Revention Music Center
April 30, 2K19
A few days ago, while prepping for this concert, my roommate turns to me and asks, “What kind of fanbase does Dream Theater have?” There were a few different ways I could have answered this, but what I finally landed on was “not huge, but very devoted.” They're not quite a cult band; their music is accessible enough that if you like heavy music you might stream their newest release on Spotify, but it's hard to imagine anyone but the faithful plunking down the money to see them live.
And to really appreciate this particular Dream Theater tour, which splits its two sets between their most recent release Distance Over Time and their masterpiece Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory, you have to either currently or at some point in the past really, deeply cared about this band. You had to feel these songs in your bones. Anyone with a penchant for headbanging can find the joy in the riffs and stomp of “Home,” but that same person might look at the adult-alternative overtones of “Through Her Eyes” or the spiritual-cheesiness of “The Spirit Carries On” with great hesitation.
Yes, there is that visceral excitement of watching a bunch of talented musicians play their instruments very well, and those in attendance who were dragged along by loved ones got to sit through a bombastic performance, but their experience lacks the depth that comes with the knowledge of the storyline, the knowing of all the words, and general appreciation of high-level music geekery that most Dream Theater fans have.
It was a show that felt good, cathartic, perhaps, in the same way that seeing Endgame did over the weekend if you're a hardcore devotee of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This was a show designed for the fans, for the people who've been waiting decades in some cases to belt out these songs along with James LaBrie, who sounded great and doesn't understand why Houston hates Dallas so much.
This is not to take away from their newer material, which was fun enough live – that guitar/drum run at the end of “Fall Into the Light” is magnificent live – but it was very clear that most, including your humble reviewer, were there to experience one of the greatest pieces of progressive metal ever created. And it was, for me at least, better than I could have dreamed.
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Personal Bias: This is a show I've been waiting on for about 17 years now. There have been other opportunities to see Dream Theater, but I've never taken them because I knew I'd just be resentful at not hearing more material from SFAM. This was an absolute bucket list show for me.
The Crowd: Respectful for the first half of the show, very vocal once the band dove back into the past. Lots of worship for the guitar heroics on stage.
Overheard in the Crowd: “My wife is pretty excited to go see Hootie and the Blowfish,” a man told his buddy while waiting in line. After a pause, he added, “I am less excited.”
Random Notebook Dump: It's been a minute since I've been to a show at Revention that had seats on the floor, and these new ones with the cup holders and light padding are game changers. Excellent place to take in a seated show if you get the chance.