Various children

Monday December 12, 2005

Ever see an opening band and think, "I really wish they had the opportunity to headline!" Well, be careful what you wish for. I'd seen Children of Bodom at least four times, but they were always the opener, and not even the direct support most of the time. All of those tours were in support of the band's last album, the very enjoyable Hate Crew Deathroll, and they played those songs TO DEATH. Every set was the same, and I will admit that that was fairly lame, but they played with such an immense energy that I couldn't help but love them every time. This is a band that I hate to love. Lead guitarist/vocalist Alexi Laiho is clearly a coked out asswipe, but the guy can play, and his songs are catchy as hell despite themselves. When they release a new album anymore, I listen to it ready to hate it, and yet that never happens. They're just too fun. So, I was pretty excited (while nonetheless trepidacious) about their headlining show on Friday. Here was that headlining set I'd always wanted - how would the Children conduct themselves?

Pretty badly, as it turns out. Sure, the first 45 minutes were a frenzied good time, like the short sets of old but with more variety in the songs. Then, the drum solo. Why a fucking drum solo? This guy is fine, but he's no drum-king, and even the best drummers are usually unequipped to play a meaningful drum solo. It ended, as all drum solos eventually do, but it wasn't long before the episode was repeated in a keyboard and guitar solo extravaganza. Jesus fucking christ! I guess all the Hot Topic youth in the crowd had never seen Yngwie Malmsteen or Dream Theater, but to me, this sort of instrumental exposition is beyond stale and a complete waste of time. After those five or ten minutes of utterly meaningly noodling, the set lost all its fire. The band came back, of course, and more songs were played, but the energy was gone and my attention was lost. I couldn't get out of the Troc fast enough. The lesson I learned is that some bands, no matter how good, are best enjoyed in moderation. Children of Bodom might be popular enough to sell out the Troc, but they don't have the creative stamina to close the deal the way they should.

The other children I saw were at the movie theater, in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. There were kids on screen and kids in the theater, which shocked me somewhat as it was nearly 10:00 by the time the film started. While I thought it was a very good children's movie, most of the kids in my vicinity looked pretty bored and had a hard time concentrating on the film. But then, it was clearly well past their bedtimes. The movie is a very faithful interpretation of the book (at least as far as I can remember - I haven't read it for probably two decades. God, I feel old now.) The Christian allegory is not as obvious as I've built it up to be in my memory, and the plot, on closer inspection, is pretty damned scant, but the effects and pageantry are well done, and the child actors are surprisingly good. The Britishness of the kids probably masks some of their crappiness to American viewers, but I don't mind. If I was a parent with children in the 8-13 range, I would definitely consider this a great movie for them. For adults, it's quite good for reliving the nostalgia of a childhood favorite, but it's too thin and too light to be of much use beyond a momentary diversion.

Posted by Matt at December 12, 2005 02:43 PM


i agree with matt's summary of the Bodom show. i'd like to add the fact that Alexi was a little off his game. like he was too busy trying to "perform" instead of concentrating on his playing. i'd rather have him play well and stand still once in a while (without spitting). also, they played nothing off of "something wild." are you kidding? although "hatebreeder" is my favorite, i demand a nod to the old school! it's like king diamond not playing anything from "fatal portrait"....hmmm, bad example.

Posted by: roman at December 13, 2005 12:45 PM

I saw the same show last week at 9:30 club in DC...I'm not that familiar with CoB and we went to the downstairs bar well before they were finished, but I thought it was good. I do agree they lost most of their energy after the drum solo/keyboard tomfoolery. Perhaps there were not enough drugs backstage? Metal shows at 9:30 are usually pretty weird crowds (usually 50% the crowd is from WV). Oddly, there were tons of kids (probably high school, many seemed younger) there. Of course several of those kids were the same who thought that 'Walk' was a Trivium song...oy vey.

Posted by: Sarah at December 13, 2005 03:09 PM

Tilda Swinton is a bad ass.

Posted by: Rachel at December 13, 2005 07:28 PM

How could I have forgotten the spitting! Alexi spits more onstage than anyone I have ever seen, including the jackass from Bobafelx who doesn't spit on the floor like everyone else - no, he has to spit it straight up then catch it in his mouth! Many times per song! Maybe he has a natural deficiency of saliva and is trying to conserve it. Anyway, Alexi spits at least twice per song, which, if nothing else, probably proves that the drugs that he may or may not be doing backstage do not include crystal meth.

Posted by: Matt Johnsen at December 14, 2005 11:59 AM

Was also at the show at 9:30. I saw CoB there a couple years ago (opening for Dimmu, maybe?) and thought they were excellent... except for the fact that the bass was virtually non-existent, unhearable. So, of course, this time the bass among the loudest I'd ever heard, driving me all the way to the back of the club by sheer force of air displacement. (It would have made Public Enemy proud.) Generally speaking: CoB was disappointing, as if (to repeat the sentiment of others) they were trying too hard to be the good Headliner.

question: when, precisely, did CoB cross over and become popular with the "kids"? the show surprisingly (to me) sold out, and there were indeed quite a few youthful chaps bopping around. (although, to tell the truth, the place seemed to clear out a little after Trivium.)

finally, a random complaint about the singer from Trivium: has it not been conclusively established that one simply should NOT wear one's own band t-shirt?

Posted by: greg at December 14, 2005 11:44 PM

I saw Bodom at the Palladium a little while ago, with Amon Amarth and Trivium. I was just relieved when Trivium stopped playing and I could leave the balcony(the farthest I could get away from them).COB played most of my favorite songs and the keyboard/guitar thing sorta slowed things down but I still find it funny when they go into the britney spears thing on the keyboard.I know what you mean about wanting to hate them, especially with the new hardcore-esque album, but their music is really too damn cool to listen to.

Also I just got a listen to Pharaoh(how I got here) and I'm really liking it.

Posted by: jeff at December 15, 2005 06:10 PM

I was also at the 9:30, CoB didn't play my favorite songs but I thought they rocked. I keep waiting for their albums to suck, but so far so good.

I also didn't enjoy the keyboard solo - if I wanted to watch someone play a tiny piano.... I can't think of a way to end that sentence.

Posted by: dave at December 17, 2005 10:25 PM

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