Opeth @ the 9:30 Club

I saw Opeth again (I saw them last year in New York) last Sunday night at the 9:30 Club. It was pretty good, not quite as tight as the last time I saw them, but the sound quality was definitely far, far better. They did a pretty cool set, including some tunes they had apparently not done live on earlier tours (”April Ethereal” from My Arms, Your Hearse, “The Moor” from Still Life - which was awesome - and the title track from Blackwater Park), and a couple from Damnation which were, just like on the album, pleasant but kind of boring.

One interesting thing was that the crowd here in DC was totally different from the crowd in New York. They were much tamer, with a lot less moshing and crowd-surfing. What moshing there was was sort of lame and halfhearted. I’m not one to get myself into mosh pits, preferring to pay attention to the band, but I was fascinated by the difference. There were also a lot more women in the audience (okay, girls - it was a pretty young audience as far as I could tell). I’m not sure if this is the nature of DC versus New York (the latter city almost certainly has more metal shows and thus probably has a bigger set of metalhead concertgoers), or if the band’s release of the softer Damnation brought more female fans into the fold. Who knows.

Also interesting was one of the opening bands, Moonspell. They had some good moments musically, but they were also insufferably cheesy. The front man took himself waaaay too seriously and was even waving around a pole with some sort of fake skull on top of it for one song. I found the whole affair absolutely hilarious. One of the nicer things about Opeth is that they eschew the cheesy Satanisms of some of the more pretentious death- or black-metal bands, and their front man is very amiable, joking around and bantering with the audience. Yet he still managed a threatening, larger-than-life stage presence during the heavier numbers, delivering his trademark growl convincingly. (During the Damnation pieces, on the other hand, he transformed into a vulnerable, expressive singer - if his versatility wasn’t impressive before, it certainly struck me as so this time around.)

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