And they did bring the rock. Riding their cellos from the pages of Revelation, they stormed onto the stage, heralded by a roid-raging gorilla on the drums.
For those who may not know them, Apocalyptica is a Finnish cello quartet, first gaining fame by covering Metallica and other heavy metal favorites in a style that I will call . . . heavy cello.
But back to the awesomeness. And it was awesome—I mean that in the archaic, wrath of Odin sense of the word. The power of their playing was something to behold. Being surrounded by screaming, jumping metalheads certainly added to the experience as well. I was introduced to the band by Christina. She has a love for Metallica that seems unlikely to abate and, while I can’t quite share in that passion, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate those who cover them.
The only bad thing about the show was that it was at the House of Blues. Man, does that venue blow. A two-story sweatbox with about seven chairs on each floor and wonderfully obstructive pillars, Christina and I were crammed into it with one thousand of our newest close friends. We managed to steal a view of the stage (I could see the right side at least) from around one of those wonderful pillars. Luckily, Apocalyptica thrust us into a euphoria far away from the crappy venue we were in.
There was a short lull in the awesomeness when Corey Taylor, a founding member of Stone Sour and member #8 of Slipknot, joined them on-stage. He sang three songs with them, I believe: “I’m Not Jesus,” the appropriately named “I Don’t Care,” and maybe some other song I can’t remember. It’s not that he was bad, per se—and granted, this genre is generally not my thing—but Apocalyptica by themselves was just so much more awesome that I found myself distracted by Mr. Taylor more than anything.
Oh, but Apocalyptica was sweet, sweet sweetness. They did a heavy cello version of David Bowie’s “Heroes.” “Heroes,” people! Played, as Perttu Kivilaakso explained with his heavy Finnish accent, “very sexually.” He and Eicca Toppinen even entertained the crowd with impromptu slapstick dialogue while their gorilla changed snare drums. An excerpt:
Perttu: How did you think to play the heavy metal onto the cello?
Eicca: *Gives knowing look to crowd* This is very new question, yes, that I have not heard before. I play the heavy metal onto the cello because . . . it helps for the children.
Perttu: When I am to grow up, can I become as beautiful as you?
Eicca: Hope you don’t get the fat like me.
Perrtu: *raises a fisted hand and his skinny arm to crowd*
Oh, Perrtu and Eicca, you’re so good to us.
They really were, too. They played four encores. Contrast that with Explosions in the Sky, who I saw earlier this month, who didn’t even play one. I recognized four songs: “Heroes” (very sexually), “Enter Sandman,” “Nothing Else Matters” (a favorite (most of the time, the favorite) of Christina’s), and a delicious punishment courtesy of Edvard Grieg (the highlight of the evening for me).
Their musical dexterity was remarkable as well. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been. I knew they were classically trained. Maybe it’s just the cultural disconnect between seeing a man clad in black with long black hair, a huge skull impaled by a cello behind him, playing a melody that could have made Beethoven weep. And the head-banging—seriously impressive. It’s hard enough to shred on any instrument as it is, but to be able to do that while swinging your hair in continuous (sometimes synchronized) swirls, losing all manner of equilibrium: Inspiring.
I recommend you check them out, especially if you like rock or classical music. They’re at least worth a few watches on youtube. I will happily go see them again.