HIM North American Tour
With: We Are The Fallen, Dommin, Drive A
House of Blues, San Diego April 22, 2010—The show tonight is completely sold out. The attendants line up around the block under a sky that threatens a deluge at any moment. The most interesting point that is easily noticeable is not the die-hard fans willing to forgo the weather for the sake of the show, but rather the attendants themselves. The flocks of black-clad teens (and some parents) are expected, but the high school jocks, the girl that works at Banana Republic, and the couple whose fashion sense climaxed with the final season of “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” It would seem, however oddly, that songs with lyrical themes of loss, alienation, lust, broken hearts, suicide, and infatuation have a strangely unifying effect. Much like the House of Blues mantra of “All Are One,” everyone is on a level playing field under the banner of dark rock.
The evening kicks off with the earnest (albeit, awkward) pop punk of show openers Drive A. Although they try as hard as they can to rouse the crowd, their Sum-41 meets mid-career Green Day sound has little effect. It’s a shame that their fervor is wasted on this crowd as it would certainly be welcomed and appreciated with their Warped Tour brethren.
Dark rockers, Dommin are next on the bill. Their presence couldn’t be more welcomed and it’s unclear why they didn’t open the show instead. Starting their set with the appropriately atmospheric song “New,” they’ve instantly gained the crowd's trust and affection. Speaking little—but just enough—to the audience, frontman Kris Dommin howls, croons, and elegizes through a powerful and shadowy batch of songs—pausing only to hand out single, red roses. Closing their set with a fitting cover of Cutting Crew’s “(I Just) Died in your Arms,” it’s clear that they’ve won some new fans.
Female-fronted We Are The Fallen could have capitalized on the energy that began to build in the crowd. Unfortunately, technical issues (or general rock star stalling), prevented that from happening. By the time the intro of programmed orchestrations and samples came from the PA system, most of the crowd became a bit restless. Although WATF’s songs packed a wallop with the combined guitar attack of a six and seven string, the mid tempo, weighty tunes and near unintelligible vocal made for a lack-luster set. Even lead singer, Carley Smithson’s local status couldn’t build much momentum. It’s easy to draw sonic similarities to Evanescence (especially when every member of the band, sans Carley, used to be in that band), so I’ll avoid them. The highlights of the calculated and efficient set were the cover of Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” and Iron Maiden’s “Flight of Icarus” (which, somehow, makes up the perfect combination of artists to describe their sound, with a fraction of the talent of either act)…although the latter was lost on 70 percent of the crowd.
The real dull moment came in the form of the 50-minute “performance” of headliners, HIM. The instant frontman Ville Valo strolled onto the stage, the female concert-goers were entranced with him. The problem was, not even their screams (which have got to be what a Jonas Brothers concert sounds like), could hold his interest. With the lazy attempt at showmanship aside, the band couldn’t have sounded better. Valo’s voice is as strong as it is on record, the songs are great live, and the band is tight enough to turn a cover of Chris Issac’s “Wicked Game” into a stoner jam session—complete with the chant of, “hashish, hashish, hashish.” This aside, HIM is a band better left to their albums, and not the stage.