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LIVE: AVATAR – May 5, 2018

Venue: The International

City: Knoxville, TN

Date: May 5, 2018

Review and Photographs by: Rachel Craig (

Knoxville is now a part of Avatar Country. The Swedish band brought their recent tour to The International along with the Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue, instead of the traditional choice of an opening band. However, this was the perfect lineup if you’re familiar with Avatar. The ambiance at The International went from a music venue to a real freakshow. Hellzapoppin embodied this with stuntman Ryan Stock, half-man Short E. Dangerously, the 3-foot-tall Nik Sin, and host Bryce “The Govna” Graves. The group performed multiple stunts, including fire breathing, sword swallowing, a straight jacket escape, and balancing acts. Graves also performed his famous trick where he puts a condom on a screwdriver, sticks it up his nose, removes the screwdriver, and then pulls the condom out through his mouth. Stock also holds multiple world records that he performed live, including the fastest 5 finger fillet and carrying objects with a hook in his nose. Since I had the opportunity to shoot their entire act from the pit, there were a few times when it was hard to watch since I was so close (especially when Graves popped corn kernels out of his eyes). But that’s the best part about Hellzapoppin – they’re shocking, entertaining, and a unique way to get everyone ready to enter Avatar Country.

The thing to remember about Avatar is that their latest album centers around The King (AKA guitarist Jonas Jarlsby). Every song is dedicated to The King and how he saved the land to create Avatar Country. Before Avatar took the stage, the music playing through the speakers kept switching between different songs playing on the radio in Avatar Country, which all had something to do with The King (I even heard a snippet of “Hail to the King” by Avenged Sevenfold at one point). Finally, the lights dimmed and it was time for The King to take his throne and play his axe, beginning the epic song “Legend of the King.” I really appreciate that the band didn’t really break the fourth wall often during the show. Even certain members of their crew were dressed in royal attire. Avatar’s 16-song setlist included songs dating back to their 2009 self-titled album. The newer songs included “King’s Harvest,” “The King Wants You,” “A Statue of the King,” and “The King Welcomes You to Avatar Country” – complete with bubbles raining down on the stage. They also performed some of their biggest hits, like “The Eagle Has Landed,” “For the Swarm,” “Raven Wine,” and the final song, “Hail The Apocalypse.” I also loved hearing “Tower” and the German song “Tsar Bomba” (I might’ve been one of the few to cheer when frontman Johannes Eckerström asked if anyone speaks German). Johannes also paused to show some love for Knoxville. He noted that the last time Avatar was in the city, they were touring with In Flames. Before that show, they played in the smaller room at the venue (The Concourse), which he remembered vividly because he had been saving a joke – “They named a city after my favorite guy from Jackass, Johnny Knoxville.” I will admit that I never really got into Avatar before this show, but they’re one of those bands you need to see live to fully understand them. I think this show turned me into a huge fan. Johannes’ voice is incredible live, ranging from high shrieks to the deepest growls. Not only are they one of the most unique and entertaining bands I’ve seen in a long time, they are also a treat for photographers because of their theatricality. As Johannes said near the end of the show, this performance helped us all become a part of their family – and a part of Avatar Country.





Category: Live Reviews, Photo Galleries

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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