NERDS!!!!” Seeing that scroll across the LiveNation text screen sent the crowd into a full volume laugh/ cheer. The Wiltern in Los Angeles was sold out and filled with every kind of character you can think of: Classic metal heads with the cut-off jean vests, people draped in goth garb, kids who looked like they just blew their entire allowance at Hot Topic, even someone dressed up as Dr. Rockso! Despite the many differences in age and obvious tastes in sub-cultures, the empty lobby for the headliners proved one thing: we’re all a bunch of cartoon-loving nerds!

This night proved to be one of the hardest nights to photograph. Every band seemed to prefer playing on a dark stage with minimal lighting. The first group of the night, Soilent Green, did just that. While you can barely make out faces for most of their set, their music showed off more to the crowd than any spotlight could.

With heavy guitar riffs and blasting drum hits, Soilent Green played to their many fans in attendance that night. They definitely got the crowd warmed up and ready for anything. The auditorium was packed and the floor level was in a state of constant movement. Soilent Green’s music reminded everyone that this entire show was going to be heavy with no chance for rest!

Next on stage was the group of Cleveland natives, Chimaira. With the amount of stage presence and audience participation, you’d swear that these guys were headlining the show. Their lighting and stage effects are, to date, the most elaborate and visually stunning I’ve ever seen. Huge smoke plumes, rapid-fire strobes in time with the music, dramatic spotlight coverage… It was like watching a 45-minute music video!

Every light effect was perfectly choreographed to the music adding intensity and raw power to their performance. There was hair swinging through the air both on-stage and off as audience and band fed off of each other’s energy. Chimaira lit the fuse under the Wiltern’s floor! There were pits forming and exploding all over the venue as everyone got into the music. HEAVY, HEAVY, HEAVY! The band played a good mix of old and new songs and gave special thanks to Dethklok for the support of their latest album, “Resurrection” (apparently Chimaira wasn’t too happy with the outcome of the album and wanted to write a new record as opposed to touring). The fans showed their appreciation of Chimaira’s decision to join the tour by keeping the floor moving and increasing the energy inside the venue.

At last, the moment everyone had been waiting for.

The stage setup was very simple: Instruments and equipment all level on the stage and a huge projector screen on the back wall. Loud cheers emerged from the crowd as the projector was fired up to reveal the Dethklok logo on the screen. Techs were still setting up the band’s equipment, but the crowd’s energy never died. Solid chants throughout the auditorium were loud enough to penetrate my earplugs! “DETHKLOK! DETHKLOK!” repeated over and over. It was reminiscent of any episode of Adult Swim’s Metalocalypse. The concert designers obviously foresaw this would be the reaction and included a storyline in the Dethklok performance.

The lights went dark, the logo melted off the screen, and immediately everyone was now a part of an episode of Metalocalypse. The Tribunal gave the intro to Dethklok’s set by introducing the plot to poison Dethklok’s fans by infiltrating the band’s road crew. Just as in the cartoon, Dethklok, fronted by show-creator Brendon Small, appeared right after the Tribunal’s cut-scene. They played mostly in low-lighting to give more attention to the projector screen. Dethklok played perfectly in sync with the images on screen and at times you might have forgotten that the music was being played live.

With only a handful of people in the lobby (mostly the venue staff), the auditorium showcased its full sold out capacity to Dethklok. Despite the bad-ass demeanor that many metal heads give off, everyone had a smile on their face, laughing and growling along with Small. The light-hearted feel of the entire set made everyone excited and they freely showed they were happy to be there. Dethklok performed many fan favorites from the TV show and included clips from the episodes that featured the songs. The clips between songs kept both the storyline and the fun atmosphere alive. After a short cut scene showing the cartoon band backstage before an encore, the real life Dethklok finished their set to an uproar of cheers and applause.

A sold out show filled with amazing performances… not a bad way to spend a Friday night.

For more photos (some not so great thanks to the extremely dim lighting), click here.