70000 Tons of Metal Diary, Day 4 2017
Day 4… the final day…. As I woke up at 7:30 am after about 3 hours of sleep, I was already feeling melancholy as I knew that tomorrow, the cruise would be over and real life would return. But, we still had an entire day of music and fun coming, so I did my best to put tomorrow out of my head and headed up for breakfast. Up at the Windjammer, I ran into Morten and Johan from Amaranthe at the buffet. They were clearly suffering from a combination of Caribbean sun and failure to use sunscreen, which we had a chance to discuss later during my Amaranthe interview that afternoon. After my traditional breakfast of scrambled eggs and Red Bull, I took a stroll around the ship before heading to my first show.
First up was Serenity at Studio B. They played a much better set that the first night as the sound issues that were plaguing them on their first set were long gone and it was a really fun start to the day. The band kept making a joke about being the “Breakfast band”, which I didn’t fully understand, unless they were just referring to being one of the first bands of the day. Next, it was up to the pool deck for Amaranthe’s morning set. It was a beautiful sunny day, and, like Serenity, Amaranthe’s sound glitches from the first night were long gone. They were one of my favorite bands on the cruise this year, and I was thrilled to get to see both of their shows. Immediately following Amaranthe’s set was the traditional Belly Flop Contest, where cruisers competed for the honor of the best belly flop… performing for celebrity judges from several of the bands. I missed this event last year, because I didn’t arrive early enough and, due to the crowds, I couldn’t get near enough to see. I missed it again this year, as I would have had to leave Amaranthe’s set early to get a good viewing spot. I decided to stay for the music instead. Well… maybe next year!
Another unique event during the cruise are the clinics that happen in the Boleros Lounge on Deck 4. Every year, some of the artists that are performing on the cruise give 1-2 hour clinics on vocals, guitar, bass, drums and other instruments. This year’s clinics included a guitar seminar with Uli Jon Roth, a drum clinic with Flo Mounier (Cryptopsy), a guitar clinic with Christian Vidal (Therion), a bass and vocal clinic with Fabio D’Amore (Serenity), and a drum clinic with Tuomo Latvala (Omnium Gatherum). Again, this cruise is all about choices in time management, as the clinics were going on during other band’s live sets… but most of the clinics were pretty crowded as a lot of the cruisers took advantage of this unique experience. I personally stopped by for the Flamenco portion of Uli Jon Roth’s seminar.
As it was going to be a long day, I made time for a quick lunch before heading to the Alhambra to get a good spot on the first row of the balcony for the All Star Jam. As press, I, in theory, had access to the photo pit, for all the shows, but the pit for the Jam was extremely crowded last year, and the photographers had to rotate out to allow other to come in, so I elected to shoot this set from the balcony so I could document the entire event. One of the more popular events, on the cruise, the All Star Jam consists of 12 classic metal songs performed by members of different bands on the cruise. The musicians are assigned the songs before the cruise starts, but there are no group rehearsals before they perform the songs on stage, so it truly is a jam session rather than a rehearsed cover show. There are too many musicians involved to name here, but they all did a fantastic job! In my opinion, this is one of the “can’t miss” events of the cruise!
I had an interview scheduled with Amaranthe this afternoon but I did make time to catch the Nightmare’s second set in Studio B first. I had really enjoyed there set on the first night, and it was great to see them perform on a larger stage! The interview with Amaranthe that followed was a lot of fun as I was allowed to interview half the band at the same time. There is certainly something to be said for the intimacy of one on one interviews, but interviewing multiple band members at the same time can be a blast as they all play off each other with their answers… and for me, it is my favorite type of interview! I had a really fun chat with Johan, Elize, and Morten about their first 70000 Tons cruise experience and a variety of other topics including the necessity of sunscreen in the Caribbean! (see my interview at Afternoiz.com/globalnoiz)
Next, I headed back to the Pyramid lounge to catch the Swedish dark metallers, Avatarium. This was yet another band that I hadn’t heard of before the cruise, but was really looking forward to seeing perform. I was certainly not disappointed! I fell in love with this band’s unique musical style and I’m looking forward to the next time I can see them play! After, Avatarium, I took a little break from the shows and took a stroll around the ship checking out the costumes. Day 4 is unofficially “Costume Day” as may cruisers take the opportunity to dress up in costumes and makeup, some simple and some elaborate. I ran into sword and sorcery fantasy characters, Star Wars characters, vampires, ghouls, dinosaurs, mummy’s, a talking banana, and even rode an elevator with “Jesus” and “Papa Emeritus”.
As the last day of the cruise is always on Super Bowl Sunday, many fans of American football gather at the On Air club on Deck 3 to watch the “big game” on the big screen. I’ve never been a fan of American football so, just like last year, I skipped this event and went in search of more entertaining activities. I ended up meeting several friends at the Champaign Bar for drinks and even got the opportunity to chat with members of Kamelot, Amorphis, and Amaranthe who were hanging out at the same bar. After a few too many drinks, we all decided it was time to hear more music and headed up to the pool deck for a crushing set by the British metal band Carcass. The crowd surfing during this set was absolutely insane… and I even got to see wheelchair crowd surfing for the first time. You can’t get more metal than that!
At this point I realized that I was reaching my last chance to have dinner in one of the ships dining halls… which I had promised myself I was going to do. But, I decided to break that promise in the interest of time, and headed to the Windjammer with some friends for a quicker meal. Sleep deprivation was taking its toll on all of us at this point, and at least one of my crew (not me…) fell asleep at the dinner table. I realized a full stomach didn’t do much for rejuvenating me, however, as I drug myself back to the pool deck for Arch Enemy’s second set of the cruise. I got their right as the show started but I had wait to get into the photo pit as it was already full of photographers. I was eventually able to get into the pit, but about one minute later I was informed by security that the band’s tour manager was closing the photo pit for the rest of the set. I’ve never had that happen on the cruise before, and I have no idea why that decision was made, but I did manage to get a few decent photos before we were all dismissed.
There were still two bands that I was hoping to catch before turning in… Anthrax and Therion. I was looking forward to Therion the most as I was a big fan and I had missed their first set on day 2. Unfortunately, I made the unwise decision of stopping by my room before heading to the Alhambra to catch Anthrax. Once there, I decided to lay down on the bed… just for a minute…. Big Mistake… Huge! When I opened my eyes, it was 2 am and the cruise was effectively over. The only thing left going on that night was the all-night Karaoke (which happens every night of cruise). Although it is a cool event as band members often show up and participate, I gave in to my desperate need for sleep instead.
I felt reasonably rested the next morning as I departed the ship. I had failed in some of my goals that I had set for myself. I didn’t see more bands this year…. I saw about the same as last year…. and I was still heartbroken over missing Therion. I didn’t get more sleep… I think I got less. And I still never made it to one of the dining halls for dinner… but there were at least two nights when I didn’t subsist solely on pizza. What I did do, however, was have a really great time, see a lot of really great shows, and hung out with some really awesome people, friends and band members alike. For those of you that have never been on this cruise… you need to come! Unlike most festivals, there is air conditioning instead of blistering heat, carpets instead of mud, comfortable rooms instead of tents, smaller crowds instead of massive hoards, cushy chairs in comfortable bars, and pretty decent food (if you make the time to actually show up for dinner!) Hands down, the best festival ever! I’m signing off for now…
…here’s to next year!!
Don’t forget to visit: http://70000tons.com