Earlier this week, I dropped everything for a nine-hour bus drive to see Sabaton perform live with Hammerfall, showcasing their new album “The Great War” in commemoration of World War I. Seeing how it’s an open secret my Phantasmagorium moonlights as a power metal fan site, I thought I’d share a few stories from the incredibly epic concert.
- I’ve said this before, but I cannot stress enough: power metal is for nerds. Hammerfall is your typical “fanfare and fantasy” brand of nerd, but Sabaton almost exclusively features historic battles. The crowd was about halfway writers and halfway history teachers. It was a jungle of checked button-ups and cut-off vests out there. I saw a dress made entirely of netting, plenty of studs, numerous joke t-shirts, and at least one full masquerade mask. Glorious.
- Hammerfall may have opened for Sabaton, but they’re a pillar of the genre and probably could have Sabaton open for them if they weren’t a hot topic right now. As soon as they started playing every muscle in my body locked involuntarily and bits starting falling from the ceiling. Holy shit.
- Anyone taller than me should have had to pay me five dollars for standing in front of them. The show was sold out and we were all packed in, screaming, and jumping. Sweat actually was dripping from the rafters by the climax.
- Seattle infrastructure is chaos and madness. My friend and I got stuck behind two trains on the way and resigned ourselves to an extra hour in the labyrinth. Miracles occurred, however, as the two-hour limit on a parking lot right across from the venue expired the moment we arrived. We waited for leprechauns to pop out of nowhere and stab our tires, as payback for our unexpected good fortune, but nothing happened. God bless.
- Everyone cleared away to make a mosh pit in the center of the room. The people surrounding it basically assumed classic Street Fighter poses and got ready to ping pong falling bodies–or pat them on the shoulder, ask how they’re doing, and hand them a water bottle back with their clothing. It was more supportive than most church groups. Everyone shook hands at the end and hugged it out. Magical.
- A man beside me at the beginning of the concert started out rocking a tied scarf, glasses, and half-shaved blue hair. As the crowd shifted, he disappeared. Forty-five minutes later he was back with his shirt off and a Celtic spiral tattoo on his chest. Scarf and glasses both stayed intact. Suddenly I remembered I was in Seattle.
- Metal has a scary reputation that’s almost entirely unfounded nowadays. Even the black metal bands I know have hobbies like animal rights activism, puns, make-up art, and animation. They’re the ones usually known for their rampant, vile Satanism, but if anyone’s checked up on the Church of Satan lately, they mostly do community service and philosophical art. No, really.
(Avenged Sevenfold, a fairly mainstream metal/rock splice, employs Satanic lyrics regularly, and they’re not nearly as scary as all that. You’ve probably heard them on the radio.)
- This concert was one of the most wholesome experiences of my entire life. Everyone was just so happy to be there, including both bands.