I’ve never been a huge fan of Mac Hall or Ballroom gigs. For whatever reason, the bigger bands have a tendency to bring out the worst kinds of crowds: rude, disrespectful and inherently young. That mentality appeared to be lacking, though, as a sizeable drove of fans descended the University of Calgary campus on a Sunday night.

Tyr was up first and, admittedly, I walked into this gig not being a big fan of theirs. The Faroese band’s recorded material is just too cliché and predictable for me. That being said, they show they put on this night was entirely memorable, especially from bassist Gunnar H. Thomsen, who was running around the stage and interacting with the fans like he was in ‘70s-era Judas Priest.
Death Angel was up next and, true to form, they left it all on the stage. One of the best thrash metal bands from the past and in recent memory, Death Angel have always been on a next level with their live performances. This time though, they brought a setlist with them that was comprised mostly of tracks from their two most recent records and an energy that was unparalleled by anyone else on the bill. At one point, Mark Osegueda (vocals) went off on a short tirade about following your dreams that very nearly brought a tear to my eye. It was awesome stuff on all counts.

After the first waves of awe wore off from Death Angel’s set, I attempted to mentally prepare myself to see Children of Bodom again. I had seen the band numerous times in the past, but I, like many others, had long outgrown them by then. Since the release of Are You Dead Yet? (2005), the band has been on a fast and steady decline, failing to put out anything memorable and collecting an army of feathered-haired teenagers as their carved-out fan base.
I was pleasantly surprised when Alexi Laiho and company came out swinging, opening up with three tracks from the old days and keeping most of the night rife with the classics. It was satisfying right to the nostalgic bone and, at least in a live setting, really showcased that the band still had some spark left after almost 10 years of fading away (except for keyboardist Janne Wirman, who looked lost and bored at times).

By Brandon McNeil
Photos by Brandon McNeil

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