Next up was my favorite band of the four, Avenged Sevenfold. While they put on a great set, it was very different from the last time I saw them. M. Shadows spent more time in the background – a similar move that Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan does – and let the musicians speak for themselves. The stage show, while excellent crafted, was very dark in tone. When they opened with “Nightmare,” a man was hung from a noose during the song (held up by bungee cords of course). During the breakdown of “Buried Alive,” the whole lighting went dark with the exception of the cemetery gates backdrop, which were engulfed in flames to represent the dark nature of the song. The inevitable tribute to drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan – who died in December of an [accidental] drug overdose – came about midset, and for me it was a tearjerker. The backdrop curtain showed a picture of Sullivan with his back turned, exposing the tattoo of his last name, with M. Shadows around one arm and who I believe was Synyster Gates on the other [MOD NOTE: Backdrop is Johnny Christ & Synyster Gates with The Rev]. “This was the best person that I have ever known” said M. Shadows on stage. The combination of the backdrop, the melancholy faces on the band while playing “So Far Away” – the song dedicated to Sullivan – and the abundance of lighters and cellphones out during the song brought me to tears (and playing “Afterlife” right afterward didn’t slow the tears). Their show was a lot more lighthearted and M. Shadows was out having a great time the last time I saw them, but their in a period of mourning, I shouldn’t have expected anything crazy-fun. I also need to acknowledge what a great job that the excellent Mike Portnoy (drummer of Dream Theater and the Rev’s inspiration) did in honoring Jimmy as well. The audience seemed to accept him, and he didn’t give us any reason to doubt it.
The evening’s MVP was certainly Stone Sour. No one matched the energy and passion they brought on stage, and they did it without any gimmicky stage shows. Avenged Sevenfold comes close for the heart, darkness, sadness, and well-executed performances, and I can now sadly say that I have cried at a concert. I will never forget their performance and I certainly will never forget The Rev.