Live: Avenged Sevenfold in Indianapolis

It was surprising to some when Avenged Sevenfold announced a stop at Indianapolis’ Gainbridge Fieldhouse in support of Life Is But a Dream but, when the show started the arena was packed and fans were ready to throw down.

Why were people surprised? It’s been 11 years since the band released Hail to the King, which was the last Avenged Record to really sound like the A7X fans fell in love with. Ever since, the Avenged have been following a road of musical creativity that’s been polarizing among fans.

The other reason for the surprise was the choice of opening bands- past US tours have seen support and co-bills from Ghost, Deftones, KoRn, Hollywood Undead and Stone Sour but this tour cycle saw Poppy and Sullivan King as support- both of whom are blowing up at this time.

Sullivan King opened the show but was hard to see. The stage was around eight feet tall to begin with but, with Sullivan King essentially being a DJ, he had a giant LED-covered DJ Stand, which was another 10 feet tall- rendering him impossible to see unless you were in the back of the arena. Those people, though, saw a show that was a visual spectacle.

The set was loaded with pyro and the stage was adorned with gigantic LED video boards in the back and both sides of the stage, which was just beautiful.

Poppy was up next with a set that was highly anticipated by a lot of fans. She sounded spectacular and the stage was brough to life with vibrant lights as her voice echoed through the venue- switching back and forth between vicious screaming and hypnotizing clean vocals.

Known for her enigmatic persona and genre-defying music, only one of the two was evident in Indianapolis. While Poppy’s energy was infectious, she wasn’t personal at all. She breezed through her set, often dancing but didn’t say a single word to the crowd. It felt at times like she was just trying to get through the performance but still made sure to offer up one that fans would enjoy.

Despite the lack of personalism, Poppy’s set was dynamic, artistic, theatrical, and pure electric.

Before too long, the lights went down again, and it was time for Avenged Sevenfold to take the stage. As the lights were down, a spotlight focused on a few images on the video board, giving a theatrical feel from the beginning.

Singer M. Shadows began the set seated on a chair- again- you couldn’t see anything from the first few rows of the crowd due to the height of the stage. For song two- “Mattel”- he got up from the chair but was wearing a ski mask. The lights were low and you couldn’t see very well but the crowd was into it, singing along at the top of their lungs.

However, when the string intro of “Afterlife” found its way over the speakers, the crowd went from loud to deafening and it was clear what songs the fans were there for. It stayed that way for songs like “Shepherd of Fire,” “Bat Country,” “Nightmare,” “Hail to the King” and “Unholy Confessions,” where they were singing so loud you could barely hear the band singing.

This wasn’t necessarily the case with the newer songs. There were pockets of fans singing along but the majority of the building was either sitting or just standing and watching, waiting for the classics.

Production-wise, Avenged Sevenfold went all out like they usually do. This time around, they had the aforementioned video boards but also had projector screens hanging up on the far sides of the stage, which both had effects layered over the videos, making for a really unique experience.

In the end, while the bill saw support from two very strong up-and-coming artists, the overall experience of the show just fell short for anyone who’s partial to the classic Avenged Sevenfold catalog. While those fans left feeling bored and worn down, fans of the newer Avenged material left on cloud nine and wanting even more.

-Reggie Edwards