February 10 was an interesting night at Indianapolis’ Old National Centre- while guitar legend Tommy Emmanuel was playing a mesmerizing show upstairs in the Egyptian Room, Swedish metal heavyweights Avatar was busy bringing the Avatar Country World Tour to the masses. It couldn’t have been more night and day but was a fun evening at that.
Kicking the night off early was Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue and they stole the show early on. Led by “The Govna” Bryce Graves, the troup consisted of Illusionist Dan Sperry, Half-Man Daredevil Short E. Dangerously and Stuntman Ryan Stock.
Billed as The World’s Only Rock n Roll Circus Freak Show, fans at the sold out show looked into Hellzapoppin early-on and were eagerly awaiting to see if things lived up to the rumors and expectations- which were surpassed almost immediately.
Short E Dangerously opened the set by balancing himself on his hands and came back later by having Graves crush a bucket of glass bottles and dump the glass shards along the platform he was using. Dangerously climbed the ladder and jumped down onto the glass before walking along the platform of broken glass, much to the crowd’s excitement.
Stock- who many remembered from America’s Got Talent and The Tonight Show, stuck nails, and hooks through his eyes and nose and also hung cowbells and a bowling ball from his face- swinging it back and forth. He also balanced a lawn mower and chainsaw on his face. He made sure to play off the audience’s reactions and played things up even more when he saw a fan wince or look nervous. His final act saw him swallowing not one- but two swords- though not at the same time. One sword was traditional but the other was very curved and he owned it completely.
Sperry- who’s very well-known in the illusion community- blew everyone away with his mind-bending mind tricks- making a breath mint appear from inside his throat and pulling it out the middle of his throat with a string of floss. He appeared later on in the show with a vision-defying trick that saw him make a bird appear out of nowhere and even more.
The Brains had the tough job of following these guys and they did a great job, but it was a hard act to follow, to be honest. Their rockabilly metal fit right in with the Indianapolis crowd who didn’t just come to mosh but also came ready to get their dancing groove on. Their set went over perfectly and got everyone ready to let out whatever was left.
When the lights went down and the giant curtain covered the stage, the energy was undeniable and when the lights went completely out to welcome Avatar to the stage, the crowd was deafening and ready to throw down.
Sitting on a throne at the front of the stage was guitarist Jonas Jarlsby-The King- and he dressed the part, too- with a beautiful crown upon his head- as he ripped into “Glory to Our King,” and it was all full speed ahead from there.
The crowd was rowdy, aggressive and doing everything possible to show their appreciation and gratitude to the Swedish metallers for making the trip to Indianapolis. Then frontman Johannes Eckerstrom ominously marched onstage and all hell broke loose- both in the crowd and on the stage. Eckerstrom didn’t shy away from getting up close with the front row- using his tall stature to stretch into the crowd, screaming into the mic and the fans were loving every minute, giving it right back to him.
The band marched around the stage, dressed like metal ringleaders and their stage show has always been one that you have to appreciate- whether you like the heavy style of their music or not and Indianapolis was no exception.From start to finish the Indianapolis fans were involved in every aspect of the show, making sure they got what they came for and left completely exhausted.