GIG REVIEW: Avatar & Ded Live at The Academy Green Room, Dublin
If it smells like a freakshow and includes a statue of a King, then welcome to Avatar Country! A land ruled by noble outcasts, its citizens, led by their beloved leader under the guidance of their glorious King. On Tuesday evening, The Academy Green Room in Dublin, Ireland served, for one night only, as the King’s throne room for Swedish ringmasters Avatar. Filled with bubbles and outfitted with Bieber Extinction Fund donation boxes, the Academy Green Room saw Avatar unleash their own brand of chaos onto their loyal Irish following. And it was exhilarating to behold.
“If you’re not pissed off, then you’re not paying attention” declare Phoenix, Arizona’s Ded, who delivered support on the night. And their Irish audience was indeed paying attention, and pissed off for all the right reasons. With an ‘aggressive spirit,’ a self proclaimed description bestowed upon the band by the band themselves, Ded simultaneously made a strong musical impression during their European debut whilst also shooting themselves in the foot. Musically, Ded bring a lot to the table and are currently making some serious waves in metal, and it’s easy to see why, as they brilliantly blend a range of metal sub genres with a performance to match. Unfortunately, vocalist and frontman Joe Cotela took his seemingly contrived ‘aggressive spirit’ to such a self referential point it spilled over into something far more petulant, expounding asinine opinions the audience neither wanted nor cared to hear. An up close and personal performer with a voice that could level a room, Cotela should have led with these qualities. Instead, he bored with trite opinions on how his sight seeing tour of Dublin was “boring,” and that if the audience didn’t start a pit then they, too, were “boring,” cherry topped with a pathetic stage snob hissy fit targeted at the restricted space the small stage offered. Ded show a great deal of promise, they just need to learn to leave the garbage backstage.
If a lacklustre level of professionalism had dominated thus far, a prime example of how to utilise a small platform and makes an intimate crowd feel like they were in an arena was delivered by the evenings headliners, Avatar, arriving on stage in full makeup and costume. With a look that resembled a cross between royalty and carnies, they mounted the fair space on stage and brought all they had to give to the crowd.
Singer and ringleader, Johannes Eckerström, turned what might have been a scattered crowd into a familial gathering, assuring them that he was happy to have them “up so close!” In support of their latest album, a concept record entitled ‘Avatar Country,’ the Swedish ensemble lunged like a demented family trapped within a Jack in the Box that had been wound and wound, driven mad with anticipation, until finally let loose in a explosion of energy. Something their appreciative audience reciprocated in full, with a handsome turnout getting up close and personal from start to finish.
As the band tore through tracks old and new, including “Legend of the King”, “Paint Me Red” and “Smells Like A Freakshow” to name but a few, it all came together in a set list that blew their audience away. Throughout their exhilarating set, which was both wonderfully theatrical and ingeniously playful, Avatar treated their audience to bubbles and a Trombone solo, all couched in a wild, relentless energy that demolished the barrier between the the band and their dedicated fans. Comedic commentary with a heartfelt undertone from Eckerström filled the space between songs and covered up a handful of technical snafus, which only heightened the excitement when favourites such as “A Statue of the King”, “The King Welcomes You To Avatar Country” and the nights finale “Hail the Apocalypse” were brought forth, much to the audience’s delight.
When the dust settled, Avatar had delivered a five star performance, which their support could also have done if only ego hadn’t gotten in the way. A royal spectacle laced with carnival festivities, Avatar’s King triumphed, and eagerly awaits your arrival. So go buy a one-way ticket to Avatar Country and witness the magic for yourself. Rest assured, this King won’t let you down.