jakub | May 27, 2024

Avatar brings their Great Metal Circus Tour to The Toyota Oakdale Theater in Wallingford, Connecticut on May 15, 2024


 

 

Avatar brought their Swedish brand of heavy metal to Wallingford, Connecticut’s Toyota Oakdale Theater with The Great Metal Circus Tour. It was a rainy night and there was a line to get into the venue. Initial rumblings were that ticket sales were light, however, by the time the bands started to play the place filled up nicely. This show took place in the dome area of the venue. It’s a smaller area than the theater and is general admission with standing room only. This made for a fun show as it allowed for a circle pit and crowd surfing (more on that later). The OXYMORRONS opened the night and Conquer Divide went on second. 

OXYMORRONS took the stage first with their unusual hybrid style mix-up of rap and rock which seemed to go over well with the crowd. Hailing from Queens, New York this quartet consists of 2 singers who are brothers, a guitarist, and a drummer. I really had no idea what to expect from this band as I didn’t have time to research them prior to the show. These guys busted onto the stage and the first thing I noticed was their stage wear. One of the brothers was dressed in knee-length shorts and knee-high socks with bunny ears on, and the other with a varsity jacket, furry boots, a blue wool ski mask with spikes on it, and a Beavis shirt. That’s when I knew this was going to be a good show. Their blend of rap, rock, punk, and heavy metal won me over as it did for many people in the crowd. They played a nine-song set of originals showcasing the talents of guitarist Jefe Paulino, drummer Matty Mayz, and of course the multi-genre talented brothers of Dave and Ashmy Bellevue. At one point the bunny-ear-wearing vocalist was throwing carrots out into the crowd. These guys got a circle pit going and even a few crowd surfers made their way up to the photo pit. OXYMORRONS was a great start to The Great Metal Circus that was yet to come.

 

OXYMORRONS is:

Dave “D” Bellevue – Vocals

Ashmy “KI” Bellevue – Vocals

Matty Mayz – Drums

Jafe Paulino – Vocals, bass, guitar

 

 

Setlist:

1. Enemy

2. Green Vision

3. Head for the Hills

4. Graveyard Words

5. Definition

6. Melanin Punk

6. Insomnia

7. Look Alive

8. Moon Chasers

9. Justice

 

Next up was Conquer Divide, a rock/metalcore band with members from The United States, Canada, and The United Kingdom. This all-female band released their first video in 2013 and their self-titled album in 2015. This album went to number four on the iTunes metal chart the day it was released. Five of the eight songs they played at this show were off of their Slow Burn album which was released in September of 2023. The amazing combination of Kia’s clean vocals and Madison’s growling vocals made for a fun unique sound. At one point during the set, a fan threw a bra up onto the stage. Madison put it on over her clothes. Kia said it was now both of theirs to share and that “throwing bras was ok, but just don’t throw any panties on the stage”. Drummer Samantha Landa was hammering on the drums with her hair flailing.  Conquer Divide has been a supporting act at festivals for bands such as Motionless in White and In This Moment, and more recently played Welcome to Rockville in 2023. These metal ladies are a force to be reckoned with in the metalcore scene.

 

Conquer Divide is:

Kiarely “Kia” Castillo – Clean vocals

Kristen Sturges – Rhythm guitar, bass, lead guitar, backing vocals

Isabel “Izzy” Johnson – Lead guitar, bass

Samantha “Sam” Landa – Drums

Madison Spencer – Unclean and backing vocals

 

 

Setlist:

1. Atonement

2. Chemicals

3. Eyes Wide Shut

4. Paralyzed

5. system_failure

6. N E W H E A V E N

7. welcome2paradise

8. Nightmares

 

So, before I get too far into the review of Avatar, I’m just gonna say that I’m referring to this night as the “Night of a Thousand Crowd Surfers”, as it seemed like there was a constant chain of crowd surfers throughout the entire set. Surfers of all ages, some that looked as young as ten years old, and even a giant bumblebee crowd-surfed his way into the pit. Avatar took the stage with the uber-talented Johannes Eckerstrom leading the Great Metal Circus. Donned in what looks like circus ring-leader attire and face painting like a court jester or joker, Johannes brought his team of musicians to life playing their brand of theatrical heavy metal. The rest of the band was dressed in similar attire, and these guys did their fair share of head-banging and whipping their hair around. At one point during the set, Johannes went out in the crowd, and off to one side on a riser and began making balloon art. As he started making it, he held it up and it began to look like a man’s genitalia, and he shook his finger to indicate, “No”. He bent down for a few seconds and when he got back up it was in the shape of a poodle. He then passed it off to a fan in the crowd. All during this time there were still people crowd-surfing their way to the front. Then he bent down again, and this time when he got up, he was holding a trombone. He proceeded to add to the atmosphere by playing music you would expect to hear at a circus or carnival. I believe this was about the time I saw the crowd surfing Bumblebee.  Another thing that I have to note that was cool as a photographer, the microphone stands in front of the guitarists were retractable, so that when they weren’t singing, they kicked the lever and the stand fell down so it wasn’t in front of them for every photo.  The drummer, John Alfredsson had a creepy ominous look, with his jet-black hair, pale skin, sideburns, and eyeliner. 

The band’s musical abilities shouldn’t be overshadowed by their theatrics as they have nine studio albums out and “The Dirt I’m Buried in” single reached number one in the United States on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs Chart in 2023. Playing an almost two-hour-long set, they had time to touch on songs spanning their career. Some songs leaned towards more mainstream rock and some were more headbanging and mosh pit-worthy, however, the crowd surfers felt just as welcome during every song. From the searing guitar riffs to the growling vocals to the double bass drums hitting you in the chest, the sound of Avatar will keep your need for metal satisfied for days. The stage presence and performance of each musician was unique and amazing in its own right. This was a show I won’t ever forget.

The Great Metal Circus Tour was just that and more. OXYMORRONS and Conquer Divide got the crowd primed and ready for the metal circus that is Avatar! This show is a non-stop sensory overload from start to finish and a must-see for any metal music fan. Avatar will be out on tour in the United States with In This Moment and Ice Nine Kills in August. Don’t miss your chance to see this theatrical metal conglomerate.

 

Avatar is:

Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby – Guitars

John Alfredsson – Drums

Johannes Eckerstrom – Lead Vocals, piano, brass, keyboards

Henrik Sandelin – Bass, backing vocals

Tim Ohrstrom – Guitars, backing vocals

 

 

Setlist:

1. Dance Devil Dance

2. The Eagle Has Landed

3. Valley of Disease

4. Chimp Mosh Pit

5. Paint Me Red

6. Bloody Angel

7. Make It Rain

8. Puppet Show

9. When the Snow Lies Red

10. Do You Feel in Control

11. Black Waltz

12. Tower

13. Colossus

14. Let it Burn

15. A Statue of the King

Encore

16. The Dirt I’m Buried in

17. Smells Like a Freakshow

18. Hail the Apocalypse 

 

 

 

 

 

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