When: Mon., July 3, 9 p.m. 2017
MEGA COLOSSUS:THIRD OF JULY SPECTACULAR
Patriotism is in the eye of the beholder, and so is a patriotic soundtrack. Despite a seeming consensus among Americans that every Fourth of July fireworks display must be accompanied by the bombastic encomiums of Neil Diamond and Lee Greenwood, the soupy strings of the Boston Pops, and the impossible-to-sing-along-to version of "The Star Spangled Banner" by Whitney Houston, one Triangle metal band has bucked this trend. In place of the unctuous, feel-good pomp we've grown used to, Mega Colossus has made a tradition of delivering a charged-up set of U.S.A.-centric cover tunes by the likes of the Boss, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and John Mellencamp, not to mention hits from the Top Gun soundtrack.
The red-white-and-blue sentiment is atypical for most metal bands, but Mega Colossus, which has refined its Maiden-inspired heavy rock for more than a decade, has always flown the flag proudly, balancing songs about mirror warlocks with a heartfelt desire to perform that Top Gun soundtrack in its entirety. In a recent Facebook post, the band queried its fans to name "the best metal songs that start with a high pitched, balls in a vice heavy metal howl." That should give an indication of the specificity of the band's love for metal and its sound. Lead singer Sean Buchanan is well capable of sustaining the aforementioned level of high-pitched intensity in the manner of his NWOBHM heroes. Since releasing ...and the rift of the pandimensional under-gods in 2006, the quintet (originally Colossus but supersized in 2016 to coincide with the release of HyperGlaive) has honed its attack.
Celebrating the Fourth on the third, this annual Independence Day salute struts to the beat of its own drum. It's not some tongue-in-cheek, "America, F Yeah" kind of sendup of patriotism, yet the descriptor on the Kings website—"Celebrate/embarrass"—seems to indicate that it's not taking itself too seriously. Just don't think too hard about what a song like "We're an American Band"—Grand Funk Railroad's salute to groupies—has to do with being free.
What's genuine is an underlying sentiment of inclusion, of putting aside of politics and a belief that patriotism and rocking out are ineluctably connected. It's a wise balance to strike on the cusp of a day that might prompt feelings of despair and bewilderment in these divisive times. So, while the rest of America gears up for the usual "Party in the USA," you can join in on "Free Bird" and perhaps see it as an allusion to the U.S. national symbol, a bird you cannot change and one you want to see fly high. —David Klein