Dethklok brings a Metalocalypse to Kansas City

When Metalocalypse premiered on the Cartoon Network in 2006, it immediately made a splash. With a combination of dark humor, and death metal, from the band at the center of the show DETHKLOK, the show, and the music, were the complete opposite of THE MONKEES. Fans showed up hours in advance to get a good spot in line. Many decked out in concert t-shirts, plenty of spiked collars and bands. Some even going so far as to dressing up like goblins themselves (you don’t see that at TAYLOR SWIFT).

Dethklok didn’t come to Kansas City alone though; it was an incredible night for fans of metal, as the Uptown Theater played host, not only to this animated ensemble’s real-life performance, but also DRAGONFORCE, and NEKROGOBLIKON.

NEKROGOBLIKON hit the stage at 7:00, with Dickie Allen (known for his work with INFANT ANNHILIATOR) asking “Where’s the Goblin?” Before the eponymous Goblin, John Goblikon arrived on-stage, like only a goblin can. It is a little unusual that the band, known for featuring two vocalists, had two new front men (or one front man and one front goblin) on the tour, but that’s rock ‘n roll baby…or melodic death metal in this case.

The band’s set was a thrilling showcase of their unique style, blending intense metal riffs with theatrical elements that perfectly complemented the night’s theme. Fans who have followed NEKROGOBLIN would not have been disappointed as the band played favorites that highlighted their technical prowess and stage presence. Amid the shredding guitars and pounding drums, John lead vocalist managed to inject humor with well-timed jokes, referring to Kansas City as “A landing strip for Taylor Swift’s private jet.” and congratulating us on our “[H]andsome quarterback, John Brady.” The comments were met with a mix of cheers and jeers, but all taken in good fun.

This blend of humor and metal is a hallmark of NEKROGOBLIKON performances, making them a perfect opening act for the animated metal maniacs in DETHKLOK. Metalocalypse-themed night.

As the night progressed at the Uptown Theater, the atmosphere thickened with anticipation for DRAGONFORCE‘s performance. Known for their lightning-fast guitar solos and epic fantasy-themed lyrics, DRAGONFORCE was sure to deliver a killer performance. The band took the stage with a burst of energy that matched their reputation, delivering a set that was both visually and sonically stunning. Two classic arcade cabinets stood on the stage, which various members would climb up on throughout their set. Highlights from their performance included fan favorites from their latest album, “Warp Speed Warriors,” with the crowd going particularly wild for their cover of TAYLOR SWIFTs “Wildest Dreams,” and of course Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”. Truly something for everyone.

It wouldn’t be a DRAGONFORCE performance without “Through the Fire and Flames”, which closed out their set. I can only imagine the number of people in that room who broke their guitar controllers out of frustration, while trying to 100% the song, a sentiment shared by guitarist Herman Li.

We saw DRAGONFORCE a few years ago at the Granada Theater in Lawrence Kansas, and maybe it was the intimacy of the Granada, or maybe it was because DRAGONFORCE was headlining, but that performance seemed to hit harder than the Uptown. It was still an incredible performance in Kansas City though, maybe just not an 11.

As the headliners of the night, DETHKLOK took to the stage amidst a backdrop of animated chaos, and trailer for their new film, “Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar”, it was the perfect mirror of the dystopian universe of “Metalocalypse.”

The Uptown Theater, already buzzing from the performances of DRAGONFORCE and NEKROGOBLIKON, was thrust into a darker, more intense spectacle. DETHKLOK’s set opened with “Deththeme,” instantly setting a ferocious tone that promised nothing short of a brutal metal onslaught. The crowd, a clear mix of diehard fans, and unexpecting newcomers, roared as the band transitioned into “Briefcase Full of Guts,” a track as menacing as its title suggests, with animated visuals to match.

The theatricality of Dethklok’s performance was unmatched, except maybe GORRILAZ, featuring a synchronized display of on-screen animations that depicted the band’s fictional antics alongside their live music execution. The band played largely in the dark, with only their silhouettes against the giant video display being the only indication that they were, in fact, playing live.

This unique blend of virtual and live elements is a hallmark of DETHKLOK’s performances, enhancing the experience beyond a typical concert. The set was a well-curated mix of aggression and melody, showcasing tracks from across their discography the darkly comedic “Birthday Dethday,” and “Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle.”

This gathering was not just a concert, but also showed just how diverse metal can be. Guitar heroes, and songs about epic adventures with DRAGONFORCE, Goblins that wear ties and sing, with NEKROGOBLIKON, to cartoon characters that rock harder than they have any right to. The music was as diverse as the audience. And what can be more metal than that?

Words and Photos by Josh Chaikin

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