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Reverb concert venue in Reading, PA was the setting for the final act of Avatar’s Great Metal Circus tour, accompanied by Oxymorrons and Conquer Divide....
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Reverb concert venue in Reading, PA was the setting for the final act of Avatar’s Great Metal Circus tour on Thursday night, May 16th, accompanied by Oxymorrons and Conquer Divide. Fans came from as far away as Wisconsin to attend, with many fans tailgating for quite some time prior to the doors opening, some in true central Pennsylvania style. As this writer was enjoying a chicken dinner from the newly opened Bojangle’s (a rare find anywhere north of Richmond, VA), a Jeep full of guys pulled in and set up shop. The Penn State alumni hailing from State College, PA brought a taste of Happy Valley’s renowned tailgating to the venue with their homemade ‘Avatar’ marquee sign, portable grill, and a box full of cigars. Soon enough, fans and venue employees were gathering around the Jeep both to marvel at the sign, and to enjoy some pre-show goodies.

Conquer Divide

Conquer Divide was the night’s opening act. The Michigan based metalcore band played a small, eight-song set. However, big things come in small packages. Recently picking up Madison Moon on unclean vocals to replace Janel Duarte, Moon alternated effortlessly with Kiarely Castillo’s clean vocals. The all-female group dominated the stage, maintaining a near fever pitch throughout their set, setting the bar through the roof for the rest of the evening’s events.

Setlist

Conquer Divide
  1. Atonement
  2. Chemicals
  3. Eyes Wide Shut
  4. Paralyzed
  5. system_failure
  6. N E W H E A V E N
  7. Welcome2Paradise
  8. Nightmares
Conquer Divide
Oxymorrons

If Outkast and Rage Against the Machine had a lovechild, Oxymorrons would be that child.

The eclectic mix of rap, hip hop, pop punk, and metal were a nonstop genre bending journey. With brothers Kami “Ki” and Demi “Dee” on vocals, Jafe Paulino on guitar, and Matty Mayz on drums, the Queens foursome blasted through a ten-song setlist mostly consisting of songs off their most recent album, Melanin Punk. Their message of love and positivity was equally matched by the energy they gave off on stage. Entering the stage wearing a black overcoat and white rabbit ears covering his face, vocalist “Ki” emerged from behind the rabbit ears while vocalist “Dee” slinked behind him wearing a studded blue ski-mask and giant white furry boots. Between songs, the band lamented on this show being the last show in this tour, how much fun they’ve had on this brief run, and how their name came to have two “R’s” in it. “Ki” explained to the crowd that a group known as the Oxymorons had since broken up, but wanted to charge them $25,000 to be able to use their name, so they decided to name themselves Oxymorrons instead. 

Setlist

Oxymorrons
  1. Enemy
  2. Green Vision
  3. Head For the Hills
  4. Graveyard Words
  5. Definition
  6. Melanin Punk
  7. Insomnia
  8. Look Alive
  9. Moon Chasers
  10. Justice
Oxymorrons
Avatar

“Ladies and gentlemen, your hero has returned again…”

After a brief tear-down/intermission, Avatar emerged in formation from their custom-made cages to enter the stage. Unfortunately, they were unable to utilize some of their usual lighting (and occasional pyrotechnics) due to the venue’s low ceilings, but their showmanship more than made up for the deletion of these seemingly small details. Wasting no time, they immediately jumped into “Dance Devil Dance” from last year’s album of the same name and had the crowd physically rocking the barricades from the very first riff.

balloon

A true circus, the audience was treated to a whopping 18-song setlist with everything from a “Chimp Mosh Pit” to vocalist Johannes Eckerström appearing on top of the bar at the back of the venue during “Puppet Show” to make a balloon animal (and belt out a surprising trombone solo); to drummer John Alfredsson dancing to EDM music with a stagehand in a gimp suit while shooting streamers into the crowd with what looked like a potato gun. At the beginning of “Black Waltz”, the same stagehand placed a large gift box on stage. Once he took the lid off the gift, a large bundle of balloons appeared, followed by Eckerström. He danced around on stage with the balloons, and occasionally sang lines after inhaling the helium inside of the balloons. During the guitar riffs on heavier songs, all five members would headbang rhythmically in sync with each other, creating an intense visual accompaniment to the riffs.

horns

Guitarists Tim Öhrström and Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby not only traded off between rhythm and lead, but also had a solo competition midway through the set. Between songs, Eckerström not only bantered with those in the crowd, but also informed the crowd that they would be returning to the US in August for the second run of the Kiss of Death tour with Ice Nine Kills and In This Moment. He also hinted at new material (and a new stage show) possibly debuting next year. The only time the show slowed down was during “Tower”, a beautiful yet haunting piano solo piece by Eckerström. They ended their main set with “A Statue of the King”, where the group rightly crowned Jarlsby as the king.

They came back to perform a three-song encore set, beginning with “The Dirt I’m Buried In”, which reached #1 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart last year. Before launching into “Smells Like a Freakshow”, Eckerström brought the theatrics of professional wrestling to the stage, as he appeared to briefly play the “heel” to the crowd. Asking if they wanted “ten more songs”, to which the crowd cheerfully applauded, he responded with “that’s greedy! I’ll show you what happens when you get greedy!” He counted down on his fingers to zero as the crowd booed, said nothing more than “bye!” and walked off stage; but only for a moment before returning to the now cheering crowd to kick off “Smells Like a Freakshow”. Ending their encore set was “Hail the Apocalypse”, arguably one of the hardest songs in their setlist. The circus may have been over, but every face was left with a smile as they exited the venue.

Setlist

Avatar
  1. Dance Devil Dance
  2. The Eagle Has Landed
  3. Valley of Disease
  4. Chimp Mosh Pit
  5. Paint Me Red
  6. Bloody Angel
  7. Make It Rain
  8. Puppet Show
  9. When the Snow Lies Red
  10. Do You Feel in Control?
  11. Black Waltz
  12. Tower
  13. Colossus
  14. Let It Burn
  15. A Statue of the King

Encore

  1. The Dirt I’m Buried In
  2. Smells Like a Freakshow
  3. Hail the Apocalypse
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