BABYMETAL & DETHKLOK – The Babyklok Tour 2023

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Dethklok crowd – Photo Credit Ron Lyon

Babyklok  – A mind-bending  tour name that alone conjures up a kind of crazy stage experience one might expect from two extremely different heavy metal bands, but who are somewhat sonically similar, yet visually quite different.  It’s Far East J-Pop kawaii metal meets melodic West Coast death metal. Add  to that a powder keg  of animated parody, thunderous venue acoustics, explosive stage lighting and a passionate fan base, and what you have left is one hell of a fun night.

The Babyklok Tour 2023 is a 29-date co-headlining tour with Japanese metal band Babymetal, and Dethklok, Brendon Small’s come-to-life version of the animated heavy metal band in Adult Swim’s Metalocalypse, who last toured in 2012. Joining the tour as opening support is virtuoso American guitarist Jason Richardson. The tour began August 30th in Houston, Texas and wound its way across America, ending with tonight’s sold-out show, the second of two here at the YouTube Theater in Inglewood, California.  This was the first time attending an event at the YouTube Theater. Opened in 2021, the 6000-seat venue is actually part of the expansive Hollywood Park complex that houses the massive SoFi Stadium, across the street from the Kia Forum.  With the closure of the similarly-sized Gibson Amphitheater in 2013, this new mid-size venue is the new alternative to the Forum and arenas.

Jason Richardson – Photo Credit: Ron Lyon

Progressive metal guitarist Jason Richardson kicked the evening off with a flurry of highly technical selection of songs from his solo career. The self-taught multi-instrumentalist played these songs as a soloist against a set of pre-mixed backing tracks.  Think John 5 meets Yngvie Malmsteen. You get the picture. When not performing as a solo artist, Richardson is a member of metalcore band All That Remains, currently on hiatus. Engaging with the crowd throughout his set, Richardson was a pleasant surprise and very much appreciated by the discerning crowd on hand.

Because of alternating headlining nights, Dethklok got the early slot for the final show.  Brendon Small and Nili Brosh would handle the guitars, Pete Griffin on bass and the incredible Gene Hogland on drums carried the torch this night.  Bryan Beller, who started the tour on bass, left two weeks earlier because of obligations to his other band, The Aristocrats, currently on tour in Europe. With fist pumping, cheering and chants of Dethklok, the intro video Is Dethklok Back? got the room’s attention.  When the band

Dethklok – Photo Credit: Ron Lyon

kicked off the show with Deththeme, it was as if a bomb went off in the venue. And it was beautiful.  With those opening chords, the sensory assault began. As fast you could say “go!” a mosh pit coagulated in the center of the pit, a thrashing river of bodies and fists. It was the Apocalypse in real time. A Metalocaylpse. With classic songs like Briefcase Full of Guts, Hatredcopter, I Ejaculate Fire, the battering ram-like songs fed the frenzied and sweaty faithful. Dethklok set out to destroy everything within the room with a cascade of blinding lights, doom animation and a live sound that came straight from Hades.  Dethklok cranked out 18 songs in the next hour, along with a couple of hilarious interludes from the emcee Facebones. The video clips had the crowd laughing as one as Facebones described concert etiquette tips on hygiene, drinking booze and smoking pot.  As with all things on the Metalocalypse menu, the ingredients for this night included doom, gloom, death and violence, tossed into a mixing bowl of heavy metal tongue-in-cheek. A masterpiece…and it was beautiful.

Baby Metal – Photo Credit: Ron Lyon

The Babymetal band (the KAMI Band, previously known as Galactic Empire!) was set and ready to go. The house packed with fans of all ages, teens with their parents, parents with their parents. A very quiet gentleman sitting nearby, dressed in full kabuki makeup, was ready. Fans were dressed in costumes. They were holding signs. They were all ready. Babymetal roared forth, Su-metal, Moametal and Momometal ran to set positions and began to dance. For an hour they danced and waved and danced some more. Tightly choreographed moves that at times seemed splashy, other times it seemed forced and silly. Not very metal, but I guess that is J-POP, and the crowd roared its approval. They screamed as each member waved, looking out over the gawking stares.  When looking at the draw of a Dethklok-Baby Metal tour, comparisons can be made between the fans they share. Obviously, there is the melodic nu metal sound they both generate.  There is the fondness for animation and parody. Where they differ is that Babymetal leans into the J-POP dance routines and just have become a bit stale.  As stunning as they are to look at, they are a pop band doing dance routines to metal music with flashy graphics and animation.  The question is, where do they go from here?  Although their appeal has not seemed to wane amongst the faithful, to the casual observer their routine seems contrived—the opposite of what metal is all about.

This article was edited on 10-25-23.

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3 thoughts on “BABYMETAL & DETHKLOK – The Babyklok Tour 2023

  1. Two of the Western Kami Band members used to be with Galactic Empire.
    The other two did not, so it’s incorrect to say that the band was “previously known as Galactic Empire”. You also spent a lot of time dissing the dancing and none at all talking about Su-metal’s singing, which is (IMO) high level.
    That’s quite an oversight.
    There’s a good argument to be made that BABYMETAL have one of the widest stylistic ranges in their songs, which is the opposite of what you’re suggesting.

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