I've been to a few concerts over the years but wow. I just got back from Dethklok in Vermillion a little bit ago. And I'm still reeling from it. The short review - I had no idea a concert could be like this. It's outside my realm of past experience, and likely outside the realm of any experience any of the rest of you have ever had either. If you can get there, do it. Good fucking grief do it. For the love of all, or you'll hate yourself forever. The super-long, extra-detailed because I'm completely filled to the brim with the goodness of it all and can't contain it version - So, we went early, expecting it to be crowded. There was no crowd when we got there. And who should we see hanging out having a smoke but Gene freakin' Hoglan - the Atomic Clock himself. My buddy welcomed him, in his words, to "shithole South Dakota." He thanked him and said it hasn't been that bad so far. We chatted a bit, about the days of the good old metal, and how it seemed like, maybe, at least on some small level, those days are coming back around. It was awesome. Inside the entrance to the building they had set up four Guitar Hero III games, each with two guitars plugged in, on X Box 360s. Now, I'll say right now that's not my kind of video game. I'll also say I'll never need to hear Rage Against the Machine again. Yikes. A couple dudes started rocking out hardcore to it, the guy "playing" the bass smacking the crap out of the poor little guitar do-dad and saying, "I'M SLAPPING IT! I'M SLAPPING IT!" and I ran from the building laughing like a moron. Which made people look in and see what was going on, and one of the guys all dressed up in trench coats and full Dethklok concert makeup yelled, "Hey douchebag, Guitar Hero is not a career option." Pretty harsh for a guy who screwed up and put on white makeup instead of grey. Once we were let into the main auditorium, things got interesting. There's three screens above the stage. One really, REALLY big one behind the band setup, and two smaller ones on either side of the stage. You could text message a certain number and the text would come up on the screen to the left. You could send a picture to another and the picture would come up on the screen to the right. And they'd cycle through pictures and messages until they got to as many of them as they could. It was pretty cool, and a good way to keep people occupied while waiting for the band. The XBox/Guitar Hero thing also turned into a tournament, where the high-score for the night, and the second highest score for the night each won a full Guitar Hero rig. Plus, first place got to "play" on stage. More on that later. There were a few guys walking around in black t-shirts with the arms ripped off and black hoods with axes in their hands. And a few stage-hands in full Dethklok tech regalia, hood and all. Which was awesome. Now, let's get this out of the way right off the bat. Everywhere you see info on this concert you hear that Dethklok is opening for "And They Shall Know Us By The Trail of Dead." (God what a pretensious and awful name.) Let me tell you now, everywhere is lying. When the lights went down, Trail of Dead started playing. I'm a musician myself, so I try very, VERY hard to not put down other musicians, but there's no way around it here. This was the worst college band type band I've ever seen. They instrument swapped in between every song and had at least four breakdowns every song. And there's one guy who played ES-335 style guitars on the side of the stage and looked like his mother had just died. When everybody else up there was losing their mind freaking out during a breakdown, he'd just strum his guitar once every five seconds or so and look at his shoes. People began sitting down about two songs in. Then some stage-hand came out and started trying to egg the crowd on, encouraging us to clap, cheer, stand-up, whatever. This got almost the entire crowd to sit down. And while there were small amounts of clapping at the end of songs, there wasn't much else in the way of reactions for them. The first message up on the text message screen after they finished was, "Well, that was pretty painful." I couldn't agree more. Then came the XBox360/Guitar Hero tournament award presentations. The first place guy and the runner up got to go up on stage and get their prizes, then the first place winner got hooked into the full stage system to "play" one song. He overshot by a mile, and chose to try Dragonforce. He failed four times in a row. And when asked if he wouldn't try another song, the crowd jeered him into trying one more time. Which he again failed. And then he was gone. A few more minutes, a few more interesting text messages and pictures, and the lights went down. This was the moment we'd all been waiting for, was it going to be worth the trip? The first thing you see on-screen is the earth, and a GIANT Dethklok logo over it. Cut to the "mysterious guys" group talking about Dethklok going on tour, and about how they are going to deal with this problem. And as they finished talking, you hear a single guitar string being strummed in a rhythm we all knew, and the crowd began to scream and gyrate. Then the cartoon Dethklok took the stage, and you hear a count. Then... The theme. And chaos erupts. I can not tell you the feeling in that room. It was different from any other concert I've ever been to. The cartoon band was on the big screens, and the real band was underneath the real screens, visible from reflections, and faint light, and mostly kept in the dark. The screens alternated between band shots and actual music videos. And if they never release those music videos to the public I say we take William's Street by force. The idea of making a Hatredcopter video out of Blackout footage is useless now that I've seen the full video for Hatredcopter live. It's unbelievably cool. And there were several moments throughout the show where you feel like you're right there, in the cartoon. Here's the songs that I remember being played, probably not in the right order, but I'll cover what the coolest moments were anyway. Deththeme - Kicked off the musical portion of the show and made the crowd go completely bonkers in seconds. Unbelievably hot live. Briefcase Full of Guts - the video for this one was extremely awesome. Murmaider - Again, the video was incredible, and told a complete story. A group of mermaids murders something/someone. They are all then killed by what looked to be a super devil mermaid or something. Then it comes down to a final battle of one regular mermaid and the she-devil mermaid and blood was everywhere. It was awesome. Oh, and all the mermaids were topless and well endowed. So that didn't hurt. Awaken - Awesome video, but this one was a crowd pleaser to the point where it was tough to pay attention to the video. Everyone in the building was screaming, "MUSTAH! KRAKISH! MUSTAH! KRAKISH!" It felt like the place was gonna come down around us. This was the first point in the show I remember being able to actually see one of the guitarists playing, during one of the flashier bits. Just an all-around terrific live song. Bloodrocuted - The video found on the second disc of the two-disc CD set. And played tight as hell. Go Forth and Die - This one was a sparse video, with lots of "live band" footage interspersed with words. Easy to concentrate on the actual music for everything but the bird scene. The birds are flying towards the crowd in the videos through a red sky, and they start blasting red laser-lights everywhere and I swear to god it felt like we were going to get attacked by the birds. You truly felt like you were in the video at that point of the show. Thunderhorse - Super Extended both song and video. Explicit sex scenes intact. Hard-core brutality everywhere. And a horse that ran his way through space. And, as in all other songs, absolutely perfect playing by the real band. Go Into the Water - Good. Fucking. Grief. This was one of those that just pulled you into the entire presentation. The stage rising from the water scene was extended by quite a bit, the intro to the song was extended to accomodate it, and the way the two integrated just made you believe you were standing on or in the ocean, looking up at that incredible stage setup. Absolute perfection. Birthday Dethday - Goofy shit, and fucking awesome. Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle - A video that was just absolutely outstanding to accompany this one, and the entire crowd sang every last word. And even got most of the words right. And the effect was so complete that I almost feared having a giant cup of coffee poured on me. Hatredcopter - The song as so fast and easy to get into headbanging that you'd almost miss the video. But the video is so awesome you'd forget to headbang. And then the chorus would finish and you'd be right back to headbanging and forgetting to watch the video. But good grief. Hatredcopter blows up grocery stores. Hatredcopter blows up restaurants. Hatredcopter blows up cabins in the mountains. Hatredcopter blows up garages. Hatredcopter just blows up everything. And the superimposed Pickles/Nathan in copter helmets during the bridges and choruses was absolutely awe inspiring. Castratikron - This video must be released. Castratikron is one evil bitch. And much more caustic than on the episode she appeared in on the show. She castrates a guy just by walking by his window with her hand out. Then she castrates another guy by stepping on him with high-heels. And it only gets better from there. Dethharmonic - OK, I don't know how they did it. I really don't. Picture it. A cartoon orchestra. A cartoon metal band. A real metal band. Nathan explosion sitting at a desk filling out a 1040 tax form in his own blood. And Fatty Ding Dongs as Uncle Sam. And every god damn person in that building was looking around for the laser machine when the words, "Prepare the laser beam" were uttered. Total immersion at that point. We weren't a real crowd cheering on a real band. We were Dethfans, cheering on the cartoon band. And loving every second of it. The band would play two to three songs at a time, then take a few minutes break while a cartoon clip played. There was a group of scientists dedicated to studying the science of moshing. They explained it all, in detail. There were more clips of the mystery men group. Clips of various band activities. And Murderface walked off stage to go take a piss and the entire band followed him into the bathroom. The transition from band playing-to cartoon-to band playing was flawless every single time. Absolutely perfect in every way. Basically, up until the end, it was like you were watching an hour long episode of Metalocalypse where they actually played full songs instead of just little clips of songs here and there. And finally, the cartoon portion of the evening was over, and Brendon stood in the lights and asked if we wanted one more song in Nathan's voice. The building shook with the force of our screams. He asked again, and we were somehow louder. Then he gave a little speech about how much Dethklok hates thier fans and wishes they'd all die, then, no cartoon, just them playing, FAN SONG. And people went absolutely ape-shit. The chanted bits of "DIE! DIE! DIE! DIE!" were the ultimate fan-chorus. And then it was over. Before the lights came back up, the crowd was in full-chant. "Dethklok! Dethklok! Dethklok!" But it was for nothing, the lights came up, the tear-down started, and we thought the night was over. We were wrong. We hung out with the band out by the bus. No, I'm not kidding. Gene was there, chatty as before the show. Mike Keneally and Bryan Beller joined us (guitarist and bassist) and we talked it up for a few minutes while Bryan convinced Mike he needed to do some shots. We got autographs all around. Brendon was kind of swamped with requests, so we didn't get to chat with him much, but he signed our postcards for us. We shook everybody's hand and told them what an awesome show it was and that we hoped we'd have a chance to see them again. Then we went and had some beers and burgers before heading home. I snagged a t-shirt, the two freeby postcards, the free hand-out CD they were giving everybody, and a big poster from the show. Forgot to get the t-shirt in the pictures, but. . . Basically, if you enjoy Dethklok in any capacity, kill whoever you have to kill to go to the show when it gets somewhere relatively close to you. This one's free. Something tells me if there's another one, it won't be.