Saturday, October 10, 2008
Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale
Better Than: Sweating through two layers of leather in the Fort Lauderdale humidity.
Friday night, Culture Room was packed full of long-haired, black-clad melodic metal fans (you know, the people death metal fans beat up and steal lunch money from) and echoing with the power riffs and vocal vibrato of prog metal titan Kamelot.
The Tampa-based band took the stage punctually amidst flashing white lights and a blanket of fog machine-induced billowing mist. With the stoic seriousness and minor grandiosity that only melodic metal performers can muster, goatee-sporting lead singer, Khan, solemnly walked to the edge of the stage and promptly dissolved into head-tilting, vein-popping, cheek-puffing, Broadway-style belting. In response, a pack of unwashed underarms were immediately exposed as each fan in the house elevated an arm and threw the horns to welcome the power-metal powerhouse to Fort Lauderdale.
After opening with “Rule the World,” a song from their 2007 Ghost Opera album, Kamelot next sawed out “Soul Society” and “When the Lights are Down,” two poundin’ favorites that caused spontaneous and powerful crowd sing-alongs.
After a few minutes of sweating and gasping under those bright lights in the Fort Lauderdale heat (and let’s face it, the open-air Culture Room is pretty much a steam bath), Khan had to shed his trademark silver-buttoned coat (which resembles what you might expect a military general to wear if he was commanding an army of goth kids). As he crouched at the front of the stage, fans fondled his chunky black boots and ran their hands over his tight leathery pants. Maybe the heat was getting to him too, but guitarist Thomas Youngblood seemed wholly unaware of the crowd and their wandering hands as he stared euphorically at the ceiling and riffed away during “The Human Stain” (but when he wasn’t shredding, he was tossing out water bottles to the crowd like he was the Mother Theresa of metal).
Khan also employed the help of a female vocalist, a corseted Goth queen who sang verses during “The Haunting” (a crowd favorite), “Abandoned,” (a guy near me was singing along with his eyes closed—see, this is why death metal fans beat us up), and “Love You to Death” (metal at its romantic best is always about death).
By the end of the show, Khan seemed to have made peace with the hot night. “I don’t know how I feel about the heat,” said the band’s German keyboardist, wiping his brow. “We like it, don’t we?!” screamed Khan. As if to prove it, he offered up an encore of three more songs and put his coat back on (unbuttoned).
Personal Bias: The sound of a scale-hopping operatic voice ringing above the violent shredding of an electric guitar is music to my ears.
Random Detail: If their impassioned rendition of “Human Stain” (a song about people fucking up the planet) can be trusted, Kamelot really seem to be bothered by things like global warming (unlike a certain VP candidate we all know).
By the Way: You know you’re at a good metal show when no one can tear their eyes away from the stage long enough to start a mosh pit.
-- Tara Nieuwesteeg