HIM and Dommin and Drive A, oh my!


Sunday night saw me and my concert posse once again descend on the Roseland in Portland. This was, again, my instigation. Initially I had to bribe Evil Son #1 to go with me to see HIM by offering to buy his ticket. They’re not really his cup of tea, so to speak. Be that as it may, the full gang ended up getting tix for this and a good time was had by all. The other three bands that are currently supporting HIM on their US tour were new to us all. I had heard a couple of tracks by Dommin, but nothing by either Drive A or We Are the Fallen.

We arrived a little bit late, and Drive A was already on stage performing. I was sorry to see the venue was only about 3/4 full (guessing, I have no idea how many people were there but there was a good deal of room unlike when AFI played back in January). Luckily we apparently didn’t miss much, because they were really good. Very young, but a real presence. The lead singer, Bruno Mascolo, got down off the stage at one point and wandered around in the audience while singing and even got a mosh pit going while he was at it.

Next up was Dommin. After hearing one of the tracks off their new release, “Love is Gone” which was included on the compilation CD from Metal Hammer magazine a couple months ago, I already knew I liked their style. The leader and vocalist, Kristofer Dommin, has a wonderful voice reminiscent of crooners from yesteryear. He’s a fan of movie music and classical, so right away I knew I’d like this guy. His musical tastes seem as wide-ranging and eclectic as my own. The band’s style encompasses ballad-style songs and driving rock, and they were dynamic on stage. Kris plays guitar, and he and the bassist, Billy James (who’s got the whole James Dean thing going on, and couldn’t be any cuter) seem to have choreographed their stage movements, to great effect. You can see what I mean in the video on the front page of their Web site, Dommin, if you’re interested.

During one song, ES#1 got up on the shoulders of one of the other members of our gang, and was acting all goofy the way you see these girls do at concerts, and pulled his shirt up. I didn’t see it but he said both Kristofer Dommin and Billy James were pointing and laughing at him. I was too embarrassed to look. Since they’re a newer band they’re going to great lengths to connect with fans, and make it a practice to hang out after their shows to meet any interested fans, sign anything you want signed, and pose for pictures, bless their hearts. I can only imagine how much they’d rather be relaxing somewhere after the energy they put out on stage. ES#1 and I started over to see them after the third act (We Are the Fallen) finished up, but before we got to talk to them, HIM was on stage and starting their set. I wandered off to get pics of them, ’cause Ville is the love of my life, doncha know. Sooo… while I was off trying to get pics and watch HIM, ES#1 stayed behind to see Dommin. More on that later.

For those unfamiliar with HIM, they’re a Finnish band from Helsinki with a unique musical style. They’ve been called, “goth rock” and “love metal” mostly, although to the best of my knowledge the band’s leader and frontman, Ville Valo, has always denied that they were goth. Their latest album, “Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice (Chapters 1 -13)” is a departure from their previous albums, having a much more (deliberately) ‘pop’ sound to it. And Ville gets in some good screaming on it. Anyway, they’ve been my favorite band for a really long time. The song “Vampire Heart” off their 2005 release “Dark Light” was the inspiration for my vampire novel. Yup, that’s all it took, one song and I was off.

They seemed to be in fine form, although I had heard Ville had been ill during the first part of the US tour which started in March. I managed to get a few good photos, but not nearly what I’d hoped for. I was distraught. The lighting at concerts is always challenging for photogs, and this one was no exception. I got enough to see that Ville seems to have developed a habit of singing with his eyes closed. Nearly every shot I got is the same, his eyes are closed. A few years ago he had quite a drinking problem, stemming largely from panic attacks. He once said he needed a drink just to get into a cab. He’s been sober now for over two years, maybe this is a new coping mechanism for him to face crowds. Ville has an incredible baritone voice, honestly he could have stood there and read the Helsinki phone book and I would have been happy. It was a dream come true for me and one of the others, who had been a fan for many years as well. For their encore they covered Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell.”

Just to do a full review, We Are the Fallen was better than I expected. The lead singer, Carly Smithson, is a former American Idol contestant, and some of the other band members are former Evanescence members. Not really my style, and the Madonna cover I really could have lived without, but they were far better than I’d expected. Not much more to say about them.

So back to Dommin, and ES#1. After HIM finished, we all scurried back over to see Dommin. Turns out ES#1 had gone ahead and bought their CD from them for me while I was off snapping pix of my beloved Ville, got all the guys to sign it, as well as his ticket stub. Konstantine wrote “Hi (name)” which ES#1 had to spell for him (nobody can ever seem to spell my first name), and as I walked up hoping to talk to them, Konstantine came right up to me, held out his hand and said, “Hi! You must be (Name).” Could have knocked me over with a feather. ES#1 had explained that the CD and autographs were for his mom, who was very shy, so he apparently was able to recognize me as a mom-type. Or something. Anyway, he was really sweet, and the guys all posed for several pics with us. Just before we left I wished Billy good luck with the rest of the tour, and said I hoped they’d come back to Portland, to which he replied they would be back here in May, but I don’t see it on their tour schedule on their site. Kris was really quiet, I don’t think he said anything. I know he’s been having throat issues, actually had laryngitis a couple weeks ago and had to cancel a few shows, but still went and met fans and signed autographs and did pictures even though he couldn’t talk. Maybe he was still feeling the effects, although he sounded fine singing. Or maybe we freaked him out. Sorry, Kris. Cameron is real quiet, too. I didn’t have a chance to talk with him but got the impression he’s very nice, too (you can tell a lot by someone’s eyes, he has beautiful eyes).

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24 thoughts on “HIM and Dommin and Drive A, oh my!

  1. It was fantastic. I’m just sorry I didn’t get more decent photos, I have hundreds that are just crap. I didn’t get any of Dommin’s drummer Cameron on stage, couldn’t see him from where I was standing. HIM was really hard to photograph, too. The side of the stage Mige was on wasn’t really lit well, I couldn’t even see Gas or Burton, it’s like they wanted to stay in the background. Ville was cracking jokes and being his usual smartass self. :::sigh::: 🙂

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  2. ” I’m just sorry I didn’t get more decent photos”
    Next time hand the camera to Son #1 while he’s up on somebody’s shoulders !

    BTW maybe I’ve know you for so long it’s automatic, but no foolin’, people can’t spell your FIRST name? Seriously, other than Jan or Rita I cannot think of too many easier-to-spell women’s names, and it’s not even one of that sort like Caitlin/Kaitlin/Katelyn where there are alternate spellings. The whole world’s gone stupid.

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    1. Haha, maybe that’s the answer. I just need to take a photography class, trying to shoot in manual mode when you barely understand aperture and F-stops leads to bad pictures. Concerts are always challenging though with the constantly changing lighting. I need lots and lots of practice.

      My name has always been problematic for many people. My own aunt never spelled it right! Oh well, I quit worrying about it. At least Konstantine remembered it when I met him 🙂

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  3. That is charming about Konstantine. My goddaughter has one of those alternate spelling names, and her own grandparents foul it up regularly – I think that bugs me more than it does her.

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  4. It really was so cute, he just struck me as a super nice guy. He seems like he would have been in our circle of friends, had he gone to school with us. He also told me he saw me in the front, rockin’ out 🙂 Who knows, maybe I reminded him of his mom or something LOL!

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  5. LOL let me know how you like it 🙂 I listened to that CD almost non-stop for a year. I can get really obsessive about music! Ville once commented he does the same thing, so I thought, “Phew! I’m not the only one!”

    It was so fun, Ville is such a character. And Dommin and Drive A were both really good, too. Looking forward to seeing both of them in concert again someday.

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    1. I liked it a lot. Now that I think about it, I think you may have mentioned them to me before.

      Regarding becoming obsessive about music, I”ll play my favorite songs over and over again. You’re not alone in that.

      Obsessiveness is in our Rising Scorpio genes. 😉

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  6. Great album, I played it to death, but I think the album that got the most play was my very first HIM album “And Love Said No: The Greatest Hits 1997–2004”

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    1. Same here in the U.S., that’s the one that really got them some notice here. A lot of their older fans thought it was a sell-out album, that they were compromising their style to create a more mass appeal. They’re getting the same grief over Screamworks now.

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      1. I really like it. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but it grew on me really quickly. I also got the limited edition with the acoustic CD, which I love. I think he put his heart into it, despite how dismissive he is of some of it.

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    2. Sorry 😦 Were they not available down there? I saw a lot of griping on the Web site about it not being available in places in Europe. I don’t understand why Warner Bros. only made it available in certain areas.

      Keep an eye on eBay. I bet some will start showing up there, if they haven’t already.

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