Watch: AVENGED SEVENFOLD Makes First Festival Appearance In Five Years At WELCOME TO ROCKVILLE

May 20, 2023

AVENGED SEVENFOLD made its first festival appearance in five years last night (Friday, May 19) at Welcome To Rockville at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida.

The band's setlist included three songs from AVENGED SEVENFOLD's upcoming album, "Life Is But A Dream…", which will be released on June 2 via Warner: "Game Over", "We Love You" and "Nobody".

The full setlist was as follows:

01. Game Over
02. Afterlife
03. Hail To The King
04. We Love You
05. Buried Alive
06. So Far Away
07. Nobody
08. Nightmare
09. Bat Country
10. Unholy Confessions
11. A Little Piece Of Heaven

Fan-filmed video can be seen below.

During an appearance on the "Tuna On Toast With Stryker" podcast, AVENGED SEVENFOLD singer M. Shadows reflected on the band's first concert since June 2018, which took place on May 12 at AREA15 in Las Vegas, Nevada. AVENGED SEVENFOLD's setlist included the live debut of "Game Over", "We Love You" and "Nobody".

"[It was the] first show in five years, so we had to get that one out of the way and just kind of feel it out again," M. Shadows said. "It was very nerve-racking and weird, but it felt at home after the first 10 minutes or so. In the beginning, it's just like frenetic anxiety; you wanna pop out of your skin 'cause you're just trying to figure out, 'What is this thing I used to do?' … It came back pretty quickly where it was, like, 'Okay, just gotta settle in. It's all good. The fans are here. Everyone's having a good time. This is not that serious.' Just kind of putting some sort of perspective on it onstage and quickly trying to calm down."

Regarding what the fan response was like to the three new songs AVENGED SEVENFOLD played at AREA15, M. Shadows said: "Better than expected. I felt there was so much energy on them. And I think part of it is, it was a good feeling because, part of being a musician, one thing that you get… Some people are hyper aware of it and some aren't. We're hyper aware of nostalgia and getting stuck. And then also audience capture, where people want something of you — the way you look, the way you sound, the way you live your life, the way you speak, the ideas that you have. And I believe you have to be completely free or you'll be captured by expectations of people. And for us, the new music, the vibe on stage was different. And when you go out there and play it, you wanna have this fresh feeling. And it felt fresh. The fans were responding. Like 'We Love You', that trancey, 808… It felt like a dance party and the song had just come out that morning. So, to me, that's a good sign."

He continued: "New music, you want it to go over well, so it was very exciting for us to see their response, because I think they want it too. But you have to give them something compelling that they wanna listen to; you have to challenge them in a way. And if you're having fun, they're gonna have more fun.

"I don't even know how I'd feel if we had to go up there and play all of our old songs after five years being off," M. Shadows added. "I would feel like I'm stuck in the mud. I would be, like, 'What am I doing?' And it's not anything against those songs. Those were written by 20-year-olds or 25-year-olds or whatever it was. We're not those people anymore. But I can appreciate it as long as you let me have my cake too; I wanna do new stuff. And I think the fans that are highly engaged do too, but I think as an artist you need to give them something compelling and challenging so that they feel like you're growing with them and you're not just growing away from them."

Despite being happy with the overall performance, M. Shadows admitted there are still things he wants to work on.

"Last night, I would give myself a six out of what I know I can do," he said. "And I think the band played great. I'd give it an eight. But I wanna get that to a ten. When you're playing live, you want people to see what you can do. And that's just gonna take repetition. It's gonna take getting out there and feeling it and knowing where things were breaking down — like what parts were breaking down, where notes were coming from that shouldn't be where they're coming from. And so that's just my analytical brain. I wanna know what's going on. I don't wanna just go, 'Oh, well, hopefully next time it's better.' That's not how I roll."

In a recent interview with I-Rock 93.5, AVENGED SEVENFOLD bassist Johnny Christ spoke about how he and his bandmates evolve musically on every album while still maintaining the core AVENGED SEVENFOLD sound. He said: "It's not a conscious thing. Pretty much every record that we've always done, we challenge ourselves to sound different and do something different. Like I said, we've done it every time in our career. Each time you do that, we put so much of us into creating that art that it becomes part of our DNA. And whether we know it or not, it's still there in the next writing process and the next writing process and the next writing process. So much so that at this point — we all talk about it internally — no matter what we say… We can say we wanna sound like the craziest hip-hop thing or a classical thing or whatever, but once you put it through us, it goes through the quote-unquote AVENGED SEVENFOLD filter. And that's just us. That's where you get that character of AVENGED SEVENFOLD, really.

"So, to answer the question, it's not like a direct thought of, like, 'Oh, no. We went too crazy. Let's bring it back and make it more AVENGED-y.' It's, like, no. We're going for it," he continued. "This is what it sounds like when we go for it.

"We have distinct players in this band. You've got a lead vocalist like M. Shadows — a very distinct, awesome voice. You've got the guitar work of Synyster [Gates] and Zacky [Vengeance] — just so distinct. And who's gonna mix up Brooks Wackerman's style with anybody else? It's just we have a bunch of unique players together that I think no matter how far out we go, it's gonna fall into that uniqueness anyway, and it just sounds like AVENGED SEVENFOLD by the end of the day."

Written and recorded over the span of four years, "Life Is But a Dream..." was inspired by the writing and philosophy of Albert Camus. Accordingly, the lyrics are rooted in existentialism and absurdism.

Last month, AVENGED SEVENFOLD announced the second leg of its extensive "Life is But A Dream…" North American tour featuring support from FALLING IN REVERSE. Produced by Live Nation, leg two includes stops in Nashville, Denver, Austin, and more before concluding at Fort Worth's Dickies Arena on October 15. Fans will have the opportunity to hear the group's first single in seven years, "Nobody", and their new album "Life Is But A Dream…" for the first time live during the 30-show outing.

The first leg with support from ALEXISONFIRE includes thirteen cities across the U.S. and Canada, such as Mansfield, Québec City, Tinley Park, Calgary, and more. The group kicks off their 2023 solo touring run with two unique one-night-only arena shows in New York and Los Angeles this June.

To date, AVENGED SEVENFOLD has sold over 10 million albums worldwide and earned two consecutive No. 1 albums on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart (2010's "Nightmare" and 2013's "Hail To The King") to go along with over a billion video views and a billion-plus Spotify streams, as well as multiple No. 1 singles on rock radio. The band is equally known for their spectacular live shows, selling out arenas and headlining the world's most prestigious rock festivals.

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