Dodging a Bullet
Mudvayne, Shadows Fall, In Flames and Trivium in St. Petersburg, Florida
by: Aaron McKay
From a fan's perspective, about half the time a concert goes off without a hitch. Having attended more than my fair share of shows (and most of someone else's), checking, double checking and rechecking the details for a live gig has become standard operating procedure.

The venue was Jannus Landing in St. Petersburg, Florida -- a location that was a favorite haunt growing up for me in the Sunshine State. I shudder to recall just how many shows I witnessed there for fear of unraveling my self-deluded perception that I'm not advancing in years as quickly as I sometimes feel, but that is neither here nor there...

Built in 1888, Jannus Landing is the oldest and largest outdoor venue in central Florida. It is a perfect courtyard in the heart of St. Pete. Closely encased on two sides by the Detroit Hotel, shops and restaurants with a bar in the back of the quad, the stage covered now by a permanent cover overhead where a large tarp used to hang, providing somewhat more protection from Florida's tempestuous weather. There really isn't a bad spot in the place, where full complete view of the stage cannot be observed.

No worries about directions to the show; when the doors were to open presented the only question. Leaving nothing to chance, as experience has taught me, I checked the website for Jannus Landing the day of the show: doors opened at 6:30, show at 7:30.

My group of three headed out with plenty of time to secure an additional ticket at the entrance before the concert. As we approached, instantly we realized things were already underway. Walking down the sidewalk in font of Jannus, passing the front the Green Room nightclub (a.k.a. Club Detroit), my panic-stricken paranoia was abated as we strolled on by Anders Friden and Jesper Stromblad of In Flames out front answering e-mail on a laptop. That begged the question, who the hell was on stage? We would have to wait to find out.

The sign over the ticket agent said "Sold Out". What was going on? We were even early for the doors to have been open if things were to have unfolded as we were lead to believe. Apparently they weren't. Shit! I picked up my two tickets at the will call window and inquired about the possibility of getting another one. We were told the liquor store around the corner had extra. Nice marketing move; the entrepreneurs purchased the remaining tickets and were selling them at a considerable markup. Admission was advertised at $27.50 and we paid $40.00. Nice move, but a gamble if the show didn't rally a capacity crowd. It did: 1500 strong.

We entered to see the Florida-based quartet Trivium (Roadrunner Records) winding-up their set. An unexpected surprise. Were it not for our little ticket snafu, I would be able to relay more of their performance onto the CoC faithful, but as things were I can say this: Trivium just shot a video and ended their opening slot with Iron Maiden's "The Trooper" minus the vocals. That's a good thing, as Bruce Dickinson's style is a tough act to even attempt. Besides, it appears my partner-in-crime Jackie Smit didn't care for Trivium's _Ascendancy_ release much anyway.

Now for the reason I was there: In Flames. At 8:00 PM the Swedes strolled on stage without pomp or ceremony. Half expecting to hear the theme from the Simpsons or Austin Powers as the band has been known to do, "Cloud Connected" was immediately unleashed. Somewhat anti-climactic for my wife, but in my humble opinion, the initial offering of one of the better cuts from _Reroute to Remain_ was a flawless selection to energize the sticky Florida throng. "Clayman" came next, followed by _The Jester Race_'s "Graveland". By his own admission, Anders commented to the receptive crowd that In Flames was a long way from home. To emphasize this point, 1994's "Behind Space" from _Lunar Strain_ belted forth unblemished, filling the venue with an awestruck horde. A personal favorite came next: "Pinball Map", chased closely by "The Quiet Place" from the new album _Soundtrack to Your Escape_, complete with the piped-in keyboard intense opening; a sonic work of art, like water to the dehydrated. Finishing their far-too-short set with "My Sweet Shadow" and leaving the stage with all the grace and decorum as if having played for a royal high court, I remarked openly to my fellow concert-goers: "why weren't these guys the headliners?"

Next up was Massachusetts natives Shadows Fall. Having seen these guys a number of times, as they are touring fanatics, I knew what to expect and wasn't disappointed. At about 8:47 PM, AC/DC was broadcast as Shadows Fall's entrance music -- soon to be overtaken by the band's fist song of the evening, "Power of I", then onto "Act of Contrition", both from the 2004 Century Media release _The War Within_. For the old fans, "Stepping Outside the Circle" was hammered out before Shadows Fall vocalist, the dreadlock laden Brian Fair, divulged to the packed Jannus Landing crowd his favorite part of the set and snapped open a beer. During "Inspiration on Demand" evidently someone passed out or was caught with some ever-present marijuana, because Brian commented to the fans mid-song that "someone was going home early"; at least they got to see In Flames before sparking up the joint that apparently got them thrown out. Shortly preceding their last songs of the evening, Shadows Fall told the crown that after the summer tour schedule they were heading home to work on a new release, then subsequently let loose a well-played version of "Thoughts Without Words". While there were no astonishing revelations from Massachusetts' own, it was an enjoyable set to an acquiescent audience who, to their ignominy, were obviously awaiting the radio-fodder waste threatening to hit the stage next.

Pushing the hour Mudvayne was no doubt aiming for to uselessly dispense their limited play list (Jannus has a curfew of 11:00 due to a St. Pete noise ordinance), at just shortly past 10:00 PM they dropped the huge covering in front of the stage to prevent spying eyes from seeing the obviously clandestine behind-the-scenes preparations for this wildly over-hyped band. Well, there's a big surprise: four Cirque du Soleil escapees masquerading as a metal band. While I can't provide much more detail because we had the presence of mind to flee before we were dumbed-down by the monotonous repetition radiating our direction, Chad Gray, Mauvayne's "vocalist", appeared in full view donning a bear costume (minus the head, appropriately) with a painted blood-red face. Good thing too, the one hundred percent humidity and thick Florida evening air might have been a little chilly.

High-tailing it outta there for a bite to eat at Ken Ker's Winghouse on the way home, it began to rain. Whew. That was a close one. Hmmm. Wonder what wet bear smells like?

(article submitted 12/9/2005)

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