Kawaii metal trio BABYMETAL brought back-to-back shows of THE BABYKLOK TOUR 2024 to San Francisco on April 24 and 25 with co-headliner Dethklok. As the only US stop to witness the searing carnage wrought by the traveling mini-fest this year, the SF Masonic Auditorium gathered more than 3,000 metalheads across Western North America on each of the two evenings. The April 24 performance was accompanied by supersonic axe slingers DragonForce, and travelers from as far as Albuquerque, New Mexico made the pilgrimage to queue in line for nearly 25 hours and secure a spot against the front rail.

“I’m not here to sightsee. I’m not even here for the merch. I lined up from 6:30am for this—so that I could stand right here.” A front-and-center fan proclaimed.

DragonForce kickstarts the program with warp speed scales from founding guitar heroes Herman Li and Sam Totman. They lean wholeheartedly into the tongue-in-cheek references to 1980s video game music (there’s even a song called Power of the Triforce!). The lavish stage production features oversized arcade cabinets that flash retro classics like Kung Fu Master, Rampage World Tour, and Super Space Fortress… all the while Li and Totman climb atop to solo, their hair billowing from perfectly angled wind.

Dethklok then carries the satirical torch. Silhouetted by giant images of Cartoon Network’s animated source material Metalocalypse, guitarist and lead vocalist Brendon Small breathes life into the series’ parody front man Nathan Explosion.

As the clock nears 21:30, a narrator professes over an ominous choir the lore of the Fox God. The heavy metal deity summons three chosen souls to traverse into the Metalverse, a faraway galaxy where life, time, and the unbridled burning to headbang all interconnect. The backing Kami Band arms itself with instruments and unleashes palm-muted chugs and bass kicks. At long last, SU-METAL, MOAMETAL, and MOMOMETAL pace onstage to the beat. The Fox God descends and launches them into the debut album lead track BABYMETAL DEATH.

Doused in blood red lights and awakened by blast beats, the three transform from monoliths to spirits in a ballistic trance. The second song Distortion employs much of the crimson ambiance, now accompanied by video backdrops of a post-apocalyptic derelict and a ruler in an unsettling Wicker Man helmet.

“Hey San Francisco! Everybody clap your hands and show me a big circle!” SU-METAL shouts while motioning with her hands. The floor breaks out into a mosh pit, as the guitars crunch on during the breakdown.

A wall of fire erupts on the backdrop for the next song PA PA YA!!, a peppy shuffle that has MOAMETAL and MOMOMETAL raise the roof and waft the flames. A ground-to-ceiling video of F.HERO rises from the inferno to throw down blistering rhymes in Thai. Concertgoers listen intently to SU-METAL, who flaunts a tremendous range, from the mystical MAYA off the recent concept album THE OTHER ONE to the saucy trap-hip hop single BxMxC.

In Monochrome, cold cityscape visuals convey a sense of loneliness and losing hope.

“Together, please help me shine light upon this dark, dark world. Take your phone out. Turn on your light!” With this plea, SU-METAL casts a sea of stars upon the venue. She hums wistfully, flanked by MOAMETAL and MOMOMETAL, who pump their firsts as if to inject a bit of courage back into everyone’s hearts.

Then, the dancing takes a brief break so that each Kami Band member can showcase his virtuosity. During the instrumental jam, overdriven bass trades solos with the two guitarists, who respond with frenzied tapping, sweeping arpeggios, and divebombs on the whammy bar. The drums cap the game of cat and mouse with snappy fills on the toms and a flurry of double kicks.

The session segues right into 2023 digital single METALI!!, an homage to traditional Japanese festival music with a distinctively BABYMETAL spin. “Are you ready?” SU-METAL’s growl summons a larger-than-life Tom Morello from bands Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave to play along till the last chord.

BABYMETAL saves the most iconic hits for the final stretch, tearing right into Megitsune. During the Sakura Sakura-inspired half time, SU-METAL dons a fox mask and gifts it to the audience, nearly feral from nostalgia. The maddeningly catchy Gimme Chocolate!! sends crowd surfers—both men and women–to the stage. Headbangeeeeerrrrr!!!!! closes out the main set with several in the hall hammering the air with their noggin. Despite being the youngest member of the unit, MOMOMETAL pours everything into the choreography, an impressive display of resilience, especially during the extended middle section that keeps her headbanging endlessly.

The lights go out, but the Kami Band remains standing during the call for an encore. BABYMETAL returns moments later bearing flags for one last push: Road of Resistance. Harmonized guitars kowtow to the Fox God trio’s triumphant return. And once the tempo bursts into a full-on sprint, a mass of bodies collides on the floor, twisting and smashing into one another like a mangled vortex. BABYMETAL rides on, like steel-clad cavalry forging a new dimension in the ever-expanding Metalverse.

The extreme power metal epic, originally recorded in studio by Li and Totman, marks a fitting end to this latest chapter in BABYMETAL history. The anthemic finale unites the entire metal community, raising horns, hugging shoulders, and chanting acapella with their scrappy, newfound neighbors.

BABYMETAL at SF Masonic Auditorium, San Francisco, Wednesday, April 24, 2024


2. Distortion
3. PA PA YA!!
5. BxMxC
6. Monochrome
8. Megitsune
9. Gimme Chocolate!!
10. Headbangeeeeerrrrr!!!!!


1. Road of Resistance

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