Apocalyptica is revenge. Remember those kids who were always lugging their cellos to take lessons from some nerdy music teacher? Or the kid you made fun of because while you were busy hanging out at Fun And Games trying to catch a buzz he was at piano lessons? Those kids may not have stayed with their musical social status killer. Or maybe they did and are now the nerdy music teacher giving lessons to some geek. But they are all taking comfort in the fact that a few of their fellow band camp nerds have become Rock Stars and the target of Gothy, fish- netted groupies.
That was the scene last night on stage at Royale(formerly The Roxy) in Boston as Apocalyptica showed the crowd how to rock using 3 cellos and a drummer. That was it. No back up guitar, no bass, just cellos and Viking attitudes. Each member seemed to represent a different attitude. Eicca Toppinen in "Black Album" era James Hettfield garb flailing his blond mane. Paavo Lotjonen, who has a 50's psycho-billy look and was the biggest motivator of crowd participation, hefting his cello in the air with one hand urging the crowd to clap along. Perttu Kivilaakso is definitely the intense gothy weirdo, with intense concentrated blasts of motion on the fretboard of his cello, one foot on the monitor, sweat flying through the air, and Mikko Siren, the anchor, bashing the drums behind the storm of wailing strings, keeping each string man in line and taking a turn on the Double Bass for the quieter moments.
If you go to concerts or clubs to see bands regularly, you may have been programmed to expect the traditional guitar, bass, drums formation, sometimes with a singer, keyboards, horns. But seeing only cellos and the wave of sound that comes from the stage is astounding. The sound Toppinen conjured from his cello with the Wah-Wah pedal during the opener, Metallica's "Everywhere I Roam" could never be made with a guitar. They also tore through "Master Of Puppets" and "Seek And Destroy". Paying appropriate homage to the band that inspired them to go beyond the classical realm. For those songs the crowd became the vocalists. Former Leningrad Cowboys vocalist TipeJohnson handled vocal duties for the current single "End Of Me" and the hit "I Don't Care". He was especially powerful for "I'm Not Jesus", originally sung by Corey Taylor from the previous album "Worlds Collide". One of the people I was with suggested his vocals would be perfect for a cover of "Bezerker" by Love Among Freaks from the "Clerks" soundtrack.
They ramped down the intensity in the middle of the set with two quiet instrumentals from the new album "7th Symphony". The first was simply called "Beautiful" and it was just that. Siren stepped out from behind the kit to play the double bass as the 3 others layered melodies that immediately hushed the crowd. The second was called "Sacra" and reminded me of the music that accompanied the Vampire classic "Nosferatu". It was dark and made a bit tribal by Siren switching to a small tympani.
All the while throngs of Gothy girls in fishnets, rubber, and Victorian garb reached toward the stage in wanting. Somewhere a band camp nerd felt a tickle of hope in their stomach and caught a whiff of sweet revenge.
p.s. All these Finnish names made this blog look like a bloody mess after hitting spell-check.