Legions of heavy metal rock fans representing multiple generations lined up for the third annual RevolverGolden Gods Awards in the middle of the LA Live entertainment district. The crowd, clad in their best Metal garb, became an instant tourist attraction as they waited for the sold-out April 20th awards show and concert at Club Nokia. NBA fans arriving for an LA Lakers playoff game at Staples Center across the street swarmed around the rockers, wearing the trademark purple and gold colors of their team. This remarkable scene was the backdrop for the “black carpet” arrival ceremony for the Metal Awards recipients, amidst a small army of press photographers and video news crews. Bewildered tourists stood fascinated by the convergence of events in the middle of the large screen video saturated square, a spectacle seeker’s dream.
After long outdoor ceremony, music fans and musicians filed into the relatively new theater. The evening’s festivities began with Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters appearing onstage with a boombox, and leaving it on a stool with Justin Bieber’s song “Baby” feebly blaring from the little box. (That was the extent of Grohl’s participation). As metal fans began to boo, host Chris Jericho appeared, towing a bright red baseball bat. Answering the crowds cajoling, he proceeded to bash the box to tiny bits. “Are you ready to fucking rock and roll?” the former pro wrestler and current contestant on Dancing With The Stars, screamed. Then he launched into a heavy metal medley with his band Fozzy. The band of talented rockers did a surprisingly good interpretation of metal classics’ from Black Sabbath, Dio, Ozzy, Iron Maiden, and more. After a 20-minute set Jericho came out to begin the first of the awards presentations.
With a persona more akin to a young David Hasslehoff then those of most of the metal legends on display during the long night, his goofy style somehow seemed to work, placating the crowd and acting as a buffer to the heavier participants. As the show began, a pattern quickly emerged with mostly older metal rock legends presenting awards to younger metal hero’s of today’s music scene. There were exceptions like the Best Live Band award going to veteran German metal gods, Rammstein, and Motley Crue winning the Ronnie James Dio Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented by Dio’s widow, Wendy and former bandmate Geezer Butler (of Black Sabbath fame). The army of veteran award hosts and presenters kept the audience guessing as to which ones would actually join the live performances for jam sessions.
The second performance of the evening was actually the most anticipated by many of the old school generation. The Alice Cooper and his original band, who were recently inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame, played a live LA set together for the first time in 40 years. The iconic lead singer was joined by his original bandmates, rhythm guitarist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway, and drummer Neal Smith. Long time collaborator, guitarist Steve Hunter, stood in for the late, great Glen Buxton, who died in 1997. A 63-year-old Alice was fully in character with thick make up and all his trademark props, including a large, live python. The band tore through a four song set including their first iconic hit “I’m Eighteen.” A song that resonated for a generation of underground rock fans, “Under My Wheels” was next, followed by mega hits “Billion Dollar Babies” and “School’s Out.” It truly was an historic moment in rock history.
Fans politely sat through the legions of award and video presentations, highlighted by the Dio Award, an 80-year-old William Shatner receiving the Honorary Headbanger Award, and the many awards that headliners Avenged Sevenfold received. But the live performances were the real reason that the music fans sold out the marathon event. The next performance featured England’s hottest new metal band Asking Alexandria. They were joined by veteran singer Sebastian Bach at the end of their set for Bach’s classic with Skid Row, the headbanging “Youth Gone Wild.”
Denmark’s punkabilly band Volbeat played the next set. They were joined at the end by singer Scott Ian of Anthrax for a psycho version of Dusty Springfield’s classic “I Only Want to Be with You. One of California’s most promising new metal powerhouse bands played next: DevilDriver, a straight-forward, blue-collar headbanger’s band, tore through a tribute set to Black Flag. In one of the most intense sets of the night, the band was eventually joined by singers, Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed, Max Cavalera of Sepultura, and skate pro Mike Vallely, who can also scream like a pro. Loaded, featuring Duff McKagan of Guns N Roses fame played the next set. They did a thunderous version of Judas Priest’s “Electric Eye” at the end of their set, joined by punk legend Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols on guitar and singer Corey Taylor from Slipknot.
A somber moment came when there was a video presentation, much like the one at the Oscar’s, for of the fallen heroes of the past year. In this case the metal rockers were saluted, including Ronnie James Dio, who’s spirit seemed to loom large over this year’s event. Metal fans remained remarkably well behaved throughout the long and sometimes lethargic process of creating an awards show for television. But energy levels soared for the final set of the evening, and there was no doubt judging by the crowd’s reaction, why most people were in the audience.
Even before they began their set, members of headline act Avenged Sevenfold had the fans screaming with excitement. A frenzied crowd screamed their approval as the band exploded in a fog shrouded haze with the roar akin to a jet engine. An ear splitting set had fans screaming the lyrics and dancing to every minute of their idols’ set. Frontman M. Shadows, who also took home the award for Best Singer of the Year, mesmerized the crowd with his piercing voice and mercurial stage persona. Towards the end of the set McKagan returned to the stage to join the band in a cover of Guns N Roses classic “It’s So Easy.” Later, Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul came out to lead the band in a Pantera’s “Mouth for War.” But the bands own song “Bat Country” drew the biggest cheers of the night, cementing Avenged Sevenfold into the forefront of metal music today. From Alice Cooper to Avenged Sevenfold, the Ax has been passed.
The Awards show will be broadcast on VH1 Classics on May 28th.
by L. Paul Mann