The Bottom Lounge played host to the Pandemonium Over North America 2011 Tour. This tour featured Kamelot, Alestorm, Blackguard and The Agonist. You can check out our review after the break.
The Bottom Lounge bar/music venue is located near Chicago’s West Side, in a neighborhood that is less than appealing. That being said, walking into The Bottom Lounge takes you right into their main bar area, with the music area behind closed doors at the far end of the room. After checking into the venue and going into the area of the building that holds the shows, there were a few specific thoughts that entered my mind. The first of which pertained to fact that the place reeked of beer, and the second was that there were people dressed in pirate costumes roaming around. At that point I knew I was in for a show.
In my mind, even before I got to the venue, I had split this show into two categories: the openers, and the closers. Even though this was technically Kamelot’s show, I regarded Alestorm as a headlining act just based on their popularity and major presence on this tour. The two Quebec-based openers, The Agonist, and Blackguard, both took the stage by storm with their respective Metalcore and Melodic Death metal auras. The one thing that surprised me about both bands is that they both weren’t an all-male group like I had expected. The Agonist incorporated a female singer/screamer into their act while Blackguard’s girl drummer, nicknamed “Juice,” made the band all the more awesome. The two openers both have at least two albums so they had plenty of material to choose from to keep the audience moving during their short sets.
Alestorm originally formed under the name “Battleheart,” but changed that in 2004 to their current and more appropriate title. Alestorm’s set was all about drinking and finding some wenches, and the crowed absolutely loved it. Alestorm ran through their hits like “Captain Morgan’s Revenge,” and “Shipwrecked” but the best part came when they drunkenly ran through my personal two favorites, “Wenches & Meade” and “Nancy The Tavern Wench.” Alestorm’s set was also full of shenanigans, such as when lead singer Christopher Bowes mentioned “shitty pop music,” or when guitarist Dani Evans had guitar problems and the band went into impromptu reggae-like jams to fill time.
The very first thing that struck me after Kamelot stormed the stage was that they wouldn’t have the will to perform if they didn’t have a solid audience participating right along with them. Kamelot’s powerful set was indeed fueled by the audience in the form of singer Fabio Lione’s reaching towards the audience for more noise and cheering, or the excessive “Hey! Hey! Hey!” chants that went along with the songs. Kamelot has nine studio albums under their belt, so their set was a wide mixture of all their material. Some of the songs that the audience seemed to respond to the most were “Center of the Universe,” Rule the World,” “Temples of Gold,” and “The Great Pandemonium.” There were several treats during the set that absolutely made the audience go crazy. During most of the set, backup vocals were provided by Simone Simons, lead singer of Epica, but for songs like “House on a Hill,” and “The Haunting (Somewhere in Time),” Simone came out from the background and sang front and center with Fabio, making the crowd go wild. Kamelot’s set also included a few other exciting bits that even fair-weather fans wouldn’t resist. At one point, drummer Casey Grillo flew into a mind-blowing drum solo that ended in him pounding on the cymbals with his fists until it looked like they’d fall. During their set Simone also came out blindfolded to pound on a snare drum while following along with the band’s melodies.
This was a great show and I highly suggest checking out these bands, even if you’re not into this type of music. I definitely preferred Alestorm over the rest of the bill, but I plan on checking out Blackguard a lot more, and I also want to hear some more from Kamelot because they truly impressed me.
Information about the review…
Tour: Pandemonium Over North America 2011 feat Kamelot
Reviewer: Mike Nutting
Bands: Kamelot, Alestorm, Blackguard and The Agonist
Date: September 8, 2011
Venue: Bottom Lounge in Chicago, IL