Monday, Feburary 2nd, 2014 – Stage 48, New York, NY
Every metal fan has one of those bands (more likely several) that they make it a point to see whenever they’re in town. No matter what their most recent album sounds like, no matter how many other priorities you may have, no matter what you have to do to scrape together ticket money–come hell or high water, you are GOING to see your favorite band.
Dark Tranquillity is one the bands I feel that way about. I saw them for the second time last week (Sunday, Jan 4th, 2015), and it was only a few minutes between me finding out they were launching the first major North American metal tour of the year and buying my ticket. The band was still promoting its Construct album (it had been out for nearly two years), and were getting ready to return home for a short break and, of course, to write new songs.The set list and the atmosphere were very similar between both shows, but it didn’t matter–both the first time and the second time I saw Dark Tranquillity, it has been nothing short of a wild celebration of the very best that melodic death metal has to offer.
And seeing them once again reminded me of why I admired their work so much in the first place. Let me take you back now, to that first time I saw them in 2014…
It was one of the most brutal winters in the tri-state area in recent memory, enough that Dark Tranquillity seemed to bring the weather with them from their Swedish homeland. The night after one of the most over-hyped and lopsided Super Bowls ever, I returned to Stage 48 for the first time since seeing Kreator and Overkill in an all-out thrash fest at that same venue.
Wearing the Kreator Phantom Antichrist shirt I got last time, I arrived halfway through the penultimate set by Omnium Gatherum. It was the first time in America for these Finns, who showed promise with their death metal and prog tendencies. They were good.
There were a couple reasons I didn’t catch more of that set: the C subway was stuck underground for 45 minutes, and dammit I was going to take my time and enjoy a few beers (and maybe a Valium) after that. The Pony Bar in Hell’s Kitchen on 45th Street was my stop, and while there I met two guys who worked for Spotify (and were dressed for Entombed and Amon Amarth). So we ended up drinking for a bit before heading over to the show (after toasting to all those bands, of course).
And then we toasted to the first metal show we ever saw.
And then we toasted to the BEST metal show we ever saw.
And then we toasted to our favorite album.
And then we toasted to individual songs….
…you get the idea. Plus the beers were $5 a pour.
Right away I can tell you that what I remember most about seeing Dark Tranquillity was their closeness with the audience. And that was not just because I stood in the very front, leaning on the stage in front of the keyboard amp and in full view of the large multimedia screen they used as a backdrop.
It was because when Mikael Stanne growls, emotes and sings his way through 19 Dark Tranquillity songs, he kneels right now in front of you and, without missing a beat, puts his face less than an inch away from yours, so close you can see each bead of sweat and every contorted face muscle. His genuine effort to be close to the crowd made us reciprocate, reaching out our hands to touch him and participating in dozens of stage dives. These 4-500 Dark Tranquillity fans were some of the wildest crowds I’d ever witnessed at a show. There were lasers, strobe lights, and the large screen behind the band flickering song titles and images like a grainy metal propaganda film. It was a fantastic atmosphere.
1. The Science of Noise
2. White Noise/Black Silence
3. Monochromatic Stains
4. Lost to Apathy
5. The Fatalist
6. The Silence in Between
7. Zero Distance
8. The Mundane and the Magic
9. Punish My Heaven
10. The Wonders at Your Feet
11. What Only You Know
13. Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)
14. State of Trust
16. Final Resistance
18. Endtime Hearts
19. Misery’s Crown
The legendary melodic death metal group had a mix of its back catalog, leaning a bit more on their latest release, Construct. The sound was magnificent, with the melodic touches right where they were supposed to be. Although they didn’t do my favorite song (“Cathode Ray Sunshine”), Dark Tranquillity performed more than enough of my other favorites to make up for it–“Final Resistane,” “Terminus,” “Punish My Heaven,” “Misery’s Crown,” “Endtime Hearts,” and “Monochromatic Stains.”
For the encore, Stanne took his audience love to the next level and crowd-surfed on our adoring hands while he sang. Stage 48’s bright strobe flashes lit up his silhouette on the fans hands as I watched. It was my most memorable image of a metal show at Stage 48, along with seeing Mille Petrozza waving his Kreator flag. Stanne never looked or sounded as if he was having anything less than the time of his life, flashing toothy grins at the crowd and reaching down to help crowd surfers back on their feet from the front of the stage. Good show etiquette from the band is always a plus! Their excitement and energy contributed to a positive feedback loop with the audience.
Admiring the tour dates on the back of the shirt I bought there, I was surprised to see Dark Tranquillity had been on the road for over a year already before they stopped in New York. Their reach was extensive, covering North Africa, Europe and Latin America before hitting the US, and THEN moving over to East Asia. A global trek like that is a true labor of love, and it is this outpouring and emptying of self that will keep Dark Tranquillity fans, including me, come back to see them again and again.
Written by Matt P