Birthday Shinedown 2017

In general, I like getting the hell out of Dodge for my birthday.

There are a myriad of reasons for this, but mostly, I like hiding. Part of it is because I’m right around a holiday (4th of July) and no one is ever around to celebrate, part of it is because everyone always forgets (parents included) … I’m a weird one in that I generally loathe my birthday.

B, wonderful as he is, has taken it upon himself to make my birthday as awesome as possible. Which for me, means spending it just the two of us (if able; his job makes this iffy), and not in Denver.

Originally, our thought was to go to Boston for my birthday (so I could eat all of the wonderful things), but cost prevented that. So, plans changed. I thought if B wasn’t home and had to work, I’d treat myself to a ridiculously expensive hotel room in the mountains (either Vail or Beaver Creek) for a night and hike around and see wildflowers and whatnot. Or maybe we’d do that even if he was home.

But then we learned Shinedown was touring some in the summer and what do you know … they were playing a show on my birthday. In Lafayette, Ind. That’s what we both honestly wanted to do more … so that’s what we did.

The morning of July 4, we hopped a flight from DEN-MSP and then caught a flight to IND where we rented a car and drove the hour or so to Lafayette. I’d been to Lafayette (well, West Lafayette to be specific) years before – my parents met at Purdue University, and my dad played clarinet in the band, so we went back for an alumni band thingy for him where he played on the field during a football game. I don’t think Brandon had ever been, though.

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Across the street from our hotel.

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Fourth of July band concert. Oh small towns …

We didn’t stay out to watch fireworks, but could see about a good dozen or so displays from our hotel window. And, since it was Indiana, where fun fireworks are legal, who knows how many of those displays were actually “official.”

The next morning, we woke up and hit up a diner across from the theater for breakfast.

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Random street piano I made B play for the photo op.

We wanted to see if anyone had started lining up yet, and thankfully, they hadn’t. After breakfast, we went for a run – training never stops ’round herrre – then back to shower and to explore.

We popped over to the Purdue campus for a bit – I was taking random photos and seeing if my parents could guess where I was – so I could see if there was anything good in the bookstore (there wasn’t). If they had a “Dad-style” shirt I would have gotten him one, but nope. We wandered over to the stadium so B could send pictures of a rival Big Ten stadium to his Gopher fan dad and drove over to the airport so B could get a sense of their flight program.

After that, we drove my history nerd self over to the Tippecanoe Battlefield.

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(We took a serious picture, too, if you can believe it.)

We were starting to get hungry again at this point, so we grabbed some snacks from a gas station and then ate possibly some of the worst Chinese food I’ve had in my life. So terrible.

(As far as birthdays go, this one was awful in terms of food eaten.)

Back to the hotel for a tiny bit and then to the theater to sit outside for a good four hours so we could be up front for the show. We didn’t have a bad spot – 10 back, maybe? – and I had my phone and my nook and some snacks. The hotel was also only four-ish blocks away so if we needed to pee, we’d take turns leaving and going back. This way, we could also take back anything we had to entertain ourselves before heading in. B also left the line at one point to grab us more food – salads and, for him, wings from Buffalo Wild Wings. Worst salad I’ve had from them, too, btw.

Eventually, we were let in, rushed the stage … and were pissed to find VIP people (who were supposed to all be on the upper level in assigned seats) on the rail. Grumble. In any case, we were only one person back from the rail and by the time Shinedown really got going, B weaseled his way up on to the actual rail.

First up was Lacey Sturm.

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They were … okay. I guess she was the singer for Flyleaf back in the day. My thoughts in bullet point form that I made on my phone post-show:
– meh
– bassist good
– guitarist played ZM sig? (in reference to a PRS Signature Zach Myers guitar; proven accurate on Instagram a few days later.)
– (her) voice got drowned out a lot
– sings with passion, but don’t get her stage presence (not sure with what she was doing up there …)
– one of the worst covers of “Roxanne” ever (did not enjoy)
– one of the cymbals fell over and it was funny
– someone in the audience said she had a good vocal range, but I don’t see it. Honestly didn’t like her style.

Basically, it’s not like they were bad; just not for me.

Between sets, we got to see the set up, as usual, and our location enabled me to spot something I’ve never seen before –

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Zach Myers’ Grizzlies guitar case. Ha.

Since it was birfday show, I didn’t want to take a lot of pictures – I really wanted to enjoy the show – so I only got this one, and I normally would have deleted it because, crap, but whatever.

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As for the show itself …

– It was SO. FUCKING. HOT. inside the theater. I was sweating so badly and at a few points, thought I was going to pass out due to the heat.

– Someone apparently yelled “you suck” up at the stage, so Brent Smith legit stopped the show to go lecture him and the crowd and saying they didn’t need to be there and could walk off the stage. I’m super glad they continued the show (for obvious reasons), but seriously? Whoever that was? NOT COOL.

– In this, my seventh Shinedown show (third state!), I finally broke my streak of seeing a new song performed. I’d already seen every song at this show. Kind of sad day, but also not really.

– The crowd at this show? Sucked. Unfriendly people around, a lot of Facebook live-ing going on, a lot of pictures … Ugh.

– I think because I was so happy, I cried through about 75-80% of the show. Seriously.

– Brandon was able to get Zach’s attention at one point with a scribble on his phone to say that it was my birthday; Zach mouthed “how old,;” I said 34 with my fingers; he mouthed “older than me;” I mouthed back “BARELY!” (okay buddy, by like four months); and he flung a guitar pick our way. It didn’t quite make it, but the security guard retrieved it and got it directly into my hands. (I made sure to thank him again specifically after the show).

All in all, we were able to snag four picks, and it was mostly me! Usually B is the guitar pick snatcher; this time it was me. Yay.

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Marquee post-show.

Going back to those guitar picks … I was the happiest that I was able to catch both Eric Bass’ and Zach Myers’ show-specific picks because it had my birthday on them … so I tweeted a photo of the picks and a thank you out, and lookie who retweeted it:

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Hee!

As we were ranking Shinedown shows later the next day, I found it hard to properly place this show. Not the greatest set list, hot as balls, shitty crowd … but the birthday happiness aspect makes it have a special place in my heart.

Once again, thank you to my husband as well as all of the guys in Shinedown – Eric Bass, Barry Kerch, Brent Smith, and especially Zach Myers – for making this one of the best birthdays in a long time.

Shinedown: West Coast Tour 2017

Also known as Shinedown show number 6 … the sixth show in four years and five or six days.

After we saw Shinedown in October, we figured we wouldn’t be able to see them in a while because of other tours and album writing and whatnot. But then … they released a small West Coast tour. We grumbled slightly about them not coming to Colorado this time, but then I spotted the first two shows on the tour – Albuquerque, N.M. on 3.31 and Tucson, Ariz. on 4.1.

I thought, “Dude. We could potentially see one of those two shows!” I talked to B about it and we decided on the Albuquerque show, as it’s a fairly easy drive down from Denver (6ish hours). He got the 31st off, I requested those few days off from work, we drove on down.

We were considering concert VIP for this show and thought we bought it … but all we did was buy VIP floor seats for the venue (which was 100% worth it, mind you). They had the meet and greets for the tour, but the packages for the ABQ show weren’t available until well after we had already bought our seats. Oh well, maybe next time.

Anyway, this show on the tour was weird in that there was no opening act. There are a few opening bands on this tour (As Lions, Cold Kingdom), but for whatever reason, not at this show.

We got to the venue (Legends Theater in the Route 66 Casino) way early because we weren’t sure if we needed to be in line for ages to get a good spot. We find out that we actually have seats for the show.

Third row, but chairs.

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Kind of dumb, but whatever. We had several hours to kill and didn’t feel like sitting in a car for the drive back to our hotel (30-ish minutes, probably more with traffic), so we gambled a bit and then played cards in the back of my Rav until it was time to find food pre-show.

We did pop in the time the doors opened at 7 to get our seats. B asked one of the security people if we could get on the rail, but she said no. Not that that stopped everyone once the show started anyway … So we did end up getting up front anyway!

Before I get ahead of myself, set list, courtesy of Setlist.fm:

Asking for It
Black Cadillac
Devour
Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)
I’ll Follow You
How Did You Love
If You Only Knew
Enemies
Unity
State of My Head
Second Chance
45
Cut the Cord
Simple Man
Sound of Madness

You could tell it was the first show of the tour as the boys were a little off (specifically through “Asking for It”), but it was a lot of fun. Brent Smith dedicated “Simple Man” to Zach Myers’ son Oliver, as it was Oli’s birthday that day (and during “Sound of Madness,” you could see Myers’ wife Bethany holding Oliver backstage. Cute kid.).

In terms of Shinedown shows we’ve seen, I would say it was average. Definitely not the best, but not the worst either. That’s not to say it was a *bad* show, though; on the contrary, it was pretty awesome. Myers was totally on this show and I think Barry Kerch was having more fun than usual.

Other items of note:
– Brent Smith, please stop growing the hair back out. You look creepy.
– Eric Bass, what the heck was going on with your hair???
– I quickly sharpie’d a “Happy B-Day to Oliver, Zach! :)” note on the back of our tickets (printed out) and showed it to him during “Simple Man,” and he seemed super touched when he mouthed “thank you” back.
– We raked in the souvenirs this show, with a drum stick (this one actually is a BKerch signature as opposed to the Halloween show one we got) and three guitar picks – one Zach, one show-specific (well, the first two shows of this tour) Eric, and a Back to the Future duplicate that we could possibly use to trade later.

I’m super thankful we made it to this show, as I’m not sure when we’re next going to be able to see them live again.

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On Sonata Arctica

Oh hey, another post about a metal show!

Like with Nightwish and Within Temptation, I learned about Sonata Arctica from my final college roommate, Amy. We technically had the chance to see Sonata (along with Nightwish) back in March, as they played in the Springs two days after Shinedown, but B had to work and we were both getting quite sick, so thought it prudent we not go.

Eventually we learn that Sonata was coming to town again and I was really kind of thinking I wanted to go, so fortunately, the timing worked out and we hit up their show at the Gothic.

We got up right near the stage as the night of the concert was in either the teens or single digit temperatures, so no one wanted to wait in a long line. We found street parking across from the Gothic so we could wait in our car until either:
A.) the doors opened; or
B.) the line started to get long.

In our case, it was (B), but we didn’t end up having to be out in the cold for long. We also saved our friend Jeremy a spot, as he was meeting us there.

The first act was Omnium Gatherum.

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They were okay. B and I actually were smart for this show and wore earplugs, but as a result, the growls of the lead singer got basically muffled into dinosaur noises, which amused me to no end.

Next up was Leaves’ Eyes.

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First of all, props to them for the proper usage of the possessive apostrophe. This grammar nerd appreciated that a lot. Secondly, we both thought they were good. It was a fun show, with it being audience interactive in that we did some sort of Viking chant/cheer thing and, as you see in the last photo above, the lead male singer came out in costume with a sword! Totally awesome.

Finally, Sonata Arctica. I’m trying to be better about enjoying shows instead of being so concerned about taking pictures, so as a result, I only have one to share from their act.

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Overall, both of us were happy we decided to come to the show. It was obvious that the band has been together for a while and has toured for a while. We hadn’t really heard much of the new album, but I downloaded a few songs off of it the next day due to liking them so much. I also got to hear “Power of One,” which is an older song and doesn’t get played all that much (but is my current favorite by them), so I was super giddy about that.

Also, while in general I think wearing ear plugs was a smart move, I don’t feel like I got as good of an experience wearing them, missing the true feel of the music. I’m unsure on whether I’ll wear them again to a show, or whether I’ll just wear them for the opening acts (as I do really like my hearing …).

All in all, a good time, even though I’m still not the biggest fan of the Gothic for a show.

Shinedown: Take Five

This was *technically* a Five Finger Death Punch headliner show, but since both B and I had to be up early the next morning … we skipped out after Shinedown. That, and I heard from my cousin (the one that tours with Papa Roach) that the guys from 5FDP are douches, so y’know. I trust him.

After the amazingness that was the Colorado Springs show, we weren’t expecting as good of a show, particularly given that it was a bigger venue. But, on the off chance we thought it was awesome because we were so close on the floor, I bought us GA floor seats pretty much as soon as tickets went on sale (in fact, I might have even gotten them through a presale).

It thankfully worked out that B was home for the show, sneaking home during a break in Delta training. I ended up having that day off from work, so we woke up, got in a run, and headed to Pepsi Center ass early (doors were at 5/5:30; we got there … before 2pm, I want to say) so we could storm the stage. Quite a few other people had this same idea, but we probably weren’t any worse than maybe 100 people back.

When we were finally allowed in (getting our floor wristbands), Brandon stampeded the stage while I high-tailed it to a pee room. We had been hiking down to the gas station while we waited for snacks, but the gas station that essentially splits the Pepsi Center parking lot doesn’t have a bathroom. No, it has porta-potties outside it … which were so damn disgusting that I just couldn’t.

While wandering about, I was also tasked with finding us food. Hot dog for Brandon and mediocre chicken fingers for me. I miss when food at Pepsi Center used to be good … back in high school …

Brandon, meanwhile, was able to get us essentially second row on the floor. I somehow fought myself, our food, and two waters (not in bottles; opened in cups) to him, aided slightly by concert buddies Brandon had made. We ate our food and I probably pissed more people off by sneaking back through the masses to throw our trash out and then snaked my way BACK. People probably did not like me for this, but eh.

First band to go on was As Lions. I’m pretty sure this was their first ever tour, which, damn, is awesome for them. They were British, but didn’t have that British rock band sound (see: that Springs post linked above).

In any case, the music wasn’t bad and they were highly entertaining.

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High energy lead singer.

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Set list. The bottom part cracks me up.

Next was Sixx:A.M., which I had heard a little about. They put on an awesome show – you could tell they have a lot of fun on stage, which I, as a fan, love to see.

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Next up, Shinedown. Firstly, before I get into anything, set list:

Adrenaline
Fly From the Inside
Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)
Unity
How Did You Love
Enemies
Call Me
State of My Head
Second Chance
Cut the Cord
Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
Sound of Madness

Notice song #7 on that list. NOTICE IT. That is probably my all-time favorite Shinedown song that they hardly ever play anymore. But the song went Gold this year after being out in the world for eight years, so maybe that’s why? Or, as I joked to Brandon, “it’s because you yelled “Call Me” and “play Call Me” at the Springs show.” I cried throughout that whole song. And through How Did You Love.

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(I didn’t take as many photos this time because I chose to ENJOY the experience, and it was worth it. I also hopped around and danced like a crazy person, which had the happy side effect of making the guy who had seriously creeped up into my personal space back off lest he be elbowed or stomped on.)

Other highlights:

– caught three guitar picks. Two different, one the same as one from the Springs show, so we gave the duplicate to our concert friends.

– It was Eric Bass’s birthday, so they brought out a cake and we all got to sing to him.

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– The crowd test of Brent Smith hopping into the crowd on the West Coast tour must have worked out well as he did it again at Pepsi.

– During the “Simple Man” section, there was a tiny break and I was close enough to Zach Myers to show him the picture of the Germantown Commissary I put on Instagram (that he liked …), zoomed in on the logo … and he saw it and his eyes lit up in recognition and he mouthed, “Hey! That’s my hometown!” Pretty cool. Also pretty sure he attempted to flick guitar picks our way after that …

When wandering for food, I saw a tee that had “Call Me a Sinner, Call Me a Saint” on the back (clearly from “Call Me”) that I kind of just had to buy. And we got a shirt for Brandon, too.

While not as intimate as the Springs show, the guys are starting to show some better personality on tour which makes it that much more fantastic of a show experience. Sure, they do some generic schticks, but when it comes down to it, they just put on a great show.

And it helps when Smith doesn’t do the volume “you’re right here, I need you up here” thing, because damn is that annoying. Not experiencing that again? GLORIOUS.

Shinedown. They’re the best. Go see them. I’m at five times and will happily grow that number.

(Tour still going on now – see if they’re coming to you!)

The Great Southern Road Trip: Day Three

For our fifth wedding anniversary this year, we decided to take a road trip to race Ironman Chattanooga and cross a whole bunch of states off my list. This is the story of that trip.

Day Three: 9.21

While eating breakfast at our hotel, we almost considered going back up into Kentucky and hitting up Dinosaur World (near Mammoth Cave National Park), but we planned on Nashville, so off into the city we went. We were totally unsure on what to do (plans, sometimes we need them), but since we have our DMNS reciprocity, I found us a science museum to waste some time at.

The Adventure Science Center is a great place for kids – very hands-on type of activities – but for adults? Maybe not so much. While we had fun for an hour or so, both of us were very glad we didn’t actually spend money on admission.

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I am a child of the ’80s/’90s, so catching a ride with Ms. Frizzle and the gang? Totally awesome.

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It’s a T. rex!

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The center of the center was essentially an interactive science playground. Mmmaaaayyybe we shouldn’t have been on it as much as we were, but there weren’t signs telling us not to …

After that, we headed into downtown Nashville to hang out.

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Johnny Cash Museum. We did not go inside.

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We were hungry and needed lunch before anything. We were debating on a few different places, but when an easy barbecue option presents itself, you take it.

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Jack’s Bar-B-Que.

After lunch, we decided to check out the Country Music Hall of Fame.

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Walk of Fame-type deal across the street.

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A friend of mine pointed out that the windows make the building look like a piano. Can’t believe I didn’t notice it at the time …

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Old posters inside.

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Love this.

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Tons of records inside.

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The original “Jolene,” a.k.a. Brandon’s favorite Dolly Parton song.

I haven’t been to any of the other music Halls of Fame, but I enjoyed this one. Very cool seeing the evolution of apparel and instruments as well as the early “outside the box” collaborations that happened. We might think Big and Rich, for example, was strange for adding some rap into the mix, but similar mash-ups have been happening for years in the business. I only got into country in college and I kinda sorta have been able to get B into it, but even he really enjoyed everything.

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Ryman Alley.

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Stopped here.

After an afternoon downtown, we found ourselves another hotel near the Grand Ole Opry (if it’s a thing, it’s a subtle thing …) and went on to the Opryland grounds for dinner.

While both of us enjoyed ourselves, we think that Nashville would have been a better stop in the evening as opposed to the day (so as to really see all the neon in its’ glory and to just stop in a random restaurant/bar and hear some live music, kicking back with a beer), and that we might have been best served just getting to Chattanooga a day early.

States Hit: 1 (TN)
New States Hit: 0 (got this yesterday)

Disturbed at Red Rocks

Also known as B’s first Red Rocks show.

Disturbed is a band that the husband has loved for years and has always wanted to see live. We learned that they were touring again this year and were going to be at Red Rocks Amphitheatre the day before his birthday. Clearly we needed to go. As with most stupid Red Rocks shows, it was “sold out” (except for VIP packages), but B really wanted to go, so he sucked it up and paid for the VIP.

(Which, for this show, the “cheap” level included early entrance to the venue, a guaranteed seat within the first several rows, a lanyard, a cinch sack, a signed poster, and a bandanna.)

The first act was Saint Asonia, whom we had never heard of. Turns out, they’re compiled of a few members from other bands who formed their own group. The lead singer, for example, is Adam Gontier, formerly of Three Days Grace. I enjoyed their stuff but much like Insomnium, unfortunately (?), they’re a much better live act than they are recorded. Sad day.

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Adam Gontier.

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Loved the green strings!

Next up was Alter Bridge. They were … okay. Wasn’t too impressed by them, to be honest. Neither was B.

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This was actually a double-headliner show, with Breaking Benjamin as the other main act. If you recall, we also saw them last Halloween. The set list was similar to that show, but it was equally awesome. These guys put on such a good show; they are a pleasure to see live.

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Finally, Disturbed. You could tell they had taken several years off from touring, as they just felt “off,” so to speak. B agreed on me with that one. That didn’t mean it wasn’t an awesome show, however. Their cover of “Sound of Silence” with the rocks all around? Amazing.

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Husband is so happy.

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David Draiman.

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Fire!!

All in all, a decent show and definitely a good one for B’s first one at Red Rocks. Plus, although it sprinkled (it’s not really a true Red Rocks show unless you get rained on at least once), the weather actually cooperated which was even better.

On Apocalyptica

In the spirit of catching up, also way back at the end of April, Brandon and I went to a concert … and, once again, a metal show. This time, however, it was a metal show of my choosing.

I discovered Apocalyptica back in college and knew them as the band that covered Metallica with cellos. I then discovered the song “Hope,” which I can still safely say is my favorite song, despite the fact that it’s instrumental. It’s just that amazing.

I saw them live ten years ago, back in September 2005. That show was at the Bluebird. It was small, intimate, sparsely attended … and beautifully powerful. Just four guys with cellos on chairs and simply amazing. I’ve talked about that show to Brandon probably since I’ve known him.

So, when I found out they were back in Denver almost by fluke – thanks Facebook for telling me which friends like the Ogden Theatre and that Apocalyptica is coming to the Ogden! – I told Brandon we had to find a way to go. The day of the show ended up being a super long day – I worked that morning, we got in a workout, we headed down to the Springs to witness a close friend’s civil ceremony (and went out to dinner with them after) … and then drove back up to Denver to the Ogden without even bothering to change.

Apocalyptica’s style has changed slightly over the years. They’ve gone from four cellos down to three and have added some drums and a lot of guest vocalists, but the music is still amazing.

It was a much more crowded show than the first time I saw them, and the nature of the music made it probably one of the most subdued metal shows I’ve been to, but the guys put on a great show (I would argue they’re better showmen now than they were ten years ago) and neither of us regretted the long day.

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Marquee.

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Backdrop with drums.

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