Dethklok's entrance at San Diego Comic-Con.
Dethklok and Girl Talk @ San Diego Comic-Con Adult Swim International Friday Night After-Party
July 13th, 2012
San Diego Comic-Con International is the holy destination for all nerd pilgrimages. It sells out admission (this year in just ninety minutes) to the San Diego Convention Center, as well as all the adjacent hotels, and packs downtown San Diego with over one-hundred thirty thousand attendees for an extended weekend. In addition to a merchant room the size of an enlarged football field, as well as an extravagant list of panels - this year including a reunion of cult-favorite sci-fi western, Firefly, sneak peaks of upcoming blockbusters The Hobbit and Iron Man 3, talks by Kevin Smith and Stan Lee, and much more - the convention is well known to host an immense amount of private parties at various venues across the San Diego area. Most of these of course, are invite-only, and thus, require one to have "ins" with the industry. However, Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block, a series of shows targeted to, well, an adult audience, has hosted a party for fans now two years in a row.
A couple weeks before the convention, Adult Swim announced free registration to their San Diego Comic-Con 2012 party on the decommissioned aircraft carrier, the USS Midway, on Friday, July 13. The event headlined the real-life band, Dethklok (with front-man Brendon Small playing guitar and vocals , Testament drummer Gene Hoglan, guitarist Mike Keneally, who is widely known for playing with Frank Zappa, and bassist Bryan Beller, who plays with The Aristocrats), who's fictitious counterpart is the subject of Brendon Small's hit animated series Metalocalypse. If you at this point are unfamiliar with Metalocalypse, I must direct you to the search engine of your choice, or better yet, to any DVD store - because this show is quite clever - and also the rest of this might not make much sense (though you can skip down a little bit and catch a more-familiar secret guest).
Wristband sign-up ended within hours; yet Adult Swim warned that despite sign-up guests still might not be able to get a wristband. A couple days before the event, Adult Swim sent out an e-mail about wristband pickup, there were to be two places the day of the event - one within the convention and another out front of the USS Midway - both on at nine in the morning – and both had long lines (one person told me they waited from five in the morning). Otherwise, the only chance to attend was to win wristbands at the Adult Swim's Comic-Con booth via their cat grab - yes, their cat grab (no, not real cats - think those booths with airflow and grab all the cash type things).
The event opened at seven in the evening, but some fans were lining up a few hours ahead of time (not abnormal for anything Comic-Con related). Adult Swim staff were all dressed up as Klokateers, who in-show act as everything from roadies to body guards, handing out temporary Metalocalypse tattoos, a hilarious bridge between fact and fiction in the Dethklok mythos. The first four-hundred in line were lucky enough to receive two complimentary drink tickets (boo-yah for me and my crew, by the way). As the doors open, fans were led up the ladders to the deck of the USS Midway, where they were greeted with two generously sized bars, various information sessions about the retired aircraft aboard, a lovely view of the harbor and the skyline, and a photo booth where one could step in front of a green screen, get weird, and have it set to one of two animation cells from the show.
Around eight PM, however - ominous music begins to be played throughout the deck, and soon the sound of a helicopter. That's right. A helicopter. Dethklok, who on the show is known to be the world's seventh largest economy by the end of the second season, arrives for a set on a United States aircraft carrier in a bloody helicopter. Fans, of course went nuts as they stepped out, and were escorted inside. Within minutes, the audience was allowed to follow. The steps led into a vast room within the aircraft carrier (where I later found out the Battleship was filmed). Adult Swim's name and logo was emulating on the sides of aircraft in the hanger, Klokateers ran rampant, and an impressive stage was set up complete with a fog machine. An announcer came on, and invited the attendees to stick around after Dethklok's set, for special guest Girl Talk. Though given the event was packed with metalheads, only about half the crowd peaked interest and cheered like fire.
Just a while passed before Dethklok came on stage, and played an ever-impressive set. They shredded through the majority of their studio tracks, and interlaced it with exclusive animated cuts featuring characters of the television show bridging tracks and stories together (my favorite being Rockso, the rock 'n' roll cocaine addicted clown, leading the crowd in a bunch of obscenities - which inevitably ended with him asking for money and animated front-man, Nathan Explosion threatening him away). The sound within the airship carrier was crystal, and the band members hit most every note spot on. Anyone who does not know Dethklok and Metalocalypse might question their legitimacy as a band, but rest assured - with a lineup as impressive of theirs, they literally rocked the boat (corny but true - I mean, Gene Hoglan for example is referred to as "The Human Drum Machine"). Following about an hour and fifteen minute long-set, they walked off-stage, and an animation showed the in-show Dethklok talking about how stupid and pointless encores are, yet sure enough they came back out - and the crowd went wicked.
At the end of the encore, a fan I had befriended earlier in the evening, turned to me with beads of sweat hanging from her headbanged hair, looks me blank in the eyes, "The only way I could be happier is if we all died a brutal death during their set." She is not the only one who felt such, as any fan of the show knows - Dethklok's concerts always end (and often begin) with the deaths of countless fans in quite brutal ways, and given the venue we were at - no place could be more fitting.
A short intermission goes underway, and fans go for drinks and smokes and the toilet, and of course to mingle about. Though the event was one of the few Comic-Con after parties that was open to the public, various industry folk were strutting about, such as the cast of Workaholics, much of Adult Swim, a few voice actors, and game designers for League of Legends and the upcoming South Park video game, to name a few.
This clearly was Dethklok's night, as it was their first show of the year, and a preview of their upcoming late-summer tour (which has a stop in Somerset, WI on August 17 and 18 for Knotfest). Given the audience and genre gap between acts, many filed out prior to Girl Talk's set. But, oh, what a shame.
Girl Talk, known for his extensive mashups and digital sampling, turned a metal show quickly into the most sought out dance party of the evening. After inviting fans to dance on stage, and pumping out tunes, the lights went wild, fog filled the air, balloons filled with helium shot up, and hundreds of rolls of toilet paper were launched from guns. His set was truly rave-worthy, and lasting nearly two hours was a great way to end one of the most brutal nights Comic-Con has ever seen.
Written by Morgan Luther, Radio K volunteer