Photos & Words by Alan Snodgrass
Avatar Country has come to San Francisco for their first ever headlining show. Visitors were greeted by a half-bearded guy in the corner selling spins of a wheel of fortune to win Avatar swag. Those not into games of chance could also opt to simply staple five bucks to his face (or any other part of his body).
The evening’s eclectic line-up started with ’68, the Atlanta-based duo which filled what was left of the stage (stacked high with equipment which was covered by a curtain) with 30 minutes of antics that wrapped with the guitarist/singer dismantling the drum kit while the drummer was still playing.
Another duo, Dance With the Dead picked things right back up after a short set change. Guitars, keyboards, and a techno-meets-metal thump may have missed the mark for most (the Metallica mash-up didn’t seem to help) but did get one dude up front rocking along Techno Viking style.
Playing direct support for Avatar was Devin Townsend with a solo acoustic set. With only a guitar and some backing tracks, Devin’s talents were on full display (except for the first 5 minutes which he spent tuning his guitar while he talked about how many shits he’d taken that day) and the love in the room for this dude was was strong (the petite woman in the front row with the hand puppet may have been crying) but the stoic Swedish-looking metal heads up front didn’t seem to appreciate the shtick; they were clearly crammed up against the barricade for one reason and one reason alone. Avatar.
With the opening acts done, the crew removed the curtain covering most of the stage to reveal a drum riser and side ramps up to a platform from which The King (played by guitarist Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby) rose through the floor seated on a throne from where he launched into “A Statue of the King” on guitar. For the initiated, this would kick off an evening of antics centered around The King … hair whips, crowns, bubbles, the reappearance of the throne and more songs about … you guessed it, The King. You know what they say … “it’s good to be king.”
The all ages crowd (including small children), ate it all up as the band ripped through their set, balancing the new material from last year’s “Avatar Country” with their previous albums … making sure there was something for everyone as they battered the San Francisco crowd and the floor spun.