The word “ballsy” gets thrown around a lot these days, but when a tiny(read: less than 300 in the main room), brand new venue in the not- the- greatest part of Detroit, Michigan bids for one of the biggest bands in the world to play, the word applies.

Similarly, the word “class” gets passed around a lot, but when one of the biggest bands in the world ACCEPTS said bid from a tiny, brand new venue in the not- the- greatest- part of Detroit, Michigan, the word applies.

Boys and girls, get to Detroit.  Because I just saw fucking Once Human and DRAGONFORCE at El Club, and it is an event I’ll never, ever, forget.

Being from Milwaukee, I haven’t seen such a big band at a venue like this since Andrew W.K. played The Rave’s basement in 2002, and to date, there are a sad number of metal bands who, after they make it big, will jump at the chance to play venues such as El Club(Under Threat, Foo Fighters, Killswitch Engage, and, oddly enough, Limp Bizkit are pretty much it), so the fact that these guys did solidified the belief that this was going to be a special show, and I was not disappointed.

It should also be noted, that El Club was charging only $22 a ticket for the show, and a goodly sized chunk of the audience had won a VIP package for the show.

Once Human started off the show with a bang, plowing through Eye Of Chaos and Killers Of The Cure.  The five(six?)- piece band features Logan Mader, formerly of Machinehead, and Lauren Hart on vocals.  To look at her, you’d swear she’d be more at home on the cover of Vogue than on stage with a metal band.  To hear her talk, in her droolingly sweet Australian accent, you would never expect what comes out of her lungs to be as scary and badass as it does.  They came out and POUNDED the packed crowd, driving it home that they were not to be taken lightly.  And, when I say that, I don’t neglect to mention the fact that a lot of fans of bands like Iron Maiden and Dragonforce will look at the opener as just this sort of obstacle that is in the way of them seeing the band they came to see.  Not the case at all, here.  They were welcome and loved from chunking riff number one.  At one point, Hart brought a cute little boy who’d been head banging up front, on stage, where he continued to head bang through their newest single Dark Matter, which didn’t need to boy on stage to be awesome to watch.

If you’re a fan of Arch Enemy then you’ll EASILY love these guys.

Their set ended, and I walked into the garden to find members of Dragonforce– no shit- just hanging out with a bunch of fans.  The first thing I thought, and I’m not even kidding about this, was that Otep has no excuse to think the way she does.  Come to find out, Marc and Frederic’ were watching Once Human’s entire set!  Class, people.  Tons of it.

That’s right, Otep (our article about this situation can be found here), I’m looking at you. A band that regularly plays to 80,000 people will not only sit and hang out with their fans for hours, but watch the show in the thick of it.  You have no excuse.

But enough about that.

A half hour later, Dragonforce got on stage and opened up Ashes Of The Dawn, and the crowd went NUTS!  They kept right on going with Operation Ground And Pound, and pounded through 80 minutes of the most amazing show I’ve seen in- no shit- FIFTEEN YEARS.

At every banter point in the show, Marc would take a moment to thank the crowd and tell us how much they loved their fans, which was really cool, and very reminiscent of bands like KISS.

What I love about Marc’s stage game is that, unlike their previous singer, he can hit every single note on stage, that he does on the album, so not only is their show amazing to watch, but it’s better than the disc!  Seriously, listen to Reaching Into Infinity, and then go see these guys put it on stage.

Another great thing was that they all had fun!  Now it can be easy for someone like Herman and Sam to play to a crowd(and they do with gusto) but Gee Anzalone was smiling pretty much the whole way through pounding those drums, which is incredible to watch.

Halfway through the set, Frederic came back on stage with a guitar.  Not just any guitar, but one emblazoned with Sonic The Hedgehog, and Marc had a bass!  What followed was something I’ll never forget; a medley of video game themes played by Fred, Marc, and Gee!  They lead off with the Sonic theme and went right into a very nice reproduction of one of the themes from Super Mario 2. Afterward, Frederic complemented Marc on having screwed it up only twice, which got lots of laughs.  That was a hallmark of their set- they all had fun, which was a point Herman made to me in an interview conducted before the show, which can be found here.

For the next forty minutes, not only did the band tell me that they loved me, but they pounded me with crushing riffs and solos from each album.  When they played Through The Fire And Flames, I was so happy that I was in tears.

By the end of the show, every person, including me, was sweating and tired.  Keep in mind, I hadn’t been this moved by a set in fifteen years.  It was a very positive, and memorable moment in my life, one that I hope all of you will have the gift of witnessing at some point.  Even if you’re not the biggest fan of Dragonforce, which, since I’ve still alive, you’re not, you will not be able to watch them and walk away frowning.  They’re just too much fun to watch.

I walked away from the event with a smile on my face, and memories I’ll carry with me for decades to come.  Not only is El Club one of the best venues I’ve ever had the pleasure of being at, but this single moment in time is one that will have attendees talking about for a long time.  It’s refreshing that, in a world where bands big and small tear each other to pieces to get ahead, a band like Dragonforce will take a hit in their wallets to play an intimate show and really connect with their fans.

You can check out our photos of Dragonforce and Once Human by visiting their galleries in the links.



Written by Hobbes Caltous for Bloodrock Media on July 19, 2017.