Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Epica Concert

The Epica Concert

by Bob Peterson

This morning before work I spent about a half hour writing a blog about the presidential election and my feelings about it. Then I filed it away but didn't publish it; I decided I needed more time to let the reality of it sink in before I blog about it. Maybe I'll publish it another day. In the meantime, I'm going to write about the concert I went to Monday night.

Let me first explain that I've been to a LOT of rock concerts in my life, starting with Blackfoot and Journey when I was still in high-school. I've been to so many that I can't even count them. To list a few in no particular order: Yes (several times), Boston (several times), Kansas (several times), Styx (several times), Heart (several times), Dream Theater, Savatage, Dio, Loverboy, Rush, Nightwish, Joe Perry Project, Alan Parsons Project, AC/DC, Yngwie Malmsteen, Cheap Trick, America, and The Moody Blues. I'm no stranger to the rock concert scene.

Last Monday was one of those rare metal concerts I went to. The concert featured four bands. I'd never heard of the first two, but the the second two were bands I really enjoy: Alestorm and Epica.

Alestorm is best described as Scottish Pirate Metal: all of their songs are about pirates looting, plundering getting drunk and meeting their ends. This is all very tongue-in-cheek and I find it hilarious. My favorite Alestorm song is Keelhauled. "Make that bastard walk the plank, with a bottle of rum and a yo ho ho!"

Epica is completely different: they're an odd combination of Opera (complete with a woman mezzo-soprano singer for lead vocalist, the beautiful Simone Simons), Baroque (complete with symphony orchestra) and Death metal. Yes, death metal (complete with cookie-monster growling). Most of their songs have elements of all three. Their lyrics are always deep and philosophical. You can't pin me down on a favorite Epica song, there are so many I love, but I tend to favor their soft ballads: Solitary Ground, Tides of Time, Trois Vierges, Twin Flames, Chasing the Dragon, Safeguard to Paradise, Run For A Fall (Acoustic version), Quietus. Their harder stuff is usually about duality: the struggle within between good and evil: the death metal growling portrays symbolic inner demons who argue for negativity and self-destruction while Simone's opera singing argues against the negativity.

As much as I love some heavy metal music, I've usually avoided many metal concerts for two reasons: First, they hurt my ears, and second, because I'm somewhat empathic and pick up too many negative feelings. I gave some serious thought to not going to this one too. I gave myself all kinds of justification for not going: they'd probably focus on the music from latest two CDs (which I don't like). It would be crowded. It would be loud. I'd be wasting too much gasoline. I'm too old for that crowd.

And then there was the driving issue: I knew it was a two and a half hour drive to St. Paul, and another two and a half back home: five hours of driving. I knew I wouldn't get home until late. Plus I hate driving at night up north with deer waiting to pounce in front of my car.

Any other day I'd just get a hotel room after the concert and work out of the Minneapolis branch office in the morning, but this was not just any day: it was election eve. I knew if I didn't drive home Monday night, I likely wouldn't get home on Tuesday in time to vote, and I couldn't accept that. Voting is that important to me.

By 2:00pm I had convinced myself I should just skip it, but my inner voice stepped in and suggested that my presence there was needed to help raise the vibrations of the place. Plus there was an added bonus: I could buy a T-shirt for each band!

So Kathy and I got into our Prius and headed for the Twin Cities. We ate dinner at my favorite restaurant: India Palace in Roseville. Yummy!

We had a great time at the show. Alestorm was just plain fun. Epica was epic. What I love Epica is that they show great depth of character, great depth of thought and philosophy (with their lyrics) and emotion (e.g. screaming), and creativity and complexity of music (sometimes performing with a full symphony orchestra) even if it may sometimes be grating.

It's kind of like life: There are hidden messages and meanings everywhere. There are conflicts, and we must learn from them. There are struggles within, and difficult choices. But that's how we learn.

I'll end this blog with excerpts from the Epica song "Consign to Oblivion" which was how they ended their show:

Too much thinking goes at the cost of all our intuition
Our thoughts create reality
But we neglect to be!
So we're already slaves of our artificial world
We shouldn't try to control life
But listen to the laws of nature
Selfishly we're venomous
But you know the time tells us
There is more to life than our
Higher positions, race for perfection
Better, faster
We must return to the laws of the nature
Free ourselves from madness
2012 Nov 07

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