70000 Tons of Metal Diary, Day 2, February 5, 2016
…continued from Day 1.
Day 2 came early… too DAMN early! Most likely due to the excitement of the cruise, I was awake and staring at the ceiling at 6 am, right about the time the final band from the previous evening was finishing their set. Having just gone to bed at 3 am, I was really hoping to sleep until 8am or so. But after laying in bed for another hour failing to get more shut eye, I abandoned my quest for more sleep and headed for breakfast. After breakfast I grabbed my morning version of “coffee” (read sugar free Red Bull) and headed up to the upper decks to check out the outdoor stage. The stage had been constructed over the main pool in the center of the ship. The stage faced a three tiered series of balconies so fans could either watch from the deck built over the pool of the balconies. The pool had been surrounded by multiple hot tubs, most of which had been relegated to the “backstage area” and were inaccessible. There was one hot tub left in a public access area that was centered right in front of the stage. This hot tub was pretty much always filled with drunk and rowdy revelers cheering for the artists and practicing their “belly flops” for the “Belly Flop” Contest scheduled for the final day. Walk near this hot tub at your own risk…it has a very wide “Splash Zone”!
The shows were scheduled to run from 10 am this morning to 6am the following morning… 20 straight hours of shows on four stages… 38 shows in all! The first band scheduled to perform for the day on the Pool stage was Visions of Atlantis, a symphonic metal band from Austria. I’ve been a fan of the band for a while and I was looking forward to finally seeing them live. But this is where glitch number 2 occurred. It was obvious when I got to the upper decks that the Pool stage was still under construction. Visions of Atlantis was sound checking, so I was hopeful the stage would get finished on time. But after about 10:20… the stage was still under construction and the band pulled up their set lists and left the stage. Their show for the morning was cancelled and rescheduled for the final morning. The next band due on the Pool stage was Holy Moses and although I didn’t stay to find out, I heard they did go on… but they went on late and had an abbreviated set. I had actually headed back to my room as, despite the Red Bull, exhaustion overtook me and I crashed for a 45 minute nap. I awoke just in time to catch a Meet and Greet with Epica. Feeling slightly refreshed I headed back up to the Pool Deck (which was finally in full swing) to catch a great set from the German heavy metal band, Gamma Ray.
I didn’t catch as many shows today as I had afternoon interviews scheduled with Epica and Lacuna Coil (see my interviews under Globalnoiz/Interviews). Every band performing on 70000 Tons also had a Meet and Greet scheduled at some time during the cruise and I decided to hit several of the ones being offered today. Following Gamma Ray, I headed off to my Epica interview (with Coen and Arien) and then went off to Studio B for some Brazilian trash/death metal from Nervosa. I hadn’t head of Nervosa and in general don’t like a lot of trash bands, but these three ladies really blew me away. The music was good and they had phenomenal stage presence. I left a new fan. Next up was a Meet and Greet with Lacuna Coil followed by a trip to the Pyramid lounge for a set from Abinchova. Abinchova is a folk/death metal band from Switzerland. As I love folk metal, I expected to like this band… but I LOVED this band. Of all the bands on 70000 tons that I wasn’t familiar with, this one was my favorite! I had to leave Abinchova a little early to catch my interview with Lacuna Coil where I had a lovely chat with Christina Scabbia.
After my final interview of the afternoon I ran off to catch the last few moments of an Eluveitie meet and Greet, quickly followed by a Meet and Greet with Delain. Delain’s Meet and Greet was a more special event as it included a listening party for their new EP, “Lunar Prelude”. Due to my interviews I missed the listening party portion of the event, but still got there in time to meet the band. I’ve met Delain a lot over the years and I’m sure they are tired of seeing me right now. When I got to Charlotte, she jokingly said (at least I hope she was joking): “I don’t know whether to hug you or get a restraining order!” Fortunately, she went for the hug. It was almost 6pm at that point and my stomach reminded me that I had forgotten to eat lunch. As lunch had long stopped being served and it wasn’t dinner time yet… I again went for… you guessed it!… all night pizza…
My evening began back in the Alhambra with a great hour of music with Finnish power metalers, Stratovarius. Then it was an elevator ride up to the Pool stage for the Dutch symphonic metal band, Epica. There is just no other way to say it….Epica’s set… was EPIC!!… Musically and visually stunning! We even had a guest appearance when Shir-Ran, Eluveitie’s violinist came out to play with the band. Another one of the top 5 performances of the cruise for me. Then, another elevator ride back to the Alhambra for the massive Swiss folk/death metal band Eluveitie. I just love this band to death and they never disappoint in a live setting. It was another fantastic show! Then… sigh… another elevator ride up to the Pool deck! Less stairs tonight, but all the waiting on the elevators is a bit of a pain its own right! The next band on the Pool stage was the malevolent British black metal band, Cradle of Filth. A final elevator ride for the evening took me back to the Alhambra for what would be my final show of the night, Children of Bodom. Although I didn’t notice it, the band appeared to be having some sound problems as the vocalist kept running backstage between songs to talk to the sound tech. The audience seemed unfazed, however, and were in high gear.
Children of Bodom ended shortly after midnight and due to my extreme lack of sleep, I decided to turn in despite the fact there were several other bands I wanted see playing in the wee hours of the morning. I stopped at the bar to get my first drink of the cruise (I don’t drink while I’m photographing) and headed up the stairs toward my room… and promptly ran into some of my friends that I hadn’t been able to spend time with yet. After a lot of arm twisting… okay, a little arm twisting… they talked me into joining them in the bar for a half an hour. I again had missed dinner… so, a quick stop for more pizza and on to bed… at 1 am. Bring on Day 3!
To be continued…