Words by Hillary Hedstrom | Photos by Bobby Talamine
Although it was Valentine’s Day and the high in Chicago was around 15°F before windchill, people started lining up at the House of Vans around 2 p.m. in order to get into the sold out Lamb of God show. Once the doors opened, people began to flock inside to the warmth, art, and free beer. A line quickly formed for the free posters, hats, shirts, and bandanas being given away at the merch booth.
The art lining the walls was a special photography installation by Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe. Black and white photography depicting varying themes from isolation to corruption lined the walls. There was a special spot for the upcoming album’s artwork and tracklist in the corner. The room with the art was quiet, save for a few murmurs between friends, in order for the art to be completely absorbed.
Chicago-based hardcore band Harm’s Way started out the evening. Throughout the first song, people were beginning to find their way to the stage. That was the only moment of calm throughout the night. Chaos endured when the pit opened up. At some point during that set, lead singer and powerlifter James Pligge removed his shirt, showing off his tattoos.
After their set, the air was thick with anticipation. A few got a beer refill or some merch. Most stood, waiting for the main event: Lamb of God’s album announcement party. Only one single “Checkmate” has been released from the self-titled album, which comes out on May 8th.
The DJ was playing heavy metal and hardcore punk to keep the mood going. People were discussing how many times they had seen the headliners. Some had been lifelong fans but this was only their first or second time, but some were up in the double digits for how many times they had seen them live. There were a few couples there to enjoy Valentine’s Day.
It was finally time for what everyone was waiting for. With a flash of energy, Lamb of God took the stage. Beers were immediately spilled as the crowd went wild. A hole opened up, which the pit immediately filled. People were slipping on the wet floor, but were immediately picked back up.
Fans were screaming along, showing their horns. The energy was all the way up the whole set, both on stage and in the crowd. A fan had grabbed as many bottles of water as he could and was handing them out to people when they took a break from the pit so nobody would pass out.
The biggest break during the set was when Blythe introduced “Checkmate” as it was being performed live for the very first time. When they left the stage, there was a chant for an encore. After a few minutes, Lamb of God obliged and retook the stage for a few more songs.