From The Pit To The Crowd: Dragonforce with Once Human

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July 27th would end up being one of my most memorable concert photography days. Earlier in the day, I had the chance to interview Dragonforce lead singer, Marc Hudson. And I was able to bring along my son, who is a huge fan of the bands. The smile on his face and the 25 minute interview was a great start to my day. Later that night, my son and I would be attending the show at The Beacham. As an added bonus, I was photographing Dragonforce for the second time this month.

There was a decent sized crowd waiting outside The Beacham when we arrived. The venue inside is fairly large hold a capacity of about 1250 people. It was created in 1921 and originally used for vaudeville acts and movies before becoming a nightclub and live acts around 1988. Most rock and metal bands are usually booked at the House of Blues, but The Beacham was able to bring in Dragonforce during this U.S. tour and the fans here would not be disappointed.

The opening act this evening was Once Human. The band from Los Angeles, CA formed in 2014 when Logan Mader (formerly from Machine Head) and then a composer and producer saw a guitar video of Lauren Hart. He was asked to work with her and when they met, they found their musical vision had so much in common that Logan decided to join the band now known as Once Human. The remainder of the band was pulled together where they release ‘The Life I Remember’ in 2015 and most recently ‘Evolution’ in February 2017. Once Human consists of Lauren Hart (vocals), Logan Mader (guitar), Dillon Trollope (drums), Max Karon (guitar), and Damian Rainaud (bass).

The part that amazed me right off the bat was Lauren’s vocals. Her amazing deep, hardcore vocals are definitely not what you expect when you see her and they immediately draw you in to Once Human’s fierce sound. They opened up with “Eyes of Chaos” from their recent album ‘Evolution’. The song is excellent thrash from the opening notes, through Lauren’s vocals, to the end. Though the crowd, like me, was shocked to hear Lauren’s singing, they got into it right away. The followed up with “Killers For The Cure”also from ‘Evolution’. The song’s heavy drums and fast pace started to get some of the crowd moshing away.

The band drenched themselves in red lights and strobes for some of their set, which meshed well with their music. Logan kicked off some stellar jumps during their set, which definitely caught my attention. Damian and Max head banged frequently during the set and Dillon was right there with them with his fast paced deep drumbeats. The rest of their set that night included “Mass Murder Frenzy”, “Pick Your Poison”, and “Flock of Flesh”. The band was given a solid round of applause when they finished and Lauren asked the fans to come visit the band at their merch table.

We now awaited for the headliner, Dragonforce. The UK band from London was formed back in 1999. With 7 studio albums published, the band is no stranger to the music scene. They had played alongside American bands Disturbed and Slipknot during the 2008 Mayhem Festival. That same year they were nominated for a Grammy for Best Metal Performance for “Heroes of Our Time”, though they lost to Metallica for “My Apocalypse”. Though they are more well known in the UK and Europe, American console gamers may be familiar with them due to Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. Their song “Through the Fire and Flames” becoming one of the most difficult songs to score a perfect 100%.  In May 2017 the band released their 7th album “Reaching Through Infinity”. Dragonforce is Marc Hudson (vocals), Herman Li (guitar), Sam Totman (guitar), Frederic Leclercq (bass), Gee Anzalone (drums), and Vadim Pruzanhov. Though Vadim is a member of Dragonforce, he chose to spend more time with his daughter and did not go on the tour this year.

As the stage was set, the musical intro for “Reaching Into Infinity” began and the crowd cheered in approval. One by one from behind the drumset the band members appeared on stage. And once March took the stage the band opened into “Ashes of the Dawn” from ‘Reaching Into Infinity’. With their speed guitar playing, quick drum beats, and Marc’s high pitched vocals, the immediately had the crowd cheering. They followed up with “Operation Ground and Pound” from ‘Inhuman Rampage’.

Sam, Herman, and Frederic were enjoying themselves playing in unison and shifting around on stage. They continued through their set with “Judgement Day”, “Seasons”, “Curse of Darkness”, and “Fury of the Storm”. They made their way into a guitar solo where Frederic brought out a Sonic the Hedgehog guitar and began playing notes to the crowd asking them to emulate the sounds back to him. After a few rounds of that and getting some good laughs, he started off into a gaming tribute to Street Fighter, Super Mario Brothers 2, and Sonic the Hedgehog. Marc also came out with a bass to play with Frederic. After they were done, Gee went a sensational drum solo.

The band itself had a lot of fun with the fans. The band made fun of each other on stage during songs, especially joking on Sam’s taste in beer, when the rest of the band decided to do a shot of liquor that fans provided to them. They played on with “Heart of the Dragon” and “The Edge of the World”. They then played “Cry Thunder” and got the crowd to sing back to the chorus to the band. Marc said that at every show they always bring up a fan to sing the chorus of “Cry Thunder” with the band. They picked out a male fan, who got up on stage, and totally blew away the chorus with his singing. The band was beyond impressed and took a selfie with him before finishing the song.

Dragonforce left the stage after “Cry Thunder” and after chants of “Dragonforce!” the band came back out. They wrapped up their set with “Valley of the Damned”, “Ring of Fire” (a cover of Johnny Cash’s song written by June Carter Cash and Merle Kilgore), which is absolutely amazing, and finally “Through the Fire and the Flames”.  From the thrash metal of Once Human to the speed and power metal of Dragonforce, this was a very fun and enjoyable show. I look forward to seeing both bands return to Orlando.