Review and photography by William Dibble
Denver has many music venues, with several of them within a few blocks of each other. Summit Music Hall is one of the larger ones. The venue is located just blocks away from the Nuggets baseball stadium squarely within the center of Denver night life. Most shows are general admission, which includes access to an upstairs balcony section with plenty of room and a fantastic view. The lower floor has a huge area dedicated to merch to the right of the stage, with enough room for several bands to host their merch comfortable while fans line up. Over on the left of the stage is a small dining area and window, from which you can buy pizza and hamburgers. There’s a second, smaller stage near the bar, situated near the entrance of the venue. Tonight’s show promised to be crowded – Summit Music Hall was reporting that it was sold out.
The venue was already filling up even before any of the bands had taken the stage. They’d posted the night’s time schedule next to the door on the way in. Fit For An Autopsy was scheduled to open the night around 6:30pm. Right on time, the metal tracks went quiet, and the lights dimmed. Sometimes, you get shows where the opening bands are relatively new to touring and the stage, and while their music is fantastic, their stage presence is not as notable as the headliners. Tonight is an exception. Each of the four bands are seasoned veterans. Fit For An Autopsy took over the stage right away. They only had thirty minutes, but they made the best of it.
They opened up with two tracks from The Great Collapse, “Hydra” and “Heads Will Hang” before going further back in their discography to play “Absolute Hope Absolute Hell”. While their set was only six songs long, they smashed their way through it energetically. There was no lag between the opening acts and the headliners here- the crowd was energized from the very first moment. All too soon, their set finished, and they were packing up the stage.
It took only fifteen minutes to get their gear off stage and the next band started. Like a well-oiled machine, While She Sleeps was ready to go right on schedule. Like the other bands on tour, they were supporting a new album. They opened with the title track from You Are We, before playing mostly new songs and two older songs. Hailing all the way from Sheffield, England, they were ready to throw down with the Denver crowd. At one point, the singer even climbed into the crowd, riding atop the hands of adoring fans, before closing out with the new song “Hurricane”.
Despite being a changeover of the entire stage from the two supporting acts to one of the two headliners, the stage was ready to go in just fifteen minutes again. Arch Enemy was up next, and they hit the stage like an explosion. The crowd was ready before they’d even started playing “The World Is Yours”. Alissa White-Glutz, who joined the band on their last studio album as well as new release Will to Power, absolutely owns the stage. Not once did her energy flag through their monstrous seventy-five minute setlist, comprised of fifteen songs. Relative band newcomer Jeff Loomis, formerly of Nevermore, fit right in with the Swedish death metal. They drove through a powerful mix of new and old songs, with Alissa showing off her ability to both belt out the songs she’d recorded on, as well as the classics from the band’s other singers. It was clear within moments why Arch Enemy was one of the legendary staples of death metal. Despite having a set well over an hour long it felt like they were leaving the stage almost as soon as they’d come onto it, closing out with “Nemesis”. They left Trivium, the co-headliner, with a lot to live up to, between their honed stage show and their costuming and lights.
Trivium, however, was not about to be upstaged. Trivium’s Matt Heafy may not have an elaborate jumpsuit and costume like Alissa, but he doesn’t need it to command a powerful stage presence. Where Arch Enemy feels both welcoming and imposing, Trivium feels like they’re there to have a great time together with the audience. They opened with the new song “The Sin and the Sentence”, followed by “Down From the Sky” from 2008’s Shogun album. Similar to their co-headliner, they played a wide range of old and new material. Part of what makes Matt’s stage presence so endearing and unique is that he frequently flashes the most friendly, happiest smiles at the audience. At one point, he stopped mid-song. “Are you okay?” he asked, gesturing out to the mosh pit. “I saw you fall. You looked like- Oh you’re okay? Cool! I want to make sure everyone’s having fun.” Trivium had an absolutely amazing set, and was great fun to watch.
Summit Music Hall is a fantastic venue. The sound quality there is absolutely impeccable. Whether you were getting pizza and drinks at the food window, or buying merch, or in the back at the bar, sound is both loud and clear. It never feels muddy or distorted. There is a lot of space for moving around, and two wide stairs to the upper floors. This becomes important at bigger shows, especially sold out ones like this one. The stairs happen to be great viewing stations overlooking the stage at an angle. In fact, you can see that angle from some of our shots. The railings can become decently crowded, so it is important that there is still room to navigate up and down the stairs. There are restrooms both next to the stage and near the entrance.
All four bands are touring in support of new albums. Fit For An Autopsy just released The Great Collapse. While She Sleeps released You Are We, with one song featuring Oli Sykes. Arch Enemy’s Will to Power is available as well, and Trivium recently released The Sin and the Sentence. All albums are available from Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and other music distributors!
You can view the complete set of photographs from the show here: 11-17 Summit Music Hall