When we saw that the power metal/metalcore/synthpop fusion act Amaranthe were embarking on a headline US tour, and the closest date, while out of state, was right during our summer vacation, we knew we had to go see them. So, after a short vacation on the beach, we trekked up (through four states) to West Chester, PA to see their show, not sure whether we should be more prepared to mosh or to dance.
The Note turned out to be a tiny venue, with a stage at the far end of a long rectangular room, and a bar on the right near the door. There were a good number of a people on the floor when we got there, and the whole place filled up by the time Amaranthe came on.
We were curious to see the local opener, Shattered Sanctity, after reading that they might appeal to fans of Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius. But the show started early, so even though we got there right on the advertised show time (8pm), we only caught the last song or so. We were stuck at the bar socializing and drinking, so I only caught snatches of some shredding and a couple wails, but not enough for a distinct impression. From the bar, they did not sound as fabulous as we hoped.
Touring with Amaranthe was Canadian band Kobra and the Lotus. I hadn't really heard of them before; a friend said they are pretty much straight ahead heavy metal, with a deep-voiced female singer. I was in the bathroom when they started, and if I hadn't known singer was a woman, I would have sworn it was a man, she had such a deep voice. Even then I doubted it for a moment. They were very good - solid NWOBHM metal riffs, verging on thrashy in one song, and the singer's rich, powerful vocals were a feast to the ears. They were quite thunderous for such a small place - it seemed the sound system was tuned to rumble.
After a rather longer wait than the first set change, Amaranthe emerged. You may know them for their single "Hunger" or the fact that their female singer has done backing vocals for Kamelot - up till a month ago that was pretty much what I knew of them. Once we decided we were going to this show, I listened to them more, and got pumped to see them. Their sound defies genres - clean power metal vocals from the female and male singers, Gothenburg-esque death growls from a third singer, riffs that range from pounding metalcore to In Flames like melodeath, and danceable synth melodies. It seemed like it should be one of the funnest shows I've been to. Unfortunately, they started out weak - the vocals were all right, but the instruments were off, even out of tune, and the synth inaudible for the first couple of songs. Guess they should have sound checked! (I didn't notice them doing so during that long break between sets.) Then they got it together, and sounded pretty good for the rest of the show. The synth was still a little low, but the vocals were very clear, and the guitar sounded good. The venue was full, and full of super-fans to boot. People I would never have pegged for knowing the lyrics to Amaranthe's "Amaranthine" were singing along to every word (here's a video). There was even a small pit for a few songs. Throughout the show, Elize, the female vocalist, profusely expressed the band's gratitude for everyone coming out to support them. So far, their first US tour seems to be a success, and I look forward to seeing them again sometime!
Next show - we went to The Agonist and co the following night.