Getting punked at a metal show? Oh, yeah, it happened at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center…and it was GREAT! Let me set the scene: Bad Wolves, Nothing More, and Breaking Benjamin had killed it all night long, with each set getting louder, longer, and more dramatic. By the time Five Finger Death Punch was set to take the stage, the crowd was seriously pumped. Then, the “Barney” theme song (5FDP’s signature intro song) began blaring obnoxiously, and the crowd got even more excited. Finally, the curtain dropped to the thundering riffs of “Lift Me Up,” and the crowd pretty much lost their shit.
Then, they got confused. Although guitarists Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook, bassist Chris Kael and percussionist Jeremy Spencer were on stage doing their thing, frontman Ivan Moody was nowhere to be seen. But Bad Wolves’ vocalist Tommy Vext was there, running around with the mic and growling out the lyrics like he owned the place. It was a fantastic prank, and everyone who was in on it got a huge kick out of it. I’ll admit I was as confused as everyone else at first, but I kept snapping pics as fast as I could – I was absolutely digging the huge, shit-eating grins on the faces of these melodic-metal gods.
When Moody joined the group on the stage, it was obvious he was also enjoying the prank. As the crowd roared in approval, he cheerfully shared the spotlight with Vext for the end of the song. It was a beautiful thing, setting the tone for a night of rapid-fire metal performed with both snarls and smiles.
And that’s the thing that made the biggest impression on me. These guys played heavy, angry songs about things that piss them off, as well as gut-wrenching ballads about things that cause them pain, yet they had a blast on stage. You could tell by the way they interacted with each other, the audience, and even us photographers and videographers, that they love what they do. Every song was a crowd-pleaser, including hits such as “Jeckyll and Hyde” and “Burn MF,” along with slower tunes such as “Bad Company” and a beautiful, acoustic version of “Wrong Side of Heaven.”