Metalocalypse's Dethklok at Myth 11/14/12
Photo by Erik Hess
With Black Dahlia Murder
Myth, St. Paul
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
On Wednesday, the doors of Myth nightclub opened a portal to a bizarre, suburban limbo. An odd, eclectic and inarguably sincere mix of fans had gathered to watch a death metal show and, admittedly, the aesthetic of a venue that tries to be an LA Lounge across the street from an Ashley Furniture Home Store -- for this type of music especially -- was really, really weird. But this fact hardly hampered the dynamite, multi-platform performance of Dethklok. After all, there's an inherent strangeness in watching a virtual performance -- Dethklok is a cartoon death metal band featured on Adult Swim's Metalocalypse -- to begin with.
Michigan's Black Dahlia Murder delivered an opening slot that ultimately served as a vehicle to generate hype. Rocketing through a violent set of death growling masturbation, it was difficult to take seriously at times. The pit of young enthusiasts however, fed exponentially off of vocalist Trevor Strnad's somewhat clichéd shirtless antics and aggressive demands to produce collective audience head banging. In my outsider mind, this type of stuff comes off as corny and paints a misleading picture of metal. Their musicianship was incredible.
Photo by Erik Hess
Unadulterated excitement for Dethklok heightened the second a crew of the band's cloaked minions (Klokateers ) began arranging their equipment. As a first-timer, speculation floundered as to how the visual aspects would pan out. These questions were soon answered as fog enveloped the stage; shortly after illuminating a massive screen that would project Metalocalypse music videos for the entirety of the show. After given a cryptic warning, Dethklok was summoned and the hellish shred-fest began just like every Metalocalypse episode: with "Deththeme."
Though the wall of high-intensity, animated bloodbath was inevitably a main point of focus, there was no under-appreciation for the talented human beings producing the music center stage. It was remarkable on so many levels. For one: Dethklok is a fake band that's been accepted as a real band by a community that you wouldn't expect to welcome institutionalized fame. And for another: these guys are all middle-aged! They aren't draped in chains or styled with any theatrical fanfare: Mike Keneally and Brendon Small could have been plucked from a parent-teacher conference. That coupled with the demonic power-force resounding from their instruments was endlessly intriguing. They all fed off of each other's talent with extreme precision, never missing a mark, which was all the more impressive because they were playing along to a video.
Photo by Erik Hess
Quite literally, their set was a consecutive run of Metalocalypse music videos interjected with bits of humorous crowd-interaction proctored by characters like Facebones or Rockso the rock 'n' roll (and cocaine-loving) clown. Additionally, there were several micro sub-plots (e.g. Murderface confronting bulimia). Some moments were more entertaining than others. The sheer absurdity of videos like "I Ejaculate Fire" (a Pharaoh runs around murdering people with his incendiary semen) and "Murmaider" (Mermaids seeking murderous vengeance) on a large screen was incredibly amusing.
The juxtaposition of the ludicrous videos with the seriousness of musicianship added further complexity to the performance. The stamina of the musicians is definitely worthy of mention. The velocity of the music never dies and it's also very physically-demanding playing. They never let up, though it was visibly exhausting at times. Most visually and sonically striking was their rendition of "The Galaxy," guiding the audience through the reservoir of outer space and building momentum with cinematic guitar layers that were noticeably more melodic. Nathan Explosion's plight to save his bandmates from intergalactic death was moving too.
Photo by Erik Hess
Ending their set with "Thunderhorse," the band took a brief break, teasing the audience with animated speculation about whether they would encore. They did. Two songs later and some voice introduction (in alternating characters) from Brendon Small (Nathan Explosion told us he wasn't leaving Minnesota until he had ejaculated in all of our lakes) the Dethklok experience was over.
But it wasn't forgotten. More than the stimulating visuals and more than the assaulting, awesome riffs, Dethklok proved a point about innovation in modern art. What they've created is truly unique.
Personal Bias: Though a huge fan of Metalocalypse, I'm the first to admit that death metal isn't anywhere near the top of my music preferences or expertise. It's just not something I choose to listen to all that often. That said: I love going to metal shows. They are easily the most fascinating acts to watch for the sheer speed and skill of their craft. It's awe-striking.
The crowd: Kind of what you'd expect: Metal heads, gamers, "rebellious youth," and, as Facebones pointed out, not very many females.
Overheard in the crowd: "Is it weird that I think Toki and Skwisgaar are hot? Look at him whip his hair!"
Random notebook dump: Dethklok was extremely genuine with their crowd. They made a conscious effort to interact with their audience at the end of the show, shaking hands and personally gifting guitar picks. It was visibly the highlight of some of the audience's night. Don't let the lewd humor they capitalize on fool you: they're a respectful, grateful group of artists. That's cool.
I Ejaculate Fire
Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle
Go into the Water
Crush the Industry
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