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Headbanger's Ballroom: Arch Enemy, Exodus, Arsis @ The Regency Ballroom, 2/8/10

February 9, 2010

It wasn’t my favorite day.

First, I received an email from a certain relative suggesting that I use part of my trust fund to get some work done. And by work, I mean plastic surgery. Then, I had to communicate with my ex-boyfriend, which reminded me of exactly why he is my ex. These are the kinds of things that inspire really good songs. It’s unfortunate that I’m not in a band sometimes.

So I was in need of a good metal show. Of course, I started the show with ‘you’re not on the list’ drama, but I talked my way in with the labe’s email confirmation on my iPhone, though I didn’t get a photo pass. Oh well. It did cause me to miss the first band…which by some accounts might have been a good thing.

When Arsis first hit the stage, I breathed a sigh of relief. Their American death metal sound coupled with hybrid American/Euro look (t-shirts and jeans….but no sneakers!) was putting me in a better mood. But then it went downhill. First, their headbanging efforts really annoyed me….gratuitous headbangs that don’t go along with the beat of the music are an instant turn-off. Also, the guitarist did it so much he it looked like he almost fell over at least 4 times. This guitarist is very ‘pretty’ and I found myself wishing I had his cheekbones…hmm. And then there was the biggie- the singer referred to us as Seattle instead of San Francisco. Not cool man! Regardless, Arsis has the foundation right to be a good band, but they’ve got to work out some issues first.


During the changeover, a man in a wheelchair rolled past me towards the pit to take a spot at the rail for Exodus. As King Diamond serenaded us over the speakers, a very exuberant set of female fans pushed their way to the front. I have learned not to mess with SF natives at a classic SF metal band’s show, so I scooted over. When I see a classic SF metal band that I have little history with- even if it’s only the skeletal remains of it- I definitely take on outsider’s perspective and watch the crowd as much as I watch the band. Native SF metalheads take their Exodus seriously. There was a girl mini pit that began and quickly died out at the beginning, and a lot of crowd surfing action.


The vocalist’s efforts to amp up the crowd went throughout the entire set: “I wanna see stage diving!” OK, the Regency Ballroom stage is very high and guarded, but some kid did manage to pull a covert stage dive operation…kudos! “I gotta say, Seattle raged harder than you” OK, we get it, you guys all OBVIOUSLY wish we were Seattle. “You guys on this side, you guys on that side….now KILL EACH OTHER!!!” I don’t think this guy was Napoleon in a past life, because his warmongering skills were not heeded by the masses. It was obvious even to me, the outsider, who the original members of this band are. The lead guitarist moved in a way that I had never seen before, especially not in a metal band. The flying V would pull to the left, and his hips would pull to the right, and then there was some sort of twist involved…needless to say, my words don’t do the move justice, but it made me giggle. They were joined by former vocalist Zetro for a song, which made the SF Natives very excited.


“Thanks for coming out on a Tuesday….” It’s a Monday. Obviously these bands are partying A LOT between shows. “Oh, come on, I sing for a metal band, why do I need to know what day it is!” Regardless, the set was a strong crowd pleaser- it made the guy in the wheelchair next to me rise up and prop himself up on the rail several times to get a better view, which was really pretty inspiring. I, myself, have never fallen in love with Exodus’ music, but it was good to see a full set since last time I had to bail.

The shrieks of lust by the metal boys when Arch Enemy vocalist Angela Gossow hit the stage were priceless. The fog machines were cranked, and the choreography for the opening was done so that each member basically entered through the fog as it was their time to play. Angela may not be tall but she literally screams Amazon woman- she’s got freakishly robotic alien pretty looks, even though she is hunched over, face contorted, screaming from deep within her fallopian tubes or something most of the time. She was wearing an Arch Enemy girl’s tee- big no-no in my book, but since most of the guys were probably staring at her chest, it was probably a good branding decision.

It wasn’t long into the set when a kid crowd surfed over the barrier right next to me and security missed him. He fell straight to the ground, landing in an awkward position which honestly evoked imagery of those chalk outlines you see of jumpers. I thought I might have just seen someone die, or at the very least, have broken their neck and been paralyzed. The Rock Med people were there very fast, and they didn’t move the kid, and the kid still wasn’t moving. They brought in a stretcher and carefully placed him on it after several minutes of drama. And, lo and behold, on the way taking that kid to the door, he woke up and what does he do? Throws them horns! Now that, my friends, is True Metal. Let this serve as a word of warning: crowd surfing is DANGEROUS…especially when the security who are supposed to help you out are tired from Exodus and are watching the singer’s boobs.


Personally, I find Arch Enemy to be a very hit or miss band….even with their Carcass DNA. I dig some songs, others…not so much. But they have a great stage presence all the time. I was having some existential scream therapy watching Angela up there….wondering why I never tried to do that. I can scream quite well, especially when I’ve had a day like today.

I watched the end of the set from the soundboard, where I reminded myself that I can never watch a show from back there. I’d miss all these lovely details! The sound really is much better though.

Check out Rays’ supremely awesome photos, starring Angela’s shirt.


  1. You need 'work done'? [pause to clean up the coke I'd been drinking, now on the opposite wall of my hotel room, which is pretty good distance out my nose] Well, we all have relatives that drive us nuts. To paraphrase Billy Joel, don't go changin' to try to please anyone. You're just fine as-is.

    Good to see that Exodus is still on good terms with Zetro. I will likely invoke the wrath of a lot of people when I say that I always thought he was the band's best singer……

  2. See now if you had "Whats The right show"…:) nice review sorry you had a bad day . Hope things are better now and umm ya im not sure your needing any "work done" lol your pretty stunning in your own right.

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