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Dream Theater Slays Calgary Fans alongside Opeth, 3 and Between the Buried and Me

Photo of Opeth

Band Photo: Opeth (?)

Progressive Nation 2008 swung by Calgary, AB this weekend for a two-night musical extravaganza, featuring Dream Theater, Opeth, 3 and Between the Buried and Me.

While much of the sold-out crowd was still working its way through the doors at Friday’s show, the Woodstock, NY-based 3 kicked things off in MacEwan Hall. A wild blend of acoustic and electric guitars and a keyboardist pulling double duty as a second drummer fired up the crowd and a lot of people who came just for Opeth or Dream Theater were drawn into the hall, rather than going straight for the beer gardens – a rare feat for opening bands at shows of this caliber. A high energy stage presence and an increasing heaviness and rapidity to their music left the crowd wanting more – and 3’s frontman Joey Eppard probably wanting some new guitar strings as they snapped up from his acoustic at the end of their final song, “Amaze Disgrace.” When I caught up with him after the show and commented on the serious string breakage going on up there, he gleaned proudly and stated “I broke all of them!” Turns out the guy plays so hard, his Knucklehead strings can’t always keep up. Sometimes they stand up to the abuse, sometimes they don’t. Somebody get this guy an endorsement!

After a quick switch of the gear, North Carolina’s Between the Buried and Me took over. To the disappointment of some fans, they only played two songs, both off their latest disc “Colors.” But seriously folks, “Ants of the Sky” is more than, like, 13 minutes long, and the second they played was even longer so, when you think about it, when four bands are taking the stage, half an hour really doesn’t suck for an opening band. I know, these guys can pull in a decent sized crowd on there own, but when you’re on tour with Opeth and Dream Theater?

I really dug this one section during “White Walls” where the band transitioned into this random rockabilly sounding groove for a few seconds before thundering back into some heavy synth-driven metal. It really caught me off guard after a few minutes of drifting away mindlessly from what they were doing, which was cool, because I was starting to think they were trying to brainwash me into watching “Labyrinth” or maybe zoning out the pictures of David Bowie in full Jareth the Goblin King gear taped to the back of the Korg synth was just me. It’s possible I’m just drawn to men in white tights, but it turns out I’m not, so it must be these guys just seem to know when they’re losing people. It’s too bad the vocals weren’t a little louder, though, as vocalist Tommy Rogers looked like he was screaming quite feverishly when he wasn’t trapped behind the keyboard.

Another quick gear shift and it was soon clear just how many fans of Opeth were in the house. Instantly, as the lights dimmed, almost as though attached to some light-dimming/crowd spazzing remote control, the audience stared chanting “Opeth, Opeth.” Stage lights up, band appears, crowd freaks. The Swedish death metallers opened with “Masters Apprentices” from “Deliverance,” following that up with “The Baying of the Hounds” from 2005’s “Ghost Reveries.” As always, Opeth delivered an intense, almost ethereal live sound that makes me like them more each time I hear them. I had never really gotten into these guys’ music until the first time I saw them live a few years ago, and I don’t know what it is. Their overall stage presence has always been a little lack luster, although it has improved greatly since I saw them last, but I guess, simply put, it’s just the way they sound. They fell apart with a few sloppy transitions during their second last song, “The Drapery Falls,” but overall, they amazed.

The gear switch between Opeth and Dream Theater was not all that quick. Purposefully waiting, gearing the crowd up with some loud orchestral music through the PA, they finally took to the stage at 10. Unfortunately, the only half-decently priced parking even remotely close expired at 10, so I only stayed as long as the “Oh, my watch must be slow,” might still be a remotely believable excuse. Overall, Dream Theater slayed. The sound was nothing short of spectacular, James LaBrie seems tireless, even in the midst of a major tour, and completely inspirational. The giant screen with live close-ups of the band members playing was also pretty rad, as were the many paper maché ants “crawling” over the stage and up the keyboards. You know, I seriously have to get me one of those multi-synth turntables Jordan Rudess was sporting. Very, very cool. I only hope tonight is as good as last night was!

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2 Comments on "Dream Theater Slays Calgary Fans"

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Anonymous Reader
1. jimaction writes:

Great review! All the bands absolutely slayed! As I am not really familiar with their catalogue, BTBAM kinda lost me at times. I mean, they were tight and technical, but it was easy to lose the thread of the song, and I found myself zoning. That being said, I am making their latest disc a mainstay on my I-Pod. Opeth could very well have been the headliners, as half the gate was wearing Opeth gear! They were spot-on! Check out "The Roundhouse Tapes" release... a perfect example of this show.
I had waited about 15 years to see Dream Theater... and it was worth it. Virtuoso performances, incredible energy and amazing live sound were the story here. The setlist had great range and the stage set was perfect. The live video and crazy graphic art was an integral and absolute part of the show. I'll not wait to see them again... perhaps a trip to Europe is in order for my next show, maybe a DT show within two weeks of Wacken? We should start a petition!
Last but hardly least... Three. Stole the show, in my opinion! I had not heard them before and had no idea what to expect. Bold and original style with well crafted songs, and a perfect 10 live energy, what more can you ask for? They were clever enough to 'heavy up' their sound to fit the bill. I had the chance to speak with Joey Eppard briefly while DT was on, and he seemed genuine and real. Good on him to take time and press the flesh a bit!
This could have easily been two shows... BTBAM with Opeth, and Three with Dream Theater. I appreciate the logistics and financial burdens of touring, and it is great to see bands getting together like this to tour, it really allows them to do shows that may not have been viable on their own. I really would have enjoyed this show more if there had been seating, as I believe is the philosophy of this tour. I was absolutely crushed at the front, as I was on the rail, during BTBAM and Opeth. Not what I had in mind for a DT show, and I know a bunch of DT fans were in the same boat. I ended up at the back of the house, where the sound was much better, but I really wanted to watch Petrucci shred up close! Don't get me wrong... I'm on the floor for Gigantour on Wednesday, and Iron Maiden in June, and Monsters in July (on my Bday I might add) and Helloween in October, and I fully expect to get beat to hell. I just really wanted to experience Dream Theater as they should be... relaxed and in awe! Next time I will choose my venue, not just my date...
All things equal... this is still in my top 5 shows!

Hope to see some of those pics from the show soon!

# May 11, 2008 @ 11:24 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
2. Chancekent writes:

Dude, i saw opeth last night wit 3 and 3 once again stole the show. they need to be headlineing not opening for bands. omg it was amazing.

# May 30, 2008 @ 9:16 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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