Friday night's hot-ticket event at San Diego Comic-Con went down on the aircraft carrier USS Midway, where the creators of Adult Swim's shows mingled with fans as Dethklok, the real-life version of the band at the center of hit cartoon Metalocalypse, played their first show of the year. It was a special sneak preview of the band's upcoming tour, which launches Aug. 1.
This is the second year in a row that the late-night network hosted a large fan party. Like last year's Venture Bros. event, the 2012 Metalocalypse shindig gave regular Comic-Con attendees the opportunity to attend the sort of star-studded bashes that are frequently off-limits to people without industry connections. And, also like last year's party, these tickets were not easy to score. Dethklok fans could register for tickets through Adult Swim Presents or attempt to win them at the network's Comic-Con exhibit hall booth.
Those who were able to get into the party were treated to an interactive concert experience that could only happen at Comic-Con. Klokateers, the animated band's hooded helpers, stood at the entrance of the party, where they passed out Dethklok temporary tattoos. Drinks were served with Metalocalypse cocktail napkins. The real-life members of Dethklok arrived much as the animated members would, in a helicopter that landed on the aircraft carrier swarming with fans.
In many ways, Dethklok is the perfect band for Comic-Con. They occupy a peculiar place in the metal scene, a band that started out as a cartoon but morphed into a live entity fronted by Metalocalypse co-creator Brendon Small. Dethklok could easily be perceived as a band with a gimmick -- and to some extent that's true -- but their serious musical chops make it a gimmick with substance. Back in 2009, I covered Dethklok's stop at the Hollywood Palladium, part of a tour with Mastodon, and met young fans whose introduction to metal was the show. Recently, Small has taken to teaching Metalocalypse fans guitar with his "Weekly Shred-ucation" series on Adult Swim's YouTube channel.
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The band performed as they did on the 2009 tour, onstage and backed by a series of animated videos. There were a couple cartoon interludes, including tips for getting more girls to go to metal shows and a message from fan favorite Dr. Rockzo. There is brand-new animated footage in this show, so even if you caught previous Dethklok gigs and are all caught up on Metalocalypse's four seasons, there was a lot to see. Up at the front of the large venue, the crowd crammed together, throwing their fists into the air and growling song lyrics.
After Dethklok, the night's secret guest, Girl Talk, took the stage. A big deal, yes, but this was certainly Dethklok's night.