stay out late and go see a show in person. Of course, he didn’t maintain his levels of indomitable energy, but that was a slight oversight on my part.

I’ve been going to the occasional show since I was thirteen (Endfest ’93, if you must know, was what officially popped my concert cherry), and the various smells which accompany them had long since passed from the forefront of my brain. No longer did my nose consider overwhelming B.O. or just the slightest wafting hint of marijuana worthy enough of my attention. So while I was enjoying the hell out of the concert, and Wildflower was patiently tolerating it (as it turns out, I’m up for epic walks to venues to save a few dollars, while she is most decidedly not), David was practically nodding off. I figured it was just a case of being burnt out, until I went down from the balcony seating (where Flor had insisted upon sitting) to the main floor where I could properly feel the spirit of Metallica covers played in San Francisco.

Once again, I barely registered the smell of a freshly lit joint, but it wasn’t until I followed the billowing smoke upwards, and caught sight of the balcony where my wife and son were sitting, that I finally figured out why my son, the Energizer Buddy, was so wiped. I walked back up the stairs at the end of the song to rejoin my family, to find David practically passed out, despite the roaring volume in the hall. I briefly let Wildflower know what was going on, and the look I received was murderous.

We finished out the show, and hung around to finally meet the band. Due to some sort of administrative cock-up, the Meet & Greet was held after the show, and it was like herding cats trying to keep David upright, and Wildflower moderately conscious. I could tell that both of them wanted to call it a night, but I felt (rightly so, I still believe) that, as I’d spent the money so that we could have the pleasure of meeting the band, that we should stick around and, you know, actually meet the band.

And I’m glad we did just that. It was a little crazy and disorganized, but Apocalyptica were good sports about it, and we had a nice little time. As they were coming by to do autographs, I mentioned to them that it was David’s very first show. We then lined up to do the photo-op, and after our picture was taken (the three of us), the band then asked to get a separate photo with just David.

I’d already liked the band, their music, and appreciated the quality of their live performances, but this kind of blew me away. They must have been at least a little exhausted (despite the adrenaline, lifting a cello over your head and bowing at Metallica speeds is still, I would imagine, quite an expenditure of energy), and there were quite a few people behind us, but they made a point of doing something special to make a little boy’s day, and that earned my loyalty and respect.

All in all, it was a fun evening, but by that point, even I was looking forward to the comfort of my bed. Due to the Meet & Greet happening after the show, we’d missed our chance to get back to a BART station in time for the last train back to the East Bay, so I sighed, pulled out my phone, and summoned an Uber. Forty dollars later, we arrived home, completely rocked out for the near future. Wildflower also informed me that, since I now had David as a companion, she would be bowing out from future events. And, as much as I’d enjoyed sharing these concerts with her, I understood. It’s just not as much fun when you’re exhausted and not terribly excited about hiking.

I promised David that the next time they were in town, I would take him to the show, and we’d bring a print of the picture with us so that they could autograph it. When the VIP tickets went on sale a few months ago, I snatched up two. I got a print of his “solo” photo, and picked up a pack of metallic sharpies.

So now, I am simply waiting for the day to be on its way. I am still feeling a little crummy from whatever bug has been going around work, but my boss gave me an extra sick day yesterday, and I’m feeling up to about 65% (which is only 10-15% worse than I normally feel on any given day). As of writing this, I’ve got three and a half hours until I get David from school, five hours until we leave for the show, six and a half hours until we pick up our tickets from Will Call, and just under nine hours until the show starts.

I’m watching a video from this tour on YouTube to psyche myself up. And, of course, I’ll be posting a Post-Show review of tonight’s experience.

“One with just him…”

Apocalyptica (Post-Show)

Once again, these guys did not disappoint. I had been a little worried that they might not be as good as I remembered, and this time it took a fair amount of arm-twisting to get Wildflower out the door. For a little while, I was also a bit concerned that tonight might be a repeat of the Metallica show in… I think it was ’99. I managed to make sure that everyone I knew had tickets (I used my house-sitting check to pick up around eight, I think), and was really excited to get a chance to see them and Soundgarden at The Gorge. Most of my friends wound up going the day before and setting up in the campsites near the venue, but my girlfriend waited until the last possible minute to get us started, scrounging around wherever she could for a two-day supply of her drug of choice. By the time we finally started out, we would have been lucky to catch the tail end of the show, and, as luck would have it, we didn’t even get that far. Still some distance from the show, as we were speeding along at nearly 90 miles per hour, the front passenger tire blew, and that pretty much excluded us from any of the festivities. By the time we got a tire at a service station in the middle of nowhere, the concert would have just gotten out, and we wound up spending the night on the shoulder of a deserted road somewhere in the backcountry. I was a little bit upset, to say the least, as I’d dropped over $400 for a show that I never got to see. Tonight was better, though. Despite a rocky start, we got to Regency Ballroom with time to spare, and even wound up killing time buying a concert tee and going to the bathroom.

did get a t-shirt from that show in ’99, but it’s almost fully disintegrated now. The armpits are completely exposed to the elements, and I’m too much of a Comic Book Guy to pull that kind of look off.

Unlike the last time when we went to see Apocalyptica, the band opening for them (VAMP on this occasion, Dir En Grey last time) didn’t cause me to feel a murderous compulsion toward their sound guy. I don’t know that I’d want to see them again, but they were alright, and had a couple of tunes that weren’t completely awful. Dir En Grey, on the other hand, is a band which I hope never to encounter for the rest of my natural life. There was so much shrieking that Wildflower almost collapsed, and it was touch and go for a while on whether we would have to miss the band that we were there to see. And despite having a far smaller fan base in this area (making the lead singer’s attempts to draw in the crowd a little sad), VAMP managed to offer up a decent set, and didn’t injure anybody.

After roughly half an hour, they made their way off of the stage, and our ears began to try to readjust to normal levels of conversation. I didn’t remember it taking so long to get the stage set up for Apocalyptica the last time that we saw them, but then again, I was busy nursing my wife back to health. There was roughly thirty minutes between VAMP’s departure and Apocalyptica’s arrival, and we took the time to make another pit stop, and then try to find somewhere on the floor where we wouldn’t be trapped behind a sea of bobbing heads that stood much higher than our own. We found a spot, and pretty soon the room erupted in cheers when the banner raised behind the drum kit with APOCALYPTICA in letters spanning tens of feet and at least a meter high.

Sorry for the abysmal quality. My phone isn't aware that it is also supposed to be a camera.
Sorry for the abysmal quality. My phone isn’t aware that it is also supposed to be a camera.

From there, it was only just a couple of minutes until the Finns took the stage (our tip-off was the fog machine). Sadly, it seemed that the majority of the people there were waiting for the headliner, as the cheers were somewhat more muted than they were four and a half years ago. But when they launched into their set, those of us who are true fans managed to drag the Nikki Sixxers along with us. They opened with a new song, which was more quietly received, as most of us had only heard it for the first time recently, and the people there for SIXX:A.M., not at all. But where they really won the crowd was when they brought out the chairs, and laid into “Nothing Else Matters.” This being Metallica country, almost everyone knew the song by heart, and everyone was singing along, backing the trio of metal cellists on the stage.

I had hoped for a couple more old-school Metalli-tunes, but they were on a slightly tighter schedule than they had been when they were headlining. I have to say, it was a lot of fun last time, when all the Dir En Grey fanboys and girls had left the Ballroom to us metalheads, and to close out the evening, Apocalyptica ran through a classic live version of “Seek & Destroy”. Still, I don’t know why I am complaining. They played a hell of a show, and were definitely worth the price of admission (which is good, because we bailed out before the headliners). I will say that I had forgotten about the audience participation and the clapping, and managed to screw my right pinky up pretty badly from banging in rhythm against my wedding ring. I’m glad that my wife and I could go for our sixth anniversary, and as far as anniversaries are concerned, this one ranks a close second to the Whiskies of the World Expo which we attended for our third.

Flor managed to get a little video, but it’s very low-quality sound, so I’m just going to put up all the pictures which she took (from her far superior camera-equipped cellular telephone).

"We's plays the metals
“We’s plays the metals
On ours brutal metals cellos"
On ours brutal metals cellos”
It's hard to tell from this shot, but they really own the whole stage
It’s hard to tell from this shot, but they really own the whole stage
So many horns were thrown... (During "Nothing Else Matters")
So many horns were thrown…
Eicca, hamming it up...
Eicca, hamming it up… and looking METAL AS F@*K!
Hugs onstage to massive applause.
Paavo, Franky, Perttu, and Mikko, soaking in the applause
Final bow and curtain call
Final bow and curtain call. Eicca, Paavo, Mikko, Perttu,and Franky.


As they left the stage, killing all hope that they might be convinced to do a thirty minute encore, my wife and I decided to leave. We really didn’t care about the next band up, and by leaving when we did, we managed to get home by midnight. Perhaps it’s just because I’m getting older, but I have to say that I’m glad we didn’t have to stick around until the very end. Bedtime is important to us. And again, maybe it’s due to my advancing age, but I also felt that VAMP didn’t need to be quite so loud. Also, they were totally on my lawn, so…

Anyway, it’s just past 1:30 in the morning, and I have to be up in roughly five hours, because my wife’s friend is dropping off her son to Tex Batmart’s Daycare Emporium and House of Frivolity around seven in the morning, and that will require that I am conscious enough to put on pants and turn the television in the living room on for him. Good night, everyone! I’ll be back tonight for a regularly scheduled ramble!

And if you haven’t already, make sure to follow me on Twitter: @texbatmart, and “Like” me on Facebook: Tex Batmart.

Okay, that’s it! Good night, folks!


Apocalyptica (Pre-Show)

I am more excited than I probably should be, but this is the first show that I’ve gone to in years, and the first date night that Wildflower and I have had for almost as long. I’ve been nerding out to their entire discography all day (including the three songs off their new disc which I got because I pre-ordered. We’ve got a little over half an hour until we’ll be taking off, and I just wanted to get a little of this excess of exuberance out of my system before I get on BART. Chugging a 12 oz. Cranberry Red Bull probably isn’t helping, but I am who I am, and nothing’s gonna stop me. In addition to trying to write something about all of this, I’m also trying to get more music on my iPod for the ride over, but my computer is apparently having a seizure because it knows I’m in a hurry. It looks like that’s not going to happen, so I guess I’m out of luck for anything after 7th Symphony. I would also like to mention that I am a little put out with Amazon right now. I used to love getting MP3’s from them because I could download them easily and listen to them on my iPod, or on Zune, or wherever, and not be slaved to just one player. But their Music Player is cumbersome and unresponsive, and now it’s just as bad as dealing with iTunes, which I only do out of necessity. I just want to download my songs easily and listen to them. That’s it.

I mean, what’s wrong with a little functionality? So it looks like my laptop heard me… the files have miraculously appeared in on my computer. No to face the unending wrath of iTunes so I can transfer them over to my iPod.

Okay, I am officially out of time. I’ll be back after the show with details and an afterglow! Off to see Apocalyptica!


I just want everyone to realize that this is the first time since January that I have written something on the first day of the month. If you don’t believe me, you can check it out for yourselves. I didn’t really want to break the streak I’d had going since February 1st, but I felt that I should probably write something in honor of April Fool’s Day. I’m not going to try to convince you that I’m getting a divorce, or that my wife is pregnant again, or some combination of the two. Nor am I going to think up all the strange, yet strangely believable nonsense with which I might otherwise have fooled you. So no, I haven’t finished a book, and it hasn’t gotten picked up by a publisher. I haven’t settled on where I want to work in the real world yet, but soon I will have to choose. This week, probably. Sadly, the thing about the man boobs from the other day is still factually correct. No, instead of trying to think up funny tricks to play upon you, I’m going to take some time and actually share what has me kind of pumped.

Next week, one week from today, Flor and I will be going out to celebrate our sixth anniversary. It’s a little late, but there’s finally something happening that I convinced her she might like to do. And what is that thing? We’re going to catch Apocalyptica at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco. Wait, I can hear you asking, isn’t your wife a Mexican woman in her late forties? Why would you take her to see Finnish Cello Metal? And those are both questions, though neither one of them is all that good. The answer, however, is that we caught Apocalyptica when they came here on their 7th Symphony tour back… How long ago was that? It feels like it was… maybe four years ago? Five? Anyway, I convinced her to come with me for a night out on the town, and we went to a show together, and wound up with matching hoodies. I just looked it up, by the way. It’s been four and a half years. And the last time we actually did something fun for an anniversary was when we got tickets to the Whiskies Of The World Expo for out third anniversary. Sorry, got off track.

The fact is that I have been trying to figure out how to convince her to go out with me (just like high school- will it never end?!) for quite some time, and when I saw that tickets were still available, I cashed in my points from my Amex card, and snagged us an evening of diversion. Now, the last time that we went to see them, we were both a little younger, and didn’t mind getting back on the last bus of the evening. But this time, Apocalyptica is just a Special Guest, and not the headlining act (Sixx:A.M.), which I really have no desire to stick around to see. That means that we can go out, catch some tunes, and get back in time for bed. I know that’s not really all that metal, but I’m in my mid-thirties now, and I get a little cranky if I don’t get any sleep. That, and my wife will most likely have to start work around, coincidentally enough, 6 o’clock the following morning. None of that matters, though! We’re actually going to go out and have a good time! We’ll have the opportunity to reconnect, and maybe feel the butterflies again. I know that we both became a little weak in the knees when they were holding their cellos above their heads with one hand and bowing stuff of Kill ‘Em All with the other. I mean, I’m not into dudes, but that was kind of sexy. Just sayin’.

Actually, the only thing that has me a little bummed is that they have a full-time singer now, and it’s not the dude they had with them on their last tour: Tipe Johnson, former singer of the Leningrad Cowboys. That Robert Plant-looking dude could really wail, and I just hope that their new guy can handle all the styles of their previous guest vocalists with as much ease as Mr. Johnson. Actually, I hope that they play mostly instrumentals, but that’s just me. Actually, I hope they play a handful of their hits, and then they just throw down Metallica covers for the rest of the show. I would kill to hear what they would do with Orion. They’ve never done a studio cover of it, and I think if anyone could do it justice, it would be those guys.

All this means, of course, that I will be listening to their discography all week, immersing myself the best of their stuff, and trying to will away the aches and pains so that I might be ready for a mosh pit, should one suddenly appear around me. I doubt it will, though. Last time the vibe was more of a show I remember being put on at my middle school, when the administration was constantly admonishing that there was to be “no moshing” and “no headbanging.” Come to think about it, I think that was the first night that I ever checked out the Teen Center. Weird. Somehow I’ve managed to tie up all the themes I ran with in March over the course of a couple of paragraphs. And just to be clear, Apocalyptica did not play at the Old Commode. And there was decent audience reaction when the Finns took the stage. But after a particularly awful set by Dir En Grey (who should have immediately fired their sound guy for gross negligence, and then hauled him away to face multiple criminal charges of assault by way of godawful mixing- I mean, it was like we were getting stabbed in the ear by rabid, shrieking monkeys), we were all still trying to recover. But I still managed to make a Metal Face. And what a face it was.

That's my Metal Face!
That’s my Metal Face!

Anyway, I’m stoked that we are going, and next Thursday, I’ll have a write-up of the show!

Enjoy your April!