Metroplex Live | Little Rock, AR | September 20, 2016
Some of you may be too young to remember this, but back in the day, the Clear Channel Metroplex used to host the occasional large rock show in Little Rock. Breaking Benjamin, Ministry, Five Finger Death Punch, 100.3 The Edge’s Birthday Bash, featuring All That Remains, Nonpoint, Sick Puppies, and others I’m probably forgetting. It didn’t happen that often, but when it did, it was usually a big deal. Once Juanita’s went into that cold, dark night last December (RIP), Metroplex Live was born. They’ve had plenty of big shows, utilizing the space towards the back of the room. Most of the building remained curtained off all year, but then announcements were made. Metroplex Live had something behind those curtains: the big stage. There was a déjà vu moment when I entered the venue for Huntress/Sabaton/Trivium Tuesday night. The big stage was back. The venue was opened wide with tons of floor space, and the barricade/rail was no joke. I’m excited that there are several bands on deck who now have the space to fit their fans in Little Rock. Bring ‘em on!
Now, onto the show…
California’s Huntress kicked the night off in a loud and rather spooky way, courtesy of lead vocalist Jill Janus. She’s got a voice. I liked the light stool/hair blower effect she had onstage. It could have been cheesy, but Jill made it work. Her stage presence tilts towards the theatrical, with props, costumes, and tons of intensity; picture Alice Cooper having an illegitimate love child with In This Moment’s Maria Brink. Now try and get that image of that hookup out of your brain. …You’re welcome.
Overall, Huntress played a solid, memorable set. Bonus: the unforgettable Lemmy contributed vocals to one of the songs (“I Want to Fuck You to Death”). The man may be gone, but the legend remains. We miss you, Lemmy.
Swedish metal band Sabaton took the stage next, and I was not prepared. They were the surprise hit of the evening. Vocalist Joakim Broden is a showman; even he wasn’t prepared for the reaction he got from the crowd. This was my first experience with them, but they clearly had a legion of fans at the show. Their set was energetic, loud, and surprisingly enough, fun. I had a blast watching them. The crowd seemed to agree, audibly disappointed (and still screaming for another encore) when the band finally left the stage.
Trivium has had a very good year. Singles “Until the World Goes Cold” and “Silence in the Snow” were satellite radio monsters, and they moved from direct support to headliner since I saw them last (opening for Five Finger Death Punch in Memphis). The band played up to the crowd, and the love was returned. Vocalist Matt Heafy and bandmates brought the brutality onstage. My only complaint was that the bass was somewhat overpowering – I couldn’t hear anything Matt was singing or saying, even though I religiously wear ear filters at every show to prevent such occurrences. They played a strong set, though I wish “Black” made the setlist.
The three bands were a good match for the bill, and the crowd really got into it.