Scene Report! Ghost and Amon Amarth @ The Concord Pavilion

The calm before the storm

A few weeks ago I took my sons to their first concert.

“What was your first concert” is potentially my all time favorite question to ask people because the answers can be so interesting and varied. My first show was (according to this page) on November 7th of 1992 which would have made me 13. I was allowed to tag along with my sister and her friends to see U2 at the Oakland Coliseum.

I was terribly excited and super nervous. It seemed like such a grownup thing to be doing. However, my dad sent us on our way and promised to meet us back at the Bart station once Bono finished serenading us. The Sugarcubes and Public Enemy where the openers and I do remember understanding that this was a pretty wild lineup. Beyond that my memory of the show is pretty hazy. I remember partially feeling like “I think I should maybe be enjoying this more”, however, my nerves and being up past my bedtime were doing a number on me. I loved it but was exhausted by the end.

U2 - Bigger isn't always better

SO… you’re probably wondering how a U2 fanboi found himself at a Ghost / Amon Amarth show…

Shortly after Calvin started middle school, he came home talking about Metallica. I was a bit taken aback yet able to regain composure. I mean I remembered when “the black album” came out (in fact I was going to the same school that he is currently attending). Additionally there is definitely a copy of And Justice For All on my cd shelves and I remember really liking the song “One”.

A week or two passed by and he said “Dad. Have you ever heard of the band Ghost?”.

Heard of the band? Yes. Aware of some of their album art? Totally. Heard a song? No.

I did have a friend who regularly wore a Ghost sweatshirt, but he also listened to a lot of really yell-y/screamy/cookie-monster-vocals music.

During my writeup of Halloween 2022 I touched on the fact that I’m not really a “metal guy”. Serena and I would joke that of course in a house full of records that Calvin would gravitate to genre that was perhaps underrepresented.

So when Calvin said that Ghost were touring and asked if we could go I was amused but totally down. Due to Silas both being a younger brother and sharing a room with Calvin he’d also become a devoted Ghost fan. I purchased semi expensive tickets becuase I wanted to make sure that they’d hopefully be able to see something and the idea of finding and maintaining space on “the lawn” sounded unfun.

As the date approached I took some time to do some light research into the opening band Amon Amarth. I was familiar with their name as friend and professional skateboarder Chris Haslam had a big Amon Amarth back patch on his jacket when I first met him. Like a lot of metal bands their imagery is intense which maybe leads to some trepidation about the sound. In the case of Amon Amarth their sound is intense too. I best describe it as songs about vikings being sung with aforementioned "cookie monster vocals".

Silas was excited but had also voiced some concerns about things being loud. I must admit that I was a bit concerned about things potentially being “a bit scary”. However, once we were through the gates and patiently waited through the massive merch line we were greeted by a truly incredible stage design for Amon Amarth.

Amon Amarth stage design

While this size of venue is not my typical choice I do always appreciate the timeliness of them. Amon Amarth took the stage at 7:30 on the dot and began ‘rocking’ with clockwork precision. In the middle of the third song Silas turned to me and said “this is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen”. Me and the boys were instantly mega fans. I had a new found appreciation for “cookie monster vocals” and a favorite Amon Amarth song.

The anticipation in between sets was high as they lowered a sheet to hide the stage during the transition. Then at the stroke of 9:00 (big venue timing is legit…) the veil was dropped and Ghost were finally here. Unsurprisingly they came out swinging. Earlier I'd asked Silas if there was anything in particular that he was hoping to hear and by the fourth song he'd gotten his wish.

While I haven’t been to tons of these big venue/arena type shows for many reasons and everything about them is inherently expensive I do find that you do get what you pay for. Set lists are designed to please, visuals are provided for people of all distances to the stage and have I mentioned the timing of everything is well done?

Rocking out

It was wonderful and intense. Lights, fire, glitter, costume changes. It was all there. As we got deeper into the night I could see Silas getting tired but still engaged. I thought about me at that U2 show being excited but also knowing that I usually went to be like an hour ago. I also knew that he was really interested in revisiting the merch booth as they had masks like the ones worn by the band for sale but only after the show.

At one point Silas asked how many more songs there might be and (without even attempting to explain encores) I said “a few… but it will be worth it”. I thought back to myself at the U2 show and empathized deeply. Silas will regularly put himself to bed at a very logical hour while Calvin would happily attempt to watch the sun come up. We persevered and after the delightfully quick break (timing!!) the last three songs were all heaters. We were then sent off into the night on riding high.

In the back of my head I knew the merch line was going to be mega long and I knew our guy was tired. As we got near the merch tables the lines were indeed massive and I could feel Silas’ body language droop. I’ve been his dad for awhile so I could feel his desire to cry just below the surface as he said “we should probably get home”. Calvin and I were like “dude… it’s a late night already and we are here. let’s just get in line” (side note: always be picky about who you go to concerts with). Secretly, Calvin also wanted to pick up an Amon Amarth shirt.

40 minutes later the mask and shirt were acquired and we exited out into the parking lot. My dad of the year nomination secured. Silas the Nameless Ghoul

Thank you Calvin for taking me to a concert I never would have attended and expanding my musical horizons. Love, Dad

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