AVATAR Descends Upon Saint Petersburg, Florida!

May 24, 2023, a year ago

Words and Photos by Mark Matson

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“Saint Petersburg, we own you”! No truer words could have come out of the mouth of Johannes Eckerstrom the lead singer of Avatar. This was exactly the case at Jannus Live in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. After a weather aborted attempt to showcase their metal wares at the recent Welcome To Rockville festival, Eckerstrom and his merry band of cohorts in music and mayhem had plenty of pent up energy. So the next stop on their Dance Devil Dance Tour would be certain to get an extra heaping of their brand of madness. For all the fans that snatched up tickets to their show at Jannus live, they would bear witness to the pandemonium that would ensue.

With the stage set and the crowd on pins and needles, the venue went dark, and chimes rang out through the PA as though this was a solemn ceremony. Finally the drum riser high up on the stage was lit up and smoke poured out from under it. Then drummer John Alfredsson appeared standing behind his kit and would robotically beat on his drum to match the chimes. Then at just the right moment the rest of the band stepped through individual curtains onto risers and streams of sparks shot up from the stage. Talk about a dramatic entrance!

The band then launched into “Dance Devil Dance” from their latest album of the same title. With Eckerstrom standing center stage in his harlequin face paint and wearing a black and red satin outfit along with a cane, he looked every bit the part of the ringleader. But make no mistake, while these guys want to have fun when it comes to music, they mean business. Guitarists Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby, and Tim Ohrstrom along with bassist Henrik Sandelin were in full hair whip mode all while playing brilliantly all while Eckerstrom would effortlessly go between growling, singing, and screaming.

After ripping through fan favorite “The Eagle Has Landed” and new song “Valley Of Disease” off of their latest album Dance Devil Dance, Eckerstrom took a few moments to talk to the audience that he lovingly referred to as “Outcasts, freaks, misfits and miscarriages” which of course everyone cheered at. He continued his tongue in cheek monologue saying among other things that “they came from a far off land to take their jobs and women”. He went on to say that he needed a mosh pit but not just any mosh pit tonight, not a feeble human mosh pit and everyone was an animal so show me a chimp mosh pit. With that the band instantly launched into the song. Every member of the band started head banging and swinging their hair like a helicopter.

While everyone knows the heavier songs in Avatar’s catalog, and of course their performances that go along with them, but the song “Puppet Show” truly showcases the circus of evil side in them. With the sing song beat that is typical of what you might hear in a carnival peppered with a metal twist the band rips through the song. But at one point the band members were crowded by the drum riser. With the drum beat slowing down no one seemed to notice that Johannes Eckerstrom wasn’t among them. Moments later he appeared on one of the balconies overlooking the audience. With everyone below cheering wildly he made balloon animals and tossed them to the crowd below. But that wouldn’t be all as he grabbed his trombone and played a solo as well.

They also played some of their most popular songs such as “Black Waltz”, “Colossus” and a rowdy version of “Let It Burn”. When they were getting ready to play “A Statue Of The King”, guitarist Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby came on stage decked out in his full royal attire and of course wearing his crown. With all the great songs that they played over the course of the night they saved the biggest ones for the encore. They start things off with their latest hit single “The Dirt I’m Buried In”. When they launched into “Smells Like A Freak Show” this got everyone cheering wildly. They capped off the night with arguably their biggest hit “Hail The Apocalypse”.

After close to two hours of the brand of craziness that only Avatar can whip up, the party was finally over. As the crowd streamed out of Jannus Live, it was obvious that everyone got so much more than they expected. This was indeed a show for the ages as Avatar proved to everyone that they are one of the most entertaining bands on this planet. Between their unique look, over the top showmanship, and of course their incredible musical chops, Avatar and their Dance Devil Dance tour is a must see show.

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