Megawatts Abound as BABYMETAL and Avatar Take on the The Anthem in Washington D.C.

Su-Metal with BABYMETAL at The Anthem in Washington D.C. on September 8, 2019. Photo credit: Dave Pearson

Washington D.C. – According to the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), there would be total annihilation and massive energy released when matter and antimatter interact. On September 8, 2019, a daring experiment took place at The Anthem in Washington D.C. … it was not matter, IT WAS METAL! The result? When metal and antimetal occupy the same stage on the same night, there is no annihilation, but, as the near sell out audience at the Anthem discovered, the energy was immeasurable.

The first wave of energy started when Avatar drummer, John Alfredsson pierced the darkness with the initial strike of the skin. As the beat continued, the lights started to come up and Jonas Jarlsby (guitar), Tim Öhrström (guitar), and Henrik Sandelin (bass) joined in.

John Alfredsson of Avatar performing at The Anthem in Washington D.C. on September 8, 2019. Photo Credit: © Dave Pearson 2019.

When the face of Avatar, Johannes Eckerström (vocals) took the stage, the crowd went wild. A shock wave of metal antimetal proportions went through the crowd. The opening song, “Hail the Apocalypse”, was a fitting beginning to a show of power.

The next number happens to be a favorite of this correspondent. While the meaning of “The Eagle Has Landed” may differ for some, it seems quite fitting for the venue location, Washington D.C. What I like most about this piece is the contrasts and contradictions that take place, both musically and lyrically. Experiencing the live version of the song was great!

Johannes Eckerström of Avatar performing at The Anthem in Washington D.C. on September 8, 2019. Photo Credit: © Dave Pearson 2019.

Honestly, I did not know what to expect when I saw Avatar live. I was introduced to them when I saw BABYMETAL coming to Washington and after watching one video, I knew they were a must see. I was not disappointed. From the sinister yet tragic look of Johannes to the piercing eyes of John, or even King Jonas himself, as well as the interaction between Tim and Henrik (and the whole band for that matter), the act along is worth the price of admission.

As the set drew to a close, Johannes worked the crowd, preparing them for BABYMETAL while giving them a near lethal dose of Avatar metal. The final piece, “Smells Like a Freak Show”, was the perfect ending… for the remainder of their set were all freaks. The crowd would have it no other way.

By this time the energy level, even before the metal /antimetal reaction, was immeasurable. As I returned to my seat, a friend, who does (did) not appreciate metal looked and said, “Oh my, that was f*#$&$& awesome!” This was Avatar’s first visit to Washington D.C. After the reception they received, I doubt it will be their last.

With the energy at a high level, BABYMETAL entered with a bang. Preceded on stage by the Kami band, original members Nakamoto Suzuka (Su-metal – lead vocals) and Kikuchi Moa (Moametal – backing vocals), along with touring Avenger Okazaki Momoko*, stormed the stage at an energy level thought impossible after Avatar.

Moametal of BABYMETAL performing at The Anthem in Washington D.C. on September 8, 2019. Photo Credit: © Dave Pearson 2019.

The opening song, “Megitsune, is about as intense as it gets. The well-choreographed movement of the members to the heavy metal backing is exhausting to watch, one can only imagine how it is to perform. The intensity of this song was a perfect transition from Avatar to BABYMETAL.

The next five songs were from their soon-to-be-released album, Metal Galaxy, targeted to drop in October of this year. “Elevator Girl“, “Shanti Shanti Shanti”, “Kagerou”, and “Starlight” contain all the elements followers of BABYMETAL have come to expect. “Shanti Shanti Shanti” was of particular interest as it appears to be heavily influenced by Buddhist and Hindu tradition. Shanti, when said three times, is said to call for peace of mind, speech, and body. The accompanying dance also appeared to be heavily influenced by Hindu dance.

By this time the energy level at The Anthem was off the charts, the random formation of mosh pits in the crowd from time to time were a lot of fun to watch and, in reality, part of the show. Then the unthinkable happened, in a bold, “Amp to 11” moment it happened… “Gimme Chocolate”… No, there is not much more to say other than the energy level exploded. If one has not experienced this, words cannot describe the phenomena.

Moametal of BABYMETAL performing at The Anthem in Washington D.C. on September 8, 2019. Photo Credit: © Dave Pearson 2019.

I would love to go into great detail about the atmosphere at The Anthem as BAMYMETAL went through each tune, a mix of old and soon to be release new material. “PA PA YA” was likely the new song with the best reaction, “KARATE” proved that Okazaki was very capable of being a new member.

To end the show, the BABYMETAL tune to end all shows was played, “Road of Resistance“. As with many other songs, this one has to actually be experienced, not just heard. Su and the others worked the audience into a frenzy, making every member of the crowd an honorary BABYMETAL performer. They had the audience eating out of the proverbial BABYMETAL hand.

Then, when there was no more energy to be captured in one place…

IT WAS OVER

As I left The Anthem, the significance of what I had just experienced dawned on me. Avatar and BABYMETAL have two very distinct styles of metal. Many would say they are metallically opposite (thus the metal / antimetal analogy). It is safe to say that the overlap between the Avatar and BABYMETAL fan bases is not that large. It would have been very easy for BABYMETAL to team with a more “like” band; and the same can be said for Avatar. By not doing so, fans across the metal spectrum came together, getting to experience new music and new styles of metal. I’m not saying the world is ready to experience Avril Levigne supporting Metallica (I would likely get out the popcorn for that one, however), but hopefully more bands will be willing to expand their touring horizons to expose the masses to music outside their wheelhouse. As we learned on September 8th, when metal and antimetal interact there is no mass annihilation, only the total energy produced on both ends of the metal spectrum. Let’s do this again!

Su-metal of BABYMETAL performing at The Anthem in Washington D.C. on September 8, 2019. Photo Credit: © Dave Pearson 2019.

BABYMETAL Setlist

Megitsune
Elevator Girl
Shanti Shanti Shanti
Kagerou
Starlight
FUTURE METAL
Gimme Chocolate!!
PA PA YA!!
Distortion
KARATE
Headbangeeeeerrrrr!!!!!!!
THE ONE
Road of Resistance

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Show Date: 9/08/2019

*Correction: Third position of BABYMETAL at the 9/08/2019 show was Momoko Okazaki. The original version of the article incorrectly identified the touring member as Riho Sayashi.

See “PA PA YA!!”: