Words & Images by: L. Paul Mann
2011 Revolver Golden Gods Awards :: 04.20.11 :: Club Nokia :: Los Angeles, CA
Legions of heavy metal rock fans, representing multiple generations, lined up for the third annual Revolver Golden Gods Awards in the middle of the L.A. live entertainment district. The crowd, clad in their best metal garb, became an instant tourist attraction, as they waited for the sold out awards show and concert at Club Nokia. NBA fans arriving for an L.A. Lakers playoff game at Staples Center across the street swarmed around the rockers, wearing the trademark purple and gold colors of their team. This remarkable scene was the backdrop for the Black Carpet arrival ceremony for the Golden Gods recipients, amidst a small army of press photographers and video news crews. Bewildered tourists stood fascinated by the convergence of events in the middle of the large-screen video saturated square - an ADD visitors dream.
|Avenged Sevenfold by L. Paul Mann|
After an hours long outdoor ceremony, music fans and musicians filed into the relatively new theater. The luxurious Club Nokia, which offered a perfect setting for the event and a state of the art sound and video system, may be the best live music venue in Los Angeles. The nearly four hour long show alternated between awards presentations and live music performances. The evening’s festivities began with Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) appearing onstage with a boombox and leaving it on a stool with Justin Bieber's “Baby” feebly blaring from the little speakers (this was the extent of Grohl's participation). As metal fans began to boo, the show’s host, Chris Jericho, appeared, towing a bright red baseball bat. Answering the crowd’s cajoling, he proceeded to bash the box to tiny bits. “Are you ready to fucking rock and roll?” the former pro wrestler and current contestant on Dancing With The Stars screamed.
Then, he launched into a heavy metal medley with his band Fozzy. The band of talented rockers did a surprisingly good interpretation of metal classics' from Black Sabbath, Dio, Ozzy, Iron Maiden and more. After a twenty minute set, Jericho began the first awards presentations. With a persona akin to a young David Hasslehoff, his goofy style somehow seemed to work, placating the crowd and acting as a buffer to the heavier participants over the course of the evening. As the show proper began, a pattern quickly emerged with mostly older metal rock legends, presenting awards to mostly younger metal heroes of today’s music scene. There were exceptions like the Best Live Band award going to veteran German primal scream metal gods Rammstein and Mötley Crüe winning the Ronnie James Dio Lifetime Achievement Award. The latter award was hosted by Dio's widow, Wendy, and Ronnie’s former band mate Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath/Heaven And Hell fame. Dio, who was honored at last year’s awards, died shortly afterwards. The army of veteran award hosts and presenters kept the audience guessing as to which ones would actually join the live performances to jam.
The second performance of the evening was actually the most anticipated by many of the older hard rock fans in the audience. The original Alice Cooper Band (who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last month) played together for the first time in 40 years in Los Angeles. The iconic lead singer was joined by his original bandmates rhythm guitarist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith. Long time collaborator guitarist Steve Hunter stood in for the late, great Glen Buxton, who died in 1997. A 63-year-old Alice was fully in character with thick make up and all his trademark props, including a large live python. The band tore through a four song set including their first iconic hit “Eighteen.” “Under My Wheels,” a song that resonated for a generation of underground rock fans, was next, followed by mega-hits “Billion Dollar Babies” and “Schools Out.” It truly was an historic moment in rock history.
|Alice Cooper by L. Paul Mann|
Fans politely sat through the legions of award and video presentations, highlighted by the Dio Award, an 80-year-old William Shatner receiving the Honorary Headbanger Award, and the many awards that headliners Avenged Sevenfold received. But the live performances were the real reason that the music fans sold out the marathon event. The next performance featured England’s hottest new metal band Asking Alexandria. They were joined by veteran singer Sebastian Bach at the end of their set for the Skid Row classic “Youth Gone Wild.”
Denmark's punkabilly band Volbeat played the next set. They were joined at the end by Scott Ian of Anthrax for a psycho version of Dusty Springfield's “I Only Want To Be With You.” One of California's most promising new metal powerhouses played next. DevilDriver, a straight forward, blue collar headbanger’s band, tore through a tribute set to Black Flag. In one of the most intense sets of the night, the band was eventually joined by singers Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed), Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Soulfly) and skate pro Mike Vallely, who can scream like a pro. Loaded featuring Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses fame played the next set. They did a thunderous version of Judas Priest's “Electric Eye” at the end of their set, where they were joined by punk legend Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols on guitar and Slipknot singer Corey Taylor.
|Brian Posehn & Scott Ian by L. Paul Mann|
A somber moment came when there was a video presentation, much like the one at the Oscars, of the fallen heroes of the past year, including Ronnie James Dio, whose spirit seemed to loom large over this year’s event.
Metal fans remained remarkably well behaved throughout the long and sometimes lethargic process of creating an awards show for television. However, energy levels soared for the final set of the evening, and judging by the crowd's reaction, it was clear why most people were in the audience this night. Even before they began their set, the members of Avenged Sevenfold had the fans screaming with excitement. Members of Alice In Chains presented the Affliction Album of The Year Award to the young metal mavens, and then their live set was introduced by Lars Ulrich and Rob Trujillo from Metallica. A frenzied crowd screamed their approval as the band exploded in a fog shrouded haze with the roar of a jet engine.
An ear-splitting set had fans screaming the lyrics and dancing to every minute of their idol's set. Frontman M. Shadow, who also took home the award for Best Singer, mesmerized the crowd with his piercing voice and mercurial stage persona. Towards the end of the set, McKagan returned to the stage to join the band on a cover of Guns N’ Roses’ “It's So Easy.” Later, Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul came out to lead the band on a Pantera classic, “Mouth For War.” But the band’s own song “Bat Country” drew the biggest cheers of the night, cementing Avenged Sevenfold into the forefront of metal music today. From Alice Cooper to Avenge Sevenfold the axe has been passed.
The Revolver Golden Gods Awards show will be broadcast on VH1 Classics on May 28th.
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