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Avenged Sevenfold Packs Pinnacle Bank Arena!

Story and Photos: Spencer Fleming

L.A. rockers Avenged Sevenfold packed the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln Saturday (3/16) on their Life Is But A Dream tour. Direct support was provided by the pop-metal act Poppy and rounding out the bill were the boys from Iowa, Vended.

This was my second time seeing both Avenged Sevenfold (A7X) and Vended, but my first experience with Poppy. The first time I saw A7X was in 2013 at the CHI center in Omaha on their Hail To The King tour. I know the new A7X album Life Is But A Dream has been very polarizing for a lot of folks but I was excited to hear the new material live.

As I waited for the show to start with my fellow photographers we could hear Griffin Taylor of Vended pumping his band up behind the curtain. To be a fly on the wall during this private moment was awesome. "Let's go Lincoln!" As the band took the stage the crowd lit up with excitement. I've written about Vended before, but if you're unfamiliar, lead singer Griffin is the son of Corey Taylor and the drummer Simon Crahan is the son of Shawn Crahan, both of Slipknot fame. The Iowa-adjacent crowd really embraced the band and their Midwest roots. Vended only played for about 20 minutes, but their chugging riffs and scream-shout vocals had the room whipped into a frenzy! Vended has an E.P. and a couple singles available on streaming platforms so check them out!

After Vended was the newcomer Poppy. I first took notice when she did a collaboration with Fever 333 a couple years ago, but this was my first time seeing her live. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to shoot photos during Poppy, but I got to watch the whole set from my seat. Poppy was an interesting character. Dressed in white spandex with puffy white sleeves and big black boots she had a range of styles from power-metal to circus-tunes, to almost EDM-like bops. I would almost characterize her as a more metal version of Billie Eilish. While I probably wasn't the intended audience for Poppy, she did a good job keeping the crowd energized, with many people dancing and waving from side to side.

Finally it was time for the headliners Avenged Sevenfold! The lights went out and I walked into the photo pit to the tune of Soft Cell's "Tainted Love". I waited with anticipation as I stared up at the giant stage. The massive screens behind the stage had images of the band's new album Life Is But A Dream and a spotlight moved around highlighting different pieces. Soon the house music cut out and A7X stepped out playing "Game Over" the opening track from Life Is But A Dream. As the rest of the band walked to the front of the stage lead singer M. Shadows sat in the middle of the stage wearing a ski mask. During the second song "Mattel" he made his way to the front of the stage and eventually removed the ski mask. Following "Mattel" the band broke out one of their bigger hits "Afterlife" which got a huge pop of energy from the crowd.

M. Shadows addressed the crowd and thanked everyone for coming out. He said Lincoln was a smaller market on the tour but was one of the loudest crowds they'd had. He asked what everyone thought of Vended and Poppy. Someone from the crowd let out a loud "Meh!" and I chuckled a bit. You can't please them all!

A7X continued their set with "Hail To The King" before launching into "We Love You" from Life Is But A Dream. This song came across really well live. It's an upbeat shredder that had the circle pit moving! Taking things back to 2016's The Stage, the band played "Shepard Of Fire" as flames rose on the screens behind the stage. A7X did an awesome job serving up big hits for the more casual radio fans like myself but also mixing in some deeper cuts for the die-hard fans like "Roman Sky" from The Stage and "Blinded In Chains" from City Of Evil. I thought that "Bat Country" would have the most crowd interaction but I was wrong. When they played "Nightmare" the crowd went absolutely insane! The room was so loud it almost drowned out the wicked guitar solos from Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance! As the band ripped the stage to shreds images of smoke-filled skulls displayed on the screens behind them. A hazy cloud formed over the floor and it smelled like a skunk got into the building. Someone should talk to the maintenance crew about that!

Taking it all the way back to 2001, A7X pulled out "Unholy Confessions" one of their first songs to feature clean singing. That opening riff is a classic that runs through so many other metalcore songs. From my research A7X wasn't the first to use that pattern, but they certainly weren't the last. The song still rips after all this time.

Closing things out was the seven minute epic "Cosmic" from Life Is But A Dream. While the album was met with some criticism from long-time fans it's cool to see Avenged Sevenfold doing something different and pushing the boundaries of creativity. They stretched into a weird prog-rock space with this one but I think it really works. The guitars are just as shred-tacstic as ever and these songs really translated well live. I walked away super impressed and I can't wait for the next album and tour. These guys know how to put on a killer show!

A huge thanks to our friends at 104.1 The Blaze for bringing another awesome show and to Pinnacle Bank Arena for their amazing staff. Shows here are incredible. I can't wait for the next one.

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Avenged Sevenfold Drummer Brooks - Photo Credit: Pam Whisenhunt

Avenged Sevenfold Gallery: Spencer Fleming


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