September 1, 2010: Apocalyptica at House of Blues in Chicago

September 1, 2010
w/ Dir En Gray and Evaline
House of Blues – Chicago, IL

To read about how my day started, go here: Apocalyptica @ WIIL Studio East

Kim and I were on the road to Chicago by 1pm. Since we were going to be at the House of Blues for quite a few hours, we thought it would be cheaper to park near a friend’s house and take a cab to the HOB vs paying for many hours in valet parking.

We arrived at the HOB around 2:45pm. We were walking to the front doors and I was looking off to my right to see how long the line was by the side door when Kim said to me in a low voice, “They’re in front of us.” I continued looking off to my right and replied, “Where?” Kim, again in a low voice said, “In…front…of…us.” I then turned my head in the direction we were walking and saw Perttu, Eicca and Mikko walking towards us. As we got closer I said with a smile, “You look familiar.” Mikko looked like he remembered us, but the other two not so much. I quickly followed with, “From the In Studio this morning.” As we walked past them, Paavo was behind them. He smiled and also appeared to remember us.

Once inside, Kim and I bought our “Crash the Barricade” tickets that would get us a food buffet and early entry. (Since we had to eat anyway, we figured for $15, we were getting food and a better chance at getting to the rail for the show.) I noticed a decent amount of people already in line waiting to get in early (you could also spend $15 in the HOB store) plus there were APO VIP ticket holders. What I didn’t know yet were that there were also Dir En Gray VIP ticket holders.

We had some time to waste so we went into the HOB store. I didn’t see anything I needed. We then sat on a bench right outside the Back Porch restaurant and waited until a little after 3pm. We were told that the food wasn’t going to be ready until about 3:30pm but we were able to sit at a table. Eventually Kim and I ate and then headed for the line at 4pm. There were now two lines of people. VIP and Early Entry. We had about 20-25 people in front of us, but man alive were there A LOT of VIP people. I could see my front row spot gone immediately. But hey, keep the faith, right?

A girl behind us in line eventually started talking to us. She was there for Dir En Gray. She commented on those fans and how they would leave after the band played. OH REALLY!? At one point Kim texted me with “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” I just looked at her and said, “No.” Then it hit me! YES! We still may have a chance to be close! ๐Ÿ™‚ This girl also commented on how crazy the crowd got. I had read that recently too. I hoped it wouldn’t be too bad where ever we ended up.

Around 4:30 the VIP line and the Early Entry line were really on top of each other so they moved the VIP people onto the stairs heading up to the stage. Around 4:45 they moved the Early Entry line to the stairs and into two lines. We passed the time by talking to someone else behind us. She was from MI and came down to Chicago often. She and I also realized we were pretty much standing next to each other at the Volbeat show a couple weeks prior! Small world.

A little after 5pm they officially let us in. Kim and I raced up the stairs and towards the left side of the stage. I immediately was let down. There were already people 4-5 rows deep from the stage. *sigh* So much for our Early Entry plan. The girl from MI ended up standing next to me. We talked off and on before the first band started. Bottom line though, we all HOPED that the Dir En Gray fans would leave so we could move forward!

Evaline was the first band. I remembered during the In Studio that morning Eicca said they were from CA. They were pretty ok. The lead singer was quite entertaining. He kept getting off the stage, and standing on the ledge on the other side of the barricade. During one song, he held the hand of someone in the crowd and actually stood on the top rail. They played for 25 minutes.

Not long after they ended, the crowd got a little tighter. Girls were squeezing into spaces not really big enough for them. At one point, a girl and her friend got in front of the girl from MI. However, one of the girl’s boyfriend was behind us. She kept turning around saying she was “sorry” to him. Well, eventually I heard him say something about going to stand with her. I look at him and say, “Seriously?” The girl said something about how he went to throw a bottle away for her. I thought to myself, Ok whatever, you people were NO WHERE in front of me when he did that. The same group of people in front of me that entire time, were still there, and they were not with them. I told him, “Do not stand in front of me.” (Yes, he was taller than me.) He stood between Kim and I and I could still see.

Once the lights went down and the music started for Dir En Gray, all of a sudden we were all pushed forward. Guess who I ended up on top of? Yep, that guy. Oh sorry. not. Anyway, it got pretty tight, pretty fast. I think it was pretty much during the first song, if not the 2nd, that this younger guy next to Kim and I started his own one man mosh pit. Needless to say, we were getting bumped into. Then another guy started in with him and it was still just the two of them, but they were constantly bumping into us. I feared for Kim, so I had my arm around her so she wouldn’t get sucked into their little pit.

As the show went on, MORE guys were moshing and now the pit was in front of us and there were probably 6-8 guys going at it. Kim was now behind me. She commented, “You’re so much better at this than me.” I don’t know about better, maybe more tolerable. Well, we were now also farther back on the floor. NOOO, I didn’t want to be farther away from the stage! As the chaos continued, I just held my hands out in front of me to keep anyone from coming at me. I will admit, I did push a couple of them. It was just SO annoying. I could hear two girls behind me laughing when I would do that. Eventually a guy was standing in front of me. I had my left forearm on his back since he was standing that close to me. I laughed and told Kim, “He’s my blocker.” Eventually the song ended along with the moshing. I could hear him telling those same two girls he was trying to stay out of it. Well, after some more moshing, I told Kim I was moving. I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore. It’s not like I was on the rail. The spot I was in wasn’t worth fighting for! As the crowd shifted, I slid over to my right. Now I was just right of center. It wasn’t too long before I felt someone tugging on my shirt. OMG! It was my friend Rosa who showed up later that night. Funny how I ended up next to her. She said she spotted me when I was over by the most pit!

As for Dir En Gray, I had watched some YouTube videos prior to the show. They reminded me a little of Marilyn Manson, except they sang in Japanese. The music was pretty good. Some of the vocals, eh. The singer had a range though. Anywhere from higher to that growling cookie monster vocal. “C” is for cookie. ๐Ÿ˜€ They were entertaining to watch. Clearly, there were more than a few fans there and they were totally into the show.

Kim and I stayed in this spot for the rest of their set. There was a Mom and 4-5 teenage kids in front of us. Clearly they were there for APO. The Mom had a death grip on a younger girl’s arm. I thought it was funny. Eventually she let go. This crowd overall was much tamer but still into the show. Someone behind me was not being obnoxious, but was moving. I literally just stood there but appeared to be moving. If you’ve been at the HOB, you know how the floor moves you.

I think they played for an hour and 15 mins, but with about 1-2 songs to go, there was one guy that started crowd surfing. I saw that same Mom tell the younger girl, “Dont ever do that.” When the band left the stage for their encore, I told Kim, “If the crowd moves, I’m going.” She said she’d be right behind me. I then mentioned how I was worried about the family in front of me. I knew if the crowd moved, they would not. How would we get around them? She thought the same thing. Well, after Dir En Gray played their last song and their set was over, sure enough, people started to move/leave. I made a bee-line around the right of the family and ended up behind a guy also heading for the front. Well, Kim and I made it all the way up to 3rd from the rail.

Then one by one, more people started to leave the rail. Must have been 5 total in our area. Needless to say, Kim and I ended up 2nd from the rail, with no super tall people in front of us, which was fine by me! WOOT! Although, there were two guys that smelled like they had been there for days! I told Kim, “Breathe thru your mouth.” It was pretty bad, but I wasn’t moving! Rosa also ended up behind us.

A funny side note. When Kim and I have seen APO in the past, normally we stand on the left side, in front of Perttu. Well, at the In Studio that morning, when Kim was talking to Paavo, she made a comment about hopefully being up front for the show and he said, “On my side, right?” Well, she didn’t want to tell him we stood on the left, so she told him, “We’ll see.” How funny that we ended up on the right side in front of where he would be. Interesting how things work out sometimes. While waiting for the band to start, Kim motioned for me to look to my left! It was the girl from MI! She had made it to the rail on the left side! SCORE FOR US ALL at getting closer! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks to all the Dir En Gray fans for leaving. I noticed a lot of them cleared out from the front in general. Either way, good deal for us.

Prior to APO starting, a mic appeared on the outside of the curtain that had been pulled closed. I thought it was odd to be so close to the edge of the stage, but thought it was for a radio DJ to speak into. Well, then I noticed a pedal board. Humm… I had never been THIS close before, so I didnt realize what I was looking at. Well, sure enough, a local radio DJ did come out to talk to us. He also mentioned the After Party in the Foundation Room was open to anyone 21+ and it was first come first serve. I knew I was already on the guest list due to a friend, but I hoped the first come first serve thing wouldn’t keep me from getting up there due to capacity.

Time seemed to move slowly. Oh man, I could NOT wait for the show to start! Aside from seeing them at ROTR back in May in Columbus (and being pretty far away from the stage), I had not seen APO on tour since 2008! I just KNEW it was going to be awesome. Well, they did not let me down!

The curtain opened and there they were. MOSTLY AT THE EDGE OF THE STAGE!! They were SO close and it was SO awesome! They all had those pedal boards set up near the edge of the stage. Eicca also had a wah pedal. Mikko was set up a little farther back behind them. His clear drums looked awesome!

They started off with Metallica’s “Wherever I May Roam” and the crowd sang along. They continued into Sepultura’s Refuse/Resist, then into new songs, old songs, and a couple more Metallica covers. Every time I see these guys, I am amazed, in awe, and I can’t help but smile. Not only is the music AMAZING, they are so much fun to watch on stage. Between the playing, the headbanging and drumming, it’s for sure a fun show to see! SO AWESOME!

A few songs into the night, Paavo did recognize Kim and I from the stage! For Kim it was during “I’m Not Jesus”. There is the line “Do you remember me.” He pointed at her and mouthed those words. She did it back. Then shortly after that, he was playing right in front of me and I could just tell by the way he was staring and smiling at me, that he also recognized me. Too cool!

Needless to say, the time they played on stage felt both long and short. I never want it to end. When they come back next year, I hope they play for longer than an hour and 20 mins.

Below are a ton of pics I took ๐Ÿ™‚


Not my set list, but I got a picture of it!
“Roam” is the first song listed under the tape.
They ran out of time and did not play “Mountain King” ๐Ÿ™

After the show was over Kim and I headed back to merch. I wanted to check it out really quickly to see if there was anything I wanted. I didn’t see anything I wanted so we headed downstairs to head back up to the Foundation Room After Party. There was already a line. I asked if I had to wait if my name was on the list. Yes. So we got in line and it moved quicker than I expected. Once I got up to where a list might be, I was told it didn’t matter. Ok then. Once we got up to the 4th floor, the room was packed!

First things first. Bathroom, then beverage! It was a little difficult trying to move up there. There were SO many people. Before the beverage, I stopped to speak to the DJ. (friend of a friend). I introduced myself and thanked him again for the guest list opportunity. He played a good mix of “metal” music all night. At times it was loud, but it was more due to whether or not you were standing near a speaker.

Since I had been up there before, I told Kim that we needed to stand near where the hallway was that lead to the dressing rooms. She and I stood around talking. When I went to get a second drink I ran into Rosa. She then stood with us. We also ended up talking to some people around us. About an hour had passed and there was still no sign of the band. I went to look for the girl from MI. She was on the other side of the room. We talked for a little bit. During our conversation I kept thinking, if the guys did come out, Kim can’t call and tell me since I get NO reception inside the HOB. I told the girl from MI (no, I had still not asked her name!) that I was going to check and if they had come out, I would come back and let her know.

Well, on my way back to where I had left Kim, I spotted Eicca near the middle of the bar. I turned around and walked back and told the girl from MI they were out and to come on.

I walked back to where Eicca was and waited. I was also looking for Kim. I finally spotted her and motioned for her to come over. Eicca had quite a mob around him so I decided since there were less people immediately around Perttu, I would talk with him first. I was a little surprised to see a strawberry headband on his head, but apparently, that’s just Perttu ๐Ÿ™‚

Perttu being my favorite, I told him what I didn’t manage to say at the radio station earlier that morning. That I had been a fan for a long time and that I thought they played the most amazingly beautiful original music. He sort of bowed his head as if to say Thank You. Then for the heck of it, I also told him that I just loved his accent. His reply, “That’s just silly.” But it’s true! ๐Ÿ™‚ I asked for a picture then told him thank you and good luck with everything. Given how quiet he was at the station, I wasn’t sure what kind of mood he was in after the show. I am kicking myself now for not talking to him more later in the night after the crowd died down. I did see him a few times walking around vs being in a private room APO had to themselves. Oh well, NEXT TIME, right?

Kim and Rosa also spoke with Perttu and took pics with him.

Kim and I then waited for Eicca. When it was my turn I mentioned there were some things I had forgotten to tell him at the station that morning. I told him I had been a fan since the beginning, had all of their CDs and had seen them live 5 times. As with Perttu, I told Eicca I thought they played the most amazingly beautiful original music. He showed what I took to be appreciation/thanks with a head bow. I asked for a picture, told him thanks and good luck with everything. My smile below may be a tad too big! HAHA Remember, not only had I been waiting some years to be able to meet them, I was now meeting them for a 2nd time in the same day! APO OVERLOAD! HEHE

We spotted Mikko talking with two people so we headed over and stood nearby waiting for a break in the conversation. I talked to him briefly, mentioned that I had been a fan for a long time but that the first time I saw APO back in 2005 he was in the band. I took a picture and wished him good luck with everything. Kim tried to convince him to stay in Chicago vs going to MN! haha

Paavo, Paavo, Paavo.

We were standing near that hallway again wondering if Paavo was going to come out. Well, eventually he did. Rosa started talking to him first. After talking a couple of pics, she said to him, “Here, I’ll let you talk with them.” Paavo motioned his arm in our direction and said, “They’re old friends.” He then hugged Kim and I at the same time. Awww.

I spoke with him first and I told him I had been a fan since the first album and that I thought they played the most amazingly beautiful original music. I told him I was so glad that over the years they started playing more original songs and less covers. Not that I didn’t like the covers, because I did, but I was just glad.

He stepped back, since I had been talking in his ear due to the loud music coming out of the speaker we were standing next to, then hugged me. Then he hugged me again. I don’t remember exactly what he said but the way I interpreted it was that was the best way he knew how to tell me thank you. Awww. I then asked if I could take a picture. He TOTALLY caught me off guard with an extra big hug, but I just LOVE this picture!

He and Kim then talked and took a picture. Then she and I were both talking to him. I happened to ask what the deal was with the scarves. (he had a different one on at the station.) He didn’t answer right away so I asked if he was covering up vampire marks. HEHE He made a comment about “love bites”. He never did give me a straight answer though.

At some point, Kim told Rosa to show Paavo how she could count to 10 in Finnish (Rosa’s husband is from Finland). I think she got to about #6 and must have made a mistake because Paavo stopped and corrected her. HEHE Kim and Rosa and I must have been talking with him for a good 5 minutes or so when I looked to my left and noticed a line. I thanked him and we moved out of the line to give others a chance.

Kim and I were standing around talking when I noticed Tipe come out. We talked with him for a short time. Kim asked if he was from here or Finland. When he said Finland, I looked at him and said, “Johnson?” He laughed and said he had an American dad but was born and raised in Finland. He said he lived in the US when he was 7, but other than that, always in Finland. I asked if he was from another band and he said no. I mentioned we had seen him with APO back in May at Rock on the Range in Columbus, OH. We also talked about hockey (he reminded us that the Blackhawks won with a Fin!). He was a really nice guy…great hair too! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Kim and I eventually sat down and were talking some more. Rosa and the girl from MI also joined us at some point. I also noticed the line of people waiting to meet Paavo was still long. He was talking with everyone. Hugging, taking pics, signing things. The man likes to talk…and hug!

Some time passed, Rosa had already left and the girl from MI had gotten up a while ago to talk with the guys. A little after midnight Kim and I were debating if we should leave since we had talked with everyone. I noticed Paavo was now only talking to two people so I said, “Let’s say good-bye to Paavo.” Well, that good-bye turned into about 45 minutes of conversation. Probably about halfway through the time Kim and I were talking to him, the girl from MI stopped talking with Tipe and joined in our convo with Paavo. She plans to teach English in Finland next year. The subject of Finland and Sweden came up and how most people speak Swedish and Paavo told her a not so nice phrase to say that when said with a big smile, sounded like it was quite nice! HAHA

It really was an awesome (the one word I kept using over and over during the conversation) time talking with him. He is so sweet and funny and of course I just loved hearing him speak. We talked about the radio station In Studio that morning and what caused the delay, I confirmed if the reason they didn’t play Hall of the Mountain King was because they ran out of time (yes). I mentioned my son and his HS Marching band were using APO’s version of part of that song in their routine. I said that my son was also an APO fan and that he had seen them live a couple times and that his fave Metallica album was actually S&M which lead Paavo to tell us a very cool Metallica story.

As Paavo told it, I guess Michael Kamen had been trying to get Metallica to record with a symphony since 1991. (I was shocked! I had no idea the it started that long ago.) He said due to Apocalyptica playing the Metallica songs on cello on APO’s 1996 album, it helped to open Metallica’s mind more later on. Kinda of opened the door to the idea. Metallica also invited them to the recording of the S&M album! Kim asked if they were at any of the live performances and he said yes! I guess you can see them in the S&M DVD. He said they were center about 15 rows back! (I still need to watch that again and look for them!)

Kim also mentioned she had seen Metallica 29 times since 1991 and his reply was, “What’s wrong with you?” HEHE But then he thought about it and realized he had probably seen them 12 times and that he really wasn’t so far off from the number of times we had seen them (25 for me). We also discussed foreign languages and countries, APO fans and the States. I asked in the US, where were the most APO fans. He said in the Midwest (The Lakes as he referred to it) and CA. When I asked him, “NY, Chicago or LA?” (as in his fave place in the States) he replied with, “Vancouver!” I was like, “That’s not in the US!” haha He also mentioned his love of skiiing. I also asked about the correct pronunciation of Tipe’s name since I couldn’t understand when any of them said it all day! (accents, ya know?). It’s pronounced Tea Pay.

I forget how it came up, oh, I think I made a comment about how I kept using the word awesome when talking about APO. I then mentioned about five other adjectives to change it up. He said he understood (meaning, just by my use of the word awesome.) He said, for him, sometimes when people use too many words, it makes it less believable.

I more or less started talking about my love of music and how I wasn’t just telling him those things without any meaning behind them. I told him I have a connection with music and how it affects me in various ways. How music is really a high for me. I mentioned my love of the “live” show and how if I go too long between seeing bands, that I actually go through withdrawals. Kim mentioned that she had never met a person more passionate about music than me. He gave me another hug and I don’t remember exactly the words he used, but he more or less told me he believed what I was saying to be true.

At this point it was close to 1am when someone that works with the band walked up and told Paavo it was time to get going. This time we said good-bye for real. I got a kiss on the cheek and yet another hug from Paavo. As Kim was hugging him good-bye, she tried to convince him to stay in Chicago instead of going to MN but alas, it did not work ๐Ÿ™‚

We headed back downstairs with the girl from MI. Outside the building we talked for a few minutes before heading out. I also finally asked her name. It was Rosie. Who knows, I may run into her at another show sometime!

Kim and I discussed the day’s events in the cab ride back to our cars. Wow…talk about being on a serious musical high. The day could NOT have been more perfect. Absolutely everything worked out just the way it was supposed to and we had a FANTASTIC APO experience. One I never could have predicted had you asked me.

As I was driving home that night and during the few days that followed, there were so many more questions that I wished I would have asked all of the guys. They really were easy to talk to, and just so nice, but again, I guess my mind was just else where. Oh well, NEXT TIME, right? Which, should be next year!