Ooh, so the first of the four concerts in this summer's concert season was last night - Dream Theater on their Progressive Nation 2008 tour. There were 3 opening bands I had never heard of, and having sat through a lot more sucky opening bands than great ones, Dave and I decided to get dinner instead.
We got to the WaMu Theater in downtown Seattle (more on that later) just before the last opening band, Opeth, took the stage. I had high hopes for the opening bands, since this was supposed to be a "festival" of progressive rock, and I love me my progressive rock. (And now begins the section where I am at risk for another round of public ridicule by some obscure music blog.)
There were a lot of Opeth fans in the theater, mostly teen boys with that longish shaggy skater-looking hair. (Yes, I'm old and hopelessly uncool.)
Sadly, I was not one of those fans. Opeth is mostly death metal, with some time signature changes thrown in, so I guess that's why they fell under the "progressive" label. Their musicians were pretty good, but the songs seemed disjointed. Like someone took random death metal songs and threw them in a blender.
And of course, any self-respecting death metal band has to have the growly singer uttering unintelligible lyrics. Dave likened this vocal style to Cookie Monster, which cracked me up (but it's so true!).
Their lead singer was surprisingly charming and unscary in his mid-song banter. And when he wanted to, he could actually sing well. But apparently he chose not to for nearly every song. So we gritted our teeth and waited for their set to finish. It was a long hour.
After that, and a short set-change interlude, Dream Theater came on. This was the second time I've seen them live, and this time I was especially struck by what freakin' amazing musicians they all are. I *could not* take my eyes off Mike Portnoy, their kickass drummer, or Jordan Rudess, the keyboardist. The keytar was a nice touch too. :)
Fortunately for me and my short self, they had a huge video screen where they alternated entertaining cartoons featuring the band with camera footage of the musicians, so I got to see more than just the back of the really tall guy in front of me.
DT played most of their newest album, Systematic Chaos, which upon first listen I hated because a lot of it sounds like late 1980s era Metallica. But after a few times through, it's definitely growing on me, and I can hear the interesting twists Dream Theater brings to it. (Though I still argue it sounds a LOT like old Metallica.)
They played only a couple of songs (Take the Time and Surrounded) from Images and Words, which is my favorite album of theirs. But again, the musicians were just so awesome that even the few songs I didn't recognize were good. They didn't play for as long as they did when I saw them with Queensryche here a few years ago - their encore was pretty short. Another 30 minutes would have been great. Maybe I'm just old and crotchety, but back in the day (barefoot, in the snow, both ways), I remember metal bands would play a minimum of 2 hours, and often 3. Now we're lucky if we get an hour and half from the headlining act.
And the WaMu Theater? Not so great, but not horrible either. The sound was much better than the craptastic Showbox SoDo (aka Concrete Bunker). Seats were cushy, but if you're in the floor section, it's really hard to see if you're short. And the venue staff are a little over-enthusiastic about not letting people stand in the back, which was silly, because the venue had a lot of empty seats, and a very mellow crowd last night. I'd see another show there - parking was easy, it's nearby, and traffic afterwards was not an issue.
Next up: Nightwish in Las Vegas on Memorial Day Weekend. I am *so* excited for this show, since I was sick when they came to Seattle last October, and had to give up my ticket. I can't wait to see their new singer live! And of course, Vegas is always a blast. Woot!