JUNE 14th 2019 

Review by Anka
Photos: Peter Ruttan
Gallery: http://www.metaltitans.com/concertpics/avatar-country-tour/

Avatar’s Country World Tour would have almost gone unnoticed in my social feeds if I hadn’t made an effort to look up the openers. And when I did, I was pretty excited: one of the most varied lineups I had ever seen, and a couple of top favorites in there as well. 

The band ’68 opened without much fuss but gradually delivered a big punch: only 2 guys, drums and guitar, but way louder than I thought 2 guys could ever be, and overall quite entertaining. They combine postpunk with Americana themes and they make it sound quite alright. Funny to see their stage shenanigans, including the drums “loadout” while still playing.

Dance with the Dead followed and that was probably the highlight of the night for me. It was my first time seeing them, and then I really like their music. I know they were not able to bring in the whole stage setup this time, but a minimal one worked as well.  The guys took turns between their digital stations and their guitars and played an almost 45 minute set that got everyone dancing or even moshing. Their retro synth-wave, or “synth metal” as I call it, has awesome hooks and high energy beats, just perfect for stomping around. That is, if you are a “fluid” metalhead who likes to dance, but also wants to headbang, this is your jam. Really look forward to their next headlining show. 

The second half of the show was dominated by storytelling, in very different forms. Devin Townsend took the stage by himself – well, accompanied by his plush sloth - and with nothing but his acoustic guitar, he played a few songs off various releases including the newly released Empath. I think this stripped down version of the songs is absolutely great, and hearing his mind-numbing vocal acrobatics definitely made up for the lack of background instrumentation. I am not sure Devin was able to finish or play any song in its entirety, as he was overly chatty. When Devin is on stage, he’s like your best bud telling you stories. From touring tales to being home and life philosophy, his (unexpectedly) honest monologues entertained the crowd and I have to admit, made me laugh out loud a few times. I have seen his acoustic show recorded for CBC in January and this time it felt like his stories outweighed the music. I am not complaining. 

When Avatar started their show, we all got to see the massive setup previously hidden under the covers. They do a whole stage build – no compromises. Mega drum riser, curtains, so many lights, costumes, a lectern and of course, the king’s throne rising above everything.  Their story is in the music and their act. I’m a bit put off by their melodies and how they transition between genres, from death metal to avant-garde and rock. But their energy is electric, their act impeccable. Loved the show, without being a fan. I now understand the “hype”, as I have heard many friends praising the band. These talented guys invested massively into their act and as a result, it entertains and it leaves people in awe. I think I would definitely see them again, given a good lineup like the one at the Commodore that night, but I also look forward to seeing how their stories develop and how they choose to put them into play.